Weekly Tech Views 17 – Nov 7, 2015

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Real tech stories. Really shaky analysis.

It’s November, which means I treat the tech news like a brittle autumn leaf, and pulverize it beyond recognition.

Some Scenes May Be Too Intense For Younger Viewers
YouTube for Android now supports virtual reality video. Currently you can see an ad for TOMS shoes and a Hunger Games VR Experience. Whatever you think of the franchise, whether you find it too violent or too depressingly dystopian, or think that the most recent installment didn’t live up to earlier efforts, you have to admit there’s probably no better way to highlight the potential of VR than with the breakneck action and cinematography of a TOMS shoes ad.

That’ll Teach You To be Popular
The European Commision continues to assert that Google is taking advantage of their dominance in the search engine market. They are threatening a possible $6 billion fine, and contending that steps need to be taken to help other search engines compete. In a related story, the NFL is requiring the New England Patriots to give their playbook to opponents each week and to play every third down with only seven players.

They Probably Spent That Much On Podcast Sponsorships
Outerwall, owner of Redbox and Coinstar, has purchased used gadget-buyer Gazelle for $18 million. Gazelle was able to lock in their selling price for thirty days, and was pleasantly surprised when Outerwall increased the bid from $16 million, upgrading Gazelle’s own estimate of their condition from “fair” to “good,” overlooking some minor dings and scratches. A postage paid container was provided for Gazelle to ship itself to Outerwall’s headquarters.

Okay, Ladies, Let’s See You Flirt Your Way Out Of This One
Police in the UK are the latest to incorporate drones in police work. It starts with crime scene photography and missing persons searches, which makes sense, and it’s cool to imagine this progressing to action movie-type stuff–drones zipping around, casting nets on fleeing burglars or shooting lasers at terrorists, but more likely they’ll be hovering over roads, just waiting for me go 40mph in a 35mph zone, swooping down, printing a ticket as they go, and sticking to my windshield without even stopping. There will be a QR code I can scan which will display a video showing me going from Point A to Point B in X number of seconds, proving my speed. Sometimes I hate technology.

And I Don’t Even Charge $9.99 Per Month
Facebook has a new feature for iOS called Music Stories, allowing users to post a 30-second clip of a song from Apple Music or Spotify, and readers of the post can hear the whole track if they subscribe to the service. I need to check my options with an attorney, but I’m pretty sure they took this from the idea I presented to them–Musing Stories–30-second clips of me thinking about important things, like how many more times can I wear this 20 year old t-shirt before a moderate breeze makes it disintegrate into a cloud of microscopic cotton fibers?, what’s that smell?, and how long has that been in my ear?

What Did I Do With That Pencil?
Microsoft acquired MileIQ, an app that automatically tracks mileage, making that bit of bookkeeping easy for those who can deduct the expense. At first, this sounded like a fine idea to the traveling salesman who no longer had to remember to mark his mileage in a notebook each day in order to be compensated for it. But, every silver lining has its dark cloud.

Boss (showing off the demo): “It’s all taken care of for you; the app’s data get synced from your phone to our computers, we cut you a check.”

Salesman: “Great.”

Boss: “I’ll say. The GPS measures distance traveled to a hundredth of a mile. And you don’t have to lift a finger.”

Salesman: “Nice.”

Boss: “Even displays a map of your whole route.”

Salesman (recalling the semiweekly 27-mile detour he takes to the home of the waitress he met at Applebee’s a few months ago, mileage he has been including in his expense reports): “Phone’s broke.”

We All Have Needs
There’s a new router from a company called Luma that offers extensive parental controls and the ability to easily monitor the browsing of anyone on the network. The problem, you can see, is what happens if my wife gets to the admin settings before me. Obviously, I will be locked out of certain “adult” sites that I periodically need to access. There are times when a guy–or gal, no reason to be sexist about this–has certain urges that can be met most expediently, while alone, online. Sometimes it’s free, sometimes you have to pay, and sure, sometimes, when it’s over, you don’t feel great about what you’ve done. Look, I don’t know why I’m dancing around this; it shouldn’t be embarrassing, it’s the most natural thing in the world. It’s just that our society stigmatizes some things that… okay, yes, occasionally, I go to Draft Kings and play daily fantasy football. How about you mind your own business, Luma?

Won’t Do Anything About Her Hogging My Side Of The Bed, Though
T-mobile has a new device–the CellSpot– to improve cell reception in the home. This is big news for our cat, who will no longer have to share the top level of her cat tree with me, from which I would lean desperately toward the southwest corner of the living room, arm outstretched, where I once got a bar.

Which One Goes To The Spamming-Four-Times-A-Day Mesothelioma Lawyers?
Gmail will be launching Smart Reply, a feature aiming to simplify answering email by recognizing those requiring a response and offering three replies to choose from. It will supposedly learn over time and offer increasingly appropriate replies. I am way ahead of this game, with three customized responses to cover every email I get:

1) I got your email. I know you think I’m ignoring you if you don’t get a reply within 10 minutes, so rest assured the world still revolves around you.

2) Great hearing from you! We need to get together soon! Remember last time? Crazy!

3) Hi Mom. Try rebooting it.

OneDrive: The Fabric Of Our Lives
Microsoft’s OneDrive will be discontinuing its unlimited storage plan, capping use at one terabyte. For many of us, a terabyte may still sound essentially unlimited. How many auto repair history spreadsheets will it take to fill a terabyte? But “unfillable” space has a way of being filled, a fact I’m reminded of each time I look in our attic.

Or at my pants.

A few months ago, in the height of summer–great running weather, eating a lot of salads, basketball after dinner–I was on the 33-inch waistband plan. Not unlimited, but it may as well have been. My pants were slipping precariously to teenager depths, a tripping hazard for those of us without the years of experience required to navigate the world in thigh-high waistbands. But then came the summer-ending Labor Day Festival of Gluttony. And wing- and sausage sandwich-heavy football parties. And a stay home vacation we livened up by trying a new restaurant, beer, and ice cream each day. Halloween, and its devious invention of “fun-sized.” More rain, less running. More TV, less basketball. And suddenly, unfillable is feeling, if not filled, pretty damn fillable. By Christmas, the pants-related risk will be one of ripping rather than tripping.

Enjoy your terabyte, OneDrive users, while it looks so expansive, and try not to think about the coming day when you’re looking for a discreet way to undo the button at the top for a little breathing room.
See, nothing says fall like the sound of tech news crunching underfoot. Enjoy your week, and I hope to see you next time.

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.

DTNS 2619b – Part 2 Online Communities

Logo by Mustafa Anabtawi thepolarcat.comNot all online communities are toxic. One of the biggest online communities of any kind in the world Alea Iacta Est, which started as a World of Warcraft Guild. Tom Merritt, Brian Ibbott and Todd Whitehead talk with other members about what makes a successful online community.

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DTNS 2619 – Part 1 Headlines and Email

Logo by Mustafa Anabtawi thepolarcat.comTom talks Google’s desire to make its own chips and the hard road post-millenials have in this modern world. It’s just headlines and emails in this one from Blizzcon.

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A special thanks to all our supporters–without you, none of this would be possible.

If you are willing to support the show or give as little as 5 cents a day on Patreon. Thank you!

Big thanks to Dan Lueders for the headlines music and Martin Bell for the opening theme!

Big thanks to Mustafa A. from thepolarcat.com for the logo!

Thanks to our mods, Kylde, TomGehrke, sebgonz and scottierowland on the subreddit

Show Notes
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Continue reading DTNS 2619 – Part 1 Headlines and Email

DTNS 2618 – Social Not Work

Logo by Mustafa Anabtawi thepolarcat.comAre the millennials rebelling against tech? Two popular Instagram accounts closed up shop this week both making points about the unrealistic depiction of life on social media. Lyndsey Gilpin and Tom Merritt discuss.

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A special thanks to all our supporters–without you, none of this would be possible.

If you are willing to support the show or give as little as 5 cents a day on Patreon. Thank you!

Big thanks to Dan Lueders for the headlines music and Martin Bell for the opening theme!

Big thanks to Mustafa A. from thepolarcat.com for the logo!

Thanks to our mods, Kylde, TomGehrke, sebgonz and scottierowland on the subreddit

Show Notes
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Continue reading DTNS 2618 – Social Not Work

DTNS 2617 – AI Carumba!

Logo by Mustafa Anabtawi thepolarcat.comFacebook can look at photos and answer your questions about them while making 90% accurate predictions about the future. Meanwhile Google Inbox can answer your mail for you. Scott Johnson and Tom Merritt talk about how AI is showing up in our daily lives.

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A special thanks to all our supporters–without you, none of this would be possible.

If you are willing to support the show or give as little as 5 cents a day on Patreon. Thank you!

Big thanks to Dan Lueders for the headlines music and Martin Bell for the opening theme!

Big thanks to Mustafa A. from thepolarcat.com for the logo!

Thanks to our mods, Kylde, TomGehrke, sebgonz and scottierowland on the subreddit

Show Notes
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Continue reading DTNS 2617 – AI Carumba!

DTNS 2616 – Call of Candy Crush

Logo by Mustafa Anabtawi thepolarcat.comActivision Blizzard will buy King Digital, makers of Candy Crush, in the biggest gaming merger since Microsoft bought Minecraft. Can a declining one-hit wonder maker save the console and PC platform maker’s mobile bacon? Or candy? Patrick Beja and Tom Merritt debate.

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A special thanks to all our supporters–without you, none of this would be possible.

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Big thanks to Dan Lueders for the headlines music and Martin Bell for the opening theme!

Big thanks to Mustafa A. from thepolarcat.com for the logo!

Thanks to our mods, Kylde, TomGehrke, sebgonz and scottierowland on the subreddit

Show Notes
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Continue reading DTNS 2616 – Call of Candy Crush

DTNS 2615 – Man-Baby Bubble

Logo by Mustafa Anabtawi thepolarcat.comThe rise of on demand services and delivery robots and drones promises a world of freedom from cares. Or are we just turning into a bunch of babies who never reach adulthood? Veronica Belmont and Tom Merritt discuss.

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A special thanks to all our supporters–without you, none of this would be possible.

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Big thanks to Dan Lueders for the headlines music and Martin Bell for the opening theme!

Big thanks to Mustafa A. from thepolarcat.com for the logo!

Thanks to our mods, Kylde, TomGehrke, sebgonz and scottierowland on the subreddit

Show Notes
To read the show notes in a separate page click here!
Continue reading DTNS 2615 – Man-Baby Bubble

Weekly Tech Views 16 – Oct 31, 2015

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Real tech stories. Really shaky analysis.

Welcome to the Halloween edition of the Weekly Tech Views. While the following stories aren’t particularly spooky, I am sitting here with a bedsheet over my head and eating fun-size Snickers bars while I type.

To Continue Your Fantasy That We Care, Press “2”
New York’s Attorney General is looking into whether Verizon, Cablevision, and Time Warner Cable have been providing the internet speeds that they promised. Why did it have to come to this, with the Attorney General involved? I’m sure that if customers called these companies’ customer service departments and explained their concerns, the issue would have been handl–AHHH-HAHAHAHAHAHA!

Everybody Pair Up With Your Buddy
Samsung is bringing an 18-inch tablet, the Galaxy View, to market next week. This jump in screen size from the iPad Pro’s 13-inch and the Surface Book’s 13.5-inch indicates we’re on the verge of the next category of mobile devices–the “twoblet,” so named because–while it will be spectacular for viewing video and playing single-screen two-player games–it will require two people to actually make it “mobile.”

Progress!
It was ruled this week that people in the U.S. can circumvent the Digital Millenium Copyright Act to, among other things, repair or modify a vehicle, and jailbreak all mobile computing devices. What a day for Americans! Boy, if we could go back in time and tell our ancestors 50, 100, 200 years ago that now, when we buy a product, we actually own it and can make reasonable alterations to it. Can you just imagine the look on their faces when they’d say, “Well, sure.”?

Thought I Had That One Suppressed
Alphabet is working on a plan to bring internet access via balloon to Indonesia, and eventually, the entire southern hemisphere. Project Loon’s balloons will send radio signals to antennas on the ground. I’m sure it will work wonderfully, maybe even be aesthetically pleasing to low-flying aircraft (until they are, inevitably, covered in ads), floating peacefully up there at 5,000 meters, not bothering anybody, up until the day a mean sixth-grader gets hold of a sharp, 5,000-meter stick and pokes one. It bursts, the debris flops to the ground, now nothing more than sad, wrinkled, ruined material, the color suddenly muted and lifeless, and the punk kid points at it and laughs. Maybe a few tears of rage spill from your six-year-old eyes (you really liked that balloon; it was Mutley from The Wacky Races) but at lunch you’re able to spit in his carton of chocolate milk and you feel a lot better.

They’re Still Learning
Twitter added four million active users last month, and analysts were surprised to discover that as many as twelve of these new accounts did not live tweet the finale of Big Brother.

Just Put A Chip In My Head And Be Done With It
Mastercard is devising ways to let you pay for purchases using a ring or key fob or wrist band or fashion accessories. This is not a good thing. The only reason I have any money in the bank is because I am forgetful enough to have sometimes left my wallet at home and lazy enough to not want to return for it when I find myself at Best Buy convinced that I really need to drop $500 on the new Galaxy Tab just to compare it to my iPad. If I can suddenly pay with everything I’m carrying and, presumably, wearing, my bank account is doomed, because I’m not yet forgetful enough to go to Best Buy naked.

But The Exits Are Equipped With A Grid Of Bone-Slicing Lasers
Microsoft opened their flagship store in New York City. One nice feature is that they will not tether their display devices with a cord, making it easier for customers to get a true user experience. This is a welcome departure from industry-standard tethering protocols that call for cords of a length “requiring customers to hold a taking-a-drink-at-an-elementary-school-water-fountain” pose to read a couple pages in a Nook.

Wait For It…
Architecturally, the Microsoft store is three stories tall, and expected to be one of the brightest buildings in Manhattan, because…

…of all…

…the Windows.

(I have a few more stories to talk about, but I expect many of you will be leaving now, so thanks for stopping by.)

And The Signal Is Better On The Dark Side Of The Street
In Ukraine, a statue of former Soviet leader Vladimir Lenin was converted into one of Darth Vader. The statue has a wifi hotspot cleverly installed under Darth’s helmet, but there are a few bugs to be worked out–it currently only works with Anakin-dles.

(Wow, that is a truly despicable way to treat those of you who hung in there and gave me another chance.)

I’m Used To It, But I Do Wake Up The Neighbors
Verizon demonstrated the Motorola Droid Turbo 2 and its Turbo Shatter Shield material by repeatedly dropping it on a concrete block with no harm coming to the screen. This does not mean you should take to playing cornhole with your phone. The screen may survive, but that doesn’t mean things are intact inside. I’ve fallen on my head a few times, and there may be no visible damage (I’ve always looked this way), but I’m pretty sure I haven’t always barked like an agitated Pomeranian whenever I scratch my left elbow.

Please Stay Clear Of The Orange Cones
While Europe’s Parliament voted in favor of a proposal for net neutrality–the idea that all internet traffic should be handled equally–many think there are too many loopholes, including the ability of ISPs to manage internet congestion if they only expect high traffic, even if it doesn’t currently exist. Sure, defining “impending” traffic seems to leave leeway for abuse, but it’s tough to argue the principle if you think in terms of local fast food shack El Taco Grasiento (they assumed, correctly, that half of their customers wouldn’t bother to translate that to The Greasy Taco and the other half would think it was named ironically).

On a rare occasion, I’ll stop at El Taco Grasiento for a quick, tasty dinner. I come home, and, for a while, everything’s cool. But, despite there being no obvious reason to do so, I restrict access to the route leading from the living room to the bathroom, because waiting until “go time” is a risk nobody wants. Yes, in a perfect world, bathroom neutrality is a beautiful concept, but a world with El Taco Grasiento is not perfect.

Okay, the Snickers are gone and the sheet is starting to smell, which is the traditional signal to call it quits. Happy Halloween, and hope to see you next week.

Mike Range
@MovieLeagueMike

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