Tuesday, December 31, 2013

The 7 Weirdest Things That Happened in Tech in 2013

Last day of 2013 y'all!  I for one am glad to see this one go.  To commemorate the end of the year, I've compiled a list of the strangest things that happened in technology this year.  Ready, set, go.

1.  People actually started to care about coding

Did you hear about the Hour of Code 2013?  It was a huge online event that aimed to teach basic computer coding to all age groups.  Surprisingly there was a fair amount of star power backing this and it was pretty successful!  Heck, even I took part to get a brush-up on my skills (it took me way less than an hour).

2.  Mobile apps started producing TV commercials

I'm serious!  It all started with King (makers of Candy Crush Saga) and everyone else went nuts with it.

3. Galaxy Gear

The jury is still out on this (it's already being called a flop) but Samsung is betting that everyone has been waiting for wrist communicators for years.

4.  Amazon thinks they can use drones to deliver their goods.

I'm totally not making this up.  The idea is to use drones to deliver stuff weighing up to 5 lbs.  Amazon claims that's roughly 86% of the stuff they deliver.  Now this could be revolutionary or it could turn out to be a dud.  The news is still pretty fresh on this.

5.  Apple makes the iPhone in different colors and thinks no one will notice it's the same damn phone.

This year, Apple had a super hyped release of the iPhone 5c.  The difference from the iPhone 5 they released last year: it comes in fun new colors.  We miss you, Steve Jobs.

6.  Facebook got sued over their "Like" button

Facebook didn't like this.  The battle is still raging on in the courts.

7.  Web hoaxes took on new life.

There were so many this year they're hard to count.  What makes 2013 special though is how many of these hoaxes got covered by actual news.  I think the best one was this:

News stories really went wild with this one. It was later revealed that this was staged by late night talk show host and comedian Jimmy Kimmel (who shall be forever know as King of the Trolls).

So that's my list.  Any more weird stuff happen in tech this year that I missed?  Let me know in the comments.  See you all in 2014!

Friday, December 20, 2013

ABC Changes Their Online Viewing

See that image.  That's me at the moment.  I just found out that come January 6, 2014 "you must sign in with a participating TV service provider account to view the most recent episode of your favorite ABC shows."

So what does that mean for us.  Well if you're a subscriber to any of the following cable companies you're fine:
  • AT&T U-verse
  • Cablevision Optimum
  • Charter
  • Comcast XFINITY
  • Cox Communications
  • Google Fiber
  • Midcontinent
  • Verizon FiOS
Otherwise, you're like me: out in the cold.  We're not completely cut off though.  We can still watch the shows online.  Unfortunately we wouldn't be able to get access to the episodes until a week after they air.  Yes, and ENTIRE week.  What's their excuse?  See if you can make sense of this gobbledygook:

Pay TV service providers are a key part of the television industry in delivering broadcast content through new technology platforms. Now, with the support of participating pay TV service providers, the ABC network is able to continue to bring live entertainment, news and sports programming on a national and local level as well as the latest on-demand episodes on new, emerging digital platforms at no additional cost to their subscribers. This approach also allows ABC to offer several on-demand episodes that are available to everyone.
I have no idea what that means.

Monday, December 2, 2013

Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.

Any of my fellow geeks been watching Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.?  Well I have and I love it!  Unfortunately, there isn't consensus on this.  I'm going to point to this article real quick.  Take a minute, read that and come back.  Go ahead.  I'll wait.

Ok, you're back. Good.  What did you think?  Well despite the gloom and doom, turns out M.A.O.S. isn't doing all that bad. It kinda stings to lose to Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer though.

So here's my defense of the show.  M.A.O.S. joins a long list of TV shows that feature clandestine government agencies dedicated to investigating "strange" things.  What a lot of people don't realize is that S.H.I.E.L.D. in its comic form predated them a lot.  Like try 1965.  Yes, it was that long ago that S.H.I.E.L.D. first appeared in the Marvel Comic's Universe.  So to make the comparison to shows like The X-Files, Fringe and Warehouse 13 are fair.  The difference here is in the Marvel universe it's a confirmed fact that there are strange things going on, that magic exists, that aliens exist, that people with extraordinary abilities exist.  The threats are real and everybody knows it.  S.H..I.E.L.D. isn't quite as clandestine as the other guys.  They operate freely while in other shows of this kin there's usually a massive coverup involved.  Not to say that S.H.I.E.L.D. doesn't have secrets, but it's well known in the Marvel universe that if something strange happens S.H.I.E.L.D. is on it.

I want to go through Leo Sun's 3 points for fixing Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.

Mistake #1: Built on faulty 1990s logic

 I don't get this point.  How does he look back at other Whedon shows and says that style of storytelling is dated?  I see a number of shows today that operate the same way and are successful.  As for comparing this to other shows, I've already covered that.

Mistake #2: Not "Marvelous" enough

Ok, this is probably the one that has all the people you jumped ship from this show nodding.  To this I say these people never understood exactly what S.H.I.E.L.D. is about and what they do.  If you were expecting Marvel Heroes and Villains to show up left and right (we actually did see a few) then you were going to be disappointed from the jump.  Granted there are super powered individuals who work with S.H.I.E.L.D. and are agents but the list is pretty short (Captain America has been introduced as a S.H.I.E.L.D. asset but isn't officially an agent).  Knowing Joss Whedon, he wanted to spend time developing the characters before he starts introducing limelight stealing supers.  The fans have a wishlist of characters we'd like to see in the future though.

Mistake #3: Lack of compelling story arcs or backstories

There he goes again.  Right now, 9 episodes in, huge story arcs aren't going to happen.  Anyone who has watched Whedon's previous works knows that.  We're going to get one pretty soon though.  In the meantime: Coulsen's resurrection is still haunting us, we have a pending backstory that just has to be told for Melinda May, the mystery of Skye's parents also lingers, watching Fitz and Simmons grow into their roles as field agents remains endearing, and Ward's mentoring of Skye is also fun to watch.  I really feel like I've finally gotten a hold of these characters, what drives them and what motivates them.

Here's my prediction:  This show is about to shift from good to epic really soon.  Either way, I'm enjoying the ride.