DTNS 2592 – Schrödinger’s Television

Logo by Mustafa Anabtawi thepolarcat.comOLED, 4K and quantum dots got your head spinning? Robert Heron talks TV tech and the best buys out there with Scott Johnson and Tom Merritt .

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DTNS 2591 – Magnets! They Work Like This.

Logo by Mustafa Anabtawi thepolarcat.comGoogle announces new Nexus phones, new Chromecasts for video and audio and an enticing convertible Android tablet. Tom Merritt and Patrick Beja discuss.

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DTNS 2590 – The Unbearable Politeness of Being Disconnected

Logo by Mustafa Anabtawi thepolarcat.comAre we too obsessed with our phones? Studies suggest they may make us less empathetic and prevent substantive conversation. Tom Merritt and Veronica Belmont talk about how to maintain a smart balance with your smart phone.

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Weekly Tech Views 11 – Sept 26, 2015

 

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Real tech stories. Really Shaky Analysis.

Welcome to early fall, that magical time of year when many of us get to both rake leaves and mow the lawn! Take a well-deserved break with a few minutes of pseudo-technology nonsense.

For the week of September 21 – September 25, 2015

 

It’s All About That Face, ‘Bout That Face, New Pebble
Pebble announced the Pebble Time Round, its first smartwatch with a round face. This is how I hope the press conference went:

[A round stage is designed to mimic a watch face and at each hour sits a two-year-old dressed like Fred and Wilma Flintstone’s kid. Center stage, Pebble CEO Eric Migicovsky takes questions]

“Why does the new watch have a shorter battery life than previous versions?”

“It’s round.”

“Do you think the smaller display will hinder it’s functionality?”

“It’s round!”

“What’s that smell?”

“Three o’clock Pebbles peed.”

“Why wasn’t the $249 price rounded to $250?”

“We’re done here.”

Starbucks Makes it Easier Than Ever to Spend Seven Bucks on a 900-Calorie, Nutrition-Free Breakfast
The Starbucks app is now available for Android, providing the ability to order and pay with your mobile device. This will work in 7,000 U.S. locations, which, according to the most recent census, covers nearly three-quarters of the stores in eastern Connecticut. The next update to the app is expected to include the Digital Barista, a feature that lets you speak your order into your phone–“a Venti Pumpkin Spice Frappuccino and a Pumpkin Scone, for Charles”–and then, at the very moment your order is ready, you will get a voice message stating “Your order is ready, Caramels.”

And While You’re At It, Tattoo Your Bank Account Info on Your Forehead
The Indian government had proposed a law requiring smartphone users to keep any encrypted information stored on their phone, in plain text, for ninety days, so the government could have a little look-see if they felt like it. Thankfully, this provision was removed in a later draft, along with the less-publicized requirement that citizens keep all web site passwords written on a piece of paper and kept in their sock drawer.

At Least There Was No Vomit Involved
When Amazon Web Services went down over the weekend, writer David Gerwitz reported that his Echo–Amazon’s personal assistant device–didn’t take it well. When he spoke requests such as “turn on the lights” or “turn off the alarm,” the only response from Alexa–the Echo’s “brain”–was to initiate a spinning red light (a light that is normally blue) and slowly speak a series of meaningless words. Analysts expect Mr. Gerwitz to add some levitation and a swarm of flies and get cracking on a first draft of The Alexorcist.

Yeah, But How About the Fun We Had With Fahrvergnugen?
The Environmental Protection Agency sent a notice of violation (known in official government parlance as “calling shenanigans”) to Volkswagen after discovering that some of their diesel vehicles were cheating emissions tests. The German auto manufacturer had installed software to determine if testing was being done, and only under those conditions would emissions be scaled back.

No question, Volkswagen (motto: “If the car doesn’t emit, you must issue a permit“) did a lousy thing. They duped the EPA and screwed their customers by taking an axe to their car’s resale value. But I think we can all agree the big picture takeaway is this: machines continue to become more like us every day.

As anthropologists have said for centuries, the ability to control when we emit gasses is what separates us from the animals.* Which of us hasn’t, when being “tested”–at a job interview, on a date, sitting through the third hour of a play you didn’t want to go to in the first place and has you questioning whether it was really worth promising this to be able to go to the Browns game with your friends last week–altered our natural tendencies and contained emissions that would put us in a bad light in the eyes of others, and then, once free of the testing scenario, emitted something not only harmful to the immediate environment, but capable of jiggling the needle on a nearby seismograph?

Fingerprints Are Like Snowflakes–Neither Is Safe Inside a Federal Government Building
Previously, The U.S. Office of Personnel Management stated that the fingerprints of 1.1 million government employees were accessed during a data breach this summer. That number has now been updated to 5.6 million. Demoralized by the extent of this hack, officials performed an extensive cost/benefit analysis and decided they could save taxpayers millions of dollars and be nearly as secure by uninstalling all computer security software and asking the world to go on the honor system.

If It Wasn’t Important, It Wouldn’t Be On Twitter
On this episode of Priorities Playhouse, we eavesdrop on a technology conversation taking place in thousands of homes, workplaces, dorms, and coffeeshops between two web surfers:

Web Surfer A: “Wow, listen to this–a paraplegic was able to walk by wearing a cap that sent signals from his brain–bypassing his severed spinal cord!–to his leg muscles via electrodes around his kn–”

Web Surfer B: “Hey–you can get your selfie printed on a pancake!”**

There Ought to Be a Law
A U.S. District Judge ruled that the Fifth Amendment prevents someone from having to divulge their mobile phone passcode to provide authorities access to the contents. It turns out, however, that it does nothing to prevent your fantasy football leaguemates, after listening to you brag all off-season about going 12-1-1 and winning the league championship, from guessing that your passcode is 1211 and leaving images on your camera roll of the trophy you bought to commemorate your accomplishment being subjected to contact with parts of their bodies that only the most intimate of medical specialists would normally see.

 

* Journal of Obnoxious Smells (June, 1981)

** Yes, it’s true: http://laist.com/2015/09/24/pancake_selfies_are_the_future.php

 

Thanks for spending some of your non-yard work time with the Weekly Tech Views. If you know someone else who needs an excuse to put the rake down for a few minutes, send them by.

Mike Range
@MovieLeagueMike

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DTNS 2589 – You Go, Constitution!

Logo by Mustafa Anabtawi thepolarcat.comA US judge rules the 5th amendment protects two defendants from revealing their passwords. Is your password safe from a government warrant or subpoena? Tom Merritt and Darren Kitchen discuss while Len Peralta illustrates the episode.

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DTNS 2588 – Boom, Headshot!

Logo by Mustafa Anabtawi thepolarcat.comUS cable TV network TBS will create its own esports league around Counter-Strike in conjunction with talent agency WME/IMG. Is this good for esports? Tom Merritt and Justin Young discuss with Garrett Weinzierl from Amove.tv.

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DTNS 2587 – Pebble Is Coming ‘Round

Logo by Mustafa Anabtawi thepolarcat.comHappy Birthday may enter the public domain now while data may not be allowed to leave Europe for the US. Plus, Tom Merritt and Scott Johnson look over the upcoming Amazon TV pilots.

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DTNS 2586 – Of Bionic Mice and Men

Logo by Mustafa Anabtawi thepolarcat.comYou can now 3D print a sciatic nerve guide to replace damaged nerves. How far are we from printing all our organs? Neuroscientist and host of This Week in Science, Dr. Kiki Sanford talks with Patrick Beja and Tom Merritt about that very thing.

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Continue reading DTNS 2586 – Of Bionic Mice and Men

DTNS 2585 – Periscope is a Turkish Delight

Logo by Mustafa Anabtawi thepolarcat.comPeriscope is taking Turkey by storm. Veronica Belmont and Tom Merritt discuss why and also figure out why Kickstarter became a Public Benefit Company.

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Continue reading DTNS 2585 – Periscope is a Turkish Delight

Weekly Tech Views 10 – Sept 19, 2015

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Real tech stories. Really shaky analysis.

The week in tech, without the annoying facts or common sense.

For the week of September 14 – September 18, 2015

And the First Game Will be Called Game 1
Sony has officially changed the name of their virtual reality initiative from Project Morpheus to PlayStation VR, in an attempt to ward off any dangerous excess excitement a cool name might produce.

Now I Can Really Let You Know What I Think of Your Cat
Facebook is talking about adding a Dislike button. CEO Mark Zuckerberg tried to explain that the purpose would be to show empathy, not disagreement, but many Facebook users still see this as the first step toward the Holy Grail of web site commenters, the Burn In Hell, You Stupid A-Hole button.

I Remember When Bad News Was Losing in the Playoffs
Apple said they are on pace to set a new first-weekend iPhone sales record. Of course, “on pace” can be misleading. The Cleveland Browns lost their first game, so, technically, they are on pace to go 0-16, but the odds of that actually…

Okay, Apple, congratulations.

Buckle Up
Intel launched the Automotive Security Review Board to improve cybersecurity in cars and reduce the chances of vehicles being hacked, after a recent study stated: HOLY CRAP, CARS CAN BE HACKED! I can hardly wait for the fast-approaching day when some bored eighth-grader finds an exploit in all mid-sized sedans and we find ourselves in the middle of a rush hour Mario Kart game.

Technostalgia
German auto manufacturer Porsche (pronounced “gif”) introduced the Mission E, an electric concept car with 590 horsepower, a 311-mile range, and a battery that can recharge to 80% in fifteen minutes. Automotive reporters present at the Frankfurt Motor Show for the unveiling were unanimous in commenting, “I remember when I could recharge in fifteen minutes.”

That’s So Old School
Apple released iOS 9 this week, and after thoroughly examining the features and performance of their competitor’s updated operating system, Microsoft executives said, “Nine? Who names their OS with a ‘nine'”?”

Good Thing Nobody’s Heard of That Amazon Store
Sharp plans to start selling an 85-inch, 8K TV in Japan next month. “Best news ever,” shouted Bert Naughton, Senior Vice President at Monster–the company best known for selling wildly overpriced electronics cables–from a raucous, company-wide celebration. “Getting 8K video is going to require four HDMI cables! Is Marketing on the phone yet? We need new packaging; call them Mega Super Ultra HD, 8K certified by the Professional Pixel Panel, with, I don’t know, Platinomium-coated contacts or something. And anyone that sells a cable for less than $200 is fired!”

But, Mom, That’s Not…
Android devices using the current Lollipop operating system were shown to be hackable by entering abnormally long passwords, though this exploit did not work on devices protected with a short pin code. “What’s that you were saying about not using 1-2-3-4?” asked everyone’s mother, smiling smugly.

Why Couldn’t I Have Gotten Arrested?
Ahmed Mohamed, a 14-year-old in Irving, Texas, built a homemade clock, brought it to school, and was, naturally, arrested, handcuffed, and taken to a juvenile detention center. The claim was that he had built a “hoax bomb” to scare his classmates and teachers. No charges were filed, and the aftermath resulted in invitations to visit the White House, Facebook, and Google.

This was a nice turn of events for Ahmed, but I can’t help being a little bitter. It sounds like his clock was not even part of a competition, just something he did on his own, whereas my second grade Science Fair entry Fun With Static Electricity won first place (not just balloons–balloon animals!), but I didn’t get so much as a letter from the city councilman who lived on our street.

To-may-to, To-mah-to
Microsoft sent out media invites for next months briefing about new Windows 10 devices, including the updated Surface Pro, or, as it’s referred to by NFL television announcers–after Microsoft paid the NFL $400 million to make the Surface Pro the official tablet of the NFL–“the iPad.”

Do I Not Bleed?
Facebook is working with the German government to prevent xenophobic and racist comments from being posted. OK, but what’s being done to crack down on the guy who, with no regard for the fact that I’m a real person with actual, human emotions, viciously and hatefully lashed out by referring to this blog as “meh?”

Frankly, I Don’t Trust the Coffee Maker Either
The new Roomba 980 vacuum cleaner will allegedly keep working until it has cleaned every possible spot on your floor. It is able to do this by mapping your whole house with the use of a camera. Oh, and military robotics technology.

No thanks. I’ve seen this movie. It was called Maximum Overdrive. It was based on a Stephen King story in which machines come to life and help us lead more efficient, fulfilling lives. Ha! As if! No, they want us dead, of course. And you know what the ability to map my whole house means? The ability to find me wherever the hell I hide, that’s what.

“Oh, what’s a Roomba going to do to you?” you ask. “Clean you to death?”

You don’t watch horror movies, do you?

All you have to do is trip once (guess what trips you?), and the Roomba accelerates, gets hold of your hair, and, without being too graphic, let’s just say you aren’t standing up again with your scalp and brain intact.

So I think we’ll keep pushing around our twelve-year-old, non-military grade Dirt Devil. (My wife would like me to clarify that, by “we,” I mean “she.” This is true, but only because I have an old Frisbee-related wrist injury that could flare up at any time, especially with the way that vacuum cleaner lurches to one side, being on only three wheels–it’s a real bear to manage, let me tell you–and I wouldn’t want my ability to type up this blog and deliver it to the readers (both of you) to be affected.)

Thanks again for stopping by the Weekly Tech Views Blog. If you enjoyed it, feel free to send a friend or five this way. If you weren’t so crazy about it, we’ll just pretend this never happened.

Mike Range
@MovieLeagueMike

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Weekly Tech Views Blog by Mike Range is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.