Real tech stories. Really shaky analysis.
Here they are, the top ten Weekly Tech Views stories of 2016. The best of the year. While many regard “the best” of something to be “really, really great,” keep in mind it can just as legitimately mean “not quite as bad as the other 500 stories.”
For the year 2016…
Number 10 (July 2)
Would You Like “News,” “Images,” Or “Videos” Results For “Under-Reported Taxes”?
An investigation into suspected tax evasion resulted in Spanish authorities raiding Google’s Madrid office.
“What are you doing here?” demanded a Google executive.
An officer shouted, “We’re here to initiate a search,” and everyone had a hearty laugh.
Number 9 (April 16)
A promotional video of the HTC 10 leaked a day ahead of its official unveiling, showing a design change including chamfered (from the French, meaning “transferred from the Champagne region” or “artsy-fartsy“) edges, and–
Okay, look, can we stop calling these “leaks”? Tech companies, step up and call them what they are–teaser trailers. Hollywood does it, admits it, and we’re all okay with it. You’re trying to build buzz. Go for it. You don’t have to play the Victorian damsel, “accidentally” dropping your lace, perfumed hanky at the feet of an eligible bachelor. “Oh, thank you. How terribly careless of me. I declare, I am ever so grateful, not to mention flattered that you noticed my front-facing 5-megapixel camera with optical image stabilization.”
Number 8 (July 2)
“Take That!” Says Wii Fit
Microsoft is shutting down Xbox Fitness, claiming that continued updates are unsustainable. “I feel bad for the gang in the Fitness Division, but they never really had a chance,” said the head of Xbox’s flagship Sit On Your Ass Shooting Stuff, Eating Doritos, And Drinking Mountain Dew Division.
Number 7 (January 30)
Tuesday, 6PM: Come And Knock On Our Door
Microsoft’s virtual personal assistant, Cortana, will soon be able to automatically create reminders for you, based on information in your emails and calendar. For more on this story, we take you to 1977 and an episode of Three’s Company…
Stanley Roper: “So it’s going to constantly nag me to do something without me telling it to? You sure it’s not named Helen?”
(Mr. Roper spends a full ten seconds smiling a very self-satisfied smile directly into the camera)
Helen Roper: “Maybe if you had some initiative and did something on your own, I wouldn’t have to nag.”
Stanley: “I do plenty! I just fixed their sink!”
Chrissy: “It’s true. It looked like real good duct tape, too.”
Stanley: “Never mind that. (To Helen): “And what have you ever done on your own?”
(It’s Helen’s turn to stare at the camera, eyebrows arched, and the audience snickers, knowing damned well what’s coming)
Helen: “Believe me, I have to do something on my own every night.”
Stanley: “I wish you were Cortana so I could push your button to make you be quiet.”
Helen: “If you would push my buttons I’d let you call me Cortana or Wonder Woman or whatever you want!”
(Huge, ridiculously long laughter from the audience, during which Jack does three double-takes, a spit take, and falls over six separate pieces of furniture.)
Number 6 (July 2)
And That’s Without The Pencil
Apple is recalling some wall plug adapters because, in rare cases, the adapter could break and cause a shock. Apple has not identified the degree of shock, but electricians estimate it could range from “shaking hands with someone on shag carpeting” to “learning the price of an iPad Pro.”
Number 5 (March 12)
Low Sodium Diets Were Less Common Then
Verizon was fined $1.35 million by the FCC for using “supercookies” to identify mobile users and track their activities across the web, enabling Verizon to target advertising. Verizon said, “Really? $1.35 million? You didn’t forget a zero?” Then they shrugged and peeled $1.5 mill off the roll of cash they keep in their pocket and said, “Keep the change.”
More interestingly, did you know that the origin of both the term and concept of “supercookies” dates back to America’s Old West? As you’ve likely seen in Westerns, cowboys would refer to the cook as Cookie. If a cowboy especially enjoyed a particular meal, he would say, “That was super, Cookie.”
Well, Cookie, wanting to stay on the guys’ good side, would file away this information, tracking everyone’s preferences, so that he could replicate the results on special occasions like birthdays or winning the weekly long-distance spittoon-filling contest. Of course, on long cattle drives, the menu pretty much came down to subtle variations of beans and dried beef, so sometimes the best Cookie could do to was up the saltiness of a recipe to a cowboy’s preference by making a concerted effort to let more sweat than usual drip from his face into the “stew.”
Number 4 (July 2)
Did We Mention It’s Free?
A woman successfully sued Microsoft for $10,000 after a Windows 10 upgrade–that she claims was unauthorized–left her system unusable for days.
Microsoft: “She could have chosen not to upgrade. It isn’t mandatory.”
Attorney: “She clicked on the X in the upgrade popup.”
Microsoft: “Exactly! We made that doubly safe! First of all, that wasn’t an X, it was a Roman numeral 10. For Windows 10? Clicking on it obviously meant ‘Yes, I want this new operating system hotness, thank you.’ But for those who couldn’t grasp that…” (stares witheringly at the plaintiff) “…don’t you agree that an X would signify ‘Stop’?”
Attorney: “Yes! Stop–”
Microsoft: “–me from making the huge mistake of not upgrading to this fantastic OS! I know! Frankly, we can conceive of no scenario where someone would click on the X and expect the update to not install.”
The plaintiff then took the stand for forty-five seconds, long enough to state “Aaaaaaaaaaaaagh!” and smack herself in the forehead a dozen times with the heel of her palm.
The judge deliberated for two to three seconds and ruled that “the plaintiff better have ten grand in her pocket before she leaves the courtroom. And hell, give everyone who had to sit through this an Xbox One.”
Number 3 (April 9)
Guys, Could You Not Be A-Holes, If It’s Not Too Much Trouble?
The Federal Communications Commission, in an effort to help consumers understand the terms they are agreeing to with internet service providers, issued non-mandatory guidelines for ISPs to spell out things like prices, data caps, overage charges, and speed.
Finally! Nothing says “get your act together!” like non-mandatory guidelines. I remember as a kid, when my brothers and I would be teasing my sister, hiding her Shaun Cassidy album,** nothing got us back in line quicker than Mom dropping the hammer with one of her non-mandatory guidelines rants:
“YOU GUYS THINK IT’S A BIG JOKE TO TEASE YOUR SISTER LIKE THIS, BUT IT’S NOT! IT’S NOT HURTING YOU ANY TO HEAR HER MUSIC, AND I WANT YOU TO GIVE HER BACK HER RECORD RIGHT NOW! THAT’S HER PROPERTY, AND YOU HAVE NO RIGHT TO TOUCH IT! JUST REMEMBER, THIS IS A SUGGESTION ON MY PART! I’M NOT MANDATING HOW YOU SHOULD LIVE YOUR LIFE; YOU’RE FREE TO MAKE YOUR OWN DECISIONS! THIS IS A GUIDELINE! IT’S COMPLETELY UP TO YOU WHETHER YOU DO THIS OR NOT! THERE WILL BE NO CONSEQUENCES OR REPERCUSSIONS, REGARDLESS OF YOUR DECISION! NOW GO ON AND DO WHATEVER YOU WANT!”
Let me tell you, that, combined with Dad reaching for his belt, was really effective.
** You can’t blame us for that. Nobody should be subjected to Da Doo Ron Ron twelve times in a lifetime, let alone an afternoon.
Number 2 (October 1)
Acronyms Killed The Radio “R”
After an investment of five years and $180 million, China now lays claim to the world’s largest radio telescope with FAST, or the Five-Hundred-Meter Aperture Spherical Radio Telescope, which supplants Puerto Rico’s 300-meter telesc–
Hang on. All of a sudden it’s okay to just drop three out of seven words to get the cool acronym we want? Look, I understand blowing off things like a, of, and the–I mean, those are just tiny syllables that–many people don’t realize this–most of your major dictionaries refuse to even recognize as words. Heck, I’m even willing to let you slide on hundred and meter because you cleverly attached them to Five with hyphens. But, c’mon, how do you arbitrarily get rid of radio?
Without radio you can’t distinguish this type of telescope from the kind you give your ten-year-old so he can look at the moon through his bedroom window (and yes, that one time, at Mrs. Peterson down the block when she was careless with her blinds).
Without the word radio nobody knows that you are referring to a telescope that… well, hell, I’m no astronomer–I have no idea what a radio has to do with a telescope. I want to say… you can listen to Pink Floyd while you look at the stars? Like at the Laserium when you were in high school? Hey, does it have lasers? That would be awesome.
Whatever, radio is important enough to be in the name, so to me the acronym is not FAST, it’s FASRT. Which is better anyhow because if you just glance quickly it looks like “fart,” which is funny.
Number 1 (May 7)
At Least The Satellite Bastards Had The Decency To Lock People In For A Couple Years
Following the lead of live-streaming TV services SlingTV and PlayStation Vue, Hulu and YouTube are both expected to announce their own live-streaming TV options, packaging a selection of network and cable channels for $35-$40 per month. This news prompted Cable TV to call for an informal get-together in Cable’s office:
Cable: So you’re all getting in on the live TV game, huh?
Hulu: Yep, can’t wait.
You Tube: A whole new world. Gonna be exciting.
Cable: Uh-huh. It certainly is. But good luck finding markets, guys.
Cable: Yeah, markets. Who’s gonna use your service? Us cable companies have the country pretty well divvied up amongst ourselves.
Vue: You mean, like who gets the eastern suburbs of, uh, Fort Worth, and who gets the west? That kind of thing?
(The streaming services look at each other, then back at Cable, and laugh heartily)
Hulu: Oh, wow, that’s a good one, old-timer! It did used to work like that, didn’t it?
(Cable stares at them, silent)
YouTube: Oh, gee, it’s still like that for you, isn’t it? Gosh, sorry. See, we can sell our service everywhere in the country.
Cable (beginning to sweat): I have no idea what you’re saying.
Sling: There are no markets. Or, rather, every household with an internet connection is our market.
Vue, Hulu, YouTube: And ours!
Cable: But… but you can’t all…
Sling: We compete.
Cable (putting a finger in each ear): I don’t want to hear any more.
Vue: We each put together the best packages we can–
Hulu: At the best prices we can–
YouTube: And the consumer chooses the one they want.
(A minute of silence passes; Cable slowly removes his fingers from his ears)
Sling: And they quit whenever they want.
(Then, panting heavily): But.. the whole country… you’d have to have thousands and thousands of installers…
Vue (turning to Sling, Hulu, and YouTube): Hey guys…heh-heh… guys… ha-ha… have you… ha-ha-ha… have you hired all your installers yet?
(The office fills with raucous laughter)
Sling (wiping tears away): Oh yeah! All set to go! We can have one at your house Thursday!
Hulu: Yeah… between noon and five!
(The laughter now verges on hysteria, leaving the streamers clutching their sides and leaning on each other for support)
Sling: Oh, man, Cable, this is great. Thanks for calling us together… (gasping) …but I have to get out of here before I pee myself–(points at magazines next to him on the couch)–I wouldn’t want to ruin your stack of TV Guides here!
The streamers stagger out of the office, and Cable hears them talking in the hallway, but the conversation is muffled and indistinct. Then one of them–Hulu, Cable thinks–clearly shouts “markets!” and they ride a fresh wave of laughter out the front door.
Cable opens his top desk drawer and withdraws a standard two-year-commitment contract–brimming with Activation fees, DVR fees, Additional Set-Top Box fees, HD fees, Remote Control fees, and Installation fees–and holds it gently, lovingly, to his cheek. His eyes glaze over as he stares into the distance at nothing in particular. He remains there for days, refusing to eat, sleep, or speak, save for the occasional, wistfully-muttered “monopoly.”
There it is. Another year of tech news. 500 stories, many of which probably had a significant effect on many of our lives, though you won’t really know that until you read versions by writers who actually know what they’re talking about.
Hopefully these stories were at least able to provide a few laughs in lieu of knowledge. Enough laughs to make getting a book full of these stories worthwhile? Well, that’s something only you can answer, I guess (though, if you want my opinion, four, maybe five chuckles over the course of the year seems more than enough).
The book–Tech, Please!–is now at Amazon in both ebook and paperback editions for your reading pleasure. They are currently listed separately (though the listings should soon merge):
Thanks for reading along this year, and stay tuned next week for the year’s final issue featuring stories that were written but didn’t find their way into the Weekly Tech Views for various reasons–the issue was running long, the content may have leaned a little north of PG-13, the story just wasn’t all that funny–haha, I mean, no, it was funny, it just didn’t come together quite like I… I… whatever. What I’m saying is it may be best read immediately after any alcohol-induced New Year’s celebrating.
Happy Holidays, and may less than half your weekend be troubleshooting.
Произведение «Weekly Tech Views: The Tech, No Logic Blog» созданное автором по имени Mike Range, публикуется на условиях лицензии Creative Commons «Attribution-NonCommercial» («Атрибуция — Некоммерческое использование») 4.0 Всемирная.