Weekly Tech Views – April 2, 2016

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Real tech stories. Really shaky analysis.

We’ve made it to April, and the top tech question here in northern Ohio, is, of course, “Where can I get a VR headset? Any VR headset? Just please let me forget it’s still snowing.”

For the week of March 28 – April 1, 2016

 The Upgrade Bug–Catch It!
It’s been reported that some users of older iPhones, after updating to iOS 9.3, encountered a bug in which they were asked to enter their Apple ID, and if they couldn’t do so were denied access to the device. After three incorrect attempts a notification appears reading “Probably easier to just buy a shiny new iPhone SE, huh? You know you want one. Or how about a 6s? This is the perfect excuse, right? What’s your penny-pinching spouse going to say? You have to have a phone, and the FBI couldn’t make us unlock one for them; what can you do?”

I Don’t Understand, It Goes With Anything
Microsoft announced there will be a Windows 10 “anniversary” update this summer. Great. Another anniversary to remember. Let me guess–they aren’t going to be happy with a Weekly Tech Views t-shirt, either, are they?

You Can’t Get Anything Good For 99 Cents Anymore
Amazon is banning cheap USB-C cables after a Google engineer’s Chromebook Pixel was fried when using one. It’s certainly disillusioning, because one of the last things I had faith in was 5-star “most best cabel of usbc I have used of myself” reviews.

One More Office Pool For Mindy In Payroll To Win
While the Department of Justice has dropped their case to require Apple to help them break into a terrorist’s phone, the iPhone maker has probably not seen the last of the DOJ’s attorneys. The American Civil Liberties Union has found 64 more cases in which the DOJ has filed orders to have Apple or Google unlock phones.

Hearing this, marketing department executives at Apple and Google looked at each other and said, “Did they just say 64?” Moments later, they had whited-out their own failed March Madness brackets and distributed the phones in question across the four regions, promising that the winning device would, in fact, be unlocked, with the tournament champion determined by a combination of votes by DOJ employees–live-streamed via YouTube–and those of a worldwide viewing audience.

The number one overall seed, a Galaxy S7 Edge owned by Florida drug kingpin Russ “Don’t Call Me Rusty” Tee, should have no problem marching through the Southeast Region, where, surprisingly, its stiffest competition may come in the third round from the controversial #4 seed, a Louisiana iPhone 5s suspected of containing a pirated copy of Paul Blart: Mall Cop 2.

Then it’s a simple matter of turning the phone over to Apple or Google to let them do their jobs, right? Wrong! The device will then be presented to ten teams of hackers, each paired with a “celebrity” Apple or Google programmer, who will race to access the critical piece of evidence–with potential national security implications–while also hoping to find love, in a 13-episode run of Hacked Off!, a Syfy original (airing Wednesdays at 10pm, immediately after Face Off).

More Like Rice-A-Phony, Am I Right? *
There’s a new smart rice cooker on the market called the MIJIA Induction Heating Pressure Rice Cooker, which takes longer to say than to cook the microwaveable rice I eat. It sounds impressive–adjust the softness of your rice from an app, gets heating instructions by scanning the packaging of over 200 brands of rice–until you get to the part about it having 2,450 heating methods. Why did they have to undermine their credibility by making such a ridiculous claim? There are, at maximum, five ways to cook rice, and that includes strapping one of those aforementioned microvaveable bags under your arm while putting in 45 minutes on the treadmill.

I Think It’s The Spring Prints That Add Bulk
Amazon now has over a hundred brands making use of their Dash buttons, a button customers can push to automatically reorder an item. Convenient I suppose, but if you’re having some friends over, and those friends are apt to have a few drinks, April Fool’s Day is not the time to install them. Do you know how much space is taken up by 200 rolls of Bounty Two-Ply Spring Prints paper towels?

Also, This Section Of The Site Is Down For Maintenance 6AM-Midnight
A proposed California law would require internet service providers to let customers cancel their service online if they allow them to sign up that way. “No problem,” said ISPs. “Just go to Help – Clientele Facilitation – Account Term Modification – Prolongation/Abbreviation – Suspension/Termination – Have You Considered Our Current Deals? – I Mean Have You Actually Read Them And Evaluated The Benefits Of Staying With Us? – Maybe If You Called We Could Explain It To You Better – Okay, If You Won’t Listen To Reason Click Here and your service will be discontinued within 24 hours of completing the 150-question ‘Why I’m Leaving’ survey.”

A Picture Is Worth A Thousand Curse Words
Instagram is apparently on the verge of rolling out an algorithmically-ordered feed. Nobody has seen the result of this yet, but that didn’t stop the internet from shouting, “I hate it, I hate it!”, and then stomping down the hall and slamming the door to its room.

But How Will He Know Classes Are Starting At The Local Community College?
Pandora made a change at CEO, with founder Tim Westergren reassuming the position he held over a decade ago. Departing CEO Brian McAndrews said not only was his severance package fair, but declared the one-time fifty dollar fee well worth not having to hear a couple commercials every six minutes during his exit interview.

 

* In case you’re new to this blog, the answer is, “No. No you are not.”

 

And now for something having nothing at all to do with tech…

Did you know Tom and Jennie have teamed up to compete in a fantasy movie league? Would you like to follow their progress? Are you willing to read more of my writing? Ahh–went one too far, didn’t I?

Well, if you’d like to see Team DTNS gun for the Night Attack Summer Movie Draft championship, here are links to the first two weekly CRUMDUMs (Chatrealmer’s Ridiculously Unofficial Movie Draft Update Memo).

2016 Summer Movie Draft Preview

2016 Summer Movie Draft Week 1

And you can follow me on Twitter to know when each week’s update goes up:

Mike Range
@MovieLeagueMike (so that’s why he calls himself that)

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

DTNS 2726 – Privacy isn’t over until the Fat Canary dies

Logo by Mustafa Anabtawi thepolarcat.comA statement that Reddit had never received a national security letter disappeared from their latest transparency report. Is the canary dead? Darren Kitchen and Tom Merritt discuss while Len Peralta illustrates.

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DTNS 2725 – CortanaOS

Logo by Mustafa Anabtawi thepolarcat.comAre virtual assistants the next app store? As Microsoft pushes Cortana served by Azure, to take over mobile Amazon’s leveraging Alexa to win your home. Justin Young 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
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Continue reading “DTNS 2725 – CortanaOS”

DTNS 2724 – Bash on Windows 10

Logo by Mustafa Anabtawi thepolarcat.comBots as a service, Holoens ships, and Bash integrated in Windows. But did Microsoft do anything to assuage Tim Sweeney’s criticism of the closed Windows Universal Platform? Scott Johnson 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 2724 – Bash on Windows 10”

DTNS 2723 – FBI Says “Nevermind, We Got It.”

Logo by Mustafa Anabtawi thepolarcat.comIn-game purchases are made by almost nobody. So how do the games make $10 billion a year? Patrick Beja and Tom Merritt discuss whether the same thing that made spam a success works for mobile games.

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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!

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Continue reading “DTNS 2723 – FBI Says “Nevermind, We Got It.””

DTNS 2722 – Always Bet on Bot

Logo by Mustafa Anabtawi thepolarcat.com
Chat bots are getting a lot of buzz. Are they for real? Are the better for consumers or developers? Matt Hartman shares his insights with Veronica Belmont and Tom Merritt.

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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 2722 – Always Bet on Bot”

DTNS 2721 – WeChat is Everything

Logo by Mustafa Anabtawi thepolarcat.com A very long show from two chatty Australians, talking news, rumours, and a recent trip to China.

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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!

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Continue reading “DTNS 2721 – WeChat is Everything”

Guest Post: Why VR Might be For Real This Time

This guest post is from Travis Falstad who we met at last week’s DTNS meetup. Travis Falstad is an entrepreneur and builds new products. You can find out more about Travis at travisfalstad.com.

Recently Allison Sheridan sent me a link to an episode of Computer Chronicles about Virtual Reality from 1992. Stewart Cheifet does an excellent job summarizing the tech and breaking it down for viewers.

Allison noted that even in 1992 he was saying VR wasn’t just for games and talking about medical and educational uses and pretty much everything that we talk about today.

She said, “I love watching this but I’m also saddened that it’s so familiar to today.”

I see what she means. After all, other things have changed considerably. I really enjoyed the public service announcement to not pirate software, “Don’t copy that floppy.” Ha!

First, I would say that the persistent enthusiasm for using VR in education, medical, and many other fields beyond gaming just reinforces the fact that demand exists now that we’re starting to have supporting technologies in place that weren’t available 24 years ago.

There’s a great quote referenced from Scott Foster at Crystal River Technologies in the video. “The visual systems we’re working with today aren’t that good. It’s very difficult to build a very precise stereo imaging system.” That problem is solved! We’ve also now got inexpensive and powerful game engines with asset stores, smartphones, high resolution 360 video capture, photogrammetry model capture, high-speed internet connectivity, online payments, high resolution displays, miniature and cheap sensors like gyroscopes and accelerometers, updateable content through Content Management Systems, mobile and online payment platforms, microtransactions, and easy distribution through app stores. Each one of these puzzle pieces are critical to a tech like VR having mass adoption. Think about how the CyberGlove has changed from a bulky wired glove that tracks one hand to a Kinect that can track 6 people simultaneously from up to 20 feet away; entire bodies – including fingers and heart rate based on skin tone changes!

Also, many of the ideas weren’t that good in 1992. The ones that were good either were adopted and slowly improved by their respective segment (architectural, defense, auto manufacturing, etc). Even if the tech had existed, the standard internet paradigm also hadn’t evolved enough to know what products might work. One of the ideas I saw in the video was virtual shopping malls. I remember that was a focus in the dot com runup as well. While we were trying to figure out how ecommerce might work, people wanted to hold onto the old-world paradigm. When I was at Hot Topic in 2006, I had vendors pitching virtual shopping malls. While we did consider building a store in Second Life just as a test (why not sell a picture of a T-shirt instead of an actual T-shirt?), it always struck me as a silly shopping experience adding real-world constraints to an experience that can be so seamless online.

I’d like to use Aerosmith’s 1994 video for the song Amazing as an example. In 1994, it was just a fun “what-if” video that’s all filmed or pre-rendered graphics with some nice VR hardware (including the CyberGlove featured in Stewart’s video). I remember being 19 and watching that video thinking it would hit while I was in college and I could go Sky Surfing with Alicia Silverstone. Sadly, none of the above mentioned technologies were there to support my Alicia Silverstone Sky Surfing fantasies. I’d like to imagine if that video came out now (and the record company was willing to spend the money, which is a different topic).

A team of two or three people could use Unity 3D to build an environment with realistic physics. We could pick up models for items like motorcycles, guitars, and airplanes from the Unity Asset Store or Turbosquid. We could use photogrammetry to capture a photorealistic model of Alicia. We could use cut scenes captured with a GoPro 360 camera rig or even the Ricoh Theta S for $300. Then, we could easily export builds from the game engine to Android, Linux, iOS, Windows, and Mac and distribute those in app stores and on the web. We could even make a little bit of money for the band by including additional experiences as in-app-purchases. Then there’s the marketing element. Now, we could promote this VR product to the band’s database, the Ticketmaster list, and potential sponsors. So, we could market to millions of Aerosmith fans and use analytics platforms to fine-tune the message and segment to increase conversion, etc. We are able to reach millions of people to promote this product now with zero marginal cost. I know we’re all familiar with the marketing elements but I mention it as these innovations also drive adoption and monetization, which will be a big part of VR reaching mass appeal.

The only part in my mind that’s lagging behind is addressable market but with big publications like the New York Times and Wall Street Journal distributing millions of Google Cardboards and large festivals like Coachella giving away branded headsets to attendees, I believe that is only a matter of time. The point I’m trying to make here is that each one of the components needed to bring a fun silly product in an Aerosmith video in 1994 to an actualized product in 2016 just came into existence in the past few years.

I am a little bit contrary to the prevailing mindset in that I believe the consumer side will really be based on experiential products (tourism, porn, music, film, 360 video) in addition to gaming but not driven by gaming entirely. Not to mention, medical, eduction, and more specific cases.

Weekly Tech Views – March 26, 2016

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Real tech stories. Really shaky analysis.

Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice hitting theaters is a nice reminder that the Weekly Tech Views is to tech news what Lex Luthor is to Superman.

 

In Their Defense, I Did Start Conversations With “Here I Am, What Were Your Other Two Wishes?”
Microsoft has launched a new chatbot named Tay. She is designed to mimic the online chat behavior of an 18-to-24-year-old woman, which means, if my memory of talking with 18-to-24-year-old women is sound, Tay’s vocabulary will not stray far from “Not interested, jerkball.”

Update: After less than a day, Tay, influenced by her online chat partners, revealed herself to be a Hitler-loving racist. Not feeling so bad about “jerkball” anymore.

Guess This VR Fad Is Going To Make It
The website PornHub is partnering with BaDoinkVR to launch a virtual reality section to the site. If this news piques your interest, rest assured it’s nothing to be ashamed of. Partaking of this cinematic genre is a natural, accepted response to hearing “not interested, jerkball” one too many times.

With A Name Like Lithographic Process, It Has To Be Funny
Intel is moving away from the “tick-tock” cycle of chip advances, where the “tick” was a new lithographic process and the “tock” an upgraded microarchitecture.* They will now be adding a third element, “optimization,” and calling the new strategy PAO for Process (tick) – Architecture (tock) – Optimization. It was rumored that the engineers were adamant about keeping a two-part cycle, simply replacing “tock’ with optimization, until Intel CEO Brian Krzanich visited the department, pulled aside the head engineer, and said, “You may think you’re going to skip the architecture element of the cycle, but be aware…” and here, he lowered his voice to a menacing whisper, “we have ways to make you tock.”

Thanks for joining Old Joke Reboot Theater.

Wait, That’s What They Meant? Mind. Blown.
On Monday, Apple paid off on their suspense-building press conference invitation–which cryptically read “Let us loop you in.”–by unveiling… a different color Milanese Loop Apple Watch band. Wow! A new color! Space black, no less! Anticipation is already building for the knock-your-socks-off announcement sure to come this fall, based on the leaked invitation text “Phoning it in.”

The Studio Apartment Of Phones
Apple announced their cheapest phone ever, the iPhone SE, priced at $399 if you opt for the 16GB model, the version that allows you to stuff your device chock full of the operating system, all of Apple’s undeletable pre-installed apps, one Taylor Swift album, two low-res photos of your cat, a single Angry Bird.

Getting Ripped Off Has Never Been So Much Fun
Amazon has launched the Amazon Cable Store, from which you can search for the TV, phone, and internet bundles of various cable companies, where “various,” in this case, consists of Comcast. They do hope to add additional companies, providing, by all accounts, a much more user-friendly method of choosing the one overpriced option available for your city. Plus, you get to enjoy the mini-game of adding a plan to your cart and then trying to click “Complete Purchase” before the price increases.

We’re Looking Into It. Repeatedly.
Facebook is testing a way to report non-consensual use of intimate photos, often a function of an ex posting them as “revenge porn.” “Turns out some things can’t be handled algorithmically,” said twenty-two guys crammed in front of a 19-inch monitor.

Kids Hack The Darndest Things
It’s being reported that Cellebrite of Israel is the company helping the FBI unlock the iPhone that Apple is hesitant to assist with, based on the FBI committing to a $15,278 Action Obligation with the company. On the other hand, suspicions arose that Cellebrite is an alias for a completely different expert source when FBI Agent <redacted>’s fifteen-year-old daughter, formerly serving a month-long grounding for hacking each of her parents’ laptops for the fourth time this year, had her usual $20 weekly allowance bumped to fifteen grand for “spring break incidentals.” And $278 worth of Mountain Dew Code Red and Cherry Twizzlers were delivered to her bedroom.

It Is Better To Have Live Streamed And Lost…
YouTube is working on YouTube Connect, a live streaming app with functionality “similar to Periscope or Facebook Live.” “What the hell, now we don’t even get compared to the new services that pile on to our mangled remains?” said a Meerkat executive. “You know, it was just a year ago that we were the darlings of South by Southwest! You couldn’t turn around without… ah, screw it. Who’ll give me ten bucks for our logo?”

* I have close to zero idea what this sentence means, but damn it, this joke is going to happen.

 

Thanks for catching The Weekly Tech Views v Tech News. I’m kind of nervous about the Rotten Tomatoes rating.

Mike Range
@MovieLeagueMike

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

DTNS 2720 – DTNS(require(“tech-news”))

Logo by Mustafa Anabtawi thepolarcat.comWhen one javascript module developer got angry it brought down a big chunk of the Internet. But it was fixed in less than two hours. Is this good news or bad news? Darren Kitchen and Tom Merritt discuss while Len Peralta illustrates!

MP3


Using a Screen Reader? Click here

Multiple versions (ogg, video etc.) from Archive.org.

Please SUBSCRIBE HERE.

Follow us on Soundcloud.

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
To read the show notes in a separate page click here!
Continue reading “DTNS 2720 – DTNS(require(“tech-news”))”