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How the Cool Stuff At CES Will Ruin Your Life 171

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the clippy-killed-my-cryptocat dept.
jfruh writes "Another CES has come and gone, and as usual the press has presented rather uncritically a list of super-cool gadgets that were unveiled at the show and that will make our world better. Let's leave aside the fact that many products shown at CES never make it to market; Paul Roberts provides the pessimistic case on the big CES news, explaining how all these gewgaws will strip away privacy, unleash an army of Clippys onto the world, and maybe even change human brains for the worse."
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How the Cool Stuff At CES Will Ruin Your Life

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  • by Narcocide (102829) on Tuesday January 15, 2013 @05:14AM (#42589721) Homepage

    Just attending CES will change your brain for the worse.

  • by prasadsurve (665770) on Tuesday January 15, 2013 @05:15AM (#42589725)
    not buy it.
    The good ideas/products will stay, the bad ones will die away. That's how evolution works.
    • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 15, 2013 @05:29AM (#42589787)

      Does it? I am still waiting for a sturdy inkjet with cheap ink that can withstand some months of inactivity. I had one back in the 90s, they never did anything like that later.
      Or does evolution explain how laptop makers implement secure boot and DO NOT DOCUMENT HOW TO GET INTO BIOS ANYMORE? http://forums.fedoraforum.org/showthread.php?t=286290
      Yes it does, but only if you define Fittest as Fittest for the dominant players for milking more money.

      • by Kell Bengal (711123) on Tuesday January 15, 2013 @07:06AM (#42590063)
        The strange paradox is that people don't seem to accept that opting out is a valid choice.

        For example, I refuse to buy PC games or programs that use online activation - I disagree with the philosophy of allowing other people to dictate when I may use something I have bought. I would not accept it for a car, I would not accept it for a toaster. Why should I accept it for software? That it greatly reduces my choices in the market place is besides the point - I vote with my feet and will continue doing so. And yet, my friends think I'm nuts because - omg - I'm not up to date with whatever hot title just came out. How can I live?? Really, I don't feel like entertainment is worth compromising my principles for

        Likewise, if you really prefer your printer from the 1990s, spend the money it's worth to you to get it fixed or retrofitted to keep operating with modern ink, or be prepared to do without. Don't accept substandard. Don't accept exploitative business practices. But the increasingly common refrain is that "One person won't change anything", much like saying that voting for a third party is wasting your vote. If people were prepared to stand up for their principles instead of falling over for the shiney gadget, we would all be better off.

        /rant
        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by somersault (912633)

          I disagree with the philosophy of allowing other people to dictate when I may use something I have bought. I would not accept it for a car, I would not accept it for a toaster

          You do accept it for your car. You have to have car tax and insurance to be able to drive legally. A one-off activation isn't really any different from requiring that the car you're buying isn't stolen. Software that requires you to always have the disc in the drive, or connect every single time you go online, is of course annoying though. I like Steam better than any other way of installing games - including games from a disc that require no license key or online activation.

          I don't feel like entertainment is worth compromising my principles for

          As long as you have other ways t

          • by plover (150551) on Tuesday January 15, 2013 @08:02AM (#42590319) Homepage Journal

            Car analogy fail. Licensing a car, and paying taxes on the car, goes partially to the construction and upkeep of the roads that car needs. (E.g. you don't pay those same taxes on an off road farm use vehicle, or necessarily even register it.) But the road analogy is the internet, not the publisher's servers.

            Paying the manufacturer to play the game on their servers is a better analogy. You use the shared resources, you pay for their upkeep.

            Paying the manufacturer to check in with their servers to bless your local copy so it can run on your local machine is the violation of principles, and probably U.S. law (see the Doctrine of First Sale.)

            You also mentioned the "I'm online 100% of the time anyway", as if the convenience somehow makes it OK that they're violating you. It only makes it so simple for them to enforce that they don't get complaints from people like you, but it does not make it principled.

            • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

              by ScentCone (795499)
              Software that phones home to make sure you didn't rip it off is cheaper than software that has to be priced to take into account the fact that it can and will be ripped off. You aren't forced to use some company's phone-home software, so your concerns about law aren't grounded. What you're buying is a service that happens to involve a licensed piece of software. If you want the exact same flavor of game to run without phoning home, start up a game company that charges enough per copy to cover piracy losses,
              • by PhxBlue (562201) on Tuesday January 15, 2013 @12:03PM (#42592987) Homepage Journal

                Software that phones home to make sure you didn't rip it off is cheaper than software that has to be priced to take into account the fact that it can and will be ripped off.

                Oh, now see, that's just funny. You were trying to make a joke there, right? Because plenty of PC software that doesn't "phone home" is out there, and quite a bit of it is cheaper than the crapware that does. See: Anything sold on GOG.com.

                What you're buying is a service that happens to involve a licensed piece of software. If you want the exact same flavor of game to run without phoning home, start up a game company that charges enough per copy to cover piracy losses, and see how it goes.

                Oh. You weren't trying to make a joke. That's kinda sad. As I mentioned above, GOG.com seems to be doing pretty well. But you go ahead and accept phone-home-ware ... and see what happens when the game company goes out of business or decides to stop supporting the activation servers.

            • by somersault (912633) on Tuesday January 15, 2013 @10:52AM (#42591773) Homepage Journal

              "Principled"? The principle is perfectly reasonable. A lot of people have no scruples when it comes to acquiring software. That's why the content companies want some form of DRM. We all know DRM doesn't work, but that's besides the point. The content providers want something done. Steam does that. And even though Steam DRM is broken, we can still get our games there (and it's far, far more convenient being able to download from their central servers to any machine you want, without typing in license keys, blah blah). I think Valve have done their best with the reality that we are faced with.

              • by plover (150551)

                Oh, that's right. I completely forgot that I'm a shifty thief, hell-bent on copying everyone else's work, and that I can't be trusted to not share copies of their software. My mistake, sorry.

                • You're right. Why didn't I see it before? Since at least one person in the world is not a thief, we should just get rid of law, police, courts, etc, etc.

        • by MightyYar (622222)

          I admire your ideology, but I'm far too pragmatic. There is no sense in pretending that my actions will make much of a dent in the market, nor is it likely that everyone will suddenly stick to their principles. I have a friend who is vegan. Or, she tries to be. Good luck finding products - even food - made without animal products. She, like you, tries to stick to her principles and is constantly trying to evangelize veganism. I'm glad there are people like her (and yourself) out there, but that lifestyle re

          • Re: (Score:2, Offtopic)

            by 3.5 stripes (578410)

            While I can completely understand not wanting to eat animals that have been raised and killed, or even just killed for food, I still balk at the whole non-exploitation of the animals thing, especially bees. It's fine to exploit them to fertilize the fruit we eat, but as soon as we take some of their honey that's over the line? Filling your bucket with milk doesn't mean a calf will die, or even go hungry..

            I just think that veganism is a step too far, and an awfully one arbitrary at that.

            • by MightyYar (622222)

              It's decidedly kooky, but I respect people's decisions. When you think about it, it is no kookier or more arbitrary than most religions.

              • by cellocgw (617879)

                [veganism is] decidedly kooky, but I respect people's decisions. When you think about it, it is no kookier or more arbitrary than most religions

                And that's supposed to be an argument in favor of respecting their decisions? I think you need some serious education as to the damage religions have done and are doing. So far as veganism goes, it'll cure itself one way or the other once serious food shortages show up.

                • by MightyYar (622222)

                  I contend that religion is used to justify what people want to do anyway. Just because someone commits an atrocity in the name of religion does not mean that person would not have done so without the religion. I'm not personally religious, but I can see how it comforts people. Falsely, sure, but sometimes a placebo is the best course of treatment.

        • by IcyNeko (891749)

          As many raindrops join to form a great river of water,
          many souls join their highest intent to form
          the river of evolved consciousness.
          - Jonathan Lockwood Huie

          Also....
          “No individual raindrop ever considers itself responsible for the flood.”

        • by sjames (1099)

          Your point is largely orthogonal. The ability to opt out of devolved hardware and software does not in any way refute that the software and hardware is devolving rather than evolving.

          Meanwhile, opt out of everything and you'll eventually be carted off since living in a cave hunting for food isn't allowed anymore.

        • I refuse to buy PC games or programs that use online activation

          I saw Angry Birds PC game yesterday while wandering around the local shops. I would have loved to have this game a couple of years ago when Angry Birds was all the rage. Today I'll buy it if it is cheap. It was cheap. I didn't buy it. On the back it clearly states that internet activation is required.

          Shame. I really would like to play Angry Birds on the PC. Spent hours, no days, no weeks, playing it on my phone. Oh well.

      • They exist, they're called 'laser' printers. They're under $100 now. I bought mine surplus. HP 4600 for $100.

      • by polyp2000 (444682)

        Get a Laser printer - they can be had for not much more than a cheap inkjet these days - and color ones can be had for the price of a full set of color inks these days!Ink jets are a waste of money and a false economy.

        I recently bought a samsung laser printer .

        http://www.samsung.com/uk/consumer/print-solutions/print-solutions/colour-printers/CLP-325W/SEE [samsung.com]

        had it nearly 2 years and barely made a dent in the toners. I wont go back to ink jets again as they always dry up
        before having had chance to print more tha

        • by Macgrrl (762836)

          A few years back (maybe as much as 7 years), I did a cost benefit analysis of the cost per page of the average inkjet printer vs the average laser printer. There was a very small window of around 70-90 pages per month where it was more economical over 5 years to run an inkjet printer.

          The analysis was done across several hundred inkjet models and a similar number of laser printers. It was done for a client trying to make a business case for removing hundreds of inkjets and replacing them with network lasers

          G

      • by Macgrrl (762836)

        The 'problem' with inkjet printers is they use a wet ink - which is basically finely ground solid pigment in suspension. Over time and exposure to air the suspension dries out and the pigment blocks the nozzle injectors. The finer the nozzles, the faster it blocks.

        If you want a printer that can sit for day, weeks or months without printing and then work perfectly on the rare occasion you need it to - buy a laser printer.

        If you want a cheap colour printer, buy an inkjet, but know that you will have to either

    • by fatphil (181876)
      Indeed. The headline seems as dumb as "porn dooms human species".

      No, actually; just because they show lots of people jizzing on tits doesn't mean the intelligent, or at least randy, members of the species will lose the ability to procreate.
    • Evolution doesn't have a purpose but is a description of what happens as a matter of cause and consequence. And the outcome in the long run is not happiness, but a more stable system, which might be one without our culture.
      People chose what they like for the moment, not what is best for them, they are not lead by some ghost of evolution. Lots of people drink too much alcohol or (over)use other harmful drugs. Lots of people follow charismatic political leaders that will eventually lead to their doom. Lots
    • by RabidReindeer (2625839) on Tuesday January 15, 2013 @08:13AM (#42590367)

      not buy it.

      The good ideas/products will stay, the bad ones will die away. That's how evolution works.

      That's why the Amiga, which came multi-tasking/color graphics/stereo sound/hardware accelerators out-of-the-box with a linear 64-bit memory system took over the world instead and the competing IBM PC AT with its lack of media outputs and feeble awkward 16-bit segmented addressing immediately tanked.

      • It's funny that he compares it to evolution, and yet still describes it as "The good ideas/products will stay, the bad ones will die away."

        In biological evolution, it's not that "good" organisms live and reproduce and "bad" ones die off. There's nothing about evolution that makes it tend towards some kind of absolute improvement.

      • by aicrules (819392) on Tuesday January 15, 2013 @10:54AM (#42591809)
        Natural selection doesn't give a crap about what YOU think is good or bad. Sometimes natural selection seems to favor traits that aren't what appear to be the strongest. But, pretending like Amiga having some cool features is all that it takes for a product to dominate and drive the market is silly, not insightful. While there were many cool things about the Amiga, it was released after IBM was already fairly well-established. People actually cared if software and hardware was "IBM compatible" long after even IBM faded into the background of the consumer hardware market. If Amigas were actually better considering all what defines better (including compatibility, company management, marketing, not just some hardware specs) they would have won out.
      • by drinkypoo (153816)

        The good ideas/products will stay, the bad ones will die away. That's how evolution works.

        That's why the Amiga, which came multi-tasking/color graphics/stereo sound/hardware accelerators out-of-the-box with a linear 64-bit memory system took over the world instead and the competing IBM PC AT with its lack of media outputs and feeble awkward 16-bit segmented addressing immediately tanked.

        The Amiga was cool, but it didn't scale. By the time you got to having a halfway decent processor (e.g. 68030) the custom chips were slowing you down and you patched around many of their functions because the CPU was faster at performing them. Amiga was good when it had a 7.something MHz processor and cost five hundred bucks and they should have focused on gaming, and not even done any models but CD models after the CDTV came out.

      • From an early age, my dad taught me that anything that was truly popular probably wasn't the best because (1) the best usually costs too much to be popular and (2) most people are too ignorant to make the best choice, so if most people choose it, it's probably not best.

        I'm old now and have had a chance to observe how these principles play out in the real world over many decades. You'd be surprised how often I've found his wisdom has applied.

        • Actually, the popular product is actually often more expensive than the better-quality one, and that was something I'd noted long before open-source became common. In particular, software tends to seem to follow an inverse-price/quality curve.

          I don't think ignorance is a factor so much as perversity. People would rather sit in a box full of live ants than make the effort to climb out, and especially when everyone else is doing the same thing.

          The Amiga's sterling features have since been adopted (and exceede

    • by crazyjj (2598719) *

      Were there any good ideas/products this year? I followed CES pretty closely, and I didn't really hear of a single product that excited me. The whole thing this year seemed to be a combination of bad ideas and "more of the same, but with higher resolution." A lot of the big players don't even show up anymore.

    • Technology isn't Good or Evil, it is how it is used.

      The Gasoline Automobile when invented was considered a tool to help improve the environment, and it was compared to health concerns of streets filled with horse manure a little smoke and smog wasn't a big deal, and a better trade off, and it still is. However the use of the automobile has expanded past the use of horses, so the beneficial trade-off expanded to an environmental problem.

      The stuff shown at CES a lot of it prototypes and proof of concepts can

    • by Jawnn (445279) on Tuesday January 15, 2013 @09:49AM (#42591005)

      not buy it. The good ideas/products will stay, the bad ones will die away. That's how evolution works.

      Spoken like a true "free market" fan-boy. Alas, the real world does not work the way it does in the fictional novels of Rand et al. A truly free market requires fully informed consumers. If you believe that the average iPhone user is fully informed about all the issues arising from his/her use of that particular technology, you are truly a fool. As TFA points out, the market is about to explode with this kind of complex technology which contains features and functionality that are deliberately hidden from the consumer. Consumers will, in blissful ignorance, buy this shit, not understanding how their privacy has been sold. I don't give a damn about analogues of Clippy on my refrigerator's GUI, but I damn well want to be able to muzzle his ass when he tries to phone home about what I'm eating. No, I want him muzzled by default unless/until I choose to let him phone home to Kroger/Safeway/Albertson's or whichever giant grocer has paid to have him keep tabs on my pickle supply.

      • by Fesh (112953)

        Aargh. Bad mod. Sorry...

        Heh. Slashdot will ask me if I want to undo moderations by posting, but it won't ask me if I really want to commit a bad moderation. Strikes me as a little backwards, really.

    • Just because something's good doesn't mean they stay. Just because something's bad doesn't mean they die away (or die quickly enough).

      Unlike consumer electronics, or the battlefield of early personal computing which was decided largely on cost and brand association (IBM), take something that has effectively zero cost to the consumer, television:

      Firefly: half a season.
      Jersey Shore: 6 seasons.

      Granted sci-fi itself is already a niche market, but whether one thinks Firefly was good or not, Jersey Shore was in n

      • by Americano (920576)

        The reason for that is that evolution doesn't give a shit what your definitions of "good" or "bad" are. In terms of evolution, "good" equals "well-suited to survival given the environment," and "bad" means "not well suited to survival, given the environment."

        Evolution happens in a context - if you don't take into account that context, then you will fail to understand evolution, and you will see evolution as a bizarre, random "blessing" bestowed upon some species/products, and a "curse" for others to be aff

      • The purpose of television isn't to inform or entertain. The purpose of television is to deliver eyes to advertisers. In that, Jersey Shore was much "better" than Firefly.
        This is particularly true when the eyes are attached to a brain that is easily fooled.
  • Simple solution (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Rosco P. Coltrane (209368) on Tuesday January 15, 2013 @05:17AM (#42589729)

    Don't feel forced to use gadgetry. There's something called "life" that doesn't require much of it to be enjoyed.

    When I was younger, I used to enjoy immersing myself in the latest and greatest toys, back in the 80s and 90s. Many things were new and fun. Nowadays the things of the future presented at shows like CES seem more like evolutions of existing concepts. Nothing really earth-shatteringly new.

    As a result, I must admit I've pretty much lost interest, and the fog of high-tech addiction has cleared so to speak. I've realized that a simpler life is more enjoyable and less stressful. Not to mention, non-early-adopters tend to waste a lot less money than those who can't wait to buy the latest semi-working banana product doodah.

    • Re:Simple solution (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Joce640k (829181) on Tuesday January 15, 2013 @05:29AM (#42589785) Homepage

      Don't feel forced to use gadgetry. There's something called "life" that doesn't require much of it to be enjoyed.

      The problem is that 'life' is full of people who buy all those gadgets. Second-hand gadgetry is almost as bad as the real thing.

      • Re: (Score:2, Troll)

        by Yvanhoe (564877)
        Join our guild "Grumpy Old Men", we hang out at this level called "Real Life". Some of us refuse to have credit cards or cell phone (even non-smart ones).
        • ...refuse to have credit cards or cell phone

          Don't forget wiping butts with corn husks, because toilet paper is a tool of the illuminati. Whichever way you orient the roll, they will know.

        • by drinkypoo (153816)

          The problem of course is that even if you eschew them, they are still in use by the idiots around you, who will misuse them to the extent that your life is still affected. The problem of suckers running up credit card debt is bad for everyone, and don't get me started on cellphones.

    • Re:Simple solution (Score:5, Insightful)

      by MindPrison (864299) on Tuesday January 15, 2013 @06:58AM (#42590029) Journal
      So true.

      Like you, I grew up in the 80's with Commodore64, Atari, Amiga, BBC, Dragon32 (and yuck, ugly green PC and overpriced Apple), the toys where battling like crazy to set the standard for the future, rarely anyone did - but they did SOMETHING important, they made everything we have today - possible, faster processors made digital home video editing and cable-by-internet possible, it also made it possible for us to toss away the entire laptop, and carry the entire world in our pockets, Smartphones aren't THAT old, but very practical. I wouldn't want to be without one. It releases me from sitting in front of the computer, and I can basically do what I need - right in the middle of the forest if that need be.

      But you're right, most of todays "revolutionary" gadgets, doesn't have the same feel of "revolution", because most toys can do what the other toys already does. And we usually end up paying for ALL THE TOYS, since each toy have their OWN LICENSE for different games, videos, net-services, functions etc. Which sucks.

      I just bought the Nintendo Wii U (against my better judgement), But I was REALLY hungry for something new. Sure...it's a touch screen king size play-doh fisher-price remote control, I guess thats new...but it's nothing new as a whole...everything has been done before, and in a few days...I just got bored again.

      I have far more fun inventing my own gadgets in my electronics lab, here I have millions of Discretes (components from the 80-90s and even today), and can hack together really weird stuff.

      When I grew up, this was normal for kids, they too went to the local electronics store - modded their Commodore 64 to get faster loading times etc. Built their own modems to communicate digitally via HAM radio (or just a cheapo CB radio) with some simple components, cheap off the shelves.

      This world really needs something *new*
      • So a consumer priced, multi-touch tabletop PC is not new enough? Maybe you're just spoiled with information now and all the niche info you can get that wouldn't even make it into trade mags 20 years ago.

        Evolution looks more like revolution if you stop watching it happen. By that I mean there will never be something that just appears out of nowhere (barring Alien visitation) without a trail of preceding research, prototypes, failed early efforts and successful but niche applications. Stop reading and followi

      • I agree: I too feel differently about gadgets and tinkering than I used to, but it's hard to put my finger on why. Maybe it's just growing up, although the nature of the gadgets themselves have undeniably changed as well.

        And we usually end up paying for ALL THE TOYS, since each toy have their OWN LICENSE for different games, videos, net-services, functions etc. Which sucks

        Is this really that different from how things used to be? The available functions, peripherals and software on the old computers vari

      • by steelfood (895457)

        This world really needs something *new*

        Or maybe it doesn't. New != better. I think the article goes into that pretty well. New just means, well, new.

        What the world needs is something better. Problem is, most of the world is slow, and hasn't quite realized that yet. The ones who are not slow are the ones running the show, the very same ones who are on a power-grabbing binge before the rest of the world catches up.

  • Maybe? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward

    What is this maybe crap? Oh sure like THIS is the year we'll all wise up suddenly and stop dumping our money on people who make cheap plastic badly made crap.

    The pursuit of profit above all else... Excessive greed.. Is really fucking up humanity.

  • Thanks! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by MurukeshM (1901690) on Tuesday January 15, 2013 @05:37AM (#42589817)

    For doing the decent thing and linking to the print-preview version of the article.

  • by lemur3 (997863) on Tuesday January 15, 2013 @05:39AM (#42589819)

    After my annoyance grew at all of the silly "WE GO HANDS-ON!!" posts on sites like engadget which ended up on my RSS feed in large numbers I took all those gadget/tech product sites off of the list..

    It was actually kind of surprising this morning to learn the CES thing was already over..... after only seeing a few posts about it.

    at this point I have to wonder why anyone really covers this CES thing.. All of the pointless HANDS ON!!! filler stuff barely gives people an idea of what the product is, and well, much of it might never be available for purchase anyways... Then you get some silly guy who has 3 minutes to demo the HOT ITEMS on a CNN segment.. again.. not giving us any real idea of what the product is..

    At one time I think this stuff interested me.. but sheez. ..from a consumer perspective.. these trade shows seem nothing more but an opportunity for blogs and newspapers to fill up on fluff pieces.

    we can look forward to NAMM in a few weeks!

    • by ledow (319597) on Tuesday January 15, 2013 @06:41AM (#42589989) Homepage

      Which is why, since I was quite young, my rule has always been:

      Until I can buy a unit of it, by a convenient method, with guaranteed delivery, it doesn't exist.

      There's no point cooing over something that's "coming soon". You just add to hype around a product that may not even exist and - even if it does - you can't yet buy anyway. Until it is directly purchasable and will arrive at your door on a guaranteed date, it means nothing.

      The number of products I've seen that never were (Phantom console, etc.), the number of products that were junk by they time they came out (e.g. Duke Nukem Forever, etc.), the number of products that just never reached critical mass or got into a reasonable price bracket (e.g. Optimus OLED keyboards, the "open source" graphics cards that are still based on a PCI/AGP architecture, etc.), and even the number of existing-but-completely-mismanaged projects that would have had me kicking myself for ever buying into (e.g. OpenPandora where pre-orderers are still waiting to receive units four years later having paid twice as much as those who can just order one from Germany today with guaranteed delivery, with little chance of a refund or unit without paying again) - it's just astounding. I would have wasted SO MUCH money on them if I didn't have my rule.

      So I ignore everything that isn't purchasable. It might be as cool as anything, solve all my problems and do everything I always dreamed of. Great. Give me a call back when I can buy one. These affordable 40" OLED TV's I was promised nearly a decade ago? Still £20,000 from what I see.

      I was promised tablet PC's back in the XP era. They've JUST come to fruition at one-tenth the cost (so actually affordable now), don't use Windows (well, soon they will, but that's very new), you can get them everywhere now, and I can't say that I see the use of them. If I'd bought in back in the XP era, I'd be really disappointed.

      Am I disinterested in new products? Of course not. I was one of the first owners of a Raspberry Pi (as soon as they offered guaranteed orders + delivery) and had one before anyone else I know (was in the first batch, which meant you had to order within minutes of the announcement).

      And I do support some kickstarters, but those where I will get the product or something worthwhile (e.g. Defense Grid 2 for a small backing - I got a DG1 key GUARANTEED and a video card GUARANTEED that I gave to my brother for Christmas that was worth the price alone, plus I get DG 1.5 next week I think - there are already at the Steam-key phase for deploying that, and I get DG2 whenever it comes out) and where they have manufacturing all sorted and ready to go and guaranteed dates.

      I can't support those where the product doesn't even exist yet, or they offer you only "backing" for the project. I *have* supported some products purely on the basis of trust but we're talking literally a few dollars - and I'm GUARANTEED a copy of the game if it comes out. That's breaking my rule but never happens for anything of any significant value (if the projects existed in a working, deliverable state, I would happily back 10 times the amount I did without even thinking).

      I can remember as a kid being disappointed so many times at the cool things I thought were coming "this year" and hanging on and waiting and waiting and checking up and waiting and never hearing of them again (even up to today!). All the great inventions and marvellous products and cool services. Nothing. And the ones that DID succeed, they succeed at the point you can buy them - and at that point, you can buy them and get them delivered and know what you are buying.

      I think Aliens:Colonial Marines looks really nice and it looks like the game I've been promised and wanted since the days of Aliens (US) on the ZX Spectrum (damn, that movie is old!). It's on pre-purchase now. But I've not yet seen it. It's already been delayed a year from it's original date, and then a month again just now (was originally January). An

      • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

        by Anonymous Coward
        Cool story bro.
      • by Sigg3.net (886486)

        Get what you like, not the hype.

        Currently my GF is browsing for a pink laptop because it is pink. *sigh * it comes at a premium because it is pink, and is slower than her present laptop (that I bought used from work and put an SSD into).

        My point being (?) that she's shopping the hype. Also, any way to spray paint a grey DELL?

        • by Americano (920576)

          Get what you like, not the hype.

          Funny you say this, and them bemoan your girlfriend's decision to look for a pink laptop, because it sounds like she's doing exactly what you just recommended - she's looking for what she likes, and doesn't care about all the "NOW WITH GINGERBREAD 4.2 MICROSD RETINA DISPLAY iOS6 GOODNESS!" She's not allowing a bunch of hype to distract her from what matters: that she wants a pink laptop.

          Perhaps you should try to convince her to go with the hype in this case, so she buys a n

    • by SeaFox (739806)

      This was my favorite "hands-on" post. [theverge.com] Four pictures of a Panasonic 4K OLED TV. Not only is it not a "hands on" photo shoot showing actual interface features, there are no hands whatsoever in any of the photos. It's the TV sitting in its display area completely unattended. No Panasonic marketing men or booth candy even.

      • by Lumpy (12016)

        And it's an epic fail. No RS232 port on it for integration control, no Ethernet control protocols so that the Control4, AMX or Crestron control system can be integrated.

        A TV that price is only bought by the rich that have a control system. CEC control is a joke and the manufacturers are being retarded in their control designs.

  • by TheRealHocusLocus (2319802) on Tuesday January 15, 2013 @06:47AM (#42590003)

    Visual reference
    Knids: http://www.roalddahlfans.com/books/charglasknids.php [roalddahlfans.com]
    Clippy: http://www.time.com/time/specials/packages/article/0,28804,1991915_1991909_1991755,00.html [time.com]

    He's loveable, cuddly and his extensible architecture allowed attackers in 2001 to inject malware with a single click. But Clippy is not the only gadget phenomenon with unintended features. The world is full of crappy and predatory engineering.

    Predatory Engineering: underrated power supplies that run hot; expensive computers with glass bezel displays under tension snapped together with no screws which crack if one attempt to open them; automobiles where software action can cause acceleration; software (not hardwired discrete component) ABS braking or shift management; personal accessories such as headsets with thin wound-foil cords that have no strain relief whatsoever and fail at the slightest jerk; $600 TVs which wind up in the trash because of malfunctioning half cent click-buttons or 5 cent IR receivers; trapezoid shaped mini-USB connectors which actively participate in their own destruction on every attempt to plug them in upside down; and more.

    Crappy Engineering, such as power windows in cars with no crank or even provision for one. Parents love power windows and the assurance that comes from disabling the master button, they'll love their power windows all the way to the bottom of the lake as the screaming family tries to beat out the windows with their bare hands. The trick is to wait until the entire vehicle fills with water, then the pressure equalizes and you can open the door and tow your drowned kids to the surface. Good luck.

    I love writing about modern technology.

    • by ledow (319597) on Tuesday January 15, 2013 @07:44AM (#42590223) Homepage

      Although I agree with your point, I don't agree with your examples.

      ABS only operates electronically. We can't design a mechanical system that will do the job as well and if we could, it would have a very limited life or be stupidly expensive and require constant calibration. It has to monitor wheel speeds and pulse brakes at fractions of a second, and adjust accordingly in extreme braking situations and we just don't have the engineering to do that. If we did, there would have been ABS on cars 50 years ago. Fact is, ABS is an electronic technology.

      And window cranks? The hypothetical scenario of not being able to wind the windows down is just that. First, don't drive off the road into water, that avoids 99.9% of all water-based problems.

      Where that's not possible, if you can't open the door, then you're stuffed (trying to swim out the window is harder than you think unless the water is crystal clear, and the car is flooded to the roof anyway - and there the door will open!). And if you wait for the car to sink, you're stuffed (do it before the car even STARTS to take on water and it's no more difficult than opening the door).

      And you have other worries than the window (i.e. seatbelts, door locks, child seats, etc.). By the time you have all occupants of the car ready to go, you won't smash the window, no. But neither will the button not work. Try it. The conductivity of the electricity in the wires from the battery will not be affected much by the short-circuit of the water, and will open the window underwater. This is why you always see the car headlights on underwater in the movies. Hell, if it's a diesel you might even find the engine keeps running and churns up the mud making things worse!

      In fact, the recommended procedure (after getting out before the car sinks below the surface which takes 20-30 seconds) is to turn the headlights on if you plunge into water and it looks like you're going to sink so you can see underwater to get out.

      And if you can open the windows, you can open the door - the pressure on an electric window underwater is immense under the water levels equalise and it just won't open anyway. The motor isn't strong enough to wind the window against the SIDE-pressure pushing inwards. But the pressure isn't great when the water has filled the car, and you are only advised to open the window in order to LET WATER IN, so you can open the door with even pressure on both sides.

      Literally, past a certain point, you have to let the car sink and wait for the water to fill the car until you're ready to go (how do you intend to swim against the flow of water into the window without the car being full of water within a second anyway?). Anything in between those two scenarios and you waste energy trying to open a door/window that would never open against the pressures anyway, or just hasn't the transition to a more dangerous state and panic you.

      But your biggest problems are a) getting everyone out of their seats ready to swim in a confined, moving, sinking, dark, panicked environment, b) swimming further back to the surface with them, the longer you wait and c) being in a damn dangerous situation that not much else will save you anyway.

      If we make car manufacturers take account of junk like that, we'd be unable to afford a damn car at all.

      But,as I say, I agree with your point.

      P.S. You can buy a "car-window-smasher" tool for $1 in any cheap shop that you can keep in your door pocket (like they have on trains to smash windows in case of an accident). Evidence suggests you'll never use it and, if you do need it, it won't work very well from a confined, seated stance in a panic situation. If it does work perfectly, you'll end up winding yourself from the force of water smashing into your face from the extreme pressure change, probably knocking the breath out of you and making it harder to survive. Or you could have just waited and then opened the door. Or, even better, opened the door before it sunk. Or, even better, not driven into the water.

    • by Lumpy (12016)

      "they'll love their power windows all the way to the bottom of the lake as the screaming family tries to beat out the windows with their bare hands."

      Wow, highly uneducated tech writers out there. It is a known fact that power window motors work perfectly underwater, but the water pressure on the air pocket will not let them open, a hand crank has less of a chance of working than the power window motors. Even a prime time TV show proved it on TV.

      Now, the real problem is if they own a GM vehicle. Those

    • by Joehonkie (665142)
      You love writing about imaginary anecdotes, anyways.
  • by Lumpy (12016) on Tuesday January 15, 2013 @07:49AM (#42590253) Homepage

    Every single one of the "fitness" devices was designed to harvest your data and keep it hostage. not ONE of the products I looked at or talked to the guys at the booth kept your data private on your computer or Phone. All of them are "cloud based" and none of them let you have access to your raw data.

    It seems that companies have zero ability to hire engineers that can make a real product that is not dripping in "lock in" or "data mining". And I personally am sick of it.

    Outside of those, there was ZERO innovation at CES. Nothing at all that was a game changer like Google Glass, just a bunch of "mee too" rehashes of the exact same junk from last year.

    • by Sockatume (732728)

      I don't want to seem like I'm condoning vendor lock-in, but if the data didn't exist until the device gathered it, it hasn't been "held hostage". You don't pay a guy to design your house then get pissy when he won't share the blueprints, unless you agreed so in advance.

      It amazes me that you think that "Google Glass", a product which is currently a textmode HUD the size of a fingernail partnered with a headily fictitious concept video, is a "game changer".

    • by PhxBlue (562201)

      There's not as much money in it for them if they don't have access to your data. So of course it's all going to be cloud-based.

    • My wife and I recently produced a baby and needed a way to communicate when the last time the kid was fed and how much he drank during those 4am feedings or whatever. Sure, I could just get a pad and a pen, but we always have our phones around anyway, so we got the "Baby Connect" app. It's faster and easier than a pad and pen, because I don't have to look up the time and write it down, or hunt for where the pad got left last. It takes less time to click the button that says "feed" and then type a "5" for

    • by steelfood (895457)

      It seems that companies have zero ability to hire engineers that can make a real product that is not dripping in "lock in" or "data mining".

      Ability? Where does ability come into the equation? Every company wants your data. They want to collect it, to sell it, and they want to keep it for themselves away from your prying hands.

      You can thank Google for the data collection paradigm, and Apple for the vendor lock-in one.

      • by steelfood (895457)

        You can thank Google for the data collection paradigm

        I dislike replying to myself, but I do have to issue a correction and an apology. I meant to type Facebook instead of Google, but I was thinking about Google at the time, who pioneered it. But Facebook really is the one who took it over the top and made it popular, so they get the credit for being evil.

  • I remember chasing those cool gadgets that were all the rage when I was kid. You know, things like the steam engine, the internal combustion engine, washing machine, telephone, orgasmatron, computer, night vision goggles and Chlorpromazine.

    I've given that all up and now live in a cave with running water. A simple and relaxing life. I just wish I could that damn dripping noise out of my head.

  • Lots of folks were not aware that you could change your Office Assistant to something a lot less annoying. I changed mine to the ginger cat, who did the normal office suggestions, but then when idle batted a ball of yarn around the screen or took a nap. There was also a puppy and a globe. I found the kitty to be much less annoying, probably because it's hard for an animated cat to be condescending.
  • For one, the folks who "invented" the iPotty need to give away their weapons, their cars, all of their possessions, and let themselves be checked into an assisted living facility, since they're obviously too *STUPID* to live on their own.

    None of them have children, either.

    Y'know, I bet they don't offer, in the device's warranty, to replace all the iPhones that somewhere between 10% and 25% of the two year olds will throw *into* the potty.

    And quality? It's a well-known bit of history (at least among folks w

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