WEEKLY TECH VIEWS BLOG – “Real tech stories. Really shaky analysis.”

With this second issue of WTVB, we are proud to announce that we have doubled the projected number of issues we thought we’d be permitted to post. From here on, it’s all gravy.

Earlier this week, Target and Home Depot shook their heads pityingly and said, “At least we aren’t those guys,” crooking their thumbs toward Ashley Madison, an adultery-promoting web site that was hacked this week. The group claiming responsibility for the hack has demanded the site be taken down, threatening to publicize the data they have obtained on the site’s 37 million clients. If they do release the information, we expect to learn that:

1) The most requested username is Phil Landers.

2) The top reasons for joining are a) “He doesn’t understand me,” b) “She’s frigid,” and c) the classic, “Defiling the holy sanctity of my marriage vows is the only thing that makes me feel alive anymore.”

3) Upwards of 60% of member bios include the phrase “I like pina coladas.”

Aside from the lascivious curiosity a story like this engenders, there are important issues that we need to take pains to understand–the vulnerability of data, the ethicality of “good” hacks–but the most vital takeaway, the one thing we all need to comprehend–and this is especially true for anyone related to me by marriage–is that I had never heard of this site before this week.

Asked if he had any advice for the Ashley Madison management team, having gone through a serious hacking incident of his own, a Sony Pictures executive responded with, “Ashley Madison was hacked?” Then he repeatedly hit his head on his desk and shouted, “Oh, come on!”

Breakthrough Listen, a project designed to search for alien life, was announced on July 20, the anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing. The big question seems to be if we do find life, should we contact it? While there are very smart people on both sides of the debate, I find myself leaning toward the argument that says HAVE YOU SEEN THE COMMERCIALS FOR PIXELS?! The Twilight Zone episode To Serve Man? If pop culture has taught us anything, it’s that the odds of Independence Day aliens showing up are much greater than that of E.T. dropping by.
But suppose we get a best-case scenario. Say we’re the advanced race. We somehow pick up a stray transmission of their version of I Love Lucy (loosely translated, I assume, as Ahd Vhrdaqqz Vggzzp). That’s where they are technologically–TV’s infancy. We contact them, and they’re ecstatic to hear from us. “Come visit. Share your technology.” And we go, with the best of intentions. But our nature being what it is, eventually there are a couple of superpowers battling to rule this planet, power and domination their only goals. And no matter which of these evil empires wins, be it Comcast or Time-Warner, this naively innocent planet will be subjected to customer service atrocities that they simply can not endure, lacking the decades of escalating inhumanities that have thickened our skins.

Ebay and Paypal officially split this week when Paypal’s name was leaked as a client of Ashley Madison. Ha! No, it was just a business restructuring. Paypal management was quick to assure users that the change would be seamless, with absolutely no reduction in email offers to apply for a Paypal credit card.

Apple hired the former head of global quality at Fiat Chrysler, leading to speculation that an Apple car is in the works. It will undoubtedly be one of the best-looking cars on the market, but each time the autOS (Automotive User Technology Operating System) is updated, service centers will be flooded with complaints that battery life has decreased by half and iTunes libraries can only be accessed via the horn.

Twitter removed background wallpaper from user’s timelines and notification pages. The angry response to this wallpaper change, however, pales in comparison to the Great Wallpaper Conflict of the previous millennium. A five-year-old child, who, let’s just stipulate right now, certainly didn’t know any better at that age, and was, on balance, a really good kid, found a tiny, loose corner of wallpaper sticking out from behind the baseboard in his bedroom. The five-year-old did what a five-year-old does when presented with such an opportunity, and pulled on the wallpaper. As the perfectly straight, two-inch wide column of previously-hidden turquoise paint appeared and seemed to climb the wall, the precocious child became invested in whether it could actually reach the ceiling. It could. The reaction of the child’s father, who had finished applying said wallpaper one day earlier, would put that of the most vocal Twitter trolls to shame.

In addition to requirements that drone pilots keep their drones safe distances from airports and aircraft, The UK’s Drone Code specifies that drones with cameras must remain at least 150 meters from groups of people. This will be easy for me to remember, as it is the exact same restriction my wife places on me after we eat at Taco Bell.

It had to happen. eSports (known to your mother as “people win money for playing a video game?”) has initiated drug testing. That crash you heard was a DualShock 4 controller striking the wall in Barry Bonds’ basement.
There has always been a segment of sports fans who say, “Let ’em take drugs. If they’re roided up and hitting 95 homers a year, great; it’s fun to watch.” In that spirit, we welcome the Adderall or Nothing Tour, where between each round of Heroes of the Storm, contestants are not only encouraged, but required, to wash down an ADHD pill with a full Monster energy drink. This will be a boon for TV coverage, as complete sixty-four-team tournaments, which formerly lasted for days, can be completed in forty-five minutes.

There were multiple stories this week about cars being hacked via the entertainment system. Not to claim that I was ahead of the curve, but years ago I successfully hacked the entertainment system of my friend’s 2002 Chevy Prizm. We were listening to Metallica when he stopped for gas, then, when he was paying, I swapped in a Carpenters CD! It was priceless! He was like, “What the…?” Boy, did I laugh.

That’s another WTVB in the vault. If you read the first issue, thanks for coming back. If this is your first time here, you’ll probably be more careful where you click in the future.

Mike Range

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