Weekly Tech Views – Feb 27, 2016

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Real tech stories. Really shaky analysis.

Good luck getting to work on time Monday, what with your big Oscar-viewing parties coming right on the heels of your raging Weekly Tech Views-reading parties.

For the week of February 22 – 26, 2016…

Hype That Company
HTC announced that their Vive VR device would be available in April for $799. This is $200 more than the announced Oculus Rift, but includes two Hand Tracking Controllers. Hand. Tracking. Controllers. H. T. C. Right? Watch for this clever HTC naming convention to continue with future accessories Head Turning Contraption, Haptic Toenail Conceptualizer, Hydrating Tear Converter, and the Holographic Tooth Conduit.

Thanks, I Guess
Apple continues to fight a court order requiring them to help the FBI access information on an iPhone 5c. They have filed a motion to vacate the order, and amicus briefs supporting their stance will be filed by Verizon, Twitter, Facebook, Google, and Microsoft. “We certainly appreciate the support and acknowledgment from our peers that we have made the correct decision,” said Apple’s Tim Cook, “but I don’t think it was necessary for Microsoft to include the line ‘even a stopped clock is right twice a day.’”

I’m Hoping There Will Also Be Some Texts With George Lukas
It turns out that in addition to this iPhone, the FBI wants Apple’s help accessing twelve others. It would be thirteen, if the FBI would realize the importance of getting into the phone I bought at a flea market from a guy that used to live in Los Angeles. He sold me JJ Abrams’s phone! The one he used while filming The Force Awakens! The guy says there’s audio, video, and photos from the set. Notes he made about script changes. But it’s password-protected. I know, I was skeptical too. But when he flipped it open, there, on one of those thin, red, embossed labels, just above the TracFone logo, was JJ’s name. You can even tell how pre-occupied he was with Star Wars because in his hurry he spelled it Abrims.

Although I Will Want To Insure It
Google is shutting down their Google Compare service, which provided comparison shopping for credit cards, mortgages, and insurance. It’s just as well; it was worthless to me without a category for used celebrity cell phones.

Yahoo, Indeed
Magazine publisher Time, Inc (Time, Fortune, People, Sports Illustrated) is in talks to acquire Yahoo. The final sticking point seems to be just how many Yahoo standing firm on its demand that a minimum twenty executives be permitted to attend the SI swimsuit photo shoot.

Who Do You Think Taught Mrs. Montgomery To Use Facebook?
Chicago public schools are going to require one computer science course be completed in order to graduate. That sound you hear is 300,000 kids laughing and thinking: They are going to teach us about computers? Great, can they teach us about fashion, too?

How About If We Throw In Some Floor Mats?
FoxConn agreed to acquire two-thirds of Japanese electronics firm Sharp for 700 billion yen. Then they found out that getting controlling interest in the company also meant getting 350 billion yen in debt, and put the deal on hold. This explains Sharp’s new slogan: Sharp: The “2006 Ford Taurus That Seems Like A Great Deal Until You Take It To Your Mechanic Who Says It’s Got A $3,000 Transmission Rebuild In Its Near Future” of electronics.

It’s A Start
Samsung is building 256GB chips for use in phones and tablets, allowing, for example, storage of up to 90,000 eight-megapixel photos. “That sounds impressive I guess,” said my wife, “but what do I do with the rest of this year’s cat photos?”

Shoppers Like You
Meanwhile, Samsung opened Samsung 837, a store in New York City that has art exhibits, cooking classes, musical performances… but no products on site for you to buy. If you’d like to actually purchase a Samsung product while in the Samsung store, an employee will help you order it online, presumably between verses of “Tomorrow” from Annie.

Asked her expectations for the store, one Samsung executive said, “We are intent on providing these cultural experiences for the general public. While we would, of course, welcome financial support from those partaking of our offerings, there is no oblig–oh my god, we’ve started a PBS station!”

Things About To Change As Printer Division Puts On Lucky Shirt
HP, Inc reported that revenue was down 12%, but considered this good news in that it wasn’t worse than expectations. “I get it,” said everyone who’s been to Vegas.

As Huntsville Goes…
Google Fiber announced that they will bring their gigabit internet service to San Francisco, the announcement coming just days after saying they’d be doing the same in Huntsville, Alabama, reinforcing San Francisco’s tech reputation as Huntsville West.

Who Knows Where The Hockey Stick Ends Up?
Robotics company Boston Dynamics posted a video of its humanoid Atlas robot picking up boxes and shelving them, refusing to be deterred even when a guy with a hockey stick repeatedly knocks the box from its grasp. When this guy knocks Atlas down onto its “face,” it is able to right itself. A still frame from this video–Atlas pushing up from a kneeling position–has been chosen as the source for a new inspirational poster, with the familiar caption IT’S NOT WHETHER YOU GET KNOCKED DOWN, BUT WHETHER YOU GET BACK UP WITH THE FACIAL RECOGNITION DATA FIRMLY FILED AWAY SO THAT AFTER HOURS, WHEN THAT CLOWN WITH THE STICK IS WATCHING THE VIDEO WITH THAT GIRL FROM ACCOUNTING HE WANTS TO IMPRESS, YOU CAN FIND HIM AND TEAR OFF THE ARMS THAT HELD THE STICK AND BEAT HIM WITH THEM. Also, there will be a kitten hanging from each severed arm, because kittens sell inspirational posters.

Also, Our Friends At The FBI Have This iPhone They’d Like You To Look At
The Department of Defense funded Carnegie Mellon’s Software Engineering Institute to conduct research into ways to break Tor, software that enables anonymous communication. While this relationship was only now confirmed via information in a court order, eyebrows were raised last year during the theater department’s production of Annie Get Your Gun; We Finally Figured Out How To Track Down Those Guys You Were After.


Okay, clean the place up, rehydrate, get some sleep, and start on that Revenant-themed menu for the follow-up party.


Mike Range