An often irreverent look at this week's other news. In this edition: April Fools' takes front and center, Amazon invades your home, Apple wins a patent for existing technology, Microsoft's PR teams fight reality, Mario and Luigi given an early grave, and how to sellout in the modern world.
April Fools' is the Lowest Form of Comedy?
I'm a pun-man. I love a good pun and it delights me to no end when I get a good groan after stitching together a good one. My oldest son says that puns are the lowest form of comedy, but I just think he hasn't experienced some really good groaners yet. Which, maybe says something about my ability.
When did technology companies decide to stake a claim and plant a flag on April Fools' Day? It's hard to say. But, really April Fools' Day is all about the groaner effect that I'm so fond of. The technology industry takes to it like an unattended dog takes to chocolate cake. It's a day-long punch line
Here's some of the best from this year's April Fools' Day:
Introducing PlayStation Flow
Hailo Piggy Back
T-Mobile Pets Unleashed
Smartbox by Inbox
Duping the Dupers
Blame it on timing or blame it on a public that's not quite ready to believe that Amazon really insists on turning complete buying power over to the family dog, but the online sales behemoth decided this week to announce a real product called Amazon Dash, that most took as an April Fools' Day joke. The company had to publicly announce that the product was real before people started to believe it.
Amazon Dash is a physical button, tied to Amazon's services that you place around the house to make reordering common items a snap (or tap, in this case). Available free for Prime Members, you make the request and Amazon will send an email with the details (http://amazon.com/dashbutton). Like me, you might immediately jump to the conclusion that having these things stuck willy-nilly around the house, and the whole family having access to them, would mean a crate full of paper towels would show up at the door, but Amazon has taken that into account already. The button stops working after the first press and only starts working again when the ordered item is delivered.
The kicker for me would be Amazon's same day delivery rolled into the Dash service and a UPS man willing to make an emergency stop to stick bathroom tissue on a roll.
Can I Have Your Selfie-please?
Everyone in the tech industry today is trying to eliminate passwords because it's been proven that even complex passwords are no protection against hackers or friends trying to commandeer your Facebook profile and write love notes to your boss. Apple has already attempted gains in this area with its biometric fingerprint technology for its iPhones, but the company is trying to take it further – if in a somewhat unoriginal way.
The USPTO this week awarded Apple with a patent for unlocking iPhones using only your face. Sound familiar? It should. Android has its "Trusted Face' technology for Android Lollipop, which is an improved version of its "Face Unlock" features from the Ice Cream Sandwich days, and Microsoft is working on a technology for Windows 10 called "Windows, Hello" that practically does the same thing.
It thought patents had to be unique? If only I had a lobbyist team assembled, I'd consider patenting the wheel.
Appointments Required for Surface 3 Demos – or Not?
Supersite's Richard Hay wanted to spend some time with the newly announced Surface 3 so he called his local Microsoft Store. After being held in the phone system for a bit he was told that to get an in-store demo he'd have to make an appointment. Hmmm…appointments for tablet demos? That sounds suspiciously like what Apple wants to do with its upcoming Watch.
After reporting this, others called Microsoft Stores to get the scoop and were also told that appointments were needed. Microsoft got wind of this and contacted me directly and here's a snippet of the communication:
Appointments are not required to demo a Surface 3 at Microsoft stores, however customers have the option of making an appointment at microsoftstore.com.
Seems like an occasion where home office isn't communicating with the local offices. I'm sure this will be worked out soon enough. But, according to Richard the Surface 3 demo units are plentiful and the crowds are small, and I'm sure not what Microsoft was hoping to hear.
Richard got his demo and reported back on his findings. The Surface 3 looks to be a winner. You can read all about it here: A little hands on time with Surface 3, and check out the photos he took during his trip: Gallery: A visit with the Surface 3
Can't Get a Microsoft Band? We've Uncovered the Reason
Here's another chapter of reality versus PR. Remember when the Microsoft Band first released in October 2014 and they sold out almost overnight? Was the Microsoft Band really that popular? According to sources the fast sellout was because Microsoft only released 30k to start. I guess getting burned so bad by the Surface RT units made the company stock shy.
When we approached Microsoft about this, here's what they said:
“It is Microsoft’s policy to not disclose production numbers. We have seen a great response to the Microsoft Band and continue to get devices on the wrists of customers as quickly as possible. Last month, we announced a broad expansion which included increased inventory in Microsoft stores and microsoftstore.com. Customers are encouraged to visit their local Microsoft store or microsoftstore.com to experience and purchase Microsoft Band.”
Credit where credit is due. Richard unearthed this scoop here: Source: There were only 30,000 Microsoft Bands produced for initial release
Increased inventory. 31k this time?
I'm a huge fan of the Mario games, and so are many of you. We're just not all big fans of Nintendo gaming systems – at least that's what the market stats show. Nintendo still lags far behind Sony and Microsoft, so you'd think the company would welcome any promotional capability it could find, especially when its was free.
This past week Super Mario 64 HD made its way online, playable in a web browser. The fan-made remake brought joy to many while it was still available. While it was still available…
Nintendo quickly squashed it, using its lawyers to cry copyright infringement:
"The copyrighted work at issue is Nintendo's Super Mario 64 video game (U.S. Copyright Reg. No. PA0000788138), including but not limited to the audiovisual work, computer program, music, and fictional character depictions. The web site at http://mario64-erik.u85.net/Web.html displays, and allows users to play, an electronic game that makes unauthorized use of copyright-protected features of Nintendo's Super Mario 64 video game. Nintendo requests that CloudFlare, Inc. immediately disable public access to http://mario64-erik.u85.net/Web.html"
Now, no one is playing Mario.
One of the benefits of working in IT is getting to attend conferences for learning and networking. I realize there are many out there that get passed over each year due to budgets and other miscellaneous management blunders, and that's truly a shame. This week, Microsoft announced that its newest event, Ignite, sold out. That means that the company won't be accepting any new registrations. But, selling out and just closing registration might actually be the same thing in this case. The company originally targeted 20k to hopefully fill the Chicago convention center completely. A month ago, only 7k had registered to attend, and there's rumor that total attendance participation might actually be around 15k. That number includes attendees, speakers, vendors, and Microsoft folks, not just general attendees. Ignite registration opened in October 2014. So, if true, it took 4 months to reach 7k and only one more month to reach 15k. I'm sure finally releasing the session catalog helped folks make the decision, but doubling attendance in a month is a phenomenal feat.
Ignite runs from May 4-8 in Chicago. I grabbed my airline tickets this past week to find that both my flight and hotel are more expensive for Ignite that my upcoming trip to BUILD in San Francisco. I live in the Cincinnati, OH area and if you're geographically adept you realize that Cincinnati is a LOT closer to Chicago than San Francisco. I'm looking forward to the event, just thought the cost difference interesting. It's the first go-round for Ignite and I would have thought Microsoft would've looked closer at attendee's overall cost.
However, if the cost was too much, or the session catalog didn't pique your interest, or whatever you're reason might be for not getting to attend, it's really OK. Ignite is Microsoft's big event to bring together the largest group it can muster to tell a story about what's coming from the company in the next year or so. There will be many announcements, but we'll have you covered here on WindowsITPro with onsite reporting. Plus, each and every keynote, and a big majority of the technical sessions will be streamed live and in replay on Channel 9. So, the only things you'll really miss out on is the hot dogs and the Chicago nightlife.
And, hey…if you want to attend an event like Ignite, but much, much smaller, IT/Dev Connections 2015 is just around the corner.