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

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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DTNS 2597 – Can You Lease Me Now?

Logo by Mustafa Anabtawi thepolarcat.comNew cell phone installment plans are complicated and require math to evaluate. So why are they instantly and massively popular? Lyndsey Gilpin discusses with Scott Johnson and Tom Merritt.

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DTNS 2596 – Carpe Datum

Logo by Mustafa Anabtawi thepolarcat.comThe Court of Justice of the European Union has declared a data transfer agreement with the US invalid. Does this mean tech companies have to move all their data servers to the EU? Darren Kitchen and Tom Merritt discuss.

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DTNS 2595 – CEO^2

Logo by Mustafa Anabtawi thepolarcat.comDrones may not be getting FAA Rules yet, but they are getting their first film festival, and Veronica Belmont, Justin Young and Tom Merritt chat with Eddie Codel organizer of the Flying Robot International Drone Film Festival.

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Weekly Tech Views 12 – Oct 3, 2015

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Real tech stories. Really shaky analysis.

October–a time of cider, pumpkins, and bogus tech analysis.

For the week of September 28 – October 2, 2015

I’m Going Viral
Sony is releasing an update for the PS4 which includes the ability to send 10 second gameplay clips to Twitter, which couldn’t be a better idea, because I was just saying how my social media experience would be enhanced if only my Twitter feed was filled with video of my nephews making me look like an idiot in NBA 2K15.

I’d Like To Say It Only Happened Once
And hey, more good news, Twitter is apparently working on ways to expand the 140-character limit on tweets, so my brother-in-law’s kids can publish a veritable treatise accompanying the gameplay clips, explaining how I hit myself in the face with my controller trying to execute a simple crossover dribble.

How About I Just Keep Some Febreeze In The Glove Compartment?
Tesla introduced the Model X SUV, a $132,000 all-wheel drive vehicle that can go zero-to-sixty in 3.8 seconds, has a range of 250 miles, reaches a top speed of 155mph, and includes, as a standard feature, whereas I’m pretty sure it is only available with the heated leather seats in the luxury upgrade package from most manufacturers, a BIO-WEAPON DEFENSE MODE!

Presumably, the button that activates the super-duper HEPA filter (probably even more powerful than the one my neighbors won’t shut up about in their fancy vacuum cleaner) is supposed to provide peace of mind in instances when you’ll have forewarning that a biological weapon attack is imminent, like, you know, those times when a truck labeled ANTHRAX is in front of you on the freeway and the back doors open and a couple guys in hazmat suits start throwing shovelfuls of powder at your car.

I think I’ll pass.* I’m pretty sure I’d get more peace of mind by not seeing that sinister quad-circled bio-hazard symbol light up for a couple seconds along with the “check engine” and “tire pressure” lights every time I start the car. (“Man, have I been looking forward to this vacation. C’mon, babe, time to hit the road for a week of sun-drenched relaxation. Myrtle Beach, here we [starts car] oh, yeah, I hope we don’t get doused with mustard gas.”)

The Dark Side Of Twitter
Edward Snowden, leaker of National Security Agency documents and current fugitive resident of Russia, is now on Twitter. His first tweet–“Can you hear me now?”–was innocuous enough, but he then put stunned government officials on alert worldwide, wondering what bizarre and unbalanced move he might make next, when he followed up by live-tweeting Dancing With The Stars.

Ladder Sold Separately
Google’s new tablet, the Pixel C, has an optional magnetic bluetooth keyboard, making it ridiculously easy to convert from tablet to laptop when you need to do something typing-intensive. Unless you’re in college. In that case, prior to clicking the keyboard and tablet together, you have the one additional step of walking over to the phys-ed fieldhouse and retrieving the magnetic keyboard from the rim of the retractable auxiliary basketball hoop where your moron friends keep putting it.

Why? Because It’s There
Google is producing a new Chromecast, this model available in a variety of colors. A colorful object plugged into the back of TVs, where we’ll never see it, combined with the new flexible HDMI cable, was obviously designed for the lucrative market consisting of our cat, who’s always looking for new incentives to jump up and drive us crazy by trying to scale the back of the TV. I’m sure she’d find a bright red, round Chromecast to be thirty-five dollars well-spent as an enticing new foothold on her personal indoor rock wall.

Friendly Fire
Logitech is coming out with a new mechanical gaming keyboard which you can customize by assigning different colored lights to individual keys. You press a key and it lights for a second. I’m not sure how much enjoyment I’ll get from the lighting effect, as my attention tends to be on the screen during games, but I do anticipate countless moments of reaching a critical juncture in a game, initiating a precise, choreographed move of split-second timing between mouse clicks and keystrokes–a move I’d always had trouble executing with my old, standard keyboard–and feeling with certainty that, this time, our cat has enthusiastically launched herself onto the desk and attacked the colorfully flickering, rhythmically clicking keyboard (this and the Chromecast thing? what is this, Christmas?), and, by extension, my left hand, causing my character to drop a grenade at his feet and frag himself.

 

* This implies that I have the option of buying a $132,000 car. See–this blog can be funny.

 

Okay, you got through another Weekly Tech Views. If I were you, I’d tell someone else they should read this, too. Nobody likes to suffer alone.

 

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DTNS 2594 – Rock Me AmaZeus

Logo by Mustafa Anabtawi thepolarcat.comIt’s Fanmail Friday. We touch on more from the Patreon data dump, get a good insight on why Amazon dumped Chromecast and why you might still want to hold off on a 4K TV. Darren Kitche, Justin Robert Young and Tom Merritt discuss while Len Peralta draws.

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DTNS 2593 – House of Clouds

Logo by Mustafa Anabtawi thepolarcat.comHow reliable is the cloud? Is the Internet even reliable? +Derek Colanduno joins the show to talk about when to trust the cloud and when not to.

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Helping each other understand.