“Real Tech News. Really Shaky Analysis.”
For the week of August 3 – 7, 2015
Another week, and the tech news keeps coming. But not, I’m proud to say, any faster than I can ruin it.
More Things Got Hacked
In other news:
Philadelphia Delinquent Apologizes for Killing Robot: “I Thought It Was Human”
Hitchbot, the hitchhiking robot that traversed Canada via the kindness of passing motorists, had less luck in the U.S., its travels coming to a violent end in Philadelphia, the town known for hundreds of years as The City of Brotherly Throwing of Ice Balls at Santa Claus During Eagles Games, at the hand of local thug Brucie Peterson.
“I was really drunk,” said Mr. Peterson. “I saw this little dude standing on the corner, and I asked if he had a smoke. He ignored me, like he was better’n me, so I beat the crap out of him with the tire iron I carry. But, I swear, if I’d known it wasn’t alive, I wouldn’t have did it. I’m not a monster.”
Facebook: Facilitating Dialogue Between You and the One You Hold Dear–Your Department Store
Facebook is adding a Send Message button to ads, allowing you to contact the business directly. Businesses that reply to messages within five minutes will get a badge declaring them “Very Responsive to Messages.” You may be familiar with an earlier incarnation of the Very Responsive badge known as the “Tramp Stamp.”
Apple Says You Probably Shouldn’t Text and Drive, But if You Do, They Can Help
Reports surfaced that Apple is testing a service in which Siri transcribes your voice mail and sends it to you as a text. Critics claim that Siri’s combo of sending texts while simultaneously providing turn-by-turn driving directions makes her a texting-while-driving enabler. “Not at all,” claims Bill Furman, an Apple spokesman. “Would you call Ford and Chevy enablers? Can’t text and drive without a car, can you? Huh? Well, can you?” Mr. Furman paused here for approximately ninety seconds. “We are innovating for the responsible user. We can’t control everyone. We could attach a rat trap to iPhones that crushed your fingers if you tried to text while driving, and the weak-minded losers who fear that their friends will abandon them if they don’t instantly acknowledge the most trivial of messages will still find a way to do it. Let there be no doubt, we here at Apple take safe driving… Siri-ously.”
Then he shouted, “See what I did there?” and performed five rapid fist pumps before being triumphantly escorted from the room on the shoulders of the entire PR team.
Braille Watch Provides Visually-Impaired Further Opportunity to Awe
The technology behind Dot–a smartwatch that uses Braille to provide much of the functionality of other smartwatches–is impressive, but the ability of the wearer to actually read Braille borders on freaking magical. As a kid, our teacher gave us a card with the Braille alphabet on it, and told us to try and identify the letters. I may as well have been trying to read coarse sandpaper. Or the bottom of my shoe. There were bumps, but how many? Was that two, then one? Or was it three? And even if I had been confident in what I was feeling, I’m then supposed to, what, memorize 26 subtly different patterns? Can’t I just check the reference card? Oh, wait, it’s in Braille!
The ability to learn Braille, or for the deaf, to read lips (which I’ve also tried by turning the TV down–everyone on Arrested Development looked to me like fish gasping for breath), amazes me. The amount of work that must go into that is beyond my comprehension. Partially because I have the laser-like focus of a month-old beagle–this green squeaky ball is great, I’m going to play with it forev–a red squeaky ball! who thought of this! my favorite thing in the–hey, what do you got in your crotch there?–but mostly because it’s just got to be a really hard thing to do.
So when technology gets it right and helps put those hard-earned skills to use, you hold out some hope for society. It almost makes up for fart apps.
Company Old-Timers Welcome Fantasy Sales Game With Violent Head-Banging Against Break Room Wall
Microsoft has acquired Fantasy Sales Team, a program that gamifies the productivity of a company’s sales force, a la fantasy football. Many veteran salespeople, like Vern Dobson, are not impressed.
“It’s bad enough I have to listen to these snot-nosed punks go on about their pretend football teams,” Mr. Dobson stated. “At least that didn’t affect me. But this,” he waved toward the front of the office, where a cluster of twenty-something’s chattered excitedly around a computer, “does, damn it. Hey, here’s an idea: how about–like we’ve done since caveman times–whoever makes the most money, wins? That’s sales. Sure, we made side bets–what’s the most extravagant thing we could sneak through on our expense accounts–but nothing topped sales.”
“Alec Baldwin had it right in Glenngary Glen–” Mr. Dobson suddenly turned and yelled, “Hey–my team is Coffee For Closers!”
Robots 1 Humans 0
The Robocup World Championship, a tournament featuring autonomous soccer-playing robots, was won 3-1 by New South Wales. Unsurprisingly, robot soccer immediately surpassed human soccer in popularity amongst American sports fans, based on the robots scoring four times the goals of the average human soccer match, while containing 100% fewer faked injuries.
Epson Employees Split Over New Printer
Just hours after announcing their new EcoTank printers, which hold two years worth of ink, members of Epson’s printer division returned from lunch to find their offices had been egged. They shook their heads and said, “Inkers.”
“The Ink division is upset because they won’t be the golden boys any more,” said Sarah Goodwin. “We always did the hard work, designing and innovating the printers, while the Inkers sold replacement cartridges at ridiculous prices and got all the glory. They couldn’t do anything without us, but they strut around here in their We’re Ink-credible t-shirts, bragging about how they can sell an ink cartridge for as much as we charge for some printers, how the country screams at the thought of four-dollar-a-gallon gas but barely bats an eye at $5,000-a-gallon ink. So now they’re a little mad. Plus, we hung a sign in their office suggesting they use some of that ink for new resumes.”
U.S. Commerce Department Puts Hands in Pockets, Whistles, and Slowly Backs Away From Internet Naming Responsibility
Handing over control to ICANN and an oversight committee, the U.S. Commerce Department breathed a sigh of relief after divesting themselves of the stress of dealing with internet naming conventions. “There are only so many viable names, and, apparently, everybody who can reach a keyboard has to have half a dozen websites these days, so we add .biz and .info and .me and probably .kardashian soon, but it’s all just delaying the inevitable, and we don’t want to be around when the world starts to burn,” said Paula Schwarz. Prompted for details on the internet Armageddon she foresees, Ms. Schwarz blurted, “Emojis! Do you want to live in a world where www.pawprints-thumbsup-hourglass-musicalnote-smilingfacewithheartshapedeyes.com exists? Well it’s coming! And we won’t be held responsible!”
That’s another week of news the liberal/conservative/libertarian media has been hiding from you. Your welcome.
Weekly Tech Views Blog by Mike Range is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.