LOS ANGELES – Winds of change.
Veteran rocker Peter Frampton was miffed.
Performing onstage in Carmel, Indiana, someone in the front row wouldn’t stop snapping smartphone shots of him. So Frampton did something that just hadn’t been seen at many concerts before. The rock hero silenced the fan: He interrupted his guitar solo, grabbed the phone away, and then went back to riffing.
“Winds of Change.”
That just happened to be the title of Frampton’s first solo album, and boy is it more relevant than ever.
Our lives are shifting daily, thanks to the ever moving tech train.
And that’s what USA TODAY #TalkingTech is here for–to document and make some sense of them.
We close 2014 with another stellar roster of interviews, with over 50 from all walks of personality — from musicians Frampton, Kenny Loggins (raising funds for a new album on Kickstarter) and new podcaster Chick Corea to late night comic Jimmy Kimmel, whose “Mean Tweets,” is one of his most popular segments and Fox’s Lou Dobbs, who never leaves home without two smartphones.
We had movie stars–Pierce Brosnan is crazy for feeding his Instagram and getting new likes–and sports heroes too. Did you know that former NBA great Shaquille O’Neal spends $1,000 a week on buying apps?
As we always do at this time of year, here are some more highlights from 2014.
–Howie Mandel: We had so much fun with the veteran comic. I asked about the trend of taking “selfies” with celebrities instead of asking for autographs and he corrected me, saying my use of “selfie” wasn’t as intended. “A selfie is a picture of yourself. As soon as someone else is in it, it’s an ‘ussie.’ It’s a selfie plus someone else. If you just want a selfie, I can’t be in your selfie. I can be in your ussie.”
–Zendaya: Speaking of selfies, the teen star from the Disney Channel doesn’t care whether it is indeed the proper use of the word: She calls herself the ”Selfie Queen” and told us how she spends hours taking photos of herself and friends, and posting them to her 14 million followers on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook. “I post pictures of my nails, because that’s my thing, my outfits, whatever I’m doing that day. Like most people my age, I will take 50 pictures, delete them all, find the one I like, then stare at it for 80 billion hours. It’s fun, it’s like your own personal photo shoot.”
–Harry Shum, Jr. from TV’s Glee is such a geek he shelled out $1,500 for an early version of Google Glass computerized eyewear, which he used on a recent trip to Spain and France. He told us that on the set, “I’m the go-to guy. ‘Oh, the iPad is messed up — let’s ask Harry.’ If I wasn’t doing this, I think I’d be in some kind of tech support. I love introducing people to tech.”
–Brooklyn Decker: The supermodel/actress dropped by the USA TODAY bureau here and showed us how she has fun with the free Voice Changer Plus (Apple) app, which records your voice, then alters it into the sound of a ghost, turtle, a person who just sucked in helium and more. “My best friend just turned 30, and I hosted her surprise party. We kidnapped her. I was wearing a Richard Nixon mask and did this voice (via the app) to scare her in the car.”
–Magic Johnson: The former NBA superstar made news when he sat with us and discussed the diversity inequity problems in Silicon Valley. Looking to diversify with black and latino engineers? “They just need to give me a call. If they’re looking for talent, give me a call. If they are looking for companies to partner with, give me a call.”
–Uzo Aduba: The actress, who won an Emmy for her role as Suzanne the “Crazy Eyes,” inmate on Netflix’s hit “Orange is the New Black,” stopped by the USA TODAY bureau to talk about the phenomenon of folks doing their best “crazy eyes,” impressions on Instagram, and then showed us how to do it too. “Think of something you love….and feel like you’re going to explode.”
–Wayne Knight: Everybody knows this guy from his old gig as Newman on Seinfeld, and he has a new job, co-starring in TV Land’s The Exes, which is where we met him, at the set. Who knew he was such a techie? He’s got every TV app for his iPad known to man (including BBC, Netflix, CBS, Justin.TV, HBO GO, uStream and the Slingplayer) and has been with Google Voice even before it was Google Voice.
–Jason Mraz: Finally, when I meet folks, they generally ask me this question: who’s your favorite interview of all time? There have been so many through the years–from tech stars Steve Jobs and Sergey Brin to Jerry Seinfeld and Kermit the Frog–how to pick just one?
Well now, I have an easy, immediate answer, and it took place in 2014, on January 25th, in Anaheim, California, at the NAMM show, the meeting of musical instrument manufacturers and dealers.
I interviewed Mraz on stage, for a live #TalkingTech, at the Taylor Guitars booth, and he told me how he used a free app for composing new songs.
“All of my songs begin with Voice Memos,” he said of the Apple iPhone app.
Just doing the interview live in front of about 500 people was special enough. But as a topper, after about 45 minutes of Q&A, we finished up by picking up two guitars and playing a song. We were at a music convention, on a stage after all, so besides the fact that I’m a long-time guitar player who’s always up for some strumming, the setting was right on. And the song just happened to be one of his most popular, iconic hits, “I’m Yours.” How’s that for an all-time memory?
Watch the accompanying clip for my all-time 2014 highlight!
We met actor Wayne Knight at the set of his TV Land series, “The Exes,” in Studio City for a #TalkingTech visit. Knight, best known to the world for his long run as pesky neighbor Newman on the “Seinfeld” sitcom, is a fun chap who’s hip to a lot of new tech, so we had a blast chatting for the video feature.
I get this question all the time–who else have you interviewed for the celebrity edition of #TalkingTech, your weekly video show on USATODAY.com?
So instead of jogging my brain, why not have a rolling list here, which I can update every week?
In no particular order, here goes:
When we met up with comedian Kevin Nealon at his home in Los Angeles for my USA TODAY #TalkingTech series, he mentioned that his all-time favorite gadget was the EG1 Traveler Guitar, suitable for overhead bins and rocking out in hotel rooms.
Well, you know me.
“Can you go it?” I asked.
And thus began out shoot, where I requested that he have some fun with the axe for photo time.
(And this was after we played “Dueling Banjos,” and the theme from the “Beverly Hillbillies,” on guitar and banjo.
Just another fun morning on the job!