Category Archives: technology

Electric Dreams – Turning On & Off Sex Robots

There’s been a lot of talk about sex robots lately. Not sure why.
I suppose it’s better than talking about Donald Trump.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

You may have possibly read about Roxxxy “the world’s first robotic girlfriend”. Apart from the screamingly obvious objectification (literally) issues, the repetition of the letter “x” and total
WTF?-ness of it all, my first thoughts were of the late great actor Yul Brynner. No, not in a weird “King and I” dancing fantasy (not that there’s absolutely anything wrong with that). I was thinking of Yul’s work in that classic sci-fi / thriller “Westworld” (now an HBO remake) when he plays the robot who loses the plot slightly and goes around slightly shooting people.

What happens if Roxxxy or any of her robotic horizontal folk dancing sisters loses the plot?
Blows a head gasket, O-ring, hard drive or any remotely sexually sounding innards? Who do you ring? Some call centre in Mumbai where “Bazza” will talk you through the issues? Is there bedside assistance? Or do you have to wander down to a service centre with her under your arm, surfboard style and say, “She’s buggered mate”.

Roxxxy was born? Unveiled? Frankensteined? at an Adult Entertainment Expo in Las Vegas,
where else – and apparently her creator’s inspiration for her / it rose from the death of a friend in the September 11 attacks. “I promised myself I would create a program to store his personality, and that became the foundation for Roxxxy.” I’m wondering which of the fembot’s various programmable personalities that was. “Wild Wendy”, “Frigid Farrah” or “Mature Martha”?
Even so, a nice way to be immortalised. I’m sure the mate would be very proud. He went on,
“She can’t vacuum, she can’t cook but she can do almost anything else, if you know what I mean.”

Maybe it’s just me, but I thought “vacuum” might fall into the “if you know what I mean” category. Told you it was weird.

Roxxxy’s not cheap, at up to nine thousand bucks, but if you’re into that sort of thing, she sounds
a tad safer than that bloke in Brazil a while back who became rather excited about a car’s exhaust pipe and needed some angle-grinder action to extricate himself.

As they say, whatever turns you on – as long as you can turn her off. Just remember Yul Brynner.

©Steve Williams 2016

*This piece also appeared in The Huffington Post Australia:
Electric Dreams: The Rise Of Sex Robots

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Emoji all the people*

It seems like we have gone full circle.

 

Man (and woman) first started communicating in a written form over 30,000 ago with cave paintings, depicting animals and rudimentary images of humans. Graffiti was born.

Fast-forward to around 5000 BC and Egyptian and Chinese cultures communicated (amongst themselves) with pictograms and ideograms that represented an object, activity or concept.
These led to Egyptian hieroglyphics and Chinese characters. So far, so good. Then around 3200 BC, the good burghers of Mesopotamia thought it wouldn’t be a stupid idea to start writing words, and the rest as they say, is history.

So how do we communicate in 2016? Emojis, that’s how. I read an article the other day that “emoji” is the world’s fastest growing language. <face screaming in fear emoji>

Blame one Shigetaka Kurita. The unassuming Japanese chap produced 176 designs for Japanese mobile phones in 1999. There are now over 1,800 emojis. Possibly 1,790 too many.

From cave paintings to hieroglyphics to emoji — maybe we should have just left out the middle bit, making the world’s greatest writers redundant. In the annals of literary history, we could have just leafed past the work of Homer, Shakespeare, Dickens, Tolstoy, Wilde, Austen, Orwell, Hemmingway, Jackie Collins… ok, maybe not her.

Speaking of classic novels, The United States Library of Congress has accepted its first emoji novel — a reworking of Herman Melville’s classic Moby-Dick. It has been 2016-ised into Emoji Dick with the 212,000+ words converted to emoji. I don’t know whether to be horrified or impressed.

The recent breathless launch of the iPhone 7 included new emojis, “women playing sport”, “woman in a turban”, the gun emoji has apparently become a water pistol, there’s now a “man getting a haircut”, and a “man wearing bunny ears”. As one does, though not simultaneously. There is now basically every type of parent / child / gender / family emoji you can poke a stick at. I assume there is still a stick emoji for the iPhone 7. I’d personally prefer a headphone jack emoji.

Being an iPhone person, I assume other smartphones have their own emoji, including an explosion emoji for a certain Samsung smartphone. <smiley, winking face, poking out tongue emoji>

We survived the rise of mobile phone text-speak, which wasn’t all that GR8, you often had no idea what the hell other person meant. I’d normally just ring them up and get them to explain it. Which kind of defeated the purpose.

It will be interesting to see where all this emoji business ends up. I suppose one day we will be reading online newspapers and magazines written in emoji form, though I suggest that will be when we are in our autonomous flying cars eating our food tablets.

*Apologies to John Lennon for that atrocious headline.

©Steve Williams 2016

*This piece also appeared in The Huffington Post AustraliaEmoji All The People

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Bastard Backpacks

Dear the bastard backpack wearing fraternity of the world.

I’m sure some of you are very nice people who like tickling kittens under their chin, but some of you are absolute bastards. Seriously.

Seat 12A on your next flight

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I’m not talking about the noble types who trudge around Kathmandu et al taking-an-undisclosed-period-of-time-off-to-travel-the-world type of backpacker, more the commuting corporate warrior.

No, I’m taking aim at the women, but mainly men (who most likely work in the financial industry and wear pseudo-Batman utility belts for their various appliances) who infect trains, buses, ferries and planes with their massive growths on their backs, taking out innocent and unsuspecting citizens with every swivel of their shoulders.

So when you put your backpacks on, does your spatial awareness suddenly evaporate along with what was remaining of your fashion sense?

Don’t you realise that when you have your Dell laptop and other geeky apparatus strapped to your back like a dork baby koala, you may, just may, be slightly inconveniencing the rest of the world? No? Didn’t think so.

The next one of your kind who almost dislocates my shoulder as you bump your way down the aisle of a plane…

Words ©Steve Williams 2015

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Down the drones

Remember those annoying radio-controlled model aircraft that were popular circa 1982?
Those whining, buzzing love children of a mosquito on steroids and the Red Baron that used to invade open spaces everywhere?

The ultimate drone-downing weapon

I remember playing club cricket many years ago and being continually buzzed by one of them.
Two blokes thought it would be hilarious to dive-bomb the batsmen. Hilarious until one of my (rarely) well-timed hook shots obliterated the flying bastard.

Drones are the new aerial annoyance.

I realise they do have benefits, taking out terrorist types, and the extreme opposite — so called “ambulance drones” providing oxygen to people caught in a fire, lifesavers using drones to spot sharks and rescue swimmers, to photographers shooting aerial photography and video.

That is potentially the problem.
Drones are like a flying version of Google Glass, with similar privacy issues.

An Australian woman sunbaking topless in her backyard was photographed by a drone operated by a real estate agent who plastered the photo on a billboard to sell the property of her neighbour. Noice.

There are many stories of privacy being breached, including a drone “pilot” being chased off a nude beach (for some reason I’m hearing the “Benny Hill” theme music.)

Enough. It’s time to take up arms against photography perverts, exercise our rights and our arms and down the drones.

The solution to these high-tech space invaders? A very low-tech weapon developed by the original Australians over 40,000 years ago: the humble, yet effective boomerang.

Think about it. Your boomerang will come back, and the drone won’t.

©Steve Williams 2015

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Why I won’t be going a Waltzing Matilda with the Apple Watch

Yep, the Apple Watch looks stunning and the technology is impressive, but I’ll pass.*

Apple Watch 2.0 :  iSundial

I’ve owned quite a few watches over the years, including an “unreal” Casio copy digital watch when I was kid. This hifalutin’ horological appliance played Waltzing Matilda (for un-Australian readers, this song is about a suicidal sheep stealer that should be Australia’s national anthem, as it doesn’t contain the word “girt”).

But I digress.

I wouldn’t call myself a hardcore Apple fanboy — I haven’t felt the need to break out the sleeping bag and queue up for a new product — but I have been picking Apple products for years.

Why? A) They just work. B) They look good.

My very first Apple was the Macintosh SE back in the day, which to be honest was fairly fugly and it was a bloody heavy thing. Since then iPhones, iPads, iMac, and MacBook. Love ’em.

The Apple Watch? Yeah, nah. I don’t really see the point. I know it does stuff… but not enough to make me want to buy it. My iPhone does everything (and more) than I need.
Sure, call me iLuddite.

A good thing you can monitor your blood pressure, with the top of the range Apple Watch costing several gazillion dollars, you’d need it.

Do I want to give someone a “digital poke”? No. That’s called assault.

Do I want to share my heart rate by sending it to another Apple Watch wearer? No.

Do I want to pay for things or open a door with my watch? No, I’m actually good.

Do I want to look like a Dick (Tracy) talking into my wrist? No.

*Disclaimer: If there’s an app to stuff a jolly jumbuck into my tucker bag Waltzing Matilda style
I could be convinced…

©Steve Williams 2015

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Plane Genius – must have travel gadgets

Forget the Knee Defender – the boffins at Randomswill Laboratories have burst out of the shed brandishing these must-have airline travel gadgets. You’re welcome.

Armrest Arrester™ A small, surreptitious, skin-coloured taser that adheres to your elbow.
Bastard next to you tries to occupy your armrest? Hello 50,000 volts.
Ask our operator about the optional Fart Away™ attachment.

BO Blocker™ Say goodbye to gagging when Mr Businessman who reeks like he ate curry in a sewer sits next to you. BO Blocker™ is industrial strength deodorant you engage like capsicum spray on passengers who pong.
With BO Blocker™ their eyes may water for a bit, but they won’t stink.™

Sit The F*ck Down™ Cabin crew will love this. A magic lasso Wonder Woman style to rein in passengers who like to stand up and get their bags as the plane is landing.
“Hey! You in 24G! Sit The F*ck Down™.”

Luggage Lucifer™ A convenient, pocket-sized flamethrower that gives you the pleasure of setting on fire the luggage of the selfish a-hole in 14C who has crammed his extra luggage
in your overhead locker. Luggage Lucifer™ “Burn baggage, burn.”

Headrest Hero™  Don’t you hate those passengers who pull the back of your headrest every single time they get up? Hate no more. Headrest Hero™ is an adhesive velcro strip covered in thousands of tiny, barely-perceptible-to-the-eye razor-sharp needles. Headrest Hero™ “They’ll only do it once.”

Bogan Begone™ An ingenious ultrasonic Bluetooth device that repels singlet, shorts and thong (Australian footwear usage) wearing passengers who sport “mystical” Asian tattoos.
Narelle and Gavin will be instantly repelled, as will their bogan progeny Brihannna and Montannah.

©Steve Williams 2014

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Foodporn — It’s already been shot, just eat it

When Frenchman Joseph Nicéphore Niépce shot the world’s first photograph in 1826, it was of the view out of his window, thankfully not of his coq au vin.

A restaurateur’s deterrent against food photography

Speaking of such meaty subjects, I’d like to discuss foodporn — amateur photographers recording their food for posterity instead of merely eating it. Today, if your phone isn’t equipped with a camera, you’re using iTroglodyte. That means basically everyone is a photographer — and this isn’t a good thing, especially when you’re trying to eat.

Amateur restaurant food photographers should be skewered, basted and lightly roasted. Instagram and Twitter have a lot to answer for. Why do you need to photograph your food before you eat it? Who are you going to show these badly composed, badly shot and badly shit photos to? Is the plan to bore your Facebook friends into a coma?

It is always a dining delight when the couple at the next table is photographing their fettuccine or shooting their shark fin soup. This is often undertaken with a ginormous SLR, emitting strobe flashes that illuminates the food and everyone in the vicinity like an atomic bomb has just detonated. If I wanted to book a table for two in an epileptic-fit-inducing lighthouse I would.

That’s just the entree — for main you get to sit back and marvel at the elaborate production of the couple photographing each other eating said food. Are we talking foreplay to some 9½ Weeks inspired erotic food-feeding-frenzy? Hope the shark fin comes to life in the bedroom.

There was a hallelujah moment last year when New York restaurants started banning food photography. The usual “freedom of everything” suspects choked on their amusebouche in predictable outrage, but f. them — they should be skewered as well.

I’d take a photo of that.

©Steve Williams 2014

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Or how I learned to love the bendy phone

So I see the boffins at Samsung have burst out of the shed brandishing a bendy phone.

About bloody time too. What took them so long?

Amazing what you can do with the Samsung bendy phone

Seriously, the world has been crying out for a bendy phone, ever since um… ah… you know….

Sadly, it is not called the “Bendy Phone” — that name would not have caused too much stirring in the trouser department of the South Korean Samsung marketing types. No, it has been christened the “Galaxy Round”. As the young people say… “meh”.

Backtracking slightly, the screamingly obvious question is why? Did one of the R&D people wake up startled at 3.12am, sit bolt upright and exclaim “I KNOW WHAT THE WORLD IS CLAMOURING FOR… A BENDY PHONE!!!!”

Why do you need your mobile phone to bend anyway? It’s not overly crucial. I can surf the interwebs, send emails, listen to music, take photos, shoot videos, write articles, talk to and hear people, probably even cook a nice beef ragout on my iPhone. The ability to bend or not hasn’t really been a deal-breaker for me. I admire the technology that was developed to enable a phone to bend, but I still don’t get it…  what’s the point, apart from being an extremely ingenious gimmick that will no doubt sell several billionty models?

That may be a bit harsh. Actually, I can think of    (tumbleweeds)    (crickets)    absolutely no reason why I would want a bendy phone. Though, being the media whore that I am, I’m sure if the good burghers of Samsung hand-delivered one to the randomswill corporate humpy, I would shout its praises from more than just rooftops.

Of course you need a bendy phone (sorry, Samsung Galaxy Round)! What are you, freakin’ stupid? You can roll it up and play ping pong with it, transform it into fascinating origami arrangements, shape it into a flavoursome gnocchi, paint it green and introduce him to his equine friend…

©Steve Williams 2013

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