Independent news, views, opinions and reviews on the latest gadgets, games, science, technology and research from Apple and more. It’s about the technologies that change the way we live, work, love and behave.
IN 1972, Toyota unveiled the greatest RV never made.
YES, yes. We all know that cyclists can be really annoying. They sometimes run red lights on empty roads and mount the pavement when drivers can’t. And yes, we know that they’re mostly bearded, middle-aged men who drink porters and have pot-bellies from a enviously rich diet… but really, when it comes down to it, they’re probably going to die if you toy with them on the road.
That pretty much makes you a murderer for not liking someone because they read The Guardian.
TECHNOLOGY has been rocketing along so quickly, it’s difficult to put on the breaks, stop for a moment and get a perspective. Sometimes you just need to dig your heels in and take a look backward. As the current rushes you madly onward, it may do you good to just pause and see how far we’ve come in such a short amount of time.
Taking a look at progress in technology as whole is much too broad; our heads will likely explode if we try and take it all in. Instead, let’s just look at your phone – that thin little rectangle you have in your pocket or are looking at right now…
It can do more than Hubot could ever dream of. And while it is unlikely Hubot was capable of dreaming, it could play AM/FM radio, check the temperature, tell the time, and play Atari 2600 games. Hubot came with a price tag of $3495 in 1981 – adjusted for inflation that comes to $8957 (£5432). For that kind of price, Hubot better be able to do dishes, kill intruders, and stimulate pleasure centers on command.
Alas, it did not. But let’s look at a single function on your mobile device that you likely take for granted: voice messages.
To read this advert, it sounds as though your very life is going to change thanks to an answering machine. Indeed, the Phone Butler will rid you of your cumbersome existence, and introduce you to the jet-setting world of recorded phone messages.
Now you can spend your vacations and nights out on the town with complete ease, knowing that all your calls and messages are being handled efficiently, and are waiting at home for you!…. Don’t worry about missing calls while you’re out doing yard work, in the shower, shopping, sunbathing, or socializing with the neighbors, you’ll never have to make a run for the phone again!
It’s hard to imagine that something as commonplace as voice messaging was sold as an answer to prayers just a few decades back. That would be like saying having no phone cord was a miracle of science – hey, what a sec…
“You see, with our cordless phone you’re not tied down by the cord – because there is no cord!”
No longer was mankind tethered; he was free to roam from patio to garage to toilet with splendid freedom. Advertisements announced this latest break with great fanfare. Of course, no longer being “tethered” meant you were also never out of reach. So, in a twist of fate, going cordless resulted in less freedom. Who knew?
In the ‘80s, you knew you “made it” if you could conduct business from your tub… preferably while sporting a self-important smirk. Once again, the advertisers are driving the point home that your tech devices no longer require terminals – they are wherever you are. Our younger generations will never know the type of world where you have designated phone and computer locations – things haven’t just become portable, they are damn near bodily appendages.
Another thing future generations will never know is the telephone queue. The very thought of actually having to wait your turn to use a phone is madness. But there’s a flipside to this: If you knew you had to spend a painful amount of time waiting in line every time you had to make a call, wouldn’t you use the phone less? And if so, might you be doing something more enriching or enjoyable with the time?
That’s crazy talk. Let’s move on.
One thing that we’ve all collectively dreamed about in our science fiction is the “video phone”. Every futuristic depiction worth its salt had one. Of course, now Skype, Face Time and the like are just boring parts of life – no more shocking than your washing machine or toaster oven. Who would have thought that a technology so anticipated would so quickly be taken for granted?
Well, we could stand in amazement at the many examples of brilliant communications technologies which have become mundane overnight. However, the current is quickly pulling us onward. No time to linger in quiet appreciation; in the time it took you to read this article, at least three of your tech devices have gone obsolete.
WHEN do you know if it’s true love? Japanese lingerie manufacturer Ravijou has taken the guesswork out of foreplay by inventing a bra clasp that only unhooks when “true love” is detected. If that significant other is only after a quick fumble or your valuables, the clasp stays closed.
SO hooked on gaming are some Chinese players that they wear nappies to avoid taking bathroom breaks. The New York Times has produced this short film on how the wired youth are weaned off electronica at treatment camps. The attitude of one therapist is that the internet is akin to “electronic heroin”, which suggests he has no idea how heroin works.
This is how China treated heroin addicts in the 1930s:
THE good people at Vital Findings have looked at predictions made in the 1950s and 1960s to see if they’ve come true. Is the future now?
Many things have some to fruition. But not jetpacks. Jetpacks have been massive let down. And where the hell is my flying car?
High-speed travel has been limited by laws against speed and idiocy.Oh, the idiocy…
WHAT face do you pull when the train pulls into the station? One surprise looking at Adam Magyar’s super slo-mo films (50 frames per second; one 12 second moment spans to 8 minutes of film) of faces on the platform is how few people eat on trains in Tokyo, New York and Berlin. Also, no sly looks to the left and right to study the competition for seats and space?
WE’VE been having all sorts of lovely fun the last couple of years as people uncover the stories about how little the various internet companies pay in tax. Google sells everything in from Ireland, as does Facebook, meaning that they pay tax on their UK profits over there. Well, with a cure deal that lets them send all their profits to Bermuda without tax. Amazon does much the same from Luxembourg: meaning that the poor old British taxman never sees a penny in tax on the profits being made in the UK.
All of this is, of course, entirely legal. So, the call has been that the law must be changed so that these companies are paying more tax. And everyone went off to the OECD (the club for rich countries) and they said OK, we’ll have a look at it.
Proposals for a tax crackdown on digital companies such as Google and Amazon are to be dropped, as governments push ahead with measures affecting the global economy.
Designing special tax rules for internet companies would not be viable, given the growing digital presence in large parts of the economy, an international task force has concluded.
PLENTY of small companies out there have found themselves sliding down the Google search results after they paid some consultant or other to improve their web rankings. Because the consultants then go out and buy links from blogs and other websites: something that tricks the Google search engine into thinking that the site is more important than it is.
IT’S unusual for someone to go through two entire technological revolutions in their own, one, lifetime, but I think it might be happening to me. Might have to hope I can hang on for another decade or so to see it entirely becoming true perhaps. But I’m referring to the rise and the fall of the PC.
Personal computer sales slipped even further in the run-up to Christmas, capping the worst annual decline in the PC industry’s history.
Research firm Gartner estimates that worldwide PC shipments for the three months ending in December dropped 7pc compared with the same period in 2012. It marks the seventh consecutive quarter of decreasing PC sales.
It means PC sales plunged a total of 10pc in 2013. Shipments of desktop and laptop computers have never fallen so dramatically. The numbers show that annual PC shipments have now dropped to levels last seen in 2009.
OK, we might not think that is all that dramatic: they’re still shipping 90 million or so after all, even with those declines.
HERE at Anorak, we love looking at old adverts. Take this one for the 1981 Mitsubishi Mirage. Filmed at the Colorado Air Force Academy, the advert begins in grand fashion. Jets soar an swoop. The sir throbs with energy. Letters appear in space, as if by magick. And then the hero arrives. The brassy fanfare strikes up. The brown hatchback zips around a bend in the road. A button is pressed. What does it do? Is it the afterburner? Who know because soon the saviour is at Jack Frost’s diamond palace to rescue housewives trapped in a Ford Pinto…
THIS is a seriously astonishing little piece of information. Skype now carries enough international phone calls that its own traffic is equal to 40% of the entire international calling market. And there’s an important point here about why economic growth seems to be slowing too. Here’s the basic news in the WSJ:
More importantly, Skype’s traffic was almost 40% the size of the entire conventional international telecom market — that is, for every ten minutes spent making international phone calls on every mobile and landline network in the entire world, four minutes are spent on Skype. The service is gradually eating its industry.
YOU are looking at NASA’s picture of the “Typical ECG signal received during the Apollo 11 mission”:
Neil Armstrong was excited, but Michael Collins was…dead?
IN 1947, a flying car –a propellor-driven automobile that flies– took its first test in Rome, Italy. While cruising down the road, the vehicle’s wings stay folded and when its ready to soar, the “driver/pilot” stops and unfolds them. This newsreel by British Pathé, titled “The Flying Car”, shows this two-passenger hybrid vehicle in action, both on land and in the sky.
IF only the French could fight their wars as bravely as they fight against markets, eh?
The latest is that several Parisian taxi drivers have beaten up someone driving an Uber limo: this is even after the French Government just passed a, quite probably illegal, law to favour the taxis over the Uber drivers:
It seems that protest turned to guerrilla warfare this morning as one Uber driver, carrying Eventbrite CTO Renaud Visage & Kat Borlongan from the airport to Paris, was attacked by multiple assailants, who allegedly, after smashing one window and slashing two tires (as seen in the photo), as well as defacing one side of the car with glue, attempted to enter the vehicle. Borlongan says their Uber driver manoeuvered the two out of the situation before anything could happen, leaving the three stranded on the shoulder of the freeway.
OR rather Intel declares that its processors are now made without the use of conflict minerals. These so called “conflict minerals” are the stuff mined by the rapists and murderers out in Eastern Congo. With such names as “coltan” and “wolframite” they’re the sources of some of the metals (tantalum for example) that go into making all of our electronics.
And obviously it’s a good idea that people aren’t being enslaved to produce these minerals for us:
Did you know violent militias and rebel groups control many mines in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and surrounding countries, reaping millions of dollars from the sale of minerals extracted by exploited workers to fund conflict and human rights violations? With a firm conviction that a corporation can make a positive difference in the lives of global citizens by changing the way it does business, Intel is leading efforts to help address this problem by striving to eliminate these so-called “conflict minerals” from our supply chain. And today we are proud to offer the world’s first conflict-free1 microprocessors as one major step on this continuing journey.
GIVEN that some businesses are now successfully using 3 D printers there’s a bit of technophile crowing that the whole world is about to change. That we’ll all have one at home, producing anything and everything we want, and we’ll finally be clear of this capitalism shite and live forever in peace and harmony.
It’s true that certain businesses are indeed using them successfully:
British defence giant BAE Systems has become the latest company to take advantage of 3D printing technology to help manufacture components for fighter planes.
The company said on Sunday that a Tornado fighter jet fitted with parts that were printed in a machine, completed a successful test flight, potentially paving the way for the wider use of the technique in other manufacturing processes. The flight is significant as it is claimed to be the first made by a combat aircraft fitted with such parts.
Many experts are predicting that 3D printing will transform manufacturing and reduce the cost of making a range of products from advanced technology to plastic toys, with consumers able to make their own products at home on demand.
NOT that many of us know what a quantum computer is of course but if the Americans spies are trying to make one it must be evil, right? And yes, this is the latest revelation from the Edward Snowden papers about what complete, total and utter bastards the NSA is.
In room-size metal boxes secure against electromagnetic leaks, the National Security Agency is racing to build a computer that could break nearly every kind of encryption used to protect banking, medical, business and government records around the world.
According to documents provided by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden, the effort to build “a cryptologically useful quantum computer” — a machine exponentially faster than classical computers — is part of a $79.7 million research program titled “Penetrating Hard Targets.” Much of the work is hosted under classified contracts at a laboratory in College Park, Md.
IN September 1930, plans were created to increase the size of Europe by linking the British Isles to the Continent. The new one would be called…DOGGERLAND.
Make your own jokes.
ONE of the claims that was made over the break was that the NSA, the US crypto spies, could hack into anyone’s iPhone any time. This was all as a result of the Edward Snowden documents of course. The sad thing about this is that it was rather blown up out of proportion by one Jacob Appelbaum, one of the hangers on along with Glen Greenwald and Laura Poitras, around those Snowden documents.
Appelbaum went on to demand that Apple reveal which of the two dastardly things it had been doing: had it been cooperating with the NSA? Or had it just left the most appalling security breach open just for the hell of it?
MY Cloud Pal is Danielle Bruckman’s journey though the selfies of the man who has her iPhone.
On January 1, 2013 my phone escaped me and somehow fell into the hands of a man with a killer mustache. Thanks to Apple and some kinks in the cloud, I receive all of his pictures in my photo stream. Here are his selfies as re-enacted by yours truly.
THE Italians have got themselves all het up over the fact that Google doesn’t pay any tax in that country. Or at least one or two politicians have got het up about it. You know, Google sits in Ireland, selling all that advertising into Italy and the poor Italian politicians don’t get to confiscate one red euro of that river of cash. Boo hoo, eh?
In order to try and get a bit of that cash they’ve decided to pass a new law. And one incredible little piece of it is as follows:
The advertising spaces online and sponsored links that appear in the results pages of search engines ( search advertising services ) , viewable on the Italian territory during the visit of a website or the use of an online service through landline or network and mobile devices, must be purchased exclusively through entities , such as publishers, advertising agencies , search engines or other advertiser , registered for VAT issued by the Italian tax . This provision shall also apply in cases where the sales transaction has been carried out through media centers , operators and third parties advertisers.