PJ VOGT: Hey Alex.
ALEX GOLDMAN: Hey PJ.
PJ: You remember the other day we told people if they called in, we would help them with their tech and non tech problems, big and small?
ALEX: I do remember that.
PJ: That time is now.
PJ VOGT: Okay, you ready to open the phone lines?
ALEX: Uh, yes, I’m ready.
PJ: You said the words, but you didn’t sound like you meant them.
ALEX: I’m hesitating because I just feel like, I feel like you really, you, there’s a switch that flips with you (laughs).
PJ: A switch that flips?
ALEX: When we, when we turn on the phone lines, where you’re like, “I’m gonna, I’m gonna analyze Alex’s every word, his sentence structure, everything he does.”
PJ: You feel like I–
PJ: Just by hanging out with me you’re being exposed to criticism?
ALEX: And I’m going to pull out, I’m going to tease out the things that make him most insecure, and I’m going to say them into a microphone to be recorded for perpetuity–in perpetuity, forever and ever.
PJ: I’m so sorry you feel that way. I want you to feel comfortable in the studio.
PJ: I won’t comment on anything you do for the next calls.
ALEX: Which, how many next calls?
PJ: For the whole time. If you don’t want me to, I won’t do that. You’re my friend.
ALEX: (laughs) Good.
ANNA FOLEY: Okay, you guys ready?
PJ: Of course! Alex, are you ready? Are you comfortable?
ALEX: (laughing) Oh no, this feels so weird. What are you up to? It’s like–
PJ: What’s going on man?
ALEX: So, so when I was in college, I had a girlfriend who was very nice to me.
PJ: That sounds nice.
ALEX: And sometimes she would do this thing where she would like, she would like gently caress my face and then slap me as a joke.
PJ: Would you like me to do that?
ALEX: No, but I feel like that’s what’s about to happen!
PJ: You feel gently caressed, but you’re afraid of a slap?
PJ: I’m sorry that that’s how you feel.
ALEX: God, I’m like a wounded animal.
ALEX: It’s the worst. Alright, let’s take a call!
ALEX AND PJ: Hello?
WYATT: Hey, how’s it going?
PJ: Good, who’s this?
WYATT: This is Wyatt. How’s it going?
PJ: So what’s your question?
WYATT: Okay, yeah, so um, basically, my apartment is like, it’s outing me.
PJ: It’s out–your apartment is outing you?
WYATT: Yeah, my apartment is outing me. So if you go on Google right now and you like type in my address into Google Maps, this like little alert advisory pops up and is like “Hey, are you interested in LGBT travel?”
WYATT: And like–I know. Isn’t that weird?
ALEX: Can you give us your address?
PJ: We–we’ll bleep it out.
WYATT: Okay, um, [BEEP].
WYATT: [BEEP] Street.
WYATT: Apartment [BEEP].
PJ: Oh, literally your apartment number?
WYATT: Yeah, well, it definitely pops up if you add my apartment number in.
ALEX: (laughs) OK, at this location: “I’m Out. LGBT Travel. Travel agency”
WYATT: Yeah, so um, this past summer, I was talking with someone on Scruff, and we were talking for a few days and then um, it was like late one night, and I was like, “Hey, do you want to just like come over to my apartment and hang out?” Um, and I sent him my address, and a few minutes go by, and I see the typing icon, like pop up and then go away, and he sends me back this screencap of Google Maps to my house, and there’s this like little alert that popped up that said uh, “Are you interested in LGBT travel? Try this,” and then like pointed to my apartment. And he was just like, he sent back one word, it was just: “Wow,” and then blocked me immediately.
AG: What? Why?
WYATT: I don’t, so I think the implication was that like Google had detected like this huge inflow of like gay tourists into my apartment, and like, had just like put this like this giant Scarlett letter on my apartment.
PJ: Wait, but what, is there–I’m confused. Is there an actual gay travel agency in your apartment or no?
WYATT: No, no, no. There’s no gay travel agency in my apartment.
PJ: I mean in your apartment building.
WYATT: No, no, no. It’s like a regular apartment building.
PJ: And it’s not like somebody’s like running a gay travel agency like out of their home and they’re just using their home address?
WYATT: No, but I’m worried that Google thinks I’m like such a slut (PJ laughs) that like I could be a gay travel agency.
PJ: Do you–are you sleeping with like more men than like your friends are by a lot?
WYATT: No! [indistinct]
ALEX: (laughing) What an awkward question! (laughs)
PJ: It’s a fair question.
WYATT: I mean, like don’t get me wrong—
PJ: Is it a thing where you don’t sleep with that many people, but when you go home the Google Street view van always happens to pass by?
ALEX: Do you think that there’s an employee at Google who’s just like, “I keep seeing this guy going home with other guys. I’m gonna stick around and see what’s happening.”
ALEX: Like is that what you’re imagining PJ?
PJ: I don’t know what I’m imagining. I’m just trying to rule out all possibilities here.
ALEX: This doesn’t seem like a likely one.
PJ: So, and when you say that it's outing you like are you, are you closeted?
WYATT: No, no, no. I'm actually not so worried about the gay part. I'm worried about like the slut part.
PJ: I think it's, I mean I really, like, my assumption if you were like, “Come on over. I’m having a potluck,” and I looked up your address and I saw that, I’d be like, “Oh, there’s a travel agency in his building.” Like I wouldn’t think like, clearly what’s going on is this guy’s just really, really sleeping around.
WYATT: Oh, okay. Got it, got it, got it.
PJ: Like, why is your assumption that–is that’s where people are going to jump to?
WYATT: Okay, so let me explain, like this is a thing. Like, there’s like this famous urban legend that’s probably true about like this guy in DC who like slept with so many people that people started like checking into him. Like someone like made a location on the internet (PJ: Oh my god.) and then started like–yeah right? So like–
PJ: So they would like, like, on Foursquare or whatever, they would just be like, “Oh, just like everyone else, I slept with this person?”
ALEX: I’m checking in at John’s house.
WYATT: Yeah, exactly. So they’d like check into John.
PJ: How, how was this story circulated? How did you hear it? Do you remember?
WYATT: I heard it from like at least two different like gays in New York.
PJ: So your fear is that you’ve become like the guy you heard about in an urban legend?
WYATT: Or at least to Google, like, Google thinks that I am. Yeah, because like I mean I’ve had a boyfriend for a while. Like, I don’t really sleep around a whole bunch. Not that I couldn’t. I definitely could but like I don’t.
PJ AND ALEX: (laugh)
PJ: What I wonder is if you have accidentally walked into an apartment vacated by someone who was targeted by someone who was trying to be catty to them on the internet. You know what I mean?
ALEX: I’m wondering if you (WYATT: Oh.) went into an apartment that was vacated by someone who ran a travel agency for gay people. Also, if you click on the photos tab on google maps of your apartment, there’s a logo. It’s like a rainbow peace sign.
WYATT: Oh, that’s so funny. You know, I thought that this alert was like something that Google popped up that- for–trying to be helpful for like gay tourists. I didn’t realize it was like an actual business.
PJ: Oh, it’s an actual business. Okay so—
PJ: Oh, interesting. So actually, I found, okay, I can help you. There’s two ways you can solve this I think.
PJ: One is that you can actually just go on Google Maps and report an error. If you Google literally, “flag wrong address on Google Maps” you could, you could tell Google Maps “location’s wrong.” I think you’ll probably get a response.
PJ: The other thing you could do if that doesn’t work is, I looked it up, and I’m Out LBGT Experiences, the travel agency that supposedly you run, um, it is a real business and they have a real website. It’s Imoutexpereiences.com.
PJ: But they’re at least now, based in West Hollywood, so you could contact them. There’s a contact on their website, and you could be like, “Hey, I think you used to run a travel agency out of my apartment, but it’s sending people to the wrong place. You should get in touch with Google and be like, ‘Hey, fix this,’” cause it’s not helping them for you to have a local reputation that’s taking their business away.
I would try Google first. I would give it like a week, and if that doesn’t work, I would get in touch with the actual travel agency.
WYATT: Alright. Awesome. Thanks so much.
PJ: Yeah. Thanks, that is a hilarious problem. Thank you for sharing it.
WYATT: You’re welcome. Alright. Bye.
PJ AND ALEX: Bye.
PJ: I thought you did great.
PJ: I thought you did a really good job.
ALEX: I take it back. (PJ laughs) I just–it’s not good. It sucks.
ALEX: You’re the only person who can be nice–meaner to me by being nice to me, so stop. Let’s just answer the phone.
GRACE: Oh my god, hello?
ALEX AND PJ: Hi, who’s this?
GRACE: Oh, hi, uh this is, my name’s Grace.
ALEX: Hi Grace.
PJ: What can we help you with?
GRACE: (laughs) Um, okay, this is my question, so I um, have a really bad habit of, you know, I’m in kind of like a crazy time in my life right now. I’m going out a lot, I’m drinking a lot, and I have this bad habit of when I am very drunk, I open um, Tinder.
PJ: Oh no.
GRACE: And I send people these very strange messages like, for example, I think one I sent this weekend said, “You are a beautiful sunflower,” things like “Let’s ride our bikes into the sunset” type stuff.
PJ: Wait, what would you say is that type-stuff? Like what is- what–what category are we in right here?
GRACE: Um, well, yeah, I don’t know. It’s just like, strange compliments and like overly emotional sentiments I suppose.
PJ: Yeah, it sounds kind of like mushy.
GRACE: Yeah, yeah, yeah. It’s super mushy and just very like, I don’t know you at all, and I shouldn’t be calling you a beautiful sunflower probably.
ALEX: How can we help?
GRACE: So my question, (laughs), so besides like the obvious, like don’t drink so much, or just like delete Tinder, those are like obvious things. But I was wondering if you thought it–that it would be possible to like create something like, perhaps like a breathalyzer for phones?
GRACE: And like before it lets you open an app, like you have to breathe into the breathalyzer and if you know you’ve been out—
ALEX: This feels like it has to exist already.
PJ: I know that people have built that for Google, like that for Gmail you can both do a thing, I believe where it doesn’t let you email at certain hours, but also where you have to answer a series of difficult math problems to send emails. (GRACE: Oh.) I don’t know if that thing actually still exists. I think it’s hard to do it on your phone itself though because it’s like, you probably have an iPhone?
GRACE: I do.
PJ: Like I think Apple wouldn’t let somebody build like a breathalyzer app on top of their phone. What you could do, honestly, is you could get one of those like pocket breathalyzers from CVS or whatever, and you could just make a choice, like I don’t open Tinder over BAC whatever.
GRACE: That’s actually not the worst idea.
ALEX: Not only that, but I have another option. This may seem a little more difficult.
GRACE: Sure. Okay.
ALEX: Fall in love with someone and then you can just say that to them.
PJ: Oh what a jerk, man. (ALEX & GRACE laugh) What a jerk. Yeah, just solve your–the love problem that’s giving you so much anxiety. I would also submit, like, of all the things you could be doing when you’re drunk, sending effusive compliments to strangers on Tinder is not the worst.
ALEX: Yeah, that doesn’t seem like it’s that bad.
GRACE: It’s not. But it just is not, it still just is a weird feeling when I wake up in the morning and I look and I see, but um—
PJ: I think you’re probably not the only person drunk swiping on Tinder late at night.
GRACE: No, yeah, no. I certainly am not. Yeah.
PJ: I, honestly, I feel like the main point of dating apps is to make you feel less anxious about like the infinite amount of people in the world. And if this is helping you–
PJ: I would do it.
ALEX: You’re a beautiful sunflower. You mean a lot to me and—
PJ: “You mean a lot to me” would be a very weird thing for you to start messaging people.
ALEX: And if there weren’t a desk between us right now, I’d give you a huge hug.
GRACE: Oh, I’m glad that I could inspire this.
PJ: Have a good day.
ALEX: Thanks so much for calling.
GRACE: Thank you so much. Have a good one.
ALEX: You too.
CALLER 2: Hi, PJ?
ALEX: That was Alex–
PJ: That was actually Alex, but I’m also here, and I don’t blame you for requesting a different host. (ALEX laughs) What’s going on?
CALLER 2: No, I totally–I totally understand. I’m in a Ruby Tuesdays.
PJ: What are you ordering? Onion rings?
CALLER 2: I got chicken tenders with fries, barbecue sauce, and honey mustard.
ALEX: That is a good order.
CALLER 2: I was so nervous you’d pick up and then the waitress would come and I’d be like, “I’m on the phone with this podcast,” and she wouldn’t understand—
PJ: You better ask a question fast. Things are going downhill.
CALLER 2: Okay, I just wanted to know if you knew about this fight over subdomains that Ralph Nader waged in 2000.
PJ: I didn’t.
PJ: What was the fight?
CALLER 2: Okay, he did a campaign to try to get a series of subdomains that were like consumer advocate subdomains like dot consumer, dot tax payer, dot shareholder, and most famously, dot sucks.
PJ: Dot sucks?
CALLER 2: Yeah, dot sucks.
PJ: So like Walmart dot sucks, like McDonalds dot sucks?
CALLER 2: Yes, and he proposed that they should, ICANN should create a dot sucks foundation which would be a independent organization that makes sure that dot sucks was only used by people who actually wanted to talk about the corporation sucking.
PJ: Huh wait, and just for people that don’t know, ICANN, they’re the, basically like the regulatory body that decides which top level domains are going to exist. So wait, so they would have like an internet right to, that every single website would have like a mirror image version of it where people just complained about the company that ran it?
CALLER 2: Yes. Yes.
PJ: That is a great idea.
ALEX: I agree.
CALLER 2: (laughs)
PJ: And who, do you know who shot him down?
CALLER 2: So ICANN decided not to go with it, but here’s the crazy thing: when they did the rerelease of all the major subdomains like when dot xyz and dot nyc, and all the new ones came out a few years ago, dot sucks made it through, and now all the companies are just buying up their own dot sucks.
PJ: Aaaaagh. So like McDonalds dot sucks is just owned by McDonalds?
CALLER 2: Yes, so–
ALEX: Yeah, McDonalds dot sucks forwards to the Contact Us page on McDonalds.
CALLER 2: A lost revolution.
PJ: Wait, hold on one second, okay?
CALLER 2: Yeah.
PJ: Yes. Alex Goldman dot sucks is available.
CALLER 2: (laughs)
ALEX: Why are you doing–why do that to me?
PJ: PJ Vogt dot sucks. [typing] Oh! I got both of them.
ALEX: PJ, don’t fucking buy my name.
CALLER 2: Maybe he’s protecting you from other people buying it.
ALEX: He’s not protecting me. You’re–have you ever listened to this show? You’re being so naive right now. He’s not protecting me.
PJ: I don’t know why you’re yelling at him, but it seems like something that will be chronicled on Alex Goldman dot sucks.
ALEX: Dude, come on.
PJ: Oh, it’s maybe not worth it. They’re $329 each.
ALEX: Yeah, fucking don’t do it.
PJ: Um, but they’re in my, they’re in my basket if I want them. Thank you so much. This was really helpful.
CALLER 2: Thank you. So glad I could help.
PJ: Enjoy your chicken tenders.
CALLER 2: Bye.
ALEX: (laughs) I’m so mad. Oh God. And I was trying to get to it too and I just, I’m fat fingered on my computer. I was too slow.
PJ: It happens. I wouldn’t beat yourself up. That’s the job of Alex Goldman dot sucks.
ALEX: Hi, this is PJ and Alex
MAV: Hello? Can you hear me?
ALEX: A little bit. Not great. Who’s this?
MAV: Oh my god. Jesus Christ. I was totally not expecting you to pick up, so sorry I was a bit startled when you picked up. Um, I’m calling from Goa in India, and it is raining, hence why the bad connection.
PJ: Wait, where are you calling- where–you’re calling from India, but what like location are you calling from? Goa?
MAV: Goa. Goa, yeah, [indistinct] I’m from Melbourne myself, but I’m on a roadtrip with a few friends to Goa. It’s a small beach town in India.
PJ: What are you doing in Goa?
MAV: I was born here so I came to see family, then I met some old friends and just came down to Goa, to you know, just have a fun trip.
ALEX: And what’s your name again?
MAV: It’s Mav, M-A-V. That, that’s my white name. My actual name is Manav.
ALEX: Got it. What’s your question?
MAV: Okay, my question is, so, we–I don’t have a license myself, even in Melbourne where I live, so we wanted to rent a car here, and to do that, we just Googled like a fake like New South Wales license and just photoshopped my image on top of it.
PJ: You what?!
MAV: We got pulled over by the cops. We got pulled over by the cops today, and they asked for a license and I gave it to them, and they just looked at the picture and they just let me go, and I was like, is there not like a central like connected like authority that makes sure that like you don’t get away with this stuff?
PJ: This is shock–I’ve never heard someone making worse decisions than me.
ALEX: First of all, you are so lucky.
PJ: Did you print it on like drivers license paper?
ALEX: Did you laminate it or anything?
MAV: No, it was just on my phone. It was a picture, and remind–reminder, it’s not even an actual photoshop. You know how in Snapchat you can just paste stickers on top of images?
ALEX: Oh my god!
MAV: So it’s literally not even a photoshop. It’s a sticker on a Google images. So, it was definitely, obviously fake.
PJ: The thing I really appreciate about this, as someone who indulges in this sort of planning, although not to this extent, is like the ingenuity behind doing something so dumb. Like, it’s such a smart, stupid choice.
But to answer your question, I don’t think there’s like an international drivers license database. I think people are like, what, it’s not like people are going to make fake drivers licenses off of Snapchat. That’d be crazy.
ALEX: I am, I’m like, speechless. Drive more carefully.
MAV: Oh my god.
PJ: No! Get a license. Get a license. Get a driver’s license.
ALEX: But he’s already driven to Goa in a car. He has to drive back.
MAV: Oh, no, I took a flight here. It’s a rental car that we got in Goa for Goa.
ALEX: Oh. Yeah, don’t drive.
MAV: We took a plane here.
ALEX: Just walk.
MAV: Thanks Dad.
PJ AND ALEX: (laughing)
MAV: I’m kidding.
PJ: Also, the fact that you like have the level of curiosity where you’re like, I really want to know how the international drivers license regulatory body works, but also, I’m going to make a drivers license on Snapchat. I just, I appreciate the human being that you are.
ALEX: Alright, take care Mav.
MAV: Thanks a lot for taking my call. Thank you. Have a nice day. Bye bye.
ALEX AND PJ: Bye.
ALEX: Hi, who’s this?
SISTER: Wait, what, oh my god, hello?
PJ: Did you just take the phone from somebody else?
ALEX: Yeah, it sounds like there are a lot of people there.
SISTER: Hello? No, no this is just two people. Hi.
ALEX: Who’s this?
SISTER: Um, oh shit. I was, I was using my little brother to um, call you both on my phone and on his.
ALEX: (laughs) That’s very nice of you to do that.
SISTER: Yeah. We’re just staying at home cause it’s summer.
PJ: Um, what question do you have?
SISTER: Well, okay, so we don’t have internet right now, and like, I–we were bored. Um…
PJ: Wait, how come your internet is out?
SISTER: I don’t know. I, it’s just like the servicer or something. I don’t know. Um, I can’t really contact anyone because I don’t know like our internet login stuff.
PJ: Where are your, are your parents just at work?
PJ: Got it.
SISTER: My question is related to the internet thing actually. What should we do while we wait for the internet?
ALEX: Oh, while you wait?
SISTER: Yeah because we’re teenagers and we don’t really know how to do anything without the internet um–
PJ: I feel like a grandperson wrote this script for you.
ALEX: Yeah, seriously.
PJ: Like I feel like, you’re like–
PJ: You’re like propaganda. Like you’re like anti-teen propaganda.
ALEX: Since you are totally doing the, since you’re totally doing like the, uh, teenage, uh, the script of a teenager without internet, can I just–can I just carry that to its logical conclusion?
PJ: What is its logical conclusion?
SISTER: I’m not thinking—
ALEX: It’s logical conclusion is like go outside!
PJ: Oh yeah, that’s true. Go outside.
ALEX: Go out, like, go ride your bike. Go to the park. Go skateboard. Isn’t that what kids do?
SISTER: But I–the thing is, we live like right next to a highway so (PJ: Ohhh.) there’s not really anything we can do outside.
ALEX: Oooh. Okay.
PJ: What about games?
SISTER: Um, I have like three games on my phone and like three games on my laptop.
ALEX: What about games that aren’t on computers or anything like that?
PJ: I’ve never felt this way before.
ALEX: Like, like what about Monopoly?
PJ: Oh, Monopoly’s so goddamn boring.
SISTER: I don’t have Monopoly, like I don’t know what board games we have.
PJ: How much time do you have to kill?
ALEX: Yeah, when do your parents get home?
SISTER: Um, in like two hours.
PJ: Okay, there might be things in your house that look like pieces of the internet that have been printed out and stapled together.
PJ: There’ll be a picture on the front like a screenshot. It’s almost like Twitter, but it’s way longer. Do you have any of those?
SISTER: Um, I don’t think anything looks like Twitter, but I do have things that are called books if that is what you’re referring to.
PJ: That’s what I’m referring to. Could you read a book for two hours?
SISTER: I could read a book for two hours, but that’s just...I’m so bored.
ALEX: I’ve got it. Draw.
PJ: Oh, draw.
ALEX: Get some printer paper, draw–do you know how to play Exquisite Corpse? Do you know that game?
PJ: Oh yeah, that’s a good idea.
SISTER: What? What is that?
ALEX: Okay, so the deal is Exquisite Corpse is you take a piece of paper and you fold it into fours I guess, and you draw like—
PJ: The feet of something.
ALEX: The feet of something and then you pass it to your brother and he will draw like, the midsection of something, (SISTER: Oooh.) and then pass it back to you and you draw the head.
And then you unfold it and you get this like weird, bizarre monster creature that you guys have made together. It’s a fun game.
SISTER: That’s really cool.
ALEX: I mean, now that I’m in the world of paper, you could just start making paper airplanes. See who could throw theirs the farthest.
PJ: I think you had it with Exquisite Corpse.
PJ: I feel like Exquisite Corpse is gonna buy you guys an hour.
ALEX AND PJ: Alright.
SISTER: That’s yeah, that sounds like a great idea. Thank you.
PJ: Alright, enjoy the rest of your boring day.
SISTER: Thank you. Okay.
ALEX: Have fun. Bye.
SISTER: Ok. You too. Bye.
PJ: Bye. God, do you remember that feeling?
PJ: That boring summer day.
ALEX: That agonizing, that agonizing feeling.
CHRIS: Hey, is this PJ or Alex?
PJ: That’s Alex, this is PJ.
ALEX: That’s Alex...
PJ: Don’t say that’s Alex about yourself.
ALEX: That being me, is Alex. That being PJ, is PJ.
PJ: Seems clear, right?
CHRIS: Well hey there, Alex and PJ.
PJ: Who’s this?
CHRIS: This is Chris.
PJ: Chris what do you, what do you need?
CHRIS: Uh, so my, I wasn’t necessarily calling to ask a question. I more wanted to answer a question.
PJ: No one ever does this for us.
CHRIS: (laughs) Every once in a while you guys have, or at least a couple times maybe I think, you guys have asked whether or not someone is a PJ or an Alex?
PJ: Oh yeah. This is a question Alex needs to know the answer to with everybody.
ALEX: No, no, no.
PJ: If Alex is in like a horrifying like accident and the EMTs show up, that’s like his first question before he accepts treatment.
CHRIS: Whether or not he’s a PJ or an Alex?
PJ: Yeah, he needs to know.
ALEX: That–come on.
CHRIS: It’s pretty abhorrent.
PJ: He put it into his, uh, wedding vows.
ALEX: I’d only known you for like six months when I got married. Do you remember how I—
PJ: Which is why it’s so weird.
ALEX: I didn’t invite you to my wedding?
PJ: Yes, I do remember. I do remember. It was how I know you’re an Alex.
CHRIS: They were a really important six months.
ALEX: What is the- what were you–I’m a mess.
PJ: Ask away Alex.
ALEX: I’m a mess. So why did you reference this? What do you want to–want to tell us?
PJ: He wants to tell you whether the one question you’ve been dying to hear the answer to, is he a PJ or is he an Alex?
CHRIS: Yes. So I am an Alex.
CHRIS: The reason that I am an Alex is I also sit in the shower.
ALEX: Yeah! Alright baby! That’s right. Listen, you’re not alone. So many people have gotten in touch to tell me.
CHRIS: It’s so much more comfortable.
ALEX: It’s so comfortable.
CHRIS: Oh, that’s awesome.
PJ: Wait, so just to clarify something, cause this has come up a few times since that episode went out.
PJ: When you say you sit in the shower, are you sitting on a bench or a seat?
CHRIS: No. No. Just right on the, right in the tub.
ALEX: Criss-cross applesauce?
CHRIS: No, I stretch my legs out.
ALEX: You just kind of lean forward—
CHRIS: Or lean back in the bathtub.
ALEX: Oh, against the wall.
CHRIS: Yeah, against the wall.
PJ: So what was the first depressive episode you had where you realized that this was how you wanted to bathe?
CHRIS: So that was kind of funny, so our, when I was thinking about it, so our origin story is pretty much the same. It was right around middle school and high school time, uh, I don’t like mornings so I wanted to kind of sleep a little bit more.
PJ: Um, I’m sorry that this happened to you.
ALEX: I’m really proud of you for, for standing up for what you believe in in the face of this kind of persecution.
PJ: This is the dumbest populist movement that has ever happened, which is saying something.
ALEX: You know what?
CHRIS: It’s one of the greatest, it is definitely one of the greatest joys in life.
ALEX: Yeah, I know. It’s just like a simple, nice—
PJ: Have you guys checked out sunsets? Sunsets are pretty good.
ALEX: Sunsets suck compared to sitting in the shower.
CHRIS: They’re pretty cool, but I mean, yeah.
ALEX: Alright man, thank you for–thank you for standing with me on this.
CHRIS: Well, thanks for taking the call guys.
ALEX: Take care.
CHRIS: (laughs) Thanks. You too.
ALEX: Hello, this is Alex and PJ.
JOSE: Hi, this is Jose.
ALEX: Hi Jose.
JOSE: I can’t believe I actually got through. That’s crazy.
PJ: Where you calling from?
JOSE: I’m from Dallas, Texas.
PJ: What can we help you with?
JOSE: So, um, it’s an Instagram-related question.
JOSE: So, let me move to a quieter location. This is a little sensitive.
ALEX: Where are you right now?
JOSE: Uh, I’m at my office.
JOSE: Oooh. Just found a conference room that’s empty. Okay, so, um, hmmm. Basically like, so I’m gay, and I’m not out because family reasons, blah, blah. And Instagram has a feature where you can see the activity of the people that you’re following. So like, when you like somebody’s picture, it shows up in that weird little—
PJ: The following tab.
JOSE: Things that people, yeah, the following tab (laughs). Um, and I was wondering if you knew of a way to like hide that because I have a lot of like friends that are out and that you can you know, I want to like their pictures because I support them. They’re great people. But I also don’t want like my family to see that somehow, like specifically, I’ve got my brother and my aunt on there.
JOSE: And I’m just like, my brother’s savvy enough. My aunt, not so much. I don’t think she even uses it, but you know.
PJ: And your brother doesn’t know?
JOSE: So that little fear, yeah, still that fear in my heart, you know? (laughs)
PJ: You need a finsta.
PJ: Yeah, you gotta have two instagram accounts.
ALEX: You gotta have a fin–you have to have a, an Instagram that your parents don’t see.
PJ: And then you just, you use a slightly different name and you lock it.
JOSE: That’s ridiculous.
ALEX: It’s literally what everybody under the age of 25 does, I’m pretty sure.
PJ: Yeah, a lot of people do it, and like people that don’t even have like huge, like just because Instagram's great, but the problem is like, you want to say different things to different people, and they make so many things public by default on that.
PJ: Because even like, if you were really worried about protecting your privacy for now, like your following list (JOSE: Mhm.) could be something where somebody figures it out, you know what I mean?
ALEX: Yeah, I would just create a separate one for your friends. And when you’re ready–
JOSE: Oh man.
ALEX: That may change, but I would keep it.
PJ: How come that feels like something you wouldn’t want to do?
JOSE: Um, create a finsta?
JOSE: I guess, more than anything, it’s just like, it’s such a pain to have to go through and like recreate your contacts list, you know?
JOSE: It’s a weird situation.
PJ: Does your brother use Instagram a lot?
JOSE: Yeah, he’s pretty active on it.
PJ: And you–you’re not at a place where you’re ready to come out to him?
JOSE: No. I don’t know if that’ll ever happen.
PJ: That’s stressful man. I’m sorry you’re going through that.
ALEX: Yeah, I’m sorry you’re dealing with that.
JOSE: Yeah, well, it is what it is.
PJ: I think you’re in the finsta market then.
ALEX: Yeah, I think that’s the only way to do it.
JOSE: I guess I’m in the finsta market. Wow.
PJ: It’s kind of fun though. It’s kind of a way of like telling some people that you trust them, you know what I mean?
ALEX: Do you have one?
PJ: Couldn’t say.
ALEX: Oh my god, you don’t trust me!
PJ: I can’t say.
ALEX: Oh no, fair enough.
ALEX: Hello, this is Alex.
PJ: Who’s this?
ANNA: Um, this is Anna.
PJ: Hey Anna.
ANNA: Um, I wanna know why printers are so bad like all the time.
PJ: Oh my god! I want to know that! I don’t know. I don’t know why. It’s sort of like all technology was moving forward at about the same pace, and then printers just got held back in eighth grade and like never proceeded. Do you know what I mean?
ANNA: Yeah. Like, I tried to do this 60 plus page project that I’ve been working on for like three months and three printers consecutively broke at–while (ALEX: Oh no.) trying to print this project.
I had to get my grandmother to print it for me because everybody in my family had their printer break. So I just–I don’t know why this like always happens and why they seem to break at the most inopportune times, like, it feels like every other technology has come so far and printers are still just stuck in like 2005, and I wanted to know if there was like some big reason for that or if it’s just sometimes things are bad.
PJ: I don’t know. We can try to find out and call you back after we’re done taking calls today. I feel like there has to be an answer.
ALEX: Alright. Thanks Anna.
ANNA: Thank you so much.
ALEX: Thanks for calling.
ANNA: Thanks for picking up. Alright. Bye.
PJ: Who’s this?
TRISTAN: Uh, my name’s Tristan.
PJ: Uh, what can we help you with?
TRISTAN: I think I have a super tech support.
ALEX: Alright, let’s do it.
TRISTAN: Um, so for the past couple years, this weird thing has been happening with my Spotify account. Um.
PJ: Can I guess? (TRISTAN: Sure) Just because I think we’ve gotten a bunch of emails about this: Are there songs in your most listened to playlist that you’ve never listened to?
TRISTAN: It’s not just songs, it’s specifically the Moana soundtrack.
PJ: (laughs) What? Always the Moana soundtrack?
TRISTAN: Always the Moana soundtrack. A couple times I think like the Grateful Dead showed up. This happens so much that at the end of the year when you get like, your most listened to artists I had this guy show up that I didn’t recognize. It’s the guy that scored Moana. In my–
PJ: Oh my god.
TRISTAN: And then it stopped for a while, but I’m looking at my recently played right now and the Moana soundtrack is back in it. Yeah.
PJ: What do you think is going on?
TRISTAN: I have no idea. I feel like my Spotify has been hacked by a weird child that is obsessed with Moana and maybe the Grateful Dead.
ALEX: I’m curious. Do you use Spotify both on your desktop–on your computer and on your phone?
TRISTAN: I do.
ALEX: Does anybody else ever have access to your computer or your phone?
PJ: Like a child that loves Disney movies?
TRISTAN: No. No.
ALEX: Do you know anyone who likes Disney soundtracks?
TRISTAN: Yes, I do. But they have their own Spotify.
ALEX: Have you like gone to your parents house and logged in to it for any reason?
TRISTAN: No, like at this point, I’ve changed my Spotify password so many times that I don’t even know what it is. So if I were to sign into it to somebody else’s account I’d have to reset it again.
ALEX: When you change your password how do you go about doing it?
TRISTAN: I use Safari for some reason and I just use the uh, like the strong password generator
PJ: We can look into this for you. I mean, we now—
ALEX: We are owned by Spotify.
PJ: We work by Spotify. Yeah.
ALEX: I will say though that I have looked into something that is very similar as a Super Tech Support, and I haven’t been able to crack it, but people have been getting in touch with us saying like, “Hey, I would look at my most recently played and it would be stuff I’ve never heard of,”
ALEX: But in the other cases that I’ve gotten, it’s always been stuff that I’ve never heard of and didn’t sound like anything that any normal human being would listen to. There’s a band that was getting played all the time that was called “Tree Relaction.”
PJ: Tree Relaction?
ALEX: T-R-E-E R-E-L-A-C-T-I-O-N. Tree Relaction.
PJ: Were they good?
ALEX: Do you want to hear it?
ALEX: Here we go.
[Tree Relaction sample]
PJ: Oh, this is horrible.
PJ: This is like music you like.
ALEX: This is not like music I like.
PJ: It’s synth-y.
ALEX: It is synth-y, but this isn’t music I like.
PJ: It sounds like if you went in for a massage, but it was a trick, and the massage was actually supposed to stress you out. Like they just started punching you with a stapler.
PJ: This would be that stapler massage music. Okay. I’ve heard enough of Tree Relaction.
ALEX: What, you don’t like that?
ALEX: And the thing is, like, if you Google “Tree Relaction” they have no presence online whatsoever. They have no social media, no website, no tour dates, no Facebook. And my theory is some guy banged out some terrible music on a keyboard in like ten minutes, uploaded the songs to Spotify, and is now hacking people’s accounts to get listens for those songs so that he can get money from the royalties that Spotify pays to musicians, and according to the Tree Relaction page on Spotify — they’ve had 21,000 listeners this month.
PJ: Actually, this has happened to me too. Like, all–so on my Best of 2017, all the songs that I’ve never actually listened to, the one thing I noticed that they have in common is like, the one song that I supposedly listened to has like, like hundreds of thousands of listens, and then every other song will have like one thousand listens.
ALEX: What are some of the band names?
PJ: One is called uh, Le Sport, and their hit song “Tell No One About Tonight.”
[Tell No One About Tonight sample]
PJ: Can you imagine me like getting down to this in my house?
ALEX: This song is a jam.
PJ: I promise you I’ve never listened to this song on purpose.
ALEX: I’m feeling it. Wait, is there–are there lyrics? Keep it going. I like the bass synth.
PJ: They have a song called “Show Me Your Penis.”
ALEX: (laughs) Nevermind. I don’t like them anymore. You can turn this off.
PJ: Do do do do do do do.
ALEX: This song’s hot.
PJ: Anyway, the thing I don’t get is like if people are hacking into other people’s accounts to just like rack up lots of downloads for their obscure bands, why would Tristan be getting Moana? Like are the hackers Disney?
ALEX: Yeah, but why would Disney be doing that?
ALEX: That’s the thing that doesn’t make any sense.
TRISTAN: What, okay, so another thing that used to happen that hasn’t happened so much lately is that like it used to pause my Spotify all the time. And that was so annoying. That’s happened—
PJ: That’s something. Okay.
ALEX: That’s something.
PJ: Cause if it’s pausing your Spotify, usually what that means is that your Spotify account is being played somewhere else.
ALEX: You can’t use the same spotify account at two places at the same time.
PJ: That makes me wonder if it’s a person.
ALEX: Yeah, it feels like a person to me.
PJ: Can you check, okay, can you go, this probably won’t turn anything up. Are you at a computer?
TRISTAN: I can get a computer.
PJ: If you go onto your account settings and search “Spotify offline devices,” it’ll show you every device that is connected to your Spotify.
TRISTAN: Oh wow–
PJ: And I wonder if you look at that, if you’ll see anything you don’t recognize.
TRISTAN: Okay. Here. Log in. Okay. It’s hard to tell.
PJ: What do you see?
TRISTAN: It just says, it just says “iphone.” I mean, there’s four iphones here though.
PJ: It could be every iphone you’ve had. Have you had four iphones over the time you’ve had Spotify?
TRISTAN: Yeah, it’s totally possible because the earliest one is from 2016, but it doesn’t show any laptops or anything. It just shows, I mean I could remove all these and see what happens.
PJ: I would try it.
TRISTAN: Alright. Remove all devices.
PJ: I would try that and see if that actually does it, like if you logged in on somebody’s phone a million years ago and forgot about it.
TRISTAN: Alright. Yeah, no I’ll let you know if anything changes now that I’ve taken off this–all these offline devices.
TRISTAN: That makes me wonder.
AG: In the meantime, we are going to dig into this and see if we can get an answer for you.
PJ: Alright. Let us know.
ALEX: Take care Tristan.
TRISTAN: Alright. Thanks so much. Alright cheers. Bye.
PJ: Do you want to hear “Show Me Your Penis?”
ALEX: No, but…
[“Show Me Your Penis” sample]
ALEX: I can’t deny these guys are good.
PJ: They are kind of good.
ALEX: What are they called?
PJ: Le Sport.
PJ: After the break, we get some answers.
PJ: Welcome back to the show.
PJ: Ok Alex, we’ve gotten out, we’ve gotten our answers. Do you wanna start with the Spotify question?
ALEX: Yeah let’s give Tristan a ring.
ALEX: Hey, Tristan.
PJ: How's it going?
TRISTAN: Hey, how's it going? Oh, jinx. Good. How're you doing?
ALEX: Alright, so, I have updates. I bring news.
TRISTAN: Oh man. Okay. What have you got?
ALEX: So we were trying to think about who we should talk to about compromised Spotify accounts or like how someone would get into them. And I decided to get in touch with this hacker we’ve had on the show before —
Do you remember the "Snapchat Thief" episode?
TRISTAN: Um, remind me again?
PJ: Really putting him on the spot here.
ALEX: PJ, do you remember the–
TRISTAN: No, I probably do, I probably–
PJ: Surely you've listened to every single episode.
ALEX: (laughs) It's fine.
PJ: That was somebody had a snapchat handle that got stolen by hackers who went after people with specific handles that they wanted because they were short or it was an unusual username.
TRISTAN: I remember that now. That was the one where you like went into the chat room with the teenage hackers.
ALEX: Yeah, yeah, yeah.
TRISTAN: That's the one where you made them, where they eventually apologized?
ALEX: Well Kevin, the hacker who actually ended up apologizing in that episode — I got in touch with him to ask about hacking into Spotify accounts.
[video call ring]
ALEX: Hey, man. You there?
KEVIN: Yeah, hello?
ALEX: Hey, how's it going?
KEVIN: Aw, it's been a while. How are you?
ALEX: Good to talk to you.
ALEX: Kevin told me there are a lot of compromised Spotify accounts floating around that are for sale and are very cheap.
KEVIN: So in this case, Spotify, there's like free versions of Spotify that have ads and then there's the, uh, the Premium.
ALEX: Right, right.
KEVIN:So, I'm assuming the person that called in had a Premium Spotify and someone else bought the account for like a dollar or fifty cents or however much they go for and then they just signed in and they use its t.
PJ: And it makes sense that Spotify accounts would get hacked because, first of all, it's like not a thing that you'd necessarily throw your best password at because like the consequences are pretty low and also if somebody's stealing your Spotify, I guess you would notice because sometimes it wouldn't play music. Sometimes, yeah.
ALEX: Well, but a lot of times you wouldn't.
ALEX: And so, the thing that I didn't understand was, Tristan you told us that you changed your password a bunch of times and so I asked Kevin how it would be possible (TRISTAN: Yeah) that someone could still be getting into your account.
ALEX: Do you have any idea why something like that would happen?
KEVIN: No idea. I mean, unless he's like getting phished over and over again, which I, which I doubt.
KEVIN: I don't think you can brute force Spotify accounts. I think they get locked out now.
ANNA: Hey, uh, this is Anna. I'm a producer on Reply All. What does brute force mean?
KEVIN: So brute forcing is like getting every possible character from like one through six for example.
KEVIN: So "aaa" all the way to "aaaaa1" and it'd just like go down the line. It'd be millions of, um, millions of lines, millions of combinations.
KEVIN: But, yeah, that's a lot of resources just to get into one guy's account.
KEVIN: But I don't think that's the case at all, honestly.
ALEX: And then I asked him about my theory, right? (TRISTAN: Mhm) My theory that there's someone out there who's like, who's like uploading bad music and–
PJ: Using stolen Spotify accounts to get their like plays way up.
ALEX: Yeah. And he was like, "That's ridiculous."
KEVIN: The royalties are like super low, aren't they? They would like need millions of plays to like get anything, like, worth it. You know?
KEVIN: But I think you also need like a, like a musician account or whatever, like an official account to get the royalties. And then to get that, like, to get paid out, they'd have to like dox themselves and I don't know how far someone would go through all of that.
ALEX: Alright, fine.
KEVIN: Just a–
ALEX: Just poke holes in my theory whatever.
KEVIN: (laughs) Yeah, I don't know how far someone would go because if anything came back to them, they'd be kind of you know in trouble.
ALEX: Kevin didn't really know what could be happening with bands like Tree Relaction or with Tristan's particular unique problem with Moana and The Grateful Dead and so I thought that if I was going to get an answer to this I would have to go to Spotify directly. So I went to my bosses boss and I was like hey, what is the deal with this? Can you help? And he got back to me and got me in touch with a PR person.
And the PR person told that my theory about people hacking accounts to play songs to collect royalties – “that actually has happened in the past.”
ALEX: And I was like, "Oh my god. That's amazing. I feel so validated." That said, I don't–
PJ: It's still Disney.
ALEX: I don't think Disney needs that kind of money.
TRISTAN: Or The Dead.
ALEX: Or The Grateful Dead. And as much as I hate to say this, because it feels like I'm accusing you of something, I feel like it has to be someone who has or had access to your account.
TRISTAN: Oh yeah. The one thing that I think is, um, so I can't tell if it worked yet is that thing that you told me to do which was log out of offline devices.
TRISTAN: Because there was like, there was maybe like–it was hard to tell. But there might've been like one extra iPhone on there.
TRISTAN: And I wonder if the offline devices logout thing did it.
ALEX: Since you've done that, have you seen any Grateful Dead or Moana appear in your recently played?
TRISTAN: Um, no. The Grateful Dead is still in my heavy rotation but that could just be because it calculates that like monthly or something.
PJ: I feel like if that is indeed the case, one day you're going to be hanging with some friend who it has not occurred to you to wonder about and you're gonna get in the car with them and they're gonna start blasting the Moana soundtrack and you'll be like, "It was you."
PJ: Okay. But if the problem is fixed that feels good.
ALEX: Yeah, check back with us if the problem persists and also if our listeners think that I'm–I've got it totally wrong I'd be open to hear what they think might be going on.
ALEX: Alright, well, let us know and thanks so much for calling, Tristan.
TRISTAN: Yeah. Thanks- thanks for–thanks for helping me out.
TRISTAN: Appreciate it.
ALEX: Take care.
TRISTAN: Alright, cheers. Bye.
PJ: Hi, Anna?
PJ: Hey, it’s PJ.
ALEX: And Alex.
ANNA: Hi PJ. Hi Alex.
PJ: For a second, I didn’t think you were going to say hi to Alex and I was on board with it as a choice. Um, (ANNA laughs) I got an answer for you about why printers don’t get better.
ANNA: I am so intrigued.
PJ: I have to tell you, it was completely fascinating. Like, I did not understand how complicated printers are, like, the entire world that goes on inside these stupid things.
PJ: So I called this reporter who actually spent a long time trying to figure out the answer to this.
PJ: Can you just introduce yourself?
JOSHUA: Sure. I'm Joshua Rothman and I'm the ideas editor of New Yorker dot com.
PJ: So basically Joshua got curious about this the same way that you did. There was just one day at his office a while back where the printer got jammed and he was just like, “Why?”
PJ: He said in his mind’s eye he saw like a supercut of every time he’d been standing in front of a jammed printer.
ANNA: (laughs) Yes.
PJ: And so he wanted to find out like what the deal is.
JOSHUA: And then I went and um googled it and I went down sort of a Google Scholar rabbit hole and I found that there's you know an entire engineering subfield sort of organized around jams because it's not just printers that jam you know all sorts of different things jam. So like cassette tapes jam, and um, you know, guns jam, you know things like apple pickers jam.
PJ: Apple pickers jam?
JOSHUA: Yeah like just jamming is a problem in general.
PJ: So specifically in the world of printers, there are people who just spend their whole lives obsessing over how to stop a printer from jamming, and he embedded with this like, elite team of anti-jam experts at Xerox because Xerox I guess is like the cutting edge for this stuff, which I did not know.
PJ: He says that one of the reasons that we still get so many jams is that printers keep getting smaller and smaller and so this whole process has to happen in a tighter and tighter space.
JOSHUA: The way that the printer works, the way that it negotiates all these twists and turns is with a vacuum. This blew my mind. It's fans and vacuum. That's what adheres the paper to the little conveyor belt, pushes the sheets of paper around the turns. Um, so that's why you know the sound the printer makes that fan–
JOSHUA: That's essentially like a vacuum cleaner and it's pulling the paper, you know, into the right spot, like flush with the drum that then, uh, the, um, toner you know is adhered to. And then the toner is fused to that sheet of paper by like super high heat. So this is why when the paper comes out of the printer it's like toasty.
JOSHUA: And paper is made from trees and these organic fibers you know shrink in high heat, but then in other ways they expand. So you might have paper that expands more in one dimension than another or it might curl. You know? So–
PJ: Because paper is not uniform like trees aren't uniform.
JOSHUA: No. So it's an organic material fundamentally and it's going through like the ringer.
PJ: So every piece of paper is different. You know, it depends what kind of tree it came from. It even depends what part of the larger roll of paper they cut it out of. And every piece of paper because it's different, it's going to behave differently as it's getting pulled through all the different rollers inside the printer.
ANNA: Oh, that makes sense.
PJ: Yeah, the other thing he said that really surprised me is that even though it feels like printers are jamming at the same rate or more often or it's not getting better. He said actually things are getting better, we just don't notice it.
JOSHUA: The jam rate isn't really higher now than it was before and in fact it's lower. (PJ: Uh huh.) But you print faster, you know, so like you know if you could only print ten pages a minute in, in 2001, (PJ: Right), you know it seemed like jams happen less often. But now you can print you know like 25 pages a minute and you're actually getting fewer jams but you know the total volume of printing basically keeps going up and the speed goes up and so it jams.
JOSHUA: You know, so like, I thought- I- I- I–it's a real, it's, it's, it’s a limitation.
PJ: I totally forgot about that like literally I just had a flashback to being in like fifth grade and like watching a single sheet of paper print over the course of like four minutes.
JOSHUA: Yeah it's totally crazy.
PJ: When you learned all this stuff did it change how you like now when you're in the office and the printer jams, do you feel the exact same frustration to the exact same paper cut? Do you feel like it's like a miracle? Like how do you- how does–how did this change your relationship to printer jams?
JOSHUA: Well I got to say I mean when I was, when I was reporting this story, I mean, I spent a lot of time watching slo-mo video taken from inside printers, right? (PJ laughs) Which is like how they do this. And when you watch those videos it's like the scale of the printer changes in your mind and it becomes a massive space with these huge objects zooming around at some completely out of control speed.
JOSHUA: And I mean it's basically really interesting to kind of like look in there and be like huh, you know it was when the paper was trying to make it around this (PJ laughs) like hairpin turn it didn't, it didn't quite make it. You know, that's the reason.
JOSHUA: I mean in a way printers now are a thing that stands in my mind for like incredible human achievement. (laughs) I mean that this, that this thing that used to be the size of a building or used to be, used to be, you know, really like, you know, dozens of feet long, can now be compact and to maintain always the, the jam.
JOSHUA: The current jam rate is like an extraordinary, (laughing) extraordinary achievement. (PJ laughs) To make it smaller and smaller and faster without making it jam all the time. It’s like totally nuts.
ANNA: That makes sense because this is something that I’ve talked about with my sister before and she’s like, feels like things from the internet like aren’t necessarily even meant to become things in physical space and the fact that they’re able to at all is kind of wild.
PJ: So do you feel in any way less frustrated about paper jams?
ANNA: Yeah, I think so. At least, I’ll get, like, I mean, at least it works sometimes.
PJ: Is there anything else you were wondering about?
ANNA: Um, I think I’m good.
PJ: Okay, cool. Thanks for your question.
ALEX: Thanks, Anna.
ANNA: Thank you so much for your answer.
PJ: Have a cool summer.
ANNA: You too.
PJ: (laughs) Bye.
ANNA: Alright bye.
ALEX: Reply All is hosted by PJ Vogt and me Alex Goldman. We’re produced by Sruthi Pinnamaneni, Phia Bennin, Damiano Marchetti, Anna Foley, Jessica Yung, and Emmanuel Dzotsi. Our editor is Tim Howard. We’re mixed by Rick Kwan. Fact-checking by Michelle Harris. Our intern is Emily Rostek. Special thanks to everyone who called in. Our theme song is by the Mysterious Breakmaster Cylinder and our ad music is by Build Buildings.
Matt Lieber is finding a water fall on a hike.
You can listen to our show on Spotify or wherever you get your podcasts. Thanks for listening, we'll see you soon.