Should the Army act like a startup? Silicon Valley has its roots in military research so what can it do to help Defense get more agile? Peter Newell has some ideas and Veronica Belmont and Tom Merritt ask him about them.
65 degrees in mid-December in Ohio? Perfect. Some say it doesn’t feel like the holidays, but I always say there’s nothing more festive than wearing shorts and a t-shirt while listening to a little Christmas music and reading some bogus tech-story analysis.
A study indicates that text messages ending with a period are perceived as less sincere than those with no punctuation. Exclamation points, on the other hand, indicate more sincerity than no punctuation. In nine states, semicolons are grounds for divorce.
Can It At Least Help Me Get The Name Right?
Google and NASA jointly purchased a quantum computer two years ago. It has proved to be 100 million times faster than a single core computer in solving a particular type of problem.* Unfortunately, that problem was not “what the hell should Mike get his wife for Christmas.” Which means she’s probably looking at another gift card to that Bed Bath and Body Works and Beyond place.
Welcome To The Big Apple-tini
Amazon Prime members in Manhattan can now take advantage of one-hour delivery service for beer, wine, and spirits. “Found something for my Wish List!” said hard-to-buy-for uncles.
From Amazon Prime liquor delivery page: “People who ordered 2-liter Badinov Vodka also purchased… Orange Juice… Aspirin… 30-lb Tin of Beef Jerky…”
What do you want to bet that Amazon Prime booze delivery comes with a 5% off Amazon.com coupon code, valid for four hours from the moment the drinks are dropped off? (Guys, guys… you know what would make this apartment super cool? A PS4 in every room! Yeah! P-S-4! P-S-4! Done! Think I can fit a fifty-inch TV on my bedroom dresser? Oh no? Only one way to find out!)
This Could Really Mess With My Live-Tweeting Of Real Housewives
Twitter is experimenting with displaying tweets in non-chronological order…
Sorry; my brain couldn’t quite process that. What methods are they considering? Alphabetical? (“aaaaaaand here’s what I think…”). Dewey decimal system? (Ask your parents, kids). A roulette wheel replacing the Moments icon? (I’m listening…)
I Can Finally Move My Laptop Out Of The Half Bathroom Nearest Their House
Australia is investing nearly a billion dollars to make the country more inviting to tech startups and reduce its reliance on the mining industry. In a related story, I’m grudgingly investing $40 a month on an ISP to make my house more inviting to internet access and reduce my reliance on my neighbors’ non-password-protected WiFi. They don’t seem in any hurry to upgrade to the 30Mbps tier, and right now when they both get on to play Battlefront it’s almost pointless for me to use their Netflix log on credentials.
Too Bad, I was Hoping For YaBaHooBa
Yahoo has decided to keep their 15% stake in Alibaba, known as the Ebay of China, and instead spin off the rest of Yahoo into a new company. This is apparently a Google/Alphabet type of restructuring with various complex balance sheet advantages making the company more attractive to shareholders.
It does raise an interesting financial question for Wall Street insiders: In the story Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves, is Ali Baba a hero fighting the thieves or is he the leader of the thieves? All I remember is “open sesame,” which, to be honest, I really remember better as the cartoon version where Popeye is standing in front of a blocked cave saying, “Open, says me.” Anyhow, if you’re selling things, do you want to be associated with thieves? Questionable branding, if you ask me.
But I guess I shouldn’t let my ignorance of eastern literature make me question an obviously successful business. I think I’m just nervous my thousand (minimum order) Death Star ice cube molds aren’t going to make it here from China in time for our Star Wars marathon party on Thursday.
You Say Sharing Like It’s A Good Thing
Google is introducing Shared Albums to Google Photos, allowing users to send an album to others, who can add their own photos to the album. Nice idea, with one problem. You have to trust the people you’re sharing with. “So just share with people you trust,” you say. A reasonable response, except I don’t trust anybody. Sure, I’d trust my family with my car or my house or my life, but with a photo album? Right.
I guarantee that if I share an album from our family reunion with ten other family members, they will each add a hundred pictures, and somewhere in those thousand shots will be a hilarious series of Uncle Paul seven beers in and trying to make out behind the shed with Aunt Sally’s sister, Mindy (Aunt Sally being Uncle Paul’s wife). On his way to second base with Mindy, Paul abruptly disgorged approximately one cubic foot of hot dogs and three-bean salad on Mindy’s shoes. A laugh riot. Except my face will have been swapped in for Paul’s in every photo, and I’ll be the one dealing with Mindy’s fuzzy, drunken memories.
Hope I Don’t Crop Myself
Speaking of photos, a Twitter update is going to allow uncropped photos in timelines. This may mean facing a hard truth on my part, as I’ve been telling myself that everyone’s been saying my Twitter photos were “a bunch of crops.”
I’ve Heard It Both Ways
Uber has been blocked in China from using the messaging app WeChat, a severe hindrance for a company dependent on communication with potential riders. This brings up one of those funny language idiosyncrasies you occasionally run across, like “Aloha” meaning both “hello” and “goodbye.” The explanation for Uber’s ban can be translated from the Chinese as “malicious marketing activities” or, more loosely, “WeChat is owned by Tencent, an investor in an Uber competitor.” Weird, huh?
It’s Been 20 Minutes, So Here’s Adele’s “Hello” Again
Apple is now supporting 100,000 songs in their $24.99 iTunes Match, up from 25,000 songs. Assuming an average of three-and-a-half minutes per song and sixteen waking hours a day, this would allow you to listen to your music for a year before you heard the same song twice. “How much to store twelve songs?” asked every pop music radio station ever.
* I don’t know. Something about “using quantum annealing for an optimization problem involving 945 binary variables.” I’m pretty sure not all those words are real.
Thanks, as always, for reading the Weekly Tech Views Blog, and an additional thanks to those who have picked up my collection of WTVBs, The Internet is Like a Snowblower (And 200 Other Things I Got Wrong About Tech This Year). Hope it brings back fond memories of things that may not have actually happened this year.
If you have already made that commendable purchase, or haven’t, but find yourself at Amazon browsing books about, say, internets and snowblowers, why not take a minute to pick up a free (starting Monday) copy of the holiday classic-in-waiting The Christmas Napkin.
This short story has nothing to do with technology, but is at least as ridiculous as what you read here. The origin story of that most beloved of holiday icons–The Christmas Napkin–is free Monday, December 14 through Wednesday, December 16. If you are reading this after Wednesday, it will also be free on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.
See you next week (and beware the Beast of Brymlar!).
Gig economy? That’s what you use to make money to buy things int he “Experience Economy” apparently. Will companies shift from selling things to selling memories and transformations? Tom Merritt and Patrick Beja talk about what the heck that all means.
December. The holiday season is in full swing—parties, gift buying, TV specials, caroling (do people still carol? seems there’s been a steep decline in fa-la-la-ing recently). If only there was a way to take a short break and be misinformed about the week’s tech news…
Or—Just Spitballing Here, Dad—You Could Buy Me A Couple Islands
Mark Zuckerberg pledged to his daughter—via a Facebook post, the way all dads first communicate with their newborns–that he and his wife would give away 99% of their $45 billion net worth. That’s right, give it away. Giving away $44.5 billion.
And that makes it official! Somewhere, the Winklevoss twins’ life-sized Mark Zuckerberg voodoo doll has run out of room for more pins.
Mark, Buddy, How About An Xbox One For Everybody?
Black Friday online sales in the U.S. for Thanksgiving were reportedly up nearly 21% compared to last year at $2.7 billion. Some of the more popular items were—
Wait a minute. Mark Zuckerberg and his wife have a net worth almost 17 times what the whole country spent on Black Friday? That means they could do the Black Friday shopping for the entire United States until 2032. Hold on… Tyler Winklevoss is looking things over… seems to be focusing on a spot near the left elbow… and…yes!… with the use of a small hammer, he has wedged in one more pin!
Uh-oh, I Think I Forgot Batteries—Better Log Back On
Anyhow, online sales also increased on Thanksgiving Day, and they’re going to keep right on increasing, because with the Cowboys losing by thirty and Aunt Becky relating, for the thirty-second Thanksgiving in a row, her glory days as Harvestdale High’s head cheerleader (the Harvestdale graduating class of 1983 was twelve strong, so Becky didn’t have a lot of competition. The cheerleader pyramid consisted of Becky kneeling on another girl’s back, and Uncle Gus swears the closest she ever came to completing a back flip was in the back seat of his ’81 Toyota Cressida), buying yourself a monogrammed Fallout 4 Pip Boy seems like a worthwhile distraction.
We Also Notice You’ve Been To The Library, Where There Are Books On The Holocaust—What Do You Have To Say For Yourself, Hitler?
A Los Angeles councilwoman is proposing that the city access a database of license plates captured on cameras in locations known for prostitution, and sending letters to the owners of those cars mentioning that the vehicle was seen in said area. The obvious implication is that the city thinks the owner just may be a solicitor of prostitutes. Which is ridiculous; does the fact that I drove by Cleveland Browns Stadium mean that I’m a superstar athlete?
Okay, bad example.
Russ, We Checked Every Bulb, Didn’t We?
It turns out electrical interference from holiday lights could negatively affect your WiFi reception. This is why, in Christmas Vacation, you never saw the Griswolds watch Netflix. That, and it was 1989.
On the Bright Side, They Can Put Up All The Christmas Lights They Want
The town of Stewart, British Columbia, already without cell phone service, has now lost their primary internet access provider. Their only remaining options are dial-up and satellite (slogan: almost as fast as DSL!). They hope to have a new provider by the year’s end, but until then they are changing the signs at the city limits to read “Welcome to Stewart—the friendliness of a small town with all the conveniences of a much smaller town!”
I Probably Didn’t Need The Unlimited Data Plan
Google has updated their Data Saver feature, which will remove most images from a web page, making a slow internet connection more useful. For a moment, excitement surged through the town of Stewart, BC, but when they found out the feature was only for phones, they all returned to the town charade tournament.
It’s Called “Live,” Do Something
Facebook’s Live streaming video feature is being made available to a selection of general users, having previously been the domain of celebrities and journalists. We all know what this means. Everyone already gets tons of really cute or funny pet videos that have been shared all over Facebook and gotten millions of views. Why do they get millions of views? Because, dear recently-added Live user, THEY ARE REALLY CUTE OR FUNNY! They have a point! Though I haven’t seen this publicized, I have to assume, if there’s a god in heaven, access to this Periscope-like feature will be contingent on adherence to one simple, guiding principle: film a pet that does nothing for three seconds and you’re banned.
Service With A Smile. And A Drone. And This Guy
Yudala, a Nigerian retail chain, has made their first drone-delivery of a customer order. Yes, a Yudala representative was on hand to process the invoice and hand over the purchased phone to the customer, and sure, that rep could have just as easily delivered the phone while the drone hung out at the warehouse, but the technological achievement should not be overshadowed by the packed 18-foot trailer the Yudala employee brought along to set up a counter, cash register, a rack of impulse buy flash drives, phone chargers, etc for the customer to look at while the invoice was processed, and a second employee to up-sell her on an extended warranty.
Well, that’s all for this week. It’s time to get back to celebrating the holiday season. By which, of course, I mean, “hey, here’s something you can buy!”
All of the year’s Weekly Tech Views (including the unpublished trial balloon edition) have been compiled into an ebook called The Internet is Like a Snowblower (And 200 Other Things I Got Wrong About Tech This Year).
Sure, it would make a fine gift for anyone interested in technology; that goes without saying, though I’ll probably say it repeatedly. But it’s also not a bad way to kill a few minutes while in line at the mall or enduring the five-minute commercial breaks throughout It’s a Wonderful Life. Who doesn’t want to relive landmark tech moments like finding out what proctologists think about Spotify or learning the plan that will allow us to rule other planets with our cable companies?
So if you have $2.99 sitting around annoying you because it’s not doing anything productive, why not get yourself 200 examples of me being wrong about things? Plus, it has cover art by Daily Tech News Show contributor Len Peralta! If you’re not crazy about one of the stories, just go back and look at the cover. You’ll feel better in no time.
Estonia wants to be able to restore their country from a cloud backup. Plus news from Uganda’s municipal WiFi to Kazakhstan’s government security certificate (bad idea). Tom Merritt and Darren Kitchen discuss while Len Peralta draws live during the show.
Apple open-sources its Swift programming language and Google’s streaming apps within apps. Are we destroying silos and swinging back to more open platforms and or is this all just corporate hubris? Tom Merritt and Justin Young discuss.