iPhone 6 – September 9

The invite arrived today for the previously-rumoured-and-now-offical Apple event on September 6. The September events are the annual iPhone launches (and model refreshes for existing hardware) so it is no surprise that the iPhone 6 will be unveiled that day. There are two intriguing facets of this event, however, and they could signal that there is more in store that just the new phone.

Invitation to the Apple Event - September 9, 2014Thing One: Instead of Apple’s traditional “event” venues in San Francisco – the Yerba Buena Centre or the Moscone West –
this one is being held down in Cupertino. Twice in the past Apple has used the Flint Centre in Cupertino for product launches … once for the original Macintosh, and once for the first iMac. Two events, two revolutionary products. Is something in the works that will take that count to three-for-three?

Thing Two: Apple is building a custom building of some sort on the grounds of the Flint Centre. As of now, the thing is just a massive featureless cube and is surrounded with some serious security. What’s in it? Why is it needed? What will happen in the Cube Of Mystery that can’t be done in the main building?

Stay tuned through the week … there is much to discuss.

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Glassholes No More

The buzz today out of Mountain View is that Google employees have been “unofficially” notified that Google Glass is being shitcanned.

Stay tuned.

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Canada Day Ramblings, Part 2

Truth be told, I am not a Blue Jays fan. I like baseball, but my team is the Tigers. Grew up with the Tigers, love the Tigers, will be a Tigers fan until they shove me into a shallow grave.

Except on Canada Day.

Blue Jays, red shirts - it's Canada Day!I’m always ready to cheer for the Toronto nine on birthday of the nation simply because they bust out the awesome red-and-white togs and top it off with the big maple leaf on the cap. The Jays had to fight for years to get a home date and afternoon start time on Canada Day (major league baseball then, as now, was particularly brain-dead when it comes to the fact that Canada is not some small town in Iowa) and it’s only right to give the team their due for doing it right.

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Canada Day Ramblings, Part 1

Don Cherry busting some rhymes in Rock Em Sock Em Hockey Vol. 5A constant source of Canadian awesomeness and pride is the depth and quality of our music. Forget Cleveland, it’s Canada that really rocks. The gang over at CBC Music obviously has the same thing in mind today, and they have started a month-long series of The 100 Best Canadian Songs Ever. 25 songs each week through the month of July, with links to songs and videos and a bit of perspective on each piece from fans and musicians alike.

As is natural with music the list is incredibly subjective, and there will be stuff that doesn’t really turn your crank … that’s part and parcel of living in such an incredibly diverse nation. But I do have to take issue with Jack Scott, a bona fide seminal genius, being buried in the bottom 10 of the list. Get a grip, people.

NOTE: Despite the photo, the Rock Em Sock Em Rap from “Don Cherry’s Rock Em Sock Em Hockey Vol. 5″ is not on the list. Also, you probably shouldn’t click on the link in the previous sentence. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

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Canada Day

Happy Canada Day to everyone in our most excellent nation and to expat hosers all around the world! As we take a day to celebrate everything Canadian, there are two things worth mentioning:

The only athlete to score multiple medals in both Winter and Summer Olympic Games1 – Clara Hughes, the greatest Olympian of all time, rolls into Ottawa on the final day of Clara’s Big Ride. A worthy endeavor by one of the nicest and classiest people in any walk of life, and especially in the sporting world. Or course, the awesomeness of it all is slightly tempered by the fact that in every single picture and video clip from the entire tour, there’s Clara sitting on the back. Come on, Hughes, take a pull!

2 – People who think that Canada Day should be a floating holiday so that it is always on a Monday or Friday can go take a flying fuck at themselves. The holiday is about commemorating the date of the birth of our home and native land, not about getting a fucking long weekend. The country was founded on July 1. That’s when we have the holiday. End of discussion.

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Glassholes, Indeed.

A gentleman displaying the standard "Im wearing Google Glass" facial contortion.If you have ever asked yourself “What kind of a tool would walk around wearing a Google Glass?” you might need to stop and rephrase your question. The more appropriate query to boggle your mind might be “What kind of a tool would pay 1500 bucks to walk around wearing 80 dollars worth of silicon?”

Yep. The $1500 retail price of the Google Glass is courtesy of a 94.6 percent markup on the actual cost of components. Fairly hefty markups in the personal electronics world are not a new thing … but “fairly hefty” usually means something in the area of 60 to 65 percent. Items like the iPhone 5S ($228 component cost, $649 retail price) and the Galaxy S5 ($244 component cost, $700 retail price) fall nicely into this range. But ninety-five percent? That takes the Google Glass up into the stratospheric realm of Women’s Designer Clothing, long considered the untouchable holy grail of blatant retail gouging.

Kudos to Google, I guess, for being ballsy enough to do this … and it certainly puts a whole new spin on the word “glasshole”. Who would have thought that wearing a Glass would’t actually be the stupidest part of owning one?

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Hearthstone Hits The iPad

UPDATE: Some people are reporting difficulty finding the app in the Canadian app store. There is a direct link in the second last paragraph of this post. Also, you can click right here if you dont want to waste time reading all the way to the bottom. You’re welcome.

Hearthstone, Blizzard’s “collectable” trading card game, has been in the wild for a handful of months now … but today things got serious with the much-anticipated release for the iPad. Until now you were chained to your OS X or Windows computer if you wanted to play, a situation that was decidedly less than ideal for a pick-up-and-play casual game. Most folks are happy to sit at the computer to spend a couple of hours slaying big baddies and saving the world. But when you just want to play cards … well, not so much.

Hearthstone is already fun. As of today, Hearthstone is stupidly fun.

Hearthstone For iPad - Glory Awaits!If you haven’t been paying attention and are coming in cold, Hearthstone is an online version of trading card “duel” games like Magic: The Gathering. If that means nothing to you, try this: It’s a free-to-play online card game where you collect and build your own custom decks and then use them to play head to head games against any and all comers. The game uses the World of Warcraft universe as the source for art, sounds, feel, and flavour. Does that mean you have to know Warcraft to play? No, not at all. But it does mean that every board, every card and every play has the vast weight Blizzard’s undeniable fun factor behind it.

And that, my friends, is a good thing.

All of which is a fairly wordy way of saying get out there and download it. If you have never played this sort of game, there is a tutorial to get you going and even if you are and old hand at these things you should play through the introduction anyway since there are juicy rewards for completing it. As you play you will earn the full set of “standard” cards and you will also earn “gold” that you can use to buy “expert” cards. Of course, Blizzard is running a business the offer you the opportunity to spend real-world money to get more gold, but the developers have managed to strike a really nice balance on this front. If you wanted to play in tournaments or go for a top ranking, then spending some money would be the way to go. But if you just want to continually get more cards and have enough new toys to tinker with and meddle with your decks endlessly you will easily earn enough to do that just by playing games. It truly is “free to play” which is a nice chance from the current crop of scam games like Candy Crush and the like. Full details on everything, including news and more instructional type things are on the official Hearthstone web site. It’s worth a peek.

Of course at this point in time there is one small downside … the iPad version of the game is currently available only in the Canadian, Australian, and New Zealand app stores. Which, to my mind, isn’t that much of a hardship at all but I understand that there might be one of two of you out there reading this who may beg to differ. Fret not, or at least fret only a little, because the rollout is coming to other countries soon … Blizzard is just doing it in stages to make sure nothing goes awry with a sudden massive glut of downloads and connections.

To get started, just click on this link right here and it will take you directly to the app store. And it’s worth mentioning that if you are already playing, all of your cards and progress will be up to date on the iPad version as soon as you log in. You can play on any device, at any time. Blizzard has taken a long time to get this together, but they have definitely done it right.

Now get out there and play some cards, scrub. Indeed, glory awaits.

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Smartie 0647

50: The percentage of available RAM that is consumed by non-removable apps on a 16GB Samsung S5.

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NBC’s Bullshit-Laden Entirely Contrived Panic-Inducing “Sochi Personal Electronics Hacking Expos√©” Is A Journalistic Embarassment

Sorry about the rather unwieldy headline, there. But really, there was no other way to approach this. Brian Williams of NBC – who used to be a real journalist and should definitely know better – put together this breathless report from Sochi that shows personal electronics being remotely compromised with malware and accessed by crackers within minutes of landing at the airport in Sochi. In the video you see a phone being “automatically” being taken over as soon as they turn it on, and two brand-new Macbook Pros being compromised just by turning them on at the hotel and leaving them running for an hour.

It’s the kind of thing that is frightening for average computer users and will get lots and lots of clicks and links and shares and oh my god this is awful what will we do?!?!

Except that the entire thing is a self-created and purposely staged sham, verging on a complete fabrication.

If you watch the unedited video, the whole thing is actually laughable
. Instead of the phone “automatically” downloading malware, the reporters followed an URL to an unknown site and then installed the linked software themselves. Whether or not it was even (as claimed by their security “expert”) malware is debatable, since they never actually said what the linked file was. And the Macbooks that were “remotely accessed while just sitting there”? They manually opened a file that was attached to an unknown email. And bypassed the system warnings telling them not to open it.

The whole thing is a farce. But you will see dozens and dozens of links to it today. Because that is what tech “journalism” has been reduced to. Fabricated bullshit laced with fear, in a sad and desperate attempt to get a few clicks.

Shame, Brian Williams. Shame.

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Eleven Minutes Of Action

If you haven’t been reading the “If It Happened There” series over on Slate, you are missing something truly excellent. In a nutshell, they report on American events with the same style and tone that the American media usually uses when reporting on events in other countries … especially countries that are outside the USA’s sphere of influence and/or the average American probably couldn’t find on a map. It’s the very best of completely straight-faced satire, skewering everything in sight in a totally serious manner … not the least of which is the media mindset that Slate itself is a contributing member to.

Nothing is sacred, and the feature reached an absolute pinnacle of awesomeness today with the in-depth report on the cultural and sporting festival known as “The Super Bowl” (there is, in fact, no bowl).

Bloody brilliant.

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