Asus announces terrible house robot

This might be the worst futurist thing I’ve ever seen. I like the idea, but…wtf does it DO? This seems to me to be no more of a step-up from late 1980s “robots” that did nothing but walk and perform one rube-golberg-ish task yet were marketed as being virtually autonomous living friends.

Now comes the JIBO… For $600 ($599), you get a rolling updated version of the iMac from 2001 (an iPad at the end of a Pixar lamp on wheels).

Am I missing something awesome here? Watch this terrible 8 hour video promoting it and tell me i’m wrong:

Finally, someone gets electronics storing travel clothes right

I’ve been underwhelmed with similar “pockets for your electronics” clothes items that think they’re amazingly clever for including basic additions to normal fashion that would have been cool at the turn of the millennium but 10+ years later are yawn-worthy. Like – oh, you have a blazer with an oversized pocket to put an iPad in? okay I guess. A hoodie with a cloth tunnel to feed your earbuds wire through? eh… not really interested.

Finally it appears that someone has assembled all the right nooks and cubbies into normal looking neutrally stylish clothes.

The crowdfunded campaign on Kickstarter sought $20,000 and currently have almost $8 Million in pre-ordered sales so I’m not the only one who thinks they did something right.

From a marketing perspective, the campaign does what I have been saying needs to be done for utility clothing items like this and that is to bill them as utility items with demonstrations. Too often these types of products try to be stylish first and “look how you can fit stuff in it” second. That’s lame. People will buy a hoodie with a million secret compartments for the million-secret-compartments and then it looking and functioning nice will be secondary – not the reverse scenario where a new non-label hoodie is in need and “oh look, it has unconventional pockets…”. Billing itself for travel is key to the success. Travel makes us feel helpless, unprepared, and cumbersome in our availability of stuff we want on our person. I have a somewhat similar product design going through a review process currently making a similar utility appeal. These things have a subconscious super hero feel to them: sit in comfort with your built-in neck pillow reverse airbag, lower your eye-mask like Iron Mans face plate, whip out your drink from your Batman utility pocket, and pop in your ear buds from within your Captain America helmet. The video does a great job of showing off ease and function in an “always be prepared” style of Awesome.

I laughed out loud at that zipper pen stylus scene tho…

“looking for one of these?… *gets laid immediately*”

It also looks like this kind of techno dance music is the go-to score for crowd funded tech. It’s fun and gets you excited by strategically rolling out the features at a linear pace that tells a story and reels you in with the perfect “but wait, theres MORE” info-mercial tactics. The Lily cam I bought (see: pre-ordered) a few months ago hooked me with the same hypnotizing must-havezes.

Comedian Barry Crimmins inadvertently got me kicked off AOL in the 90s

A mystery in my life has been solved almost 20 years later and it turns out AOL was an even worse company in the 90s than I thought…

You younglings may not even know this but in the 1990s, before AOL (“America OnLine”) was a low-end video creator and distributor, it was the only way just about anyone could connect to the internet. As the biggest and often only internet service provider for what is now known as “dial up” but then was just known as “the only internet that exists”, AOL had a monopoly on access to the world wide web.

I was kicked off AOL at least 3 times. And by “I” that of course means my family since I was a minor using a screen name under their account. The stories of each kick-off is worth its own post but the summary is that they were forms of “spam” (soliciting invites through instant messages for people to add themselves to my free Jokes and humor email newsletter) and “harassment” (getting baited by someone in a chatroom picking a fight and then responding, only to have them report me while they got away with their more egregious use of bullying profanity). Those cases were ridiculous reasons to cancel my families internet service and force them to use a different name and credit card to re-ignite with new screen names at much inconvenience to everyone – but at least I was actually technically violating their stupid “TOS” (Terms of Service). The last time I got banned, I did nothing wrong. I just recently Sherlock Holmesed the reason why…

Barry Crimmins is a comedian who is the subject of a new documentary by Bobcat Goldthwait titled Call Me Lucky and while plugging it on the Adam Carolla podcast, he told a story covered in the movie that made me realize why I was kicked off AOL and how it is 100% his fault.

If the stupid reasons I was previously banned weren’t hinting enough: AOL was a supremely bad company in the 90s. It’s customer service was bad, its actual-service was bad, it raped you on fees, constantly had virus problems, let spam run nearly unfiltered into your email inbox, spammed your real-life mailbox with trial membership discs, and would ban you from their service if you said a curse word in a chat room or someone on instant message reported you after not liking what you said.

There was one niche they evidently serviced super well though, according to Crimmins: pedophiles.

I would get perverts messaging me all the time wanting to “cyber” which meant “cyber sex” which meant “type out sexual things and I guess masturbate in between typing while imagining what the other person is typing back at you” but Crimmins tells of darker experiences. Evidently AOL was a haven for not just the easy solicitation of sex talk but the actual dissemination of child pornography. The tale of Crimmins battle against the company is worth hearing in interviews and watching in the documentary but the point is that AOL was allegedly turning a blind eye toward child abuse because it made them millions. Pre-teen entrepreneurial douches like me were just causing a ruckus for other paying members so we were easy to kick off the service – but child pornographers were only sharing their filth amongst themselves so there was no disgruntled customer to report to AOL. But even when Crimmins went undercover and DID report the people trying to solicit whom they thought was a child, AOL still did nothing because there was just too much money involved in these people paying for their service to trade their kiddie abuse media.

GROSS: So you wrote repeatedly to AOL and asked them to shutdown these pedophile chat rooms.

CRIMMINS: Right, and they were making a lot of money on it, so they just filed a – because in – back in those days the modems were really slow. And so it took, like, a half-hour to upload a, you know, low-grade picture.

GROSS: We’re talking dial-up era.

CRIMMINS: Right, right, and so it took a long time to upload each photo and all these – and then if you’re on AOL for more than 12 hours or something a month, they started charging you $3 or $4 an hour. So when you find, you know, thousands of people that are, you know, in the same chat rooms all the time or you find that one of the chat rooms that are named thusly – I mean, like anyone else, when I first went in there I just said what – are you people out of your minds? And they started talking to me about the First Amendment and stuff. And as Andrew Vachss said, you know, you can mug somebody and try to call it performance art, but that doesn’t mean you’re going to get away with it. And I just realized – you know, I would go in there as an adult, you know, with my own AOL name and people would just start sending me child pornography immediately. Like, no sort of – they just, oh, that’s what you’re here for, here. And they expected you to send child pornography back to them. And so I immediately contacted AOL and they said, oh, thank you very much for being, you know, a bunch of corporate – good citizen of our community, blah, blah, blah. But as time passed and I watched the problem grow exponentially, their answers became, you know, they – the back and forth between us just became more and more ridiculous.

After a public slog against the company involving a testimony in front of the Senate Judiciary Committee., Crimmins evidently finally got AOL to take child rape seriously… and in doing so, he got an innocent mid-90s Richard kicked off the service yet again, much to his continued disgrace.

The last time I was banned from the America Online service it was for going in a chatroom. For years I was baffled at wtf happened and thought it had to have been a coincidence and that the AOL Feds had just caught me for some snarky comment or profane one-liner I had said in a chatroom prior to then. But finally now after hearing Crimmins tell his story and matching the timelines, it makes sense WTF happened to me.

I had heard from the kid sitting in front of me in school make the ludicrous claim that “if you go into private chatroom PICS, your account gets deleted”…

Um…right. This is so wrong it couldn’t be more wrong, I told him. That is dumb upon dumb. I knew first had that AOL had horribly fascistic policies on wantonly killing their customers accounts, but there was no way that entering a chat room would get your account canceled. I had heard of some chat rooms being banned in the sense that if you typed them in then it wouldn’t let you access the room, but there was just no damn way that you would be allowed in a room and then denied service on your whole account just for going to private room “pics”. That’s it. PICS. Not “Pics of government secrets” or “pics of death fantasies involving elected officials” – just pics. As in, short for “pictures”. Or maybe an acronym for something unrelated to photography. Who knows. You could make a private chatroom of any series of letters and numbers.

I couldn’t wait to prove him wrong so that day I got home, logged into AOL and after about 30 minutes of waiting for it to frigging connect, went to “Enter A Private Chat Room” and typed in PICS…

“GOODBYE” said the AOL voice as the software closed all windows and kicked me offline.
No… freakin… way…
Okay, so there was some kind of hack that someone in the PICS room used to kick offline anyone who entered. That had to be it. There was a thing called Punting that used a program that would bomb the instant messengers in AOL and that would disconnect them so I thought for sure it was a version of that.

No, dude. I could not reconnect. The dreaded “Please call this number” cancelled membership message appeared when I tried to connect. I was screwed. and this time I legitimately did nothing wrong!

Now, after hearing Crimmins tell his tale against the company during exactly that time, it seems way more obvious: The chat room was almost surely a meeting place for AOL pedophiles and AOL had just switched from a “90 strikes and maybe we’ll talk about you possibly being out” policy on rapists to more of a “Zero tolerance for anyone who does anything not identified with anything illegal but that a pedophile also previously did” and that chat room must have been infested with pedo-creeps and thus condemned. There is no confirmation that this is the case, but given Crimmins storytelling of the time, it sounds like AOL just started mass-deleting accounts with suspected activity instead of going through the trouble of doing word searches or an actual investigation or something that a company that wasn’t horrible might do.

So thanks for nothing, Barry Crimmins. In saving countless children from having their abuse flaunted on the internet, you ruined several weeks for a young Richard.

This Selfie-Drone will be following me in the air next year

Finally someone started making the “flying camera that follows you” that I invented 10 years ago.

I bought one but it won’t ship until February 2016.

I’ll be interested to see more of the cam in actual action and testing but so far most searches turn up videos of girls name Lily singing songs I never heard of, dogs named Lily with GoPro’s strapped to them, and various less-wholesome cam related activity.

2 months later and iPads with iOS 5 STILL can’t play Podcasts or Audiobooks

The iOS 5 update from October 2011 introduced the following issues that have yet to be fixed:

1 The playback speed control for podcasts has gone

2 Chapter support in audiobooks has gone

3 The 30 second rewind button for podcasts has gone

4 Customizable menu so podcasts and audiobooks can be moved to the front page

5 Podcast count–You now have to open each podcast “folder” to see the number of unplayed podcasts

6 Time elapsed/remaining–used to be able to look at a podcast/audiobook and determine how far along you were. Now it has to be the active track.

7 Link to more episodes has gone

Please give us back these useful features and address the bug(s). iOS 5 is exciting but for podcasts on the iPad it is a great disappointment, and very unworthy of Apple.

 

Siri is Siri-souly kewl

The iPhone 4S has a new digital assistant in it that understands speech. so you can talk to it like a person instead of trying to use buzz words like a machine. instead of stupid things like “command: dial number” you can just say “call my drug dealer” or “whats the weather like in Bangalore?” or “where can I hide a body“. No joke…

People are calling it Skynet (Terminator) but I see Siri as more of a HAL from 2001: A Space Odyssey

Not cool enough for you? Microsoft is working on interactive holograms…

iOS for iPad makes your Podcasts Retarded

Don’t upgrade to iOS 5 on your iPad if you listen to Podcasts or Audiobooks.

Apple hid the Podcasts button in a “more” menu so you have to give an extra tap to get to them and the ability to control the speed (1/2x, 1x or 2x) is gone. Whats worse is that everything plays at 1/2 speed with no option to change it.

Issue not present in iOS for iPhone/iPod.

Please stop taking away features in new updates, Apple. hiding the podcasts in a menu that users are not allowed to rearrange (like they can on the iPod/iPhone) and taking away the speed feature, forcing all podcasts and audiobooks to play at half speed? Really, Apple?

UPDATE: Reuters reports iCloud problems:

Some users reported losing their email access as Apple formally launched iCloud, an online communications, media storage and backup service, on Wednesday.

Apple’s new operating system for the iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch — iOS 5 — also annoyed many users who encountered hours-long delays in downloading and installation.

Investors have high hopes for iCloud, which replaces MobileMe, a collection of Web-based products that have failed to impress critics or generate substantial revenues for a company that has had success in most other ventures over the past decade.

“It failed in a very nasty way in that mail sometimes vanished, sometimes appeared then vanished, and often there was a user and/or password-incorrect message plus some rather obscure additional error messages,” said David Farber, a professor of engineering and public policy with Carnegie Mellon University.

“The behavior suggests program problems,” added Farber, a well-known computer scientist.

But the iCloud problems are especially embarrassing for Apple, as the company introduced the new online service with much fanfare in June at its annual developer forum.

Co-founder Steve Jobs, who died last Wednesday, said “it just works” when he introduced the service in June. The software is key to the new iPhone 4S, which will be launched on Friday in seven countries.

Scrubber controls available are nothing like what’s in the iPad documentation PDF for ios5:

Meet the Camera that puts everything in focus

At first it looks awesome…

But these are good points

Here’s the “how it works” page on Lytro’s website. If you want to experiment with the technology, try their one-click photo gallery. Just one question: As neat as this is, who’s going to shell out several hundred bucks for a standalone flex-focus camera? I remember dropping $500 in 2002 on a Canon Powershot with 4 megapixel resolution. Fast-forward nine years and I get a better image than that from my iPhone, with plenty of zoom features, filters, etc, available via apps in the iTunes store. Unless I’m a semi-serious photographer, why would I spend extra money on a separate camera that I have to lug around? And if I am a semi-serious photographer, why would I “cheat” by using after-the-fact focus instead of challenging myself to take the perfect shot in real time? There will be a market for this camera, I’m just … not sure who it’ll be.

They’ve got two obvious business strategies going forward, I think, and neither relies on semi-serious photogs. One: Miniaturize the technology to the point where it’s cell-phone ready and then sell it to Apple or Google or whoever. Having a feature like this in the iPhone to let you sharpen up shoddy pics would be lovely. Two: Surveillance. Isn’t that the most obvious application for this? How many times have you watched a true-crime show where the perp walks by a gas-station camera 25 feet away and the best they can do to get a description of him is magnify his face until it’s a pixelated blotch? Universal focus would be a very tasty treat for security agencies. There’s certainly a market for it. Chop chop, Lytro!