Larry, Curly And Er... Microsoft

I am really starting to think Microsoft has lost its grip on their updates. What used to be a fairly ordered process seems to have degenerated over the last few year into a very hit-or-miss affair, with mixed messaging, rollbacks and the like. The latest clusterfizzle is just kinda sad.

Earlier this month, Microsoft gave the world .NET Framework 4.7 and urged users to install it for the usual reasons: more fun bits to play with and a security improvements. 
But two days later the company urged Exchange users not to install it ASAP, because it hadn't validated it yet. Last Friday - 10 days after the launch of the new code - it reminded users of Lync and Skype for Business not to install it either.
The Register 


Facebook Wants To Know How You Really Feel

The encroaching creepiness of some aspects of "social media" seems to know no bounds. Content is no longer king - data is king; your data. In order to provide targeted advertisement, there seem to be few stones left unturned in the effort to provide advertisers with "the good stuff".

I what I consider to be a particularly creepy and underhanded move, Facebook appears to be trying to covertly use our ubiquitous cameras in order to determine our emotional state and tie that into the data they are already collecting.

According to this article, the patents have been filed and some already granted for this technology. Trouble is, I think we are so far down the rabbit hole at this point that many of us will probably not even be shocked at this revelation.


Net Neutrality - Think Of The Porn!

Since the current FCC's chief's decision to roll back Obama-era "net neutrality" rules, there have been numerous calls against this from individuals, companies and industries.

The latest industry to speak up is - the porn industry. I had to smile a little while reading the various quotes in the article here, as they put a good public relations face on things, alluding to freedom of speech and other noble concepts.
"What people sometimes miss, especially in the United States and Western Europe, is that sexual speech is political speech. The same governments that severely restrict adult content are also the ones that limit sexual expression, LGBTQ rights, women's rights and access to different ideas."  xHamster spokesman Alex Hawkins


Is AtariBox Really A Thing?

A recent YouTube video appeared to be a teaser for some kind of presumed retro gaming console rebirth from Atari (yes, they are still around in a greatly emaciated form). One one hand, this might seem like a possibility, as last year's Nintendo Classic console showed there was still quite a bit if interest in those older classic games.

On the other hand, the fact that Atari apparently has little money and only a very few remaining employees, make it possible the thing is a hoax, or some kind of weird attention-getting ploy to see if there is any interest in such a product. 

Notwithstanding a recent "official" Tweet that the AtariBox is going to be a product, I would say the jury is still out on this one.
The Ataribox video is a cut-price Apple-style effort and runs just 21 seconds. It's on its own website, where links to jobs and press are no more than email pop-ups. The proxy domain ownership and lack of connection to Atari lead some to believe it was a hoax – why not register the address openly under its own name?
The Register


Relax, The T-Rex Probably Did Not Have (Many) Feathers

I confess I don't keep up with the latest dinosaur research - I get my info primarily from the Jurassic Park movies - and so I was not aware that apparently that these days the Tyrannosaurus Rex was thought to have feathers rather than scales.

So we are saying it was a giant, ferocious chicken that could flip over cars and bite through buses . . .

Not so fast though, as a recent discovery found fossilized T Rex skin showing scales instead of feathers - which frankly makes me a lot more comfortable in my own little dinosaur world. The chicken thing just does not do it for me.

Some scientists seem to be reluctant to fully abandon the feather thing though. I think they maybe just need to get out more and catch a movie or something. I can suggest a couple that might help them.
University of London paleontologist David Hone, who was not involved in the research, told the [Washington] Post that the research “doesn't rule out feathers on... tyrannosaurs, but does suggest they lacked a full coat of feathers.”


Black Panther Trailer Is Out

Marvel has unleashed a poster and shortly thereafter a teaser trailer for the Black Panther solo movie. I very much enjoyed the character in Captain America: Civil War, and the way he appeared on screen was very cool - a lithe, mysterious and powerful hero who managed to pull off a costume that featured cat ears.

The poster - I have to be honest - I don't like. I say that only because it has that heavily "photoshopped" look about it (or "airbrushed" as we would say back in the day). The throne setting looks fine, and Chadwick Boseman as our hero looks suitably regal, if a bit too smooth and plastic.

The trailer was much better, although my lack of comic book knowledge led me to be a bit confused as to who was fighting or challenging whom towards the end of it. It did lay out the premise that the land of Wakanda is keeping it's advanced technology under wraps from the rest of the world, presenting itself as a poor African country - a secret uncovered by returning baddie Ulysses Klaw.

We see Black Panther smoothly and efficiently taking care of business, and also some shots of his Amazon-like bodyguards in action, and of some of the technology of Wakanda (which we previously saw a little of in the post credit scene of Civil War). 


DARPA Funding "Direct Cortical Interface"

DARPA - the research division of the Department of Defense in the US - is putting up $60 million to work towards a much better brain-computer interface. While we already have such things, they can generally only interface with a small number of neurons in the brain. The neuron is the basic working unit of the brain, a specialized cell designed to transmit information to other nerve cells, muscle, or gland cells.

The DARPA version of this interface (direct cortical interface) would hope to connect with as many hundreds of thousands of neurons, obviously a dramatic improvement.
A fully functional brain-computer interface on this scale would, in theory, turn a person into a programmable, debuggable machine—just like a computer. What used to be accomplished through drugs, training, education and psychotherapy could someday be achieved by more direct means. The goal is something akin to the scene in “The Matrix” where Keanu Reeves’s character learns kung fu from a quick download.
While one could see issues with this approach, I feel a lot of momentum moving towards this sort of interface. With this and DNA manipulation, I think some potential future humans might be literally "something else".

Wall St Journal