DTNS 2605 – One Man’s Trash is Another Man’s Power

Logo by Mustafa Anabtawi thepolarcat.comWhat if we could burn trash for power? Well, we can’t. But we can Pyrolisize it for power. Josh Clark from the Stuff You Should Know podcast explains to Veronica Belmont and Tom Merritt what that means and whether we will face a landfill shortage.

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Weekly Tech Views 14 – Oct 17, 2015

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Real tech stories. Really shaky analysis.

Welcome back to the Weekly Tech Views, where thoughtful analysis is for suckers.

For the week of October 12-16, 2015:

That’s So 2014
Acer is coming out with two completely separate mobile devices, a laptop and a tablet. Haha! No, of course they aren’t. Acer is, of course, introducing a hybrid computer, as mandated by the computer industry’s new HYBRID policy (Here’s Your Best Revenue-Increasing Device).

How About You Back Up That “Like” With Some Cash?
Facebook is testing shopping features in their mobile app with a Buy Now button. This will allow retailers of virtually any product, from clothing to auto parts, books to handmade crafts, to sell to you, with just the click of a button, a hybrid computer.

Avoid The Origami Setting
Laundroid is a robot capable of folding clothes. While the five minutes required to fold a T-shirt may seem excessive, the time, like everything, is relative. For testing purposes, I performed a time trial measuring my speed at folding a t-shirt, and completed the relatively foreign task in ten seconds. While not necessarily up to the precise standards you might encounter on the shelves at Neiman-Marcus, it was satisfactory for my needs (a low bar, true, as “worn for two days and hanging inside-out from the bathroom doorknob” is satisfactory for my needs). At that pace, I could theoretically fold thirty shirts in that same five minutes. Theoretically. But that little experiment took place in a controlled, distraction-free environment of our laundry room.* In the real world, I have been known to remove a t-shirt from a laundry basket as the Browns kicked-off against the Steelers and had that same shirt in my hand at half-time. So, assuming the Laundroid has no interest in football, I’m willing to give it a whirl.

On This Week’s Episode Of Cute Or Creepy…
Also on the robot front this week is RoBoHoN,** a small robot from Sharp that walks, talks, dances… and is a phone. The default mode for calls is speakerphone, with the cute little robot standing on your table and moving and acting like he’s talking when the person at the other end speaks. There is also the option to pick up the robot and hold it to the side of your head, wherein RoboHoN will whisper in your ear. And you will talk into… well, there’s some debate about that.

There is no word on pricing yet, but to purchase one you will have to pass an extensive psychological evaluation. No, not really, but it would be a damned good idea. I have a friend, let’s call her Jane, who really likes her current phone. Really likes it. It’s covered in stickers, she won’t let anyone else touch it, and she calls it Phonebert. An iPhone 4s. She could easily afford a newer one, but she is attached to Phonebert. Somehow, despite a protective case and the additional padding of half-inch of stickers, she cracked a corner of the glass, and was bed-ridden with depression for days.

Imagine if she gets a RoBoHoN. At first, she’ll be in heaven. She will be the catalyst for third-party RoBoHoN outfit designers. Her RoBoHoN-ey will have a crib, a changing table (let’s face it, version 2.0 is going to drink from a bottle and wet itself), and a spinning, lighted disco ball and dance floor. Jane will be in her glory. Until she drops him. On his head. Because this phone HAS A HEAD! And it will happen. Jane will be ending a call, RoBoHoN’s hand will catch in her hoop earring, he will slip from her hand, and crash to the floor.

So let’s be careful, Sharp, about who you sell these to. Because I can’t handle that memorial service.

It Rhymes And Has A Laser, Does It Have To Work, Too?
Kickstarter suspended funding for the Laser Razor because there is no working prototype for the device that its creators claim will remove facial hair with a laser beam. The public’s reaction, of course, is, “Whew.”

Sure, the idea is cool–anything with lasers is cool–but, inevitably, RoBoHoN would arm himself with one of these, and, when you’re on the phone while eating and you drip mayonnaise from your Italian sub on RoBoHoN’s legs one time too many, he aims his modified laser up your nose and Swiss cheese-ifies your brain. Granted, he gets rid of that one nose hair you can never cut because it curls up somewhere inside your nostril until you’re out in public when it extends to its full length and it looks like a spool of thread you keep up there has started to unravel, so, silver lining and all that, I guess, but still.

Maybe I’m Planning Her Surprise Party; Did You Think Of That?
HP and 3M are going to build privacy protection screens into some laptops. These will be in HP’s new line of business laptops, protecting sensitive data from prying eyes, particularly useful when the user is in crowded public spaces, as viewing will be restricted to the person looking at the screen head-on.

Said an HP spokesperson, “It is certainly not designed to enable you to watch porn while your significant other is in the same room. Why would you even think that? That would be crazy. We would call it a porn screen, if that was the case, and we didn’t, did we? For our line of funny business laptops. But that’s not even a thing. So everyone get that idea out of your head right now. Don’t look at me like that.”

What Was Plan B, Again?
There is a theory being advanced that our need for screen interfaces is on the decline, in favor of voice commands and gesture controls. “Ain’t that a kick in the head?” said HP and 3M.

Can I Get A Discount If I Only Need Three Games?
Valve’s new SteamOS gaming system, the Steam Machine, will launch with 1,500 games available, a huge library providing plenty of variety, which is probably great news for all of you who didn’t just finish the first Portal, eleven months after starting it.

Unleash The Next Wave Of Lawyers!
A jury found that Apple had infringed on a patent held by the Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation. Damages could have been as high as $862 million, but came in at $234 million. Apple responded by saying, “Okay, sorry about that,” and cutting a check on the spot. Hoho! No, Apple will appeal faster than Packer fans can say “Cheesehead.”

 

*  Now that I think of it, why don’t we have a TV down there?

** Current leader in the “Most Annoying Name To Type” race.

 

Hope you enjoyed this robot-heavy edition of the Weekly Tech Views. See you next week for another dose of the premium misinformation you can’t find anywhere else.

Mike Range
@MovieLeagueMike

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DTNS 2604 – There’s No Place Like 127.0.0.1

Logo by Mustafa Anabtawi thepolarcat.comIs Home automation finally affordable? High-end installers are now fighting for the average consumer’s dollar. Richard Gunther is at CEDIA 2015 Future Home Experience. and explains it all to Tom Merritt and Andrew Mayne.

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DTNS 2603 – No More Passwords! Yahoo!

Logo by Mustafa Anabtawi thepolarcat.comYahoo released a new mobile app that can replace your Yahoo Mail password. is this the beginning of the death of passwords or a proprietary effort that nobody will use? Jason Hiner discusses the dream of a password-free world with Tom Merritt and +Justin Young.

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DTNS 2602 – WARF Says Apple Has No Honor

Logo by Mustafa Anabtawi thepolarcat.comThe way we interact with our devices is changing with voice control, ambient awareness and sensory input like haptics. Will we always need a screen? Tom Merritt and Scott Johnson discuss.

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DTNS 2601 – The Theory of Elegance

Logo by Mustafa Anabtawi thepolarcat.comHybrids, convertibles, two-in-ones and more. Are the new breed of laptops the next evolution in the form factor, or the next netbook-like fad? Tom Merritt and Patrick Beja discuss.

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DTNS 2600 – Robo-Bjorn

Logo by Mustafa Anabtawi thepolarcat.comTim Stevens just got back from CEATAC and reports on the state of robots there including one that you use as a phone. Veronica Belmont and Tom Merritt discuss whether that’s something we want.

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Weekly Tech Views 13 – Oct 10, 2015

 

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Real tech stories. Really shaky analysis.

Welcome to the 13th issue of The Weekly Tech Views Blog. Is that lucky or unlucky for you? You’ll have to risk wasting the next five minutes of your life to find out.

Next Year, They Add Corkscrews And Nail Files
Following Apple, Microsoft, HTC, HP, Google, and Samsung, Dell became the latest in the parade of tech companies introducing new products, the highlight being the XPS12, a tablet that–stop me if you’ve heard this before–converts into a laptop by attaching a keyboard.

And we think that does it! That’s the last of the world’s flat, rectangular surfaces that can convert–hang on… we’ve just learned that Just Like Mom’s Diner in Bentonsport, Iowa, has added a bluetooth keyboard to work in conjunction with their children’s activity paper placemat, replacing the traditional complimentary crayon.

He’s Got A Face That Could Start A Phone
Microsoft’s new Lumia phones allow you to log in with your face. Which would be a nice security feature if soap operas, from what I learned from my mom and sisters while growing up, hadn’t taught us that eighty percent of all wrongdoing is perpetrated by evil twins.*

“My Platform Is Based On Secur–Damn It.”
Credit card information may have been stolen from Trump hotels. Said Donald Trump, “Our dedication to security is yuge. The only thing bigger is the jackpot you can win on our new Mexican Border Wall slot machines–payouts so big you can’t get over it. Heh-heh.”

Can You Track Me Now?
Verizon is going to share customer’s browsing habits with AOL’s ad network. They will do this by sharing the “super cookie”–an ID number they attach to each user’s browsing activity–that tracks every site a customer visits. While the privacy concerns are serious (I like to imagine Verizon bought AOL mainly to be able to use the classic voice to announce to advertisers, “He’s got mail! And two kids, Diana and Timothy! And he’s thinking about a vacation in November, somewhere warm, possibly Florida or The Bahamas! And he spent ten minutes today at Victoria’s Secret looking for a birthday present for his wife, Kelly! And four hours at ESPN’s fantasy football site!”) But far more importantly, they’re bastardizing the term “super cookie,” which should be reserved for those 12-inch diameter, frosted chocolate chip wonders they used to sell at the mall, that, on more than one occasion, served as dinner in college.

Can You Gouge Me Now?
Non-contract users of Verizon’s unlimited plan will be getting a $20 per line, per month price hike next month. (Verizon’s motto: We may track everything you do and give that data to advertisers, but at least we’re raising your rates.)

Hey, That’s Our Thing
The Federal Aviation Administration is going to test technology that would allow them to detect and track drones that fly into unauthorized areas. “Tracking?” said Verizon. “Can we get in on that?”

A Small Part Of The TV Service We’ve All Been Dreaming Of Might Be Coming, Someday
According to unidentified sources claiming to be familiar with the matter, Amazon could be looking into the possibility of maybe considering the exploration of the prospect of potentially contemplating the feasibility of launching a live TV service. It’s said that they have been in talks with CBS Corp. and NBCUniversal about carrying their channels. According to a source completely unfamiliar with the matter (me), “their channels” sounds suspiciously like “not all of their channels, but all the E! Network’s Keeping Up With the Kardashians you can handle, and not so much Modern Family.”

A Picture Is Worth A Thousand “Why Don’t You Bureaucrats Get Off Your Asses and Fix Things Out Here” Emails
Qlue is an app used by Indonesians to post photos of road problems online to spur city authorities to remedy the issue more promptly. It seems to be working, as ninety percent of complaints are followed up on now, compared to thirty percent when Qlue launched. There was talk of initiating a similar program here in Cleveland, but liability insurance proved prohibitive for the shrapnel injuries certain to occur each March when the servers used to store the photos exploded during pothole season.

Everyone That Unfollowed Me In 2008, In My Office–Now
Jack Dorsey was named CEO of Twitter for the second time.

#That7YearOldTweetYouCompletelyForgotAboutButSuddenlyGotFavoritedAgain

New Shuttle Gets You There Four Times As Fast As Leisurely Stroll
The Netherlands will commence operation of a driverless shuttle called the WEpod on public roads next month. It will be monitored from a control room, which may have you wondering what the benefit is to paying a remote human monitor instead of an in-vehicle human driver. First, the shuttle will travel no faster than 25 kilometers per hour (15 miles per hour), and numerous studies have shown that the only people psychologically capable of driving at that speed for an extended period of time are over 75 years old and are a) living in Florida or b) operating the Santa’s Express in a shopping mall. Also, one assumes that eventually the off-site controller will be handling more than one shuttle at a time, like an air traffic controller, but with the stress of juggling the flight patterns of dozens of 200-ton vehicles moving at 600mph ratcheted down to something closer to manning a county fair bumper car ride.

But Will It Know To Blow The Horn When Kids In The Car Ahead Of It Make The “Blow The Horn” Motion?
Daimler is also in on the autonomous vehicle act, testing a driverless Mercedes-Benz big rig on the Autobahn (presumably faster than the WEpod’s 15mph, because, the way I understand it, traveling slower than 100mph on the Autobahn is grounds for execution). Though navigation was handled by radar, a camera array, and cruise control, there was a human crew on board to monitor the test and ward off the “Scooby Doo Effect” of other drivers pointing at the empty cab, yelling “G-g-g-ghost!” and accelerating straight into a guard rail.

Wait, We’ve Been Trying To Get Five Bucks A Month When We Could Be Doing This?
Pandora purchased concert ticket-seller Ticketfly. They will undoubtedly merge this into the Pandora app, allowing you to enter the last concert for which you bought tickets online, and then using their proprietary algorithm to determine just the right ridiculous “convenience fee” to charge you next time.

 

* You’re going to say, “Mike, this is ‘iris scanning’**, and twins don’t have the same iris texture, so an evil twin isn’t a threat.” My obvious rebuttal is, “You’re right, but that ruins the joke.”

** Speaking of soap operas, doesn’t “iris scanning” sound like a soap opera character? “Iris Canning, matriarch of the Canning dynasty, and ruler of the vast Canning estate; nothing happens in the Canning family–or in the whole, deceptively peaceful town of Eden’s Cove–without Iris Canning’s say-so.”***

*** Look, I really never watched soap operas. I overheard others watching, that’s all. Really.

 

That’s that. 13 issues means three months in the can and a quarterly report due for the ruthless Weekly Tech View shareholders. They want to see numbers, so if reading these doesn’t upset you too violently, I’d appreciate you mentioning this bit of harmless babble to your friends.

 

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DTNS 2599 – The One Where They Talk About Africa

Logo by Mustafa Anabtawi thepolarcat.comWhat are some of the biggest tech trends in Africa? Eric Olander covers the continent and shares his insights with Patrick Beja and Tom Merritt.

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DTNS 2598 – Facebook’s Emojional Status: It’s complicated

Logo by Mustafa Anabtawi thepolarcat.comFacebook is testing emoji additions to the like button. Does this make you happy, shocked, sad, or angry and did you like, love or laugh at hearing the news? Tom Merritt and Allison Sheridan discuss.

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