Old Timey TikTok

If I asked you to think of any movie or recording from the early 1900s you would likely think the same as me: something with a lot of grain or muffled sound. Then I came upon this post from Dave Rahardja over on Mastodon. These carbon microphones are incredible because you have @Samsonite1890 performing Five Foot Two on the banjo here in 2024 and yet it sounds perfectly like a recording a century ago. Originally developed in 1878 by David Hughes in England, the device used loosely packed carbon granules and the varying pressure exerted on the granules by the…

Laid Off Guy Hides Undetected in Company Slack

The remote work era means companies are completely reliant on chat and communication apps. Slack and Microsoft Teams are the two big companies in this space. To me, Teams still feels like a terrible ‘homework copying’ by Microsoft to clone Slack but I’m not here to rant about that. What I’m here to write is how Gizmodo writer Tom McKay, laid off in 2022, was able to stay on the company’s Slack instance for months undetected. How? By pretending to be the built-in Slackbot that is part of every instance. Emma Roth at The Verge has more. When it was…

Apple’s Big Baby Moments

It’s weird to see companies having public temper tantrums. The year is not even two months old and Apple has been on a tear with taking its ball and going home. First it was Apple’s legal loss resulting in it being forced to allow outside payments from the App Store. On the surface this ruling looks like a big win for the likes of Spotify, Netflix, and any other company that doesn’t want to pay a 30% cut to Apple for all purchases. Fair enough. But Apple, always one to want total control, is going the Full-Greed route wherein it…

Raccoon Causes Power Outage

Sometimes the headlines write themselves. A power outage in downtown Toronto earlier this month was the result of a raccoon coming in contact with “equipment”. Alex Arsenych at CTV has more. A raccoon was behind the massive power outage that knocked out  electricity to some 7,000 customers in downtown Toronto for hours Thursday night. Hydro One said a raccoon “made contact with equipment” at a downtown station, which cut the lights for parts of the city. The raccoon’s condition is currently unknown. “We’re currently responding to an outage affecting customers in and around the following boundaries: St. Clair Avenue W to…

Walmart Buys Vizio

What does a cool $2.3 billion get you? A well-established TV manufacturer if you’re Walmart. Just announced this morning, Walmart is acquiring Vizio in a deal to expand its ad business. Tom Warren at The Verge has more. “The acquisition of Vizio and its SmartCast Operating System (OS) would enable Walmart to connect with and serve its customers in new ways including innovative television and in-home entertainment and media experiences,” says Walmart in a press release. “It would also create new opportunities to help advertisers connect with customers, empowering brands with differentiated and compelling opportunities to engage at scale and…

Outhorse Your Email

One things Americans have been accused of is never being fully disconnected while on vacation. We sorta have a reputation for continuing to check email, dialing into calls, and overall monitoring things when we’re on PTO and trying to relax. Iceland’s tourism board is looking to change that. A scenic and beautiful country, Iceland’s tourism board is looking to help you disconnect and enjoy everything it has to offer. To help facilitate this, it came up with delegating your out of office email responses to a horse. Yes, a horse. When you visit the site you get to choose one…

No, Mr. Bond. I Expect You To Print

Printers suck. You know this. I know this. It is a universal truth. Aside from paper jams and managing setups that are complicated, the modern printers are even worse than that. Long ago companies went to a ‘razor blade’ sales model to sell the printer cheap and make money on the ink. HP has taken this cat and mouse game to the next level. Its CEO declared that ink must be a subscription and it can only be HP’s ink. Scharon Harding at Ars Technica has more. HP CEO Enrique Lores addressed the company’s controversial practice of bricking printers when…

Clean Mail

Nearly a year after the USPS announced it would shift a sizable portion of its delivery fleet to electric vehicles, the first signs of this are coming to fruition. A few weeks ago in Atlanta there was a press event that showed chargers in the ground and showed off the new Ford E-Transit EV delivery van. Jennifer Mossalgue at Electrek has more. The US Postal Service showed off its first EV charging stations, and some spiffy new Ford E-Transit BEVs, at an event in Atlanta yesterday, with hundreds of new sorting and delivery centers set to open around the country…

Right to Repair’s Moment to Shine

The ability to fix your own stuff is the core of Right to Repair. The movement to compel companies to provide parts and schematics that enable people to repair the stuff they buy has been in the works for many years. Small wins were gained as a few states passed RtR laws, New York being one of them. And while there were some bumps along the way, Right to Repair is having its moment. It also helps that Apple and Google have gotten aboard. Maddie Stone at The Verge has more. Signed into law by Governor Gavin Newsom, the Right to…

A Roller Coaster For One

For those of you that enjoy theme park rides then you’ll want to check this out. The Massachusetts Museum of Modern Art in North Adams faced a daunting challenge: how to occupy an expansive space with a creation that would captivate visitors. To solve this provlem, they turned to the talents of Los Angeles-based artist E.J. Hill. His interactive sculpture called the “Break Run Helix” exhibit built in 2022, is an imaginative exploration inspired by the whimsy of backyard roller coasters. But, this isn’t your typical theme park ride. The experience is designed for a single rider, allowing only one…

The Power of TayTay

Only a few months ago I wrote about the incredible proliferation of Taylor Swift and her music. Her business acumen has propelled her into superstardom. But last week a flood of AI-generated fake sexually explicit material of Swift was posted all over Twitter X. It’s a reminder that this happened to one of the most powerful entertainers out there. Even she can still fall victim to terrible people, predictably doing terrible things with bullshit-spewing AI tools. Jess Weatherbed at The Verge has more. One of the most prominent examples on X attracted more than 45 million views, 24,000 reposts, and…

The Touchscreen iMac

On the 40th anniversary of the Macintosh computer, I thought it would be interesting to look back on an oddity in the history of this machine: a touch screen version. In the late 90s Apple was close to going out of business and with the acquisition of NeXT brought Steve Jobs back into the fold. The iMac was the first piece of saving the company. Then a different company was buying them and installing touch technology into them for niche use. The coolest part of these machines was that the company ELO was an Apple Authorized seller and apparently had…

The First Webpage

Tons of things online are lost to time, but one of the most important things ever continues to live on: The first webpage. Even better, the announcement of said webpage by Sir Tim Berners-Lee continues to be available online. To me, it’s the ultimate nostalgia trip. Before the web, there was Usenet and Listserv message boards and mailing lists. The idea of a graphical way to “visit” a place was a far-out idea but on August 6, 1991 the announcement was made from CERN. In part it reads as follows: WorldWideWeb – Executive Summary The WWW project merges the techniques…

Surprising Nobody, A Zelda Movie Is Coming

Nintendo has learned a thing or two about making movies. Its first outing back in 1993 was somewhat absolutely a disaster. A confusing live-action flick starring Bob Hoskins and John Leguizamo was so, so bad. But thirty year later in 2023, Nintendo tried again. And boy did they have success. So much so that its other tentpole franchise is heading toward the big screen. Yuri Kageyama at the AP has more. Nintendo is developing a live-action film based on its hit video game “The Legend of Zelda.” The film, with financing from Sony Pictures Entertainment as well as its own…

Inhumane Pin

I continue to be skeptical about AI and that skepticism extends to the “AI-focused” products that are coming out this year. Case-in-point: a pin from an unknown company called Humane. They’d like you to think of it as a sort of wearable thing that you can interact with using AI. What it looks like is a very expensive product, spewing confidently-wrong-AI bullshit-filled-responses that will likely sell in tiny quantities. Ron Amadeo at Ars Technica has more. As far as we can tell, it’s a $700 screenless voice assistant box and, like all smartphone-ish devices released in the last 10 years,…

Mercedes + Buc-ee’s = EV Love

Mercedes is getting serious with electric cars and, even more important for those on road trips, public charging where it’s needed. Late last year the automaker opened a flagship charging location in Georgia. To say it’s gorgeous is an understatement. But now it plans to expand these ‘premium charging hubs’ to one of my favorite chains: Buc-ee’s. Peter Johnson at Electrek has more. Buc-ee’s operates the “world’s largest convenience store,” that’s 74,000 square feet (because everything is bigger from Texas). In comparison, the average convenience store in the US is about 2,600 square feet. Where better than to build premium EV charging…

Selling AI Nonsense

It’s been pretty obvious for a few years that Amazon’s marketplace is filled with no-name products from no-name brands peddling questionable quality. Buying on Amazon is a roll of the dice even more than eBay these days. This stems from sellers looking to mass-list and mass-sell items with minimal effort. With ChatGPT and other “AI” tools hitting the scene, people’s ‘cheats’ to do less work are being exposed in listing titles. Kyle Orland at Ars Technica has more. Amazon users are at this point used to search results filled with products that are fraudulent, scams, or quite literally garbage. These days, though, they…

Amazon Ditching Android

Amazon pushes its physical products all the time on its website. Fire sticks, Fire TV, Echo, etc. The list of hardware it offers is pretty extensive. Amazon takes the approach of “cheap and replaceable” tech in order to make money with services and convincing you to buy stuff. But now Amazon is doing something unexpected: bringing the operating system of its products in-house. Jeff Parsons at Tom’s Guide has more. At present, the company uses its Fire OS, a fork of open source Android that sits inside the likes of the Fire TV Stick 4K Max, Fire Tablet series and Echo Show speakers. But…

Airport Squirrels

Squirrels may be just another part of nature walks or excitement out a window, but here’s something quite fascinating: a group is dedicated to helping the European Ground Squirrel population thrive. And one of its most thriving and last spots is at Bratislava Airport in Slovakia. An airport may sound like an odd place to have a thriving colony of squirrels. But the video from Mossy Earth goes into many details as to why this is. Mainly the land around an airport is clear but untouched by people due to the nature of how an airfield needs to operate. Because…

Kid Defeats Tetris

Tetris news, like the game itself, never seems to end. The classic puzzle game returned to the news last week because something new with the game had been accomplished for the first time: beating it. Thought Tetris has no ending? Think again. A 13-year old boy who goes by the name of Blue Scuti was live streaming an attempt to reach what’s called a “kill screen”; a part of a game where the whole thing glitches and it’s impossible to continue. And sure enough he was able to achieve this feat for the first time ever. You can watch as…

Bidding on The Enterprise

eBay is always filled with various bits and bobs of movie and TV memorabilia. Scripts, set pieces, small trinkets from the entertainment industry always find their way to the ‘world’s biggest yard sale’. But late last year something odd hit the marketplace: a model of the USS Enterprise used to film the opening credits of the original Star Trek. Samuel Axon at Ars Technica has more. The first model of the USS Enterprise ever used in shooting the original Star Trek series may have surfaced after going missing decades ago. An eBay listing of a 3-foot model of the Enterprise appeared early last week and named a starting…

Half-Life at 25

Late last week, I had the pleasure of immersing myself in Valve’s 25th anniversary hour-long documentary, which focuses on the remarkable journey behind the creation of Half-Life. The game turns 25 and Valve felt it was worth a celebration. If you aren’t familiar with Half-Life, this may sound odd. So, let’s rewind. Half-Life was the first game by Valve, the company behind Steam and the Steam Deck. Released in 1998, the game was a first person shooter but unlike anything that had come before it. Half-Life (HL) was designed to tell a narrative story that immersed you in the environment.…

Florida Man: The Sport

Imagine this: You’re being chased by the police. There’s fences you must jump in order to evade capture. Or you’re in a booth with money being blown all around you that you must catch. Or you are ready for hand-to-hand combat… with beer bellies. I’m not tossing out random competitions. I’m talking about the “Florida Man Games.” Organizers of the “Florida Man Games” describe the competition as “the most insane athletic showdown on Earth.” The games will poke fun at Florida’s reputation for producing strange news stories involving guns, drugs, booze and reptiles — or some combination of the four.…

Rivian Delivers Expansion

Rivian, the automaker who makes the quite-cool-looking fully-electric delivery vans for Amazon, has gotten its wish. The company has ended its exclusivity with Amazon and is ready to expand its van business to other customers. Now any company in the delivery business can nab one of these snazzy vehicles. Jameson Dow at Electrek has more. Amazon ordered 100,000 of these vans in 2019, and Rivian has steadily been fulfilling that order, which goes through 2030. They’re starting to appear out and about, but the order will take years for the company to fulfill as it ramps up production. So far, Rivian has…

AI Scrolling

I may be very skeptical of all the buzz surrounding AI right now, but there are practical uses for the technology. Ancient scrolls dating back to A.D. 79 were burned in a volcanic eruption. Unrolling them is impossible and over the years scanning technology has tried to see anything inside. But using some AI, a college student assisted with deciphering the ancient text. Kyle Melnick at The Washington Post has more. The text message he received at the party included an image from one of the scrolls. [Luke] Farritor sat down in a corner to review the picture and uploaded…

The Full Starcruiser Story

Disney finally called Uncle on its immersive Galactic Starcruiser experience. For those unaware, it was a 3-day stay on a “starship” in Florida with a visit to Baatu (AKA Galaxy’s Edge) but cost about $5,000. It looked amazing but ultimately it closed. So what was it like to be on board? YouTube channel Ordinary Adventures has you covered. Over the course of four visits, channel hosts Kitra and Peter filmed and cut together the entire experience. This spans across the 4 storylines you could participate in: Jedi, Resistance, First Order, or Smuggler. The complete video is four hours but immensely…

Apple Adopts RCS

Color me more than surprised about this out-of-nowhere announcement from Apple. Let’s cut to the chase: late next year Apple will replace SMS with RCS on iPhone later next year. I have thoughts. Firstly, this is not replacing iMessage. There will still be green bubbles. iMessage will still be the default when messaging another person with an Apple ID. However, the fallback messaging with Android phones will now be via RCS. Back in August I declared “I would never bet Apple adopts RCS. They won’t. The only way is if SMS becomes deprecated and no longer supported by carriers in a few…

East Coast vs West Coast Butter

Generally, we think of coastal rivalries involving sports teams or rappers, but in a twist, there is also a difference in the world of butter. That’s right, butter, which I have never thought about in any way except when I need to use it or buy more, has a whole different look on depending on where you live in the US. Luckily, the butter itself is basically the same. The biggest difference is whether you want salted or unsalted, which is the same choice in New York and California. The size, weight, and shape are what sets it all apart.…

The WhyMac

Apple’s transition to their own in-house chips, Apple Silicon, has been a humongous boon for the Mac. For years the Intel-powered computers were good but Apple was at the mercy of Intel’s roadmap. And many times it was underwhelming. The first M1 computers were stellar in every way, none more striking than the redesigned iMac. But lost in all the excitement was a simple observation: Apple seems disinterested in the iMac altogether. The M-series iMac was released in May of 2021. Apple redesigned the whole thing. They went back to a set of colors, invoking the whimsy of the original.…

Hard Rock Lobster

If you could take two very different genres of bands and mix them together, what would it sound like? Mac Glocky over on YouTube has done just that. He has combined the B-52’s classic Rock Lobster with the sound of System of a Down. Yes, that ‘System’ which has such amazing songs as Chop Suey and Aerials. As most readers have found out, I love hearing reimagined and innovative takes on classic music. This mash-up is certainly a great one, especially if you like both System and the B-52’s like I do.