Short Takes: March 6, 2015

Short Takes: March 6, 2015

An often irreverent look at this week's other news

An often irreverent look at this week's other news. In this issue: Apple Watch's complimentary award, a set of glasses that make you invisible to cameras, tech support gone horribly wrong, ISIS proves its mad at just about everyone, and Google plans its entry as a mobile service provider.


F-R-A-G-I-L-E. It's a major award

In another chapter of the long historic, sometimes confusing, story of Apple Computer that writes yet another footnote into the tome of all things you just can't believe, it's been announced that the Apple Watch has already won its first award. Remember, the Apple Watch is not even released yet, but only been seen in promo photos and at the end of Tim Cook's arm during recent events. Apparently that's not an issue for the iF International Forum Design judges. The Jury in charge of the decision said…

The idea of combining classic materials such as leather and metal with state-of-the-art technology to create a very individual fashion accessory has resulted in a delightful product offering a holistic user experience. The Apple Watch scores highly for each design detail and is an altogether extraordinary piece of design. For us, it is already an icon.

Classic materials: leather and metal. Next year I might clip my smartphone to my belt and enter to win. Makes you sort of wonder how many other awards Apple is already scheduled to receive for the next 5 years. Only one thing in the world could've dragged me away from the soft glow of electric sex gleaming in the window.


One wearable that won't win a fashion award

This week at Pepcom Barcelona, AVG has shown that it's taking the Google Glass concept in a completely new direction. AVG is, of course, the security company that started in this industry by offering free antivirus software that works by slowing down your computer so much that you no longer want to use it. Smart! I kid – but, seriously, I've never had a positive experience with the company's antivirus product.

Invisible Glasses is AVG's take on providing real-world privacy for an electronic world. In most cases, the glasses are able to confuse face recognition software. The device uses infrared LEDs that are invisible to human eyes but are picked up by cameras that are sensitive to wavelengths of light.

The glasses are only just a proof of concept right now and may never actually be publicly available. AVG says it's using them to investigate adapting technology to fit into our daily lives "to combat the daily erosion of our privacy in the digital age."

I imagine that this is like putting the headlights on the deer.


Microsoft Rescue 911

From 1989 to 1996, William Shatner visited family rooms in the United States through his hosting of the popular Rescue 911 TV show. Rescue 911 took real life 911 calls and provided dramatic reenactments of the situations that led to someone dialing 9-1-1 for emergency assistance. Of course, who better to host a show like this than Mr. Over-actor himself? Still the show was popular and lasted almost a full 7 seasons before being cancelled.

This week a Canadian experienced his own form of Rescue 911-type drama in that a Microsoft Tech Support scammer from India threatened to kill him. The Microsoft Tech Support scam is a growing problem. Microsoft recently professed that every year more than 2.8 million Canadians get a tech scam call. Of those, more than 200,000 are hoodwinked and pay money to have their computer cleaned over the Internet.

This particular Canadian was wise to the scam, and after playing along for a while, decided to confront the scammer about his true identity. The caller immediately became irritated and started making threats, declaring what people from India do to Anglo people…

"We cut them up in little pieces and throw them in the river."

The caller then took it further. After telling the Canadian his exact full name and home address, said someone would be over to kill him unless he paid to have his computer cleaned of malware.

PSA: Microsoft Support doesn't call you at home. Microsoft makes enough money not to have to resort to actively soliciting consumers for paid services.

Now, if only AVG could focus its glasses efforts on landlines I'll see if William Shatner could make some time to hock it.


Dangerous Tweets

The Internet is a dangerous place. Not only does it exhibit danger for common Canadians, but even founders of big companies are subject to threats. This week, Twitter founder, Jack Dorsey, was threatened by the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) for blocking the terrorist group's Twitter accounts. The group posted:

"Your virtual war on us will cause a real war on you."

Irony: A terrorist organization bent on the destruction of the West, making threats against a capitalistic company part of an open society because it wants access to its service.


Google me later

Some people think Google is a search engine company, but that's wrong. Google makes the majority of its revenue through advertising. From self-driving cars to robots to AI, Google has its hands into just about everything, but the company always finds a way to integrate its one true business. So, it's interesting to hear this week Google confirming that it is launching its own mobile provider service. Even more interesting will be finding out how the company will apply an advertising model to a mobile service.

Oh wait… Think with Google

P.S. You can only participate in Google's service if you own a Nexus smartphone. Yeah...I see this going over in a big way.


And, finally…

Thanks to all those that stuck around for the last couple weeks while Richard Hay took over penning Short Takes. Richard did an amazing job and your comments on the site and over social media are true evidence of that.

My wife and I took a trip back to our marriage roots and spent time in a remote location retracing our original honeymoon steps. We had a wonderful time. We ate lunch in a Kentucky lodge where we were the only patrons because it was off-season. And, after a decidedly down-home meal of catfish and Cole slaw, we hiked through the snow for most of the day at Cumberland Falls. One of the very best moments of the trip was finding that a natural landmark we found 25 years ago still existed. Though the wife and I look a tad bit older now than when we first visited, finding that this piece of nature is still tucked away in the exact same spot made us feel a bit younger. Funny enough, the landmark that we're endeared to isn't the massive falls, but a unique tree deformity that sparked some comedy the first time.

Presented without comment…


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