Weekly Tech Views – 15

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?


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?


Grocery store?

Probably not.

So it's more of an online thing?


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?


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

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