The Time Has Come to Start Liking PCs Ironically

That’s right, trend-spotters: if you want to be in on the next big thing, it’s time to slap a pair of skinny jeans and Ray-Bans on your desktop computer. Because according to Apple CEO Tim Cook, with the rise of the tablet, your PC just became your most irony-worthy accessory. And he’s not alone:

His forecast has backing from a growing number of analysts and veteran technology industry executives, who contend that the torrid growth rates of the iPad, combined with tablet competition from the likes of Amazon.com and Microsoft, make a changing of the guard a question of when, not if.

This is especially relevant given that Apple’s holiday tablet sales accounted for 40% more revenue than their Mac sales. And as many of you already know, the next iteration of the iPad is nearly here; Apple has planned a press event for March 7, and they’re expected to announce the latest features and improvements.

There is good news, however: PCs still outsell tablets by a wide margin, so you have time to fashion your clever PoMo stance toward that bulky porn-viewing device on your desk. But don’t take too long, because the competition brewing in the tablet market is sure to drive the Curve right to your doorstep.

And when the Curve arrives, if your computer is being used for anything other than some ironic spreadsheet viewing, you’re going to find it very hard indeed to get a table at that gin cooperative down the street.

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Google Would Also Like a Peek at Your Sex Videos

Recent reports indicate that your cat videos, sex pics, and that video you took of that hot hipster on the subway are not safe on your phone if you authorize certain application features. Seemingly, it was only a problem for iPhones and iPads. False! Google’s Android apps are also quite invasive; more so, in fact, than Apple’s:

It turns out that Google, maker of the Android mobile operating system, takes it one step further. Android apps do not need permission to get a user’s photos, and as long as an app has the right to go to the Internet, it can copy those photos to a remote server without any notice, according to developers and mobile security experts. It is not clear whether any apps that are available for Android devices are actually doing this.

“We can confirm that there is no special permission required for an app to read pictures,” said Kevin Mahaffey, chief technology officer of Lookout, a company that makes Android security software. “This is based on Lookout’s findings on all devices we’ve tested.”

So, whether you’re a British secret agent or an amateur pornographer, look out: your phone is no longer a safe place to store pictures that might horrify your grandmother. Or you, if it happens to be your grandmother’s phone. Yikes.

According to Google, the problem has to do with the ways in which the apps were configured to store data; originally, the apps functioned to make transferring data from removable memory much easier.

“We originally designed the Android photos file system similar to those of other computing platforms like Windows and Mac OS,” the spokesman said in an e-mail message. “At the time, images were stored on a SD card, making it easy for someone to remove the SD card from a phone and put it in a computer to view or transfer those images. As phones and tablets have evolved to rely more on built-in, nonremovable memory, we’re taking another look at this and considering adding a permission for apps to access images. We’ve always had policies in place to remove any apps on Android Market that improperly access your data.”

It’s apparently quite easy to configure an application to automatically take your most recent photos and submit them to a photo-sharing website; best of all, the app need mention nothing at all about photos!

Google’s app policy requires that applications be incapable of malicious data theft, but since anyone can publish an app, it’s entirely possible to get one past the goalie.

So, for the love of God, don’t download any apps called “Super Fun Time Love Joy App for Ray of Sunshine,” and make sure you warn your friends and family. Because the last thing you need to see is grandma’s…ahem!…duckface.

What Do NASA Computers and Your Mom Have in Common?

They’re both easy to get into! Ha! Although NASA computers appear to be giving your mom a run for her money:

NASA had 5,408 computer security lapses in 2010 and 2011, including the March 2011 loss of a laptop computer that contained algorithms used to command and control the International Space Station (ISS), the agency’s inspector general told Congress Wednesday.

“These incidents spanned a wide continuum, from individuals testing their skill to break into NASA systems, to well-organized criminal enterprises hacking for profit, to intrusions that may have been sponsored by foreign intelligence services seeking to further their countries’ objectives,” Inspector General Paul Martin said in written testimony before the House Science, Space and Technology Committee investigations panel.

Apparently, these wham-bams add up; NASA reports that the intrusions may have cost the agency up to $7 million. One particularly egregious incident involved the theft of an unsecured laptop that contained operational code for the International Space Station. Hugo Drax, eccentric billionaire and radical libertarian utopianist was the leading suspect until he mysteriously disappeared.

In other news, when your mom sits around the house, she apparently sits around the house. Also, your mom is apparently so uneducated that she thought a quarterback was a refund; sources blame growing property tax losses and unfunded mandates for her lapsed academic achievement.

It Turns Out that it’s Pretty Easy to Steal that Sex Video You Made on Your iPhone

Oh, but of course you never made a sex video on your iPhone. And you definitely didn’t take any pictures of you dressed as sexy Queen Victoria with duckface, either. It’s just cat photos and pictures of flowers on your iPhone and iPad, isn’t it? Well, then, this won’t disturb you at all!

Developers of applications for Apple’s mobile devices, along with Apple itself, came under scrutiny this month after reports that some apps were taking people’s address book information without their knowledge.

As it turns out, address books are not the only things up for grabs. Photos are also vulnerable. After a user allows an application on an iPhone, iPad or iPod Touch to have access to location information, the app can copy the user’s entire photo library, without any further notification or warning, according to app developers.

And you thought having an Imam in your address book was bad! Allow David Chen, an app developer and co-founder of Curio, to outline the Orwellian implications for you:

“Conceivably, an app with access to location data could put together a history of where the user has been based on photo location…”

“…The location history, as well as your photos and videos, could be uploaded to a server. Once the data is off of the iOS device, Apple has virtually no ability to monitor or limit its use.”

Yes, it would seem that after a relatively benign message about using your “location data” an app would gain access to your entire photo library.

I’ll give you a few moments to delete all those “cat photos” from your phone, perv.

Google+ Sent You a Friend Request–Do You Accept?

Wait, who the hell is Google+? Did I meet him at that party last night? How drunk was I? Dammit, I hate when this happens!

Sadly, if this article in the Wall Street Journal is to be believed, you probably didn’t accept that friend request. Instead, you threw up, drank some orange juice, and went back to bed, leaving Google+ to wonder why you won’t accept its friendship. Especially after that amazing conversation you had.

It turns out Google+ is a virtual ghost town compared with the site of rival Facebook Inc., which is preparing for a massive initial public offering. New data from research firm comScore Inc. shows that Google+ users are signing up—but then not doing much there.

Visitors using personal computers spent an average of about three minutes a month on Google+ between September and January, versus six to seven hours on Facebook each month over the same period, according to comScore, which didn’t have data on mobile usage.

To be fair to Google+, it would seem that their service does offer features that might be useful; it’s not all Jesus quotes and shit white people say. However, these features are not enough to lure uses away from the social networks that they already populate (probably because moving sucks). Media analyst Brian Solis claims that Google+ has not adequately demonstrated its value to users, but he also adds that “nobody wants another social network right now.”

Yet Google executives aren’t giving up–they’re looking at their long game:

Google executives downplay the direct comparison to Facebook, which has 845 million monthly active users. They have repeatedly said they are making a long-term bet on the initiative, and the company has yet to build up some of the weapons that made Facebook successful, including encouraging app development.

In an interview, Bradley Horowitz, a Google vice president of product management, said Google+ is designed to be more than a destination site and, as a result, is “extremely hard for any third party to measure.” Rather, he said, Google+ acts as an auxiliary to Google services—such as Gmail and YouTube—by adding a “personal” social-networking layer on top of them.

And when Google+ really takes off, the data mining tools will already be in place; thus, advertising content will be so tailor-made for you that your innermost psyche will reveal itself in glorious banners of divorce attorneys, local gun shows, and discount bakeries. Not even Freud could hope to analyze your subconscious with the accuracy of Google+.

So maybe when you wake up, you should accept that friend request and head on over to Google+. Start a “hangout,” have a video conference; then, prepare to be bombarded by ads for private detectives.

Because Google+ just realized you were adopted and figured you might want some help finding your real parents.

Yes, But Can a Robot Tell a Hobo to Stop Looking at Porn?

Soon, a master’s in library science will join the ever-growing ranks of useless degrees; relax, philosophy, you’re still number one. At San Francisco State, the stacks will be largely off-limits, and a library-robot will retrieve your requests for you:

The books on display will be high-demand volumes, recently published titles and those recommended by various departments. The rest will remain in five storage units rising three stories high. Books are retrieved by a robotic arm activated by an electronic prompt. Retrieval time is supposed to be 5 to 10 minutes.

Apparently the new library arrangement emphasizes the sociability of the library; because if there’s one thing a scholar goes to the library for it’s some social time with friends and an overheard conversation about how Becky needs to stop shaving her pubes in the shower.

Not surprisingly, some stodgy bastards aren’t completely excited about a robot fetching Aquinas’ commentaries on Aristotle. Peter Orner, a creative writing professor, dislikes the modifications: “There’s a trend now where books are being stored in big vats and they aren’t available for us to touch and see,” he said.

“I wouldn’t be a writer if, when I was an undergraduate at the University of Michigan, I didn’t wander the open stacks,” he said. “I would argue strongly that the Internet is not a substitute for a college library.”

I agree with Orner; the writing process is greatly enhanced by browsing the stacks for inspiration. There’s nothing like seeing the connections between the works on various authors, or realizing that you’re holding the key 20th century interpretation of Hegel’s influence on Marxist dialectical materialism.

Plus, the lesser browsed stacks make perfect places to fart.

Your Wang Will Inevitably Make You Say “Dang”

Do you have a penis? If the answer is yes, then you should probably avoid social media:

When it comes to managing their social media profiles, women, on average, behave more like mature, responsible adults while men act like impulsive adolescents.

In a study conducted by the Pew Research Center, some interesting and divergent trends emerged in the patterns of social media usage by men and women. Apparently, when it comes to the Internet, having a wiener is a major setback to keeping it classy. Especially when it comes to privacy:

A full two-thirds of female users allow only friends to view their Facebook, LinkedIn or MySpace pages without restrictions, while fewer than half of male users do so. Some 26% of men choose the most public setting for their profiles versus only 14% of women.

Not only are women more likely to restrict their sharing to those within their circles; they’re also more apt to kick people out of the circle. Asked whether they have deleted people from their networks, 67% of women said yes, compared with 58% of men.

Moreover, nearly twice as many men as women regretted something they’d posted; arguably, this is because men are just more self-reflective and apologetic than women.* This apparently places men in the same category as “young morons,” who expressed regret at a rate of up to 15%! And here you thought the future was looking bleak. At least the millenials will regret it when they screw everything up. And if they’re men, they might even admit it!**

*Dammit! I deeply regret that comment.
**Son of a bitch! I deeply regret that comment.

Wanted: Seatmate to Discuss Art, Film, and Politics; Quick Handy Over Nebraska Optional

Given the pervasiveness of social media, it was probably inevitable that the airline industry would attempt to use Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter to serve their customers. Predicting the manner they’d employ those platforms, however, might have proven more difficult:

This month, the Dutch carrier KLM began testing a program it calls Meet and Seat, allowing ticket-holders to upload details from their Facebook or LinkedIn profiles and use the data to choose seatmates.

The concept is a step beyond the not always successful efforts a few years ago by some airlines — including Air France, Virgin Atlantic and Lufthansa — to build “walled” social networks out of their existing frequent flier memberships.

Yes, now you can select a seatmate based on your shared interests as expressed within your Facebook profile. Do you love cats, Jesus, your mom, and America? Well, so does Jason F., from Des Moines! Get together and annoy the shit out of that third seatmate by talking about which type of cat Jesus would find cutest (mackerel tabbies, obviously!).

And KLM isn’t the only airline getting in on the action, either:

Last year, Malaysia Airlines introduced MHBuddy, an application that allows users who book and check in via the carrier’s Facebook page to see whether any of their “friends” will be on the same flight or in their destination city at the same time. The platform, which claims 3,000 monthly active users, also enables existing friends to select seats together.

Also:

Planely, a Danish start-up, allows registered users who submit their itineraries to view the Facebook and LinkedIn profiles of others who will be on flights with them. Since it began in late 2010, Planely has connected more than 1,500 travelers, according to its chief executive, Nick Martin.

Perhaps more useful is the service Satisfly (a Hong Kong based company) provides, whereby you set a mood preference; for instance, my mood is “shut the fuck up” (paraphrased). Theoretically, this will allow you to control what type of asshole you’re confined with–no more Saskatoon Dan the Cattle man and his ribald tales of a Montana beef auction! Although that story about Big Red Jim, Marco the Teat, and Jenny Loo was pretty awesome.

On KLM’s service, once you sign up you’ll see the profiles of other members; simply pick a seatmate and it sends your profile to them! It’s like a friend request, but somehow dumber! Thankfully, KLM is offering a “defriend” type option, as well–you can change your seat again within a certain period of time (if, for instance, you discover that Mandy in 17B is not DTF).

As we all know, this service will inevitably be used solely to find people who want to fuck in tiny airplane bathrooms. I love the future!

Pinterest Will Save Your Business!

You may recall some slightly alarming news from last week regarding Pinterest’s potential to get you sued for using content that you don’t have permission to give away. Well, fret no longer because Pinterest has decided to help out!

Pinterest already encourages users to cite original sources; now, they’re going one step further and providing code for websites that don’t want their content to be “pinned.” When the owner of content adds this code, you’ll get a message telling you to piss off (it’s possible I paraphrased that a bit).

While copyright issues have so far remained at a minimum, the potential for problems existed; now, with some simple code, content owners can prevent you from sharing their images of pies, dresses, tattoos, or whatever the hell else people put on Pinterest.

But let’s just hope that proprietors of websites with funny pictures of cats don’t use this code. Because that might destroy the entire Internet as we know it

“What do you mean I can’t share this photo of kittens!!!” Cue explosion.

Twisted Transistor

Today’s science news is equal in awesomeness to airbrushing a topless Amazonian warrior princess fighting a dragon on your van. “That’s crazy talk!” you’ll surely say. But behold: Australian and American physicists have laid the groundwork for quantum computing by creating a transistor from a single atom embedded in silicon crystal.

In contrast to conventional computers that are based on transistors with distinct “on” and “off” or “1” and “0” states, quantum computers are built from devices called qubits that exploit the quirky properties of quantum mechanics. Unlike a transistor, a qubit can represent a multiplicity of values simultaneously.

The incredibly powerful processor will be able to factor huge numbers and model complex molecular structures with relative alacrity; basically, it will change the entire infrastructure of computing.

Apparently, scientists have been able to place a transistor since 2002, but this new transistor is by far the most precise attempt, and moreover it allows for read/write capability.

While this is extremely exciting news, there are still significant hurtles in place. The transistors currently operate at very low temperatures, so unless you’re a Batman villain it’s unlikely you’ll have the necessary equipment to maintain a home model. Also, the current equipment used to design the transistor is not a viable manufacturing tool. But despite those obstacles, some predict we could be looking at viable quantum computers within two decades.

In other words, hold out for 20 years and you’ll be rewarded with quantum pornography. If that doesn’t make you want to quit smoking, I don’t know what will!

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