Weekly Tech Views – Jan 23, 2016

Real tech stories. Really Shaky analysis.

January may be winding down, but it's showing much of the country that it's still got some fight in it. Many find themselves snowbound in their homes, unable to venture out for their usual forms of entertainment like plays, concerts, or new movies. Some may even find themselves resorting to reading a blog they never would have considered previously, due to sheer, utter boredom.

Welcome new readers!

For the week of January 18 - 22, 2016

A Word From Our Sponsor
Messaging app What's App is dropping their ninety-nine cent yearly subscription fee and turning to "business to consumer communication" for revenue. I'll understand if you pause reading to calculate your new early retirement date based on this eight cents per month windfall.

While many assume that "business to consumer communication" means "ads," the company insists this isn't the case. Said one marketing manager, "No, absolutely not. No ads. We, uh, do not want to degrade the user experience for our… our… 990 million customers… jeez, that's almost a b-b-billion people… (starts sweating) do you know how much we could get for just a couple of tiny ads?… would anyone really be all that upset?… no, no; we said no ads, and we meant it… there are plenty of revenue stream options available… sure, ads would be the most efficient and lucrative method, but… (sweating increases, begins pacing) but since somebody apparently has some bug up their ass about not using ads like the rest of the civilized capitalist world-it sure wasn't me, I'll tell you that!-I guess we'll run some bake sales and car washes like a high school glee club trying to pay for a trip to the regional finals in-aaaahhh I QUIT!"

Fine, Take Away My Access To Other Cultures
IBM has purchased the live streaming service UStream. A new cloud streaming unit will reportedly be created combining UStream and three other services. IBM's involvement has naturally prompted industry analysts to ask, "How does this affect my ability to watch Japanese-dubbed versions of Ride Along 2 recorded off of some kid's iPhone?"

Mom And Dad Really Did Know Best
Microsoft will recall power cords from the Surface Pro, Pro 2, and Pro 3 due to overheating concerns, heeding the advice our parents drummed into our heads throughout childhood: "If at first you don't succeed, ignore the problem for two more iterations, but if people keep whining, I guess you'll have to recall the damned things."

He Says He Can Do The Dance Scene, Too
Apple hired Doug Bowman, the former Director of the Center for Human-Computer Interaction at Virginia Tech, who focuses on "three-dimensional user interface design." In submitting his resume to Apple, one assumes he simply handed them the Ex Machina script.

They Probably Aren't Interested In Our Thoughts On "Cheers," Either
Facebook will be providing statistics to the Nielsen company showing how often users mention specific TV shows, the data to be incorporated into Nielsen's new social TV ratings. My wife and I have been politely informed that our posts will be excluded, because "'Can you believe what Walter White did? Breaking Bad is crazy!' two-and-a-half years after the show ended isn't doing anybody any good."

No Matter Who You Root For, We Can All Agree On This
Facebook is also introducing Facebook Sports Stadium, where you can follow major sporting events in real time, including stats, videos, and play-by-play. There will also be, of course, social interaction, with a tab containing experts' posts and another with those of your friends. A fun third tab in the works will allow you, whether it's a full count in the bottom of the ninth of the seventh game of the World Series or 15-love in the first game of the first match at Wimbledon, to post, in all your favorite colors and fonts, Boy, the Cleveland Browns sure suck, don't they?

Cheap Shot Approaching
General Motors started a car-sharing service called Maven. A trial is being run in Ann Arbor, Michigan, where cars can be accessed for as low as $6/hour. Business immediately boomed, because Ann Arbor residents who previously lacked readily-available transportation options now have a convenient way to GET THE HELL OUT OF ANN ARBOR! (Ohio law requires that any mentions of the home of the Michigan Wolverines include at least one insult).

Wow, That Is A Lot
Google reported that they blocked 780 million ads last year that carried malware, were deceptive, or otherwise made for a poor user experience. If you're having trouble wrapping your mind around that 780 million number, think of it this way: that is nearly TWICE the number of Draft Kings or Fan Duel ads you hear in an hour of sports talk radio.

Or, The Phone Could Just Shut Down, If You Aren't Into Cool Stuff
Elliptic Labs has created software called Beauty that uses sound waves, rather than current infrared sensors, to determine how far your phone is from your head, causing the display to dim when you are talking on the phone and not looking at it. This software solution is less expensive than infrared, and frees up space inside the phone, which finally allows for the long-awaited addition of a packet of quick-hardening gel that streams into the user's ear when the software determines that the phone is at the side of their head while driving. This will temporarily deafen them, making talking on the phone while driving pointless. The remainder of the gel spreads over the phone's screen, because it knows damned well that an ear canal plugged with gel is not going to get the message across to most people, who are just going to try to tweet a photo of their goo-filled ear.

And there we have another Weekly Tech Views. For you snowbound new readers-that was better than being out in the cold, shoveling, right?… Well, how about being out there without gloves or a hat?… Naked?… Come on, you've got to give me naked-things could freeze to things.

Anyhow, thanks for reading. See you next week.

Mike Range

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