This Week in Tech
I have been a fan of the Black Mirror series since its debut. I have wondered whether to post about it on this blog - its musings and insights into possible technologically dystopian futures are disturbing but thought and conversation provoking. I can see how watching an episode can be very useful in the classroom - for debate and follow up exercises around which current technologies will develop to make the depicted future possible. Seeing a review of Black Mirror in The Daily Maverick prompted me to include it in this post.
I would highly recommend that if you have not seen Black Mirror you take the time and effort to do so. Even if you don’t include it in your classroom it will arm you with ammunition to pull out when you need to talk about possible future trends and social implications of the technology that you are teaching...
Malware, hacks, Etc...
AR & VR
Social & privacy
That’s it for this week - really do try to watch Black Mirror (Netflix). Ciao
This week there's a mishmash of news with no single strong clear theme running through it. So you get JABOL (Just a bunch of links). Enjoy!
It seems like the days of parents and teachers telling kids to stop wasting their time playing computer games might really be at an end. If you've been reading along with previous blog entries you will have noted that e-sports tournaments have huge money prizes and are being considered for the olympics. Not only that, people are earning incomes from sponsorship as top gamers (just like top sportsmen do) - and from streaming their gameplay on services such as Twitch (where they earn money from advertising). The inevitable has finally happened. Parents are paying for their kids to get extra lessons - for Fortnite! Expect to see more of this....
Hacking, Scamming, Phishing
Programming & Resources
That's it for this week. Enjoy!
At least that's what it feels like. There's been a lot of articles on Google this last week. From DRMing your email - to record setting fines from the EU - to winning a contract to supply internet to rural Kenya with its balloons, Google has been in the spotlight. Besides Google: Facebook melted down its stock, Amazon made a lot of money from its Bit Barns (data centres) and the internet proved once again that it never forgets anything!
This is about Google insisting that phone makers can only license Android and use it on their phones if they meet certain conditions - like making Google the default search engine. The EU thinks this is unfair and monopolistic behaviour and has fined Google $5 Billion for the practice. Despite the fine Google still made more than $3 Billion in profit in the last 3 months.
Email is tricky. Once you hit the send button anything you have written is kinda beyond your control. The receiver can forward the mail, print it, do what they like with it. Businesses especially would like more control overt what happens to the email they send. Google has added 'Confidential Mode' to Gmail, giving users some kind of control over their mail. The article explains the concept, the flaws in the solution and how it can be abused.
Its 85 000 + employees have a physical USB dongle key. Result: They haven't been phished in a year!
The internet's long long memory
Copyright and IP
VR is a buzz concept - something exciting whose time is almost always 'about to come'. I remember its first manifestation in the early 90's. Huge headgear. blocky graphics. Lots of buzz. VERY high prices. Few sales. Today we have smaller headgear. Much better graphics. Lots of buzz. High prices. Better sales. But no real market penetration (check out Digital Trends's article detailing sales of VR gear on Amazon).
The fact is that VR headsets are bulky and uncomfortable. Sure, they track and sense your head motion and update what you see accordingly, creating an 'immersive' experience. Except its not quite good enough (hence the quotes around immersive). Even dedicating a top of the line computer with top of the line GPU to the VR experience is not good enough to fool the body. What you see lags your bodies movements - by an infinitesimally small amount its true - but it is still enough to disconnect from the inner ear and make many people feel nauseous or get headaches.
Besides that, beyond the display, VR has still got a long way to go to provide satisfactory and intuitive input. The completely immersive rigs of Ready Player One and other works of fiction are a long way off.
The final two nails in the coffin are the cost of VR kit and the lack of compelling VR software at present.
VR is interesting. A first encounter with it is amazing. After that it comes a bit 'been there, seen that...' meh. The potential of the technology is undeniable - so is the extent of its improvement in the last 30 years. BUT... it still has a long way to go.
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