Short Takes: April 10, 2015

Short Takes: April 10, 2015

An often irreverent look at this week's other news

An often irreverent look at this week's other news. In this edition: Windows 10 for phones, the second coming of the first Apple Watch, Swiss miss, lights-out White House, a bug that never existed gets fixed, the drone age, and my movie debut.


Windows 10 for Phones Rolling Out Today

As you're reading this week's edition of Short Takes you should take note that today is a special day. Today, Microsoft will roll out the 2nd Build of Windows 10 for phones. Obviously, it takes time to put public-ready Builds together, but a day doesn't go by without someone asking Gabe Aul over Twitter if a new Build is coming. It has hints of "Are we there yet? Are we there yet?"

I don't envy this guy. Some of his inquisitors can get downright nasty. They sometimes seem to treat Gabe like nothing more than the UPS delivery man that peeled out in the yard after pitching a damaged package into the hedges.

We've teased Gabe a bunch here in more recent Short Takes editions, but he's a good guy and deserves some kudos for his work.

Besides, what can brown really do for you?


Apple Taking a Different Approach on Its Watch Rollout, Reviews Roll In

Apple, of course, also made the news this week. Despite an event full of announcements just a couple weeks back, the only thing making press headlines in a big way is the upcoming Apple Watch. Apple is set to deliver its first wearable for pre-order today. And, even when the device becomes publicly purchasable, those that want one of these can only snag one by scheduling an appointment or ordering online. Apple is trying to eliminate the mass lines that tend to accumulate hours to days prior to prominent product launches. That's good for consumers, but could be bad for Apple, considering it was those long lines of over-enamored and sleepless credit card bearers that led to free, sensational news coverage and helped spur the Apple product legend.

Apple might actually need those long lines this time. Reports are developing that consumer interest may be fizzling already, with the Apple Watch being considered an overpriced, unnecessary gadget.

But, reviewers tell a different story.

Apple Watch product reviews have been surfacing all this past week, and they are what you'd expect. Apple is very careful to whom it delivers review units. The reviews have been glowing (of course).

The Wall Street Journal's Geoffrey Fowler said, "smartwatches finally make sense." Yahoo!'s David Pogue said the Apple Watch is "light-years better than any of the feeble, clunky efforts that have come before it" and also used the word "magical."

Chris Matthews said, "I felt this thrill going up my leg."

Oh wait…that was something else.


Swiss Time Keepers Get 30-year Revenge

Despite the Apple Watch set to go on sale in nine countries worldwide, there's one area of the globe that won't get access to them in short order. Apparently, there's a Swiss trademark keeping Apple from selling the Watch in that country. Switzerland trademark rules for watches and watch parts last 30 years. The one keeping Apple out of the country was instituted on December 5, 1985. That's right. The trademark expiration is this year. There's some irony smack dab in the middle of this.

Here's the hand drawn logo keeping luxury timepieces in the hands of the Swiss until December:


What's Old is New Again

If you are a child of the 1980's, you should remember that a good portion of action movies released during that time period had Russia as the villain. There was some comfort in knowing who your enemy was, even if you had to sort of suspend personal opinion and just accept what Hollywood told you. But now, with Cold War tensions between the U.S. and Russia rising again, it should come as no surprise that much of the tit-for-tat is now focused over the Internet, and it seems Russia spent much of the 1990's watching Hollywood's decade of computer hacker movies. After already compromising an unsecured State Department computer system, the country this week successfully hacked White House computers, using that same State Department entry point to do so.

If the NSA could take a brief minute away from tracking its own citizens, I guess it could help block these intrusions.


Admission of Guilt is the First Step to Recovery

Apple doesn't like to admit it's wrong – ever. The company seems to act like it lives in a state of oblivious Nirvana. The problem is – it can act that way. The company makes more revenue than some countries and consumers seem to crave its products like a 3rd street resident that needs a fix.

iOS 8 released nearly 7 months ago and brought with it significant issues that caused Wi-Fi connections to drop repeatedly and without reason. For 7 long months customers complained and pleaded their case. They even gave the bug a nickname: WiFried. But, Apple would never acknowledge a bug existed. In fact, many customers have reported that Apple support told them it was unaware of any issue and that if problems continued they should consider it to be hardware related and not the software.

iOS 8.3 rolled out yesterday, and within the release notes there's a fix that "Addresses an issue where some devices disconnect intermittently from Wi-Fi networks."


In the Future, it will be Harder to Fake an Injury

I thought technology was designed to make our lives better instead of ultra-creepy?

This week, the insurance giant, AIG, won approval from the US FAA to fly drones. The intent is to give the company the ability to perform pilotless fly-overs after disaster strikes large areas so it can speed-up reimbursing homeowners and businesses. But, there's concern that this is just a first step. With more and more companies opting to deploy drones in US airspace, AIG and others could start using the aerial cameras to check up on other things. Imagine accidentally running a stop sign and then finding an insurance drone in your rearview mirror. In the application, AIG addresses public privacy stating that it will follow federal, state, and local laws concerning privacy, however it also leaves it open-ended for further review and adjustment later on.


And, finally…

This coming weekend I'm scheduled to make my onscreen debut in a movie. Seriously.

I live in a backward, off-the-grid area of Ohio where our closest entertainment is a local scare-fest type amusement park called Land of Illusion. The park is only open on Friday's and Saturday's in September and October, but adds Sunday's to the mix toward the end of the season. Surprisingly, despite its short season, the park does pretty good business. However, the owners have gotten the idea of adding a full movie lot on-premises to lure Hollywood in for shooting films. The first such movie is already scheduled and starts shooting this weekend.

I submitted an application as an extra a few weeks back and finally got "the call" this week. From what I understand I'll be part of the mass massacre scene, so I've been practicing. It's tough to die on screen without having some sort of motivation, and particularly from someone who's not really afraid of much. I guess my biggest fear is waking up in the morning to find we're out of coffee. So, I should focus on that, I guess.

The movie is called The Funhouse Massacre, and stars Robert Englund (yep…Freddy Krueger himself). Also in the cast: Clint Howard, Jere Burns (from “Justified”), Sebastian Siegel (from “Lost”), and Courtney Gains (from "Children of the Corn"). Robert Kurtzman ("Texas Chainsaw", "Hulk") is the Effects Makeup Supervisor, and Andy Palmer is the director.

Once I learn the release date and the scene I'm part of, I'll let you now.

Back to practicing...

These pretzels are making me thirsty. These pretzels are making me thirsty. These pretzels are making me thirsty. These pretzels are making me thirsty.

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