Weekly Tech Views – March 19, 2016

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Real tech stories. Really shaky analysis.

I had the Michigan State Spartans going to the Finals of the NCAA Tournament, and they become only the eighth #2 seed to ever lose in the first round. What does that have to do with the week in tech? Nothing. I’m just going to whine about it pretty much constantly for a while.

Now, here are some stories that are tech-related. Wildly inaccurate, but tech-related.

OK, A Hundred Bucks If You Guess How Many Fingers Behind My Back
Google doubled the bounty they’d pay to anyone finding a “persistent compromise” or serious bug in a Chromebook in Guest Mode from $50,000 to $100,000. This comes after getting zero successful submissions at $50K. Thoughts are there hasn’t been much interest in hacking the lesser-used platform. “$100K makes it interesting, right?” said the head of the Chromebook division. “Tell you what… $10,000 cash to the first person to guess my personal Chromebook’s password… it’s ten letters long… no numbers or special characters… rhymes with Boogledude…”

Inclusiveness Sucks
Microsoft will open its network gaming to allow players on Windows and Xbox to compete against players on other platforms. So who, exactly, is left that I can convincingly lie to about being good at Rocket League?

Frugality Sucks
The new Radeon Pro Duo graphics card can do a claimed sixteen teraflops of performance and will cost $1499. Coincidentally, the price of this graphics card is the cost of my last three computers, combined. Granted, like most games, I had to go into my Fallout 4 Settings and set my Graphics Option–after having no luck with both “Low” and “Narrated Still Images”–to “Text”:

-You are looking at yourself in the bathroom mirror

>Leave bathroom

-Your floating robot, Codsworth, greets you in the kitchen with a cup of coffee

>Take coffee

That’s as far as I get before the bitter tears of regret make reading impossible.

Really, It’s Just A Hobby
After watching Go-playing Computer AlphaGo complete its 4-1 win over 18-time Go champion Lee Se-dol, reigning champ Ke Jie said he still thinks he can beat DeepMind’s creation, but he’s gone from very confident to only 60% sure. This is a smart first step in lowering expectations on Ke Jie’s part, but that was before a few days at the Lou Holtz School For Underselling. Holtz, a legendary college football coach, was known for statements like “We’re playing a formidable team, and we aren’t a very good team. We don’t execute fundamentally… we lack speed… our third-down conversion rate has been poor… and our punting game has been a disaster.” The opponent had a record of 4-3 and had lost games 38-0 and 28-0. Holtz’s Notre Dame team was 8-0 and ranked #2 in the country.

THAT is lowering expectations (they won the game 58-27).

In his next interview, a freshly-educated Ke Jei stated, “Beat a supercomputer? They’re called super for a reason, you know. The way I’ve been playing lately, forget competing at Go against AlphaGo; I don’t know that I could play Monopoly and pass Go. My niece beat me three out of five at Go Fish. Frankly, if the game ends without me crying, it’s a win.”

Nightmare Vacuum 2: Electric Roombaloo
We have discussed previously the perils of iRobot’s autonomous Roomba vacuums (see the final story of the September 19, 2015 Weekly Tech Views), and how their addition of military-grade technologies make them not only handy cleaning assistants, but formidable killing machines likely to turn on you at a moment’s notice. If one hasn’t gotten you yet, perhaps you’ll be interested in the new Braava Jet Mopping Robot. Like the Roomba, this device–designed for hard floors–works without the need of human control, and can do wet mopping and even scrubbing, making it the perfect companion to its bloodthirsty, horror movie-worthy vacuum cousin, cleaning up messy stains you’ve left behind before they begin to, um, coagulate.

On The Bright Side, I Bet The VR Patent-Trials Courtroom Is Cool
Sony is the latest to announce their virtual reality device, PlayStation VR. Available in October, this joins the Oculus Rift and HTC Vive (both April arrivals) as this bold new era’s most-anticipated VR devices. Enjoy it guys. Before the inevitable…

Apple Invitation–March 18, 2018

We’re getting Very Radical

Please join us for a special event at our Cupertino campus…

and in Yankee stadium… and on Mars…

Days later, after the announcement that Apple has, in fact, invented the very concept of virtual reality, the iGoggles come out, and it’s goodbye market share.

Birds Tweeting, What’s Next?
In London, pigeons have been equipped with tiny backpacks with sensors that detect air quality, and that information, naturally, is tweetable to anyone requesting it. Pollution experts agree that the public’s initial reaction to this experiment, possibly occurring after just a matter of hours, will be the creation of a “tiny backpacks on a pigeon” emoji.

The Eye-Poke Virus Is Particularly Nasty
Intel announced its new high-end NUC (Next Unit of Computing). The powerful, small-form-factor PC–in its bare bones version–will sell for $650. For the budget conscious, you can spend a fraction of the cost on a NYUC (Nano-Yield Unit of Computing). They are, as the name implies, extremely low-powered, and there’s not much you can get done with one. However, if you configure three together in what is commonly referred to as a Stooges array (NYUC—–>NYUC——>NYUC)… well, they still won’t get anything done, but you can enjoy watching them send malicious code back and forth in a hilarious, unending attempt to incapacitate each other.

Thanks for stopping by the Weekly Tech Views. I guess I’ll go watch a few more tournament games to prepare for the second-chance Sweet Sixteen brackets.

Stupid Sparty.

Mike Range

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