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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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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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

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

DTNS 2614 – Android Phone Chrome

Logo by Mustafa Anabtawi thepolarcat.comSome folks are saying Google is ditching Chrome OS and merging it into Android. But we may end up with THREE operating systems from Google instead. What Do we want on our phones and laptops? Darren Kitchen and Tom Merritt discuss.

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DTNS 2613 – Happy Little Cloud Service

Logo by Mustafa Anabtawi thepolarcat.comTwitch, often stereotyped as a place for sweaty boy gamers to trash talk people about games, is doing a marathon of Bob Ross’s “The Joy of Painting.” Take that stereotypers! Tom Merritt and Justin Young discuss the odd journey of Justin.tv to Gaming-only Twitch to a Twitch channel for sculptors.

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DTNS 2612 – The City of Virtual Light

Logo by Mustafa Anabtawi thepolarcat.comPatrick Beja went to Paris Games Week and tried the latest version of Sony’s PlayStation VR. Has it turned him agains the oculus Rift? Can he see the future of VR? Scott Johnson and Tom Merritt aim to find out.

Note: YouTube failed to stream or capture the first 30 minutes of the stream today. Apologies to the video viewers. Let’s all agree to blame the launch of YouTube Red. My wife works at YouTube. Tom.

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DTNS 2611 – Say Halo to my 60fps

Logo by Mustafa Anabtawi thepolarcat.comDo you value performance over looks? Eric Franklin and Tom Merritt discuss 343 Industries’ decision to prioritize 60fps over everything else in Halo 5: Guardians.

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DTNS 2610 – The Hunt For Red Cord Cutters

Logo by Mustafa Anabtawi thepolarcat.comDo social networks provide meaningful info about current events? They want to, to you and to journalists. Veronica Belmont and Tom Merritt talk about Twitter and Facebook’s rocky relationship with news.

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Weekly Tech Views 15 – Oct 24, 2015

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Real tech stories. Really shaky analysis.

Welcome to WTVB, where accuracy is a lucky accident.

C’mon, How Hard Can It B–Oof… Ow!
The Chinese company Ninebot announced a new scooter, the Ninebot mini. Upon hearing its description–a scooter with no handle that can be controlled by an app–executives at ABC immediately renewed America’s Funniest Home Videos for three more years.

Study Shows Majority Of Drivers Require Short Nap to Replenish Energy After Issuing Grueling Voice Command
Recent studies have shown that it takes up to 27 seconds to regain full concentration on driving after issuing a voice command to the car’s “info-tainment” system. 27 seconds!? Unless there’s a voice command that instructs your seat to do something that sure as hell didn’t come standard in my Corolla, I don’t get it. Okay, if your name is Marty McFly and a minute ago you were listening to Huey Lewis on a two-pound Walkman in 1985 but now you can tell your car to play Back in Time and it does it, you can have half a minute to absorb that.* Everyone else: we would all really appreciate it if you would please remove your head from your ass.

Back That App Up
Instagram announced a new app called Boomerang that takes a series of five photos and turns them into a video that plays forward and backward in a loop. The killer feature, says the second-grader portion of my brain (approximately 78%), is the playing in reverse aspect. If Boomerang can engender the pure joy an elementary school classroom received watching a mind-numbing account of how corn was harvested become the height of hilarity by convincing the teacher to run the film backwards–the downed stalks popping back up when the tractor backed over them, how crazy is that!?–then Instagram is on to something.

Gullible Public Shakes Head, Says “You Got Me”
The European Court of Justice ruled that bitcoin is exempt from consumption tax. In other words, value added tax, or VAT, is not to be added to…

Okay, okay. We’ve all had a good laugh, but it’s time to come clean. As many of you have no doubt realized, there is no such thing as “bitcoin.” Don’t feel bad if you fell for it. I bought in for a while. But come on. Think about it. Somebody suddenly says, “Guess what? These bits of information on my computer? They’re now worth money!” Really, how much money are they worth? “That’s an interesting question. In July of 2010, a bitcoin was worth eight cents. A year later, it was worth a dollar. Another year later, two dollars. Then, get this, in 2013 it went up to $266! Then down to $100. The up to $1,250! Then down to $600. Today, about $280, give or take. ”

Suurrrrrre… that makes sense. But say you still haven’t caught on to the gag. You ask:

So it’s really currency? I could buy stuff with it?

Yep.

I could just walk into McDonald’s and buy a Big Mac with bitcoin?

No, not McDonald’s.

Burger King?

No, Burger King doesn’t sell Big Macs.

Okay, a Whopper then, smartass?

Nope.

Grocery store?

Probably not.

So it’s more of an online thing?

Ahhh…

I can use it at Amazon, then?

No. Well, not directly. You could go to a bitcoin-accepting site that sells gift cards and buy an Amazon gift card with bitcoin, then buy something at Amazon with the gift card.

Uh, okay. But if I spend a bitcoin today to get a $200 gift card, I might find out that if I had waited until tomorrow I could have gotten a $300 card? Because the value fluctuates?

Entirely possible.

So how do I know when to spend my bitcoin?

You don’t.

Well then, are people actually spending them, or are they investing in them, hoping the price goes up like a stock?

Yes.

Finally, the light bulb comes on, you elbow the person pranking you and say You had me going.

We expect this will be the topic of the series-ending episode of Mythbusters next year, right after they reveal to Cubs fans that there has never been such a thing as a “World Series,” but only a hoax–like the moon landing–performed each year to frustrate them.

Operating System Update Brings Us To The Cutting Edge Of Hieroglyphics
Apple has released iOS 9.1 which includes some boring stuff about Live Photos and Messages, but also has a host of NEW EMOJIS! These include, as listed on DTNS, middle finger, unicorn head, hot dog, taco, and cheese wedge! Right there, with five emojis, the geniuses at Apple have encapsulated the work day for 98% of us. Commute to work-fantasize (about quitting work)-eat. It’s even my exact nightly menu from when I was single. If you keep a digital journal, your entries just got ridiculously easy: Dear Diary, click-click-click-click-click. Talk to you tomorrow! On weekends, you don’t even need the middle finger. Unless you’re a Browns fan.

Okay, But I Better Get My BAD2THEDRONE License Plate
The Department of Transportation and the FAA are looking to require registration of some consumer drones. The stated reasons include increasing safety through education and accountability for incidents such as the recent interfering with firefighting efforts, but there is suspicion that the true catalyst for this move is a highly-placed government official giggling at the thought of side-by-side Departments of Motor Vehicles and Rotor Vehicles.

I Think I’d Miss Squeezing The Melons
Amazon is charging $299 a year for Amazon Fresh, their grocery delivery service. Sure, $299 sounds like a lot, but wait until Black Friday, when non-members can only wistfully look on as early adopters stock up on 90%-off cranberry sauce. Then who’s crazy? Huh?

Mission Accomplished
Asked about Apple’s plans in the automobile industry, CEO Tim Cook said they want people to have an iPhone experience in their car. “That’s a good one,” said every pedestrian trying to cross an intersection while three straight cars blow through a red light as their drivers stare at a text message.

Any Resemblance To Actual Phones, Living Or Dead, Is Purely Coincidental
Speaking of an iPhone experience, HTC announced their new phone, the One A9, that many claim is blatantly copying the look of the iPhone. “Absolutely not,” said PR spokeswoman Carrie Pilkington. “We are, and always have been, proud of the unique qualities we bring to phone design, and will continue to be innovators in the field. Furthermore, do you really think it looks like an iPhone? You’re not just saying that?”

 

* Thought you were done hearing about Back to the Future this week, didn’t you?

 

Thanks for stopping by. Don’t take any wooden bitcoins.

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 2609 – Two Factors Diverged in a Wood, and I – I Took the One More Authenticated

Logo by Mustafa Anabtawi thepolarcat.comShould your phone replace your password? Shannon Morse and Tom Merritt discuss whether that’s a good idea or not.

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Helping each other understand.