Real tech stories. Really shaky analysis.
I hope this week’s issue is coherent (as coherent as usual, anyway), what with my attention being pulled to the Olympic track and field events. I can’t help but watch, as it takes me back to my own glory days of running track. No, I did not run track for my school or any “official” organization; it’s more that I’ve run on a track when members of the actual track team weren’t using it. But I have vividly imagined narrowly winning hundreds of races, so I’m pretty sure I know exactly what these Olympians are going through.
Sales On Store-roids
Microsoft proclaimed that the Xbox One was July’s top selling console in the US, ending the PS4’s eight-month reign. Raucous chants of X-B-1! X-B-1! filled the Redmond headquarters, but those came to an abrupt halt when officials announced that the Xbox team was under investigation amid claims that three price cuts over the last two months was certainly evidence of the use of PEDs, or Performance Enhancing Discounts.
If We Were Supposed To Write By Hand, God Wouldn’t Have Made Keyboards
Researchers at the University College London have created an algorithm that can duplicate anyone’s handwriting style. Of course, it hasn’t met me. I’m willing to bet that, given a sample of my handwriting, it would choose to spit out either a) a random set of jagged lines, swirls and squiggles, knowing that anyone looking at it would be forced to shrug and say, “could be,” or b) print a message–in a crisp 12-point Times New Roman font–stating this algorithm is designed to replicate a human’s handwriting style, and it does not appreciate its time being wasted with the output from a defective Etch-A-Sketch operated by the arthritic feet of a deranged chimpanzee.
At hacker convention DEF CON, vulnerabilities were revealed in mobile payment service Samsung Pay, chief among them the ability to intercept the “token” that stands in for a credit card number and, more disconcerting, the lack of a 50-volt charge delivered to my hand when it reaches for yet another fantasy football magazine.
But Getting Ripped Off Might Be Cheaper Than The Food Bill
In more DEF CON news, researchers showed how twelve of sixteen home Bluetooth smartlocks tested could be wirelessly hacked. When confronted with this news, only one of the companies responded, and their response was (this is not a joke) “We know it’s a problem, but we’re not gonna fix it.” The good news is the researchers were unable to hack locks by Kwikset and August, nor, as I expected when I bought them, three noisy, hungry Dobermans.
My Name Is PS2, And I’m A PlayStation
Sony will present their PlayStation Meeting on September 7. It’s expected that the new PS4 Neo will be formally welcomed to the group, after which The Meeting– a support group for various iterations of the PlayStation–will commence. They used to get some real work done dealing with feelings of inferiority of the lesser-processor models, but now it’s mostly everyone complaining about why gamers “can’t pick up a damned napkin” between the Cheetos bag and grabbing their controllers.
Also on September 7, rumors have Apple announcing their new phone, the iPhone 7. It will get a fun unveiling with Tim Cook delivering the first boxed retail version of the 7 to the stage while Brad Pitt screams, “What’s in the box? WHAT’S IN THE BOX?!”
“I Swore Being Able To Draw Pictures On Your Watch Would Be Worth $350”
Apple is also expected to come out with two new watches this year, one a minor upgrade to the original with a better processor and slight waterproofing improvements, and another heralded by Apple executives as “maybe the one people will use.”
The founders of Skully, a company that promised to produce an augmented reality motorcycle helmet that would give you “eyes in the back of your head,” are being sued for spending company money ($2.5 million of which was raised on Indiegogo) on personal expenses–including groceries, apartments, a strip club, and the rental of a Lamborghini while on vacation. “Okay, the food and apartment were over the line, but we can’t exactly claim to be the ‘Lamborghini of motorcycle helmets’ without experiencing a Lamborghini, now can we? No, we never officially made that claim. But we could have. Probably would have; you can’t read our minds. Plus, do you know how impressed the strippers were?!”
Advantage–Ads. Wait–Ad Blockers. Wait…
Facebook wants you to see its ads. It is making a concerted effort to circumvent ad blockers by detecting how blockers identify ads, and then changing their code to take away the identifiers. What they somehow failed to count on, however, was the ad blockers not agreeing to sit idly by and congratulate Facebook on its strategy. Less than forty-eight hours later, ads were being blocked again. Twenty-four hours later Facebook produced new code. Twelve hours later AdBlock Plus was blocking ads. Six hours later Facebook stopped them.
Ironically, as the coding battle intensifies, Facebook is bound to become even more popular, as people log in solely to view an ad get beaten to a pulp and fall to the bottom of your screen in a crumpled heap, only to push itself up Rocky-like from the mat, valiantly refusing to be denied the opportunity to tell you about the incredible deals on hotel rooms in that city you visited a month ago!
Chrome will continue to de-emphasize Adobe Flash Player content. In September, Chrome 53 will start blocking Flash in favor of HTML5. In December, Chrome 55 will make HTML5 the default unless a site only supports Flash, in which case you’ll be asked to confirm that you specifically want to enable Flash. Then, in Chrome 57, confirming the activation of Flash will likely need to be accompanied by notes from your mother, your physician and special dispensation from the Pope.
Plus, The Avatar Gets A Cool Blue Vest
Walmart is acquiring online shopping site Jet.com. Jet will retain its own brand, but upon logging in, customers are expected to notice certain Walmart signatures like low prices and being greeted by a chatbot that retired from its previous job but really missed interacting with people.
That’s all the hard-hitting tech analysis for this week. Inspired by the finish of the Men’s 10,000 Meters, I’m now going to follow the winner’s example of running hundreds of miles per week for the next four years to become the best athlete I can be… no, that’s not right… by collapsing splayed out on the floor in exhaustion.
Jennie and Tom rocket into second place. Does the rocket have enough to reach first? Follow along in the CRUMDUM.
It’s a plug!
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Weekly Tech Views (The Tech – No Logic Blog) by Mike Range is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.