Monthly Tech Views – April 29, 2017

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Real tech stories. Really shaky analysis.

The Monthly Tech Views is back, just in time to save your sanity. We know that most, if not all of you, are giddy with anticipation for the approaching mother of all four-day weekends with Star Wars marathons on May the Fourth rolling right over into the blissful taco and margarita-induced comas of Cinco de Mayo. So the Tech Views is here to momentarily distract you from the kid-counting-down-to-Christmas-like nerves you’re all experiencing as you wash and iron your t-shirts emblazoned with a tequila-clutching Harrison Ford above the caption HAN DID A SHOT FIRST.


What About The Original Hand Crank?
Apple is expected to come out with three new phones this year–including a special 10th Anniversary Edition. They are having trouble though manufacturing some of the planned cutting edge components, so, turning lemons into lemonade, it will be a true Anniversary Edition, bringing back all your favorites–“No Copy & Paste,” “Pre-Retina Screen,” and “You’re Holding It Wrong.”

It’s Like You Can Reach Out And Steal It
Snapchat is introducing World Lenses, allowing you to add 3D objects to any scene and allowing placement so people in the video can walk around them. Very popular is the Instagram Lens, which lets you view a 3D version of Snapchat’s Intellectual Property Department and take whatever you want.

After All We’ve Done For You?
Instagram has a new tool that lets users organize their bookmarks into “collections,” a feature that many say mimics Pinterest’s “boards.”

“Finally, a feature that doesn’t copy us,” said Snapchat. “That’s a relie–wait… why Pinterest? Do they like Pinterest more than us now? Our features aren’t good enough for them? What did we do wrong?

The Battery Better Be So Small I Can Hear It Ratting Around Like A Loose Tic-Tac
Samsung is going to sell refurbished Note 7s in South Korea, probably as the Note 7R. The refurbs come with a smaller battery which will supposedly eliminate the fire risk, and an optional Note 7R accessory kit consisting of a welder’s mask, a set of 36-inch BBQ tongs, and a WHO’S GOT TWO THUMBS AND NEITHER OF THEM IS BURNT YET?! t-shirt.

Speed Dial It Is
Samsung removed the ability to remap the Bixby voice assistant button for other uses. So you Galaxy S8 owners who are looking out for Note 7 Refurb friends will have to go back to saving the fire department’s number in your phone app.

You’re Forgetting About Our Secret Decoder Rings
It was revealed that the ID badges of the U.S. Senate, rather than containing actual integrated circuit chips as a security measure, instead include only a photo of a chip.

“It’s just a temporary measure; I know the photo isn’t functional. I’m not an idiot,” said one senator, waving a paper under reporters’ noses that read “Harvard Law Degree” in bright purple crayon.

Project Run Away
The Echo Look is the latest addition to Amazon’s line of voice-activated home assistants. This update contains a camera which can be used to analyze what you’re wearing and provide you with a style rating, compliments of artificial intelligence and expert advice.

There are obviously still a few bugs to be worked out because I wore every combination of everything I own, and my preview unit would only slowly swivel back and forth while Alexa repeated, “No… I just… I can’t…”

Getting Your Breadcrumb Budget Under Control
Google Maps will now remember where you parked your car. This is perhaps the most helpful feature that anything has ever had. I have gone to concerts and spent more time looking for my car than listening to music. However, as wondrous as this is, it does no good at all unless it also stops me from turning on my phone’s flashlight after a couple beers and waving it over my head for three hours and depleting the battery, after which I’m back to “I’m prrrrretty sure it was by a gray car…”

Imagination Is The Strongest Aphrodisiac
Twitter introduced Twitter Lite, designed for those with less than optimal data connections and phone storage–the app takes up less than 1MB on a device and uses minimal data. Of course, there are sacrifices–in data saver mode, reduced resolution could make it difficult to say with any certainty whether that pornbot image is cleavage, a thumb, or a Volkswagen Beetle.

Up, Up, And Not Too Far Away!
Zunum Arrow hopes to utilize lightly-used airports to base their fleet of hybrid-electric planes. The aircraft will have an initial range of 700 miles, requiring revised pre-flight instructions…

“Please turn off all phones, tablets, and other electronic devices. They don’t affect the operation of the plane, but we’d prefer you conserve your batteries; should we run into heavier than expected headwinds, we may need a jump.”

Wicked Strict Rules
Over 8,000 Uber and Lyft drivers were denied licenses in Massachusetts this year due to expanded background checks. Some had expired licenses, others had non-driving-related convictions, but the vast majority were denied because they were deemed too polite to survive driving in Boston.

And The Cat’s In The Cradle…
Amazon has added a Parent Dashboard to its kid-friendly Free Time app. The dashboard includes Discussion Cards suggesting conversation topics and activities with the kids based on what they’ve been watching, readi–

“Whoa, whoa, whoa,” said parents. “Activities? What happened to “free time?” The idea is I put the tablet in the kid’s hands, it keeps him busy, I get free time. Right? I’m pretty sure having activities with them defeats the purpose.”

…He’d Grown Up Just Like Me
YouTube launched their live-TV-streaming service, though actually watching it on a television requires a Chromecast at this point.

Asked if they wished it was easier to watch on a big screen, teenagers responded, “In the living room? Where my parents are? Good one.”


Hopefully that took your mind off the big week to come for a few minutes. If you need further distraction–say, fifty times as much–check out the book Tech, Please! with over 500 of these stories at Amazon, now 25% off ($2.99) for the ebook and 33% off ($9.95) for the paperback. It’s a party on every page! Cinco de Risa! Which I guess is actually Five of Laugh and doesn’t make much sense. Also, there are more than five laughs. Really. Marketing is hard.

Mike Range

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