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Zombies attack Montana, wait, what?
And, this fall marks the 75th anniversary of Orson Welles' War of the Worlds broadcast that caused people coast to coast to freak, believing the drama was real. The question becomes whether people would fall for something like that today. No way, my friends argue, people are so media literate, you'd never fool 'em now.
Hackers this week got into the computers of a Montana TV station and put out a fake emergency broadcast alert warning of a zombie attack. Fake fake fakety fake, right? Yet, here in 2013, some alarmed viewers called Channel 3 in Great Falls just to check if zombies were attacking. Guess it never hurts to check.
Wake 'N Shake, the merciless alarm clock app
Take the principle of multiplayer online games and use it to get your sorry tush out of bed. The app is called Wake 'N Shake, and its victims can accumulate points by competing with other snoozers in a race to shut off their smartphone's alarm. Not just any alarm. One of the choice is a profoundly disturbing, funhouse-style maniacal laugh.
Thing is, with this app, you have to shake the phone repeatedly like its a spray paint can to turn it off Just the way to start your day: out of your mind.
Pope Benedict XVI is following 7 versions of himself on Twitter and no one else
Yes yes, we all know, the Pope will officially start tweeting today. But who does he follow? Not God -- not on Twitter at least. (Must...not...make..."direct messages from God" joke....here).
The Pope follows only seven people, which are actually seven other versions of himself. It's part of the Vatican's strategy -- explained in part to me for today's show by the company's Claire Diaz-Ortiz -- to get the message out in 8 different languages. Maybe the non Italian or non English-speaking versions of the Pope all retweet the original? Or they want people like me to look at the users that the Pope is following (which totally worked), and follow some of the Pople clones (which didn't work).
We can assume different popular Twitter users take entirely different approaches when it comes to choosing who to follow. I find it interesting that the Pope follows no one but other versions of himself. At least he's more discerning than President Barack Obama, right?
In all seriousness, it'll be interesting to watch how one of the most famous religious leaders of the world -- and his people -- take to the social media. I hope even the Holy Father gets to toss out some good Pope jokes in the stream.
Petition to White House: Please build a Death Star like the one in 'Star Wars'
A few thousand people have signed a White House petition to get the government to build a Death Star that blows up entire planets, like in 'Star Wars.' It's one of many petitions on the We the People website where the Obama Adminstration encourages people to get their voices heard. Texas secession after the presidential election is a popular one with more than 100,00 signatures. Immediately deport anyone who signed an online secession petition has 25,000 supporters.
Petraeus’s storied career lives on in Call of Duty
Not that it needed it, but there's an additional selling point for the new video game "Call of Duty: Black Ops II." In the supposed year 2025, the digitized Secretary of Defense has a familiar name: Petraeus. Looks just like him too. No avatar for the Petraeus biographer, though. Does this mean it will some day be a collector’s item? Probably not, since the game is incredibly popular and far from a “limited release.” Plus, the games maker has already hinted that it won’t be doing any damage control, noting that it is, after all, just a game.
Who's winning Twitter: Twitter's Political Engagement Map
With the election looming on Tuesday, the polls are coming fast and furious. Something we learned from Nate Silver a few weeks back: Social media and the Internet is playing a larger roll in polling all the time, partly because so many of us are dropping our regular phone lines and using only cell phones in our households, and partly because online is just where we spend our time now. Twitter, which earlier this year rolled out the Twindex, is hoping to use some of its giant amounts of data to give us an interesting look at how candidates' tweets are playing around the country. It's called the Political Engagement Map, and it shows you how users are interacting with certain tweets on certain topics, state by state. At this point, a curiosity, but I'd be interested to see some of the comparisons of candidates' tweets after the election. There might be some interesting parallels when we know the winner.
Skeuomorphism, for better or for worse
A word of the week: "Skeuomorphism." We heard it this week while covering the ouster of Scott Forestall, a senior executive at Apple. It refers to a digital design approach in which things on the screen are made to look old-school, like the app for notes that resembles a yellow legal pad. Forestall was close to the late boss Steve Jobs who favored that look. Some designers think skeuomorphism is as tacky as naugahyde and could be on its way out at Apple.
Shakespeare: There's an app for that
Don't miss this: Cambridge University Press is putting out two multimedia apps as part of an "Explore Shakespeare" series. Romeo and Juliet and Macbeth. App stands for "application" a word that only shows up once in the entire Shakespeare canon. I found it in "All's Well" -- the King of France says, "The rest have worn me out with several applications; nature and sickness, debate it at their leisure."
Dissing the Disk
There was a "did he really say that?" moment during Apple's big show on Tuesday. Phil Schiller, the company's head of Worldwide Marketing was on stage showing the new iMac, Apple's flagship desktop computer. It is very thin, like you could shave with it thin. So thin that I couldn't help but notice there was no slot for a CD or DVD drive in the thing.
"For those of you stuck in the past," Schiller said, you can buy an external accessory to run your disks. That's a quote: "For those of you stuck in the past." So just to let you know, in a world where companies want us to store all our digital lives on remote corporate computers, the so-called Cloud, it seems to be the fervent hope of some senior computer folks that storage on optical disks is going the way of Victrola.
Retro Tech: We want to hear your stories
I have a third-generation, chunky looking iPod that I keep ticking along through thick and thin. I know how to pry open its case and have changed its hard drive once and its battery twice. Given the culture of upgrades we have in this world, people sitting next to me on airplanes tend to marvel at my iPod’s antiquity. I also have a Speed Graphic press camera from the 1940s that takes big 4-by-5 negatives with aplomb. What do you have?
I ask because I was looking at story in the publication Extreme Tech labeled "Built to Last: Computer Systems that simply cannot fail." The piece lists things like Curiosity, the Mars Rover, that has a computer that should not need help for earth for fifteen years. I asked the author of that article, John Hewitt, an engineer who has worked on satellites and medical equipment, how to make technology fail-safe. Sadly, he said absolute fail-safe can't be done.
Mr. Hewitt then rhapsodized fondly about a computerized milling machine he bought used from Boeing. The unit is from the 1980s and has something called "bubble memory" in it, not even a hard drive. The machine sits by his garage door though every season, sometimes getting damp, sometimes crawling with stinkbugs that seek its warm circuit boards. Fires up every time, Hewitt said.
Don't we all have retro tech that still gets the job done? No, don’t mention a shot glass from 1979 that is still working for you. We're imagining a piece of technology from the past that in your view needs no upgrade.