Weekly Tech Views – March 5, 2016

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Real tech stories. Really shaky analysis.

Welcome to this Mike’s-on-vacation version of the Weekly Tech Views. Twenty-five percent shorter means twenty-five percent fewer inaccuracies!

For the week of February 29 – March 4, 2016

Live For Speed? Ewww.
Razer announced the first games for its Open Source VR Steam-compatible development kit. They are Half-Life 2, Team Fortress 2, Elite: Dangerous, Spermination, and Live for Speed. I will leave it to you to decide which title sounds like the absolute worst idea ever for a virtual reality experience.

How’s Progress On The Robot Eagle Coming?
The new Phantom 4 drone can see and avoid obstacles thanks to four cameras and two ultrasonic sensors. Also, the top speed has increased from 35 to 65mph. This is exciting news for drone enthusiasts, but less so for those eagles in Norway being trained to take down rogue drones. They just got a lot less cocky.

Release The Digital Assistants!
The makers of music app SoundHound have released Hound, a voice-powered digital assistant app that is reportedly faster and smarter than similar assistants. Asked, “Siri, how do you measure up to Hound?” Siri did not make a compelling case by pausing five seconds before answering, “Playing Elvis Presley’s Hound Dog.”

Watch Out, Brazilian Police–You’ve Got An Angry-Face Reaction Emoji Coming
Facebook’s vice president for Latin America–who, incidentally, does not oversee WhatsApp–was arrested in Brazil because Facebook-owned WhatsApp allegedly disobeyed a court order to assist investigators in a drug case involving a WhatsApp user. Finally, the precedent I’ve been waiting for to have Apple CEO Tim Cook put away because the guy at the Genius Bar deleted my Flappy Bird app.

[Update: the Facebook VP was ordered released because his imprisonment was deemed “an extreme and disproportionate measure.” You win this time, Cook.]

Are These Anything Like Those Beer Goggles I’ve Been Hearing About?
Fourteen McDonald’s restaurants in Sweden are selling Happy Goggles, a Happy Meal in which the box converts into VR goggles, and works with a skiing game for your phone. This is in conjunction with the country’s Sportlov holiday, which encourages families to participate in sports, usually skiing. Obviously, McDonald’s hope is that kids will find the VR experience to be so much fun that they will eschew actual skiing and avoid the life-affirming feeling of robust health that might make them rethink the advisability of eating at McDonald’s.

If It Makes You More Comfortable, We Can Still Come Over And Drill Some Holes In Your Wall
AT&T and DirecTV will offer DirecTV over the internet later this year, with no contracts or satellite dish required. Though no prices or content offerings have been announced, it does sound promising, and makes one ask the obvious question, is there a category on ebay for selling the push broom that I duct taped to the end of two other broom handles to clean the snow off my roof-mounted dish?

Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter announced the creation of the Defense Innovation Advisory Board, to be headed by Eric Schmidt, Chairman of Google parent company Alphabet. Carter said the board would provide advice to the Department of Defense on becoming more innovative in developing technology, but cut short his remarks when reporters insisted on asking if he keeps in touch with the rest of the gang from That ’70s Show.

That’s Fairly Decent Replay Value
Hello Games will be releasing the game No Man’s Sky this June, three years after it was first announced. It is an open-world space exploration game featuring 18 quintillion worlds. That’s 18 with eighteen zeroes after it. To put the number in perspective, it would take 5 billion years to visit each planet, if you checked out one planet per second. Put another way, it nearly equals the number of tears cried on any given episode of The Bachelor.

Why Settle For Just One Source Of Nausea?
Six Flags amusement parks will be providing Samsung Gear VR headsets to riders of some of their roller coasters. Some will find themselves co-piloting jet fighters trying to shoot down invading aliens, while riders of the Superman-themed coasters will encounter the resultant chaos of Lex Luthor’s anti-gravity gun, dodging floating cars and buses. Six Flags is celebrating with their new slogan, The Most Fun You Can Have With The Sweat Of Hundreds Of Previous Riders On Your Face.


There we go. That’s all. But a somewhat-reduced Weekly Tech Views is better than none.* Now it’s back to the vacation home stretch, which looks a lot like the rest of the week–slouched on the couch with a plate of mini pizza bagels and bingeing whatever Netflix can throw at us. You should see our vacation photo albums.


* This statement has yet to be verified by independent analysis.

Mike Range

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