The Weeks That Were, 1/30

I read a lot of articles about the consumer technology industry, some are on brilliant, world-changing innovations coming out of Silicon Valley, but a few pieces of news tend to fall through the cracks. Here’s five from the week that was:

1. jOBS Movie Trailer Released, Immediately Hailed as the Apple Maps of Biomovies

“Haha hey guess what guys? I’m not wearing any shoes! And I’m all being smart-like, like serious and stuff. But just got my sock on! Haha! Dude.”

NBC– The Steve Jobs biopic “jOBS” is set for theatrical release this spring, but some attendees of the Sundance Film Festival will get an early glimpse of the film when it premieres to close out the festival Friday night. Below, a newly released trailer for “jOBS,” which also features Josh Gad as fellow Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak.

So we got the dumber dude from Dude Where’s My Car and the fat idiot from Project X playing two of the smartest men in the technological era? I mean, look at these doofis:

It doesn’t matter how sick Ashton Kutcher gets off of fruit, or how much the producers have blatantly marketed to nerds by casting a real-life hobbit, the combined idiocy of the actors still shines through. I’ll pass on this flick.

Plus Google will just do it better in a few months anyway. #NerdJoke

2. Twitter Launches the “Instagram of Video,” Forgets that on the Internet, Video=Porn

“May” contain sensitive content? How about “absolutely without a doubt”?

TechCrunch- If you build it they will come. Vine, Twitter’s new video sharing platform, is currently experiencing a porn problem. As Nick Bilton pointed out earlier, by searching for the tags “#porn” or similar NSFW words, you can find content featuring exhibitionists of various stripes as well as porn video taken directly from laptop screens.

All is not lost, however. Vine users can flag inappropriate video using the mobile app and, if flagged enough times, the system adds an interstitial roadblock that warns you of inappropriate content. Twitter has similar blocks in place for NSFW content and even accounts, but these features aren’t yet available on Vine.

This story is a perfect summation of the modern Internet. Consumer tech start-up launches to huge hype under the guise of  “the ___ of ___” (In this case, “the Instagram of Video!!”). Consumers all over the world have innocent fun with the hottest new mobile app, raising its valuation by a billion dollars. Six seconds later the porn industry finds out about it and the real fun begins.

You can’t really blame Twitter on this one. Users have to search for the porn specifically and can flag inappropriate content. I mean, as long as Vine doesn’t do anything like make a porno an “editor’s pick” or anything, I don’t see anything wrong with this.

Oh wait. 

3. Microsoft’s New Commercial Makes Gen-Y Yearn for all 90’s Products Again, Except Microsofts

At the time, they were cute little munchkins. Now they look like cracked out Samoans.

Mashable– Children of the ’90s, take out your pogs, slap bracelets and Tamagotchis, and get ready to have your heartstrings pulled.

Microsoft has posted a video on YouTube promoting “the new Internet Explorer” that takes a delightful trip down memory lane and trust us, you’ll be glad you sat through all 1:41 minutes of it.

The clip has all the makings of a viral success, thanks to so many visual throwbacks tied to modern-day advancements.

(Watch the commercial here, only if you want to be inexplicably elated for 1:41)

First off- Hungry Hippos. Holy shit! Is there another children’s game more chaotic, more violent, more ruthlessly animalistic than Hungry Hippos? You are literally an animal on an eating spree worthy of those who just got kicked off The Biggest Loser. You’re only chance to win relies on your ability to pound with abandon on the little black lever sticking out of the hippo’s bum. There is no strategy or cunning, only power. I miss it so much.

Anyway, anybody my age is inevitably going to love this commercial. Nostalgia, as Don Draper said in Mad Men’s most famous monologue, sells like new mops to housewives, or something like that. However what Microsoft doesn’t realize is that when we were all using Windows in the 90’s we were also too young to develop any kind of connection to the brand. Computers were just computers. We used them to flirt with girls on AIM and find Carmen San Diego. We didn’t care about “user interfaces” or “operating systems.” If I could download a Beastie Boys song in a half hour, then it worked for me.

They found Pogs for this ad too? Holy shit! Is there another children’s game more chaotic, more violent…

4. Classified Steve Jobs Emails Released. Turns Out He’s a Little Arrogant and Used His Company’s Money to Intimidate Others. Surprising, right?

“So like, nobody is going to find our emails about this, right? Cuz that would be bad…LOL!” – Eric Schmidt

The Verge– Steve Jobs threatened patent litigation if Palm wouldn’t agree to stop hiring Apple employees, says former Palm CEO Edward Colligan in a statement dated August 7th, 2012. The allegation is backed up by a trove of recently-released evidence that shows just how deeply Silicon Valley’s no-hire agreements pervaded in the mid-2000s. Apple, Google, Intel, and others are the focus of a civil lawsuit into the “gentleman’s agreements,” in which affected employees are fighting for class action status and damages from resulting lost wages, potentially reaching into the hundreds of millions of dollars.

And even more surprising- the heads of Google, Palm, Intel and Pixar are kind of dicks as well. I know, I know…BAM! Your mind’s blown.

Two emails immediately stick out as my favorites. The first was the one from Steve Jobs to Palm where he bitches at them about recruiting Apple employees, but also can’t help himself from taking the chance to rip on them for purchasing a patent which he considered below Apple’s standards. Besides the fact that what these guys are doing is actually, you know, important, it’s just like when I release a player from my fantasy football team and another owner picks him up. Just like it. You gotta make fun of the other guy. I feel you Steve. I feel you.

Eric Schmidt from Google takes the cake though. He explicitly states in an email that his company’s legally dubious recruitment policies should not be discussed via email, because he doesn’t want a paper trail in case he gets sued. It would be like, while waiting for the teller to dispense the register, one bank robber saying to the other: “Hey Doug Macray, resident of Charlestown, make sure we don’t tell anyone here our names.”

You’d think the guy who continues to revolutionize how people communicate wouldn’t be so dumb.

5. Weekly “Is this The Onion?”: BlackBerry Appoints Alicia Keys as their new Global Creative Director

It takes a special type of beauty to dress like a 19th century farmer and still look hot.

Businessweek– Forget about a new operating system and a new corporate name—the big news out of BlackBerry’s (RIMM) announcement today was that the Canadian tech firm has appointed Alicia Keys as its global creative director.

Keys joins a long and distinguished list of entertainers who have taken on creative-director duties at various companies. Intel (INTC), wanting to get in on that My Humps action, hired Black Eyed Peas member will.i.am as its “director of creative innovation.” Polaroid, when it wasn’t being passed around from creditor to creditor in bankruptcy proceedings, announced in 2010 that it had appointed Lady Gaga as its creative director, based on her extensive work in industrial design and precision optics.

How many people do you think this publicity stunt pissed off? The three BlackBerry users left are pissed that their brand has turned to blatant gimmicks to draw attention. Every mid-level BlackBerry employee is pissed that a completely random celebrity was given an executive position in their company. Other Global Creative Directors are pissed because now no one thinks that there job is an actual job, and because none of them has the voice of an angel. Alicia Keys is pissed because she has to use a BlackBerry in public.

In a what-will-be-related-story, the Silicon Valley version of TMZ, Valleywag, is relaunching. I guarantee that the first scandal they uncover is a pic of Keys wielding an iPhone at some L.A. Starbucks. Either that or a Kim Kardashian Vine.

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