The other night I fell asleep watching TV. There’s nothing really out of the ordinary about that, but what I awoke to was a commercial so strange that I was half convinced that I must have been dreaming it. I was pretty sure I was with it enough to tell the difference between dreamland and reality, but I shuffled off to bed not knowing for sure.
It was still bugging me the next day, so I asked Carin. She laughed, said she’d never seen it and thought that maybe it could have been one of my dreams. I don’t often remember my dreams, but the ones I do remember can be pretty weird so it’s not like she was being dismissive of my foolishness and trying to get me to leave her alone. Yeah, I’m shocked, too.
So with nowhere else to turn, it was time to hit the Google. And…well…how about that!
Seriously, what in the hell is this? A tribute? A parody? Both? Nobody really seems to know (although Ad Age gave figuring it out a decent try).
Whatever it is, it’s just a wee bit ingenious. It sure as hell grabs your attention, for a start. And if you’re the sort of person who is inclined to buy things from the television, you might just want this no matter which side of the aisle you’re on. There’s just as good a case for it being an epic troll job as there is for it being a real albeit ridiculous attempt at making a loving collectable, and it even comes with a certificate of authenticity. Who can resist that? I’m sure it’s worth slightly more than the paper that Fleshbag Trumpy’s speeches are written on, assuming he ever bothers jotting any of that shit down outside of Twitter.
I have no idea what it’s supposed to be, but at least I know it wasn’t a dream. Now on to sorting out whether that’s good or bad…
Should you find yourself both in Calgary and in need of a bank, there’s a chance you could be greeted by…that thing.
ATB Financial has teamed up with SoftBank Robotics America to unleash Pepper, a friendly 3-wheeled robot designed to make the banking experience better or something. They say that she is capable of recognizing human emotions (that ought to be fun) and that her purpose is to “draw more people into the bank and provide them with a fun and engaging experience that keeps them coming back.”
Pepper’s interactions will be fairly basic at first.
The three-wheeled robot will be able to dance, recommend products and services, pose for selfies and interact with people via a mounted touch screen tablet, or verbally in several different languages.
I like how they just sorta slip recommend products and services in there between all the pictures and the dancing and the interactivity.
Why is this happening? Why is the bank becoming an arcade with ads? That’s because the company’s research (Research I say!) has shown that people think banks kinda suck.
ATB Financial says it partnered with SoftBank Robotics America after customer research found many people carry a lack of trust and high levels of discomfort in dealing with the banking industry.
“We found out that there’s some people who don’t really love banking, and don’t love coming into banks,” Boga said. “We want to bring happiness to people using banking.”
You know what would make people happy about the bank? Being honest and fair with them and not dinging the everloving bejeezling shit out of them on every transaction, you motherfuckers! Or you could let them take selfies with a commercial slinging robot that knows their names. Whatever works.
“Wait wait wait…what’d you just say, Steve?”
Well, I was about to say that option two sounds a lot like something somebody who just “found out” that a not insignificant number of folks believe that dealing with giant financial institutions traverses the universe in search of new dicks to suck would do, but I get the sense you’re wondering about something else.
“Yes, we are. What was that thing about our names?”
Yes, eventually the plan is that Pepper will know everything in order to shill more efficiently.
But ATB has hinted that Pepper’s functionality could eventually be expanded by connecting it to an artificially intelligent system. This would allow the robot to perform biometric authentication via the camera installed in its head, making it possible for Pepper to address customers by name and provide them with personalized banking recommendations based on their stored customer information.
You know, that personal, one-on-one service in every bank commercial you’ve ever seen.
The company insists that Pepper is not intended to replace human jobs, but rather to allow the human staff to engage on a more personal level with customers. As for what exactly that means, you’ve got me. A bit of small talk and some attempted upselling pretty well sums up every meeting with a bank human I’ve ever had, so I’m not sure what’s left. And now that I think about it, none of them have ever done a little dance and taken a picture with me at the end, so advantage robot.
If I were a banking human I just got a wee bit nervous, and I may have also signed up for some dance classes and photography lessons on my way home. You know, so I’ll at least have the smallest snowball’s chance of keeping that job I’m totally not being automated out of.
Since this is a favourite infuriating topic of ours, some of you might enjoy this round-up of smart gadgets that really don’t need to be smart and probably have no legitimate reason for existing. Highlights (if you want to call them that) include a $209 frying pan that can keep track of what you’ve put in it, a $10 egg carton that can send you notifications if you’re running out of eggs or if the ones you still have are getting old and a bluetooth connected tampon and dongle that can let you know when you’re full and in need of a change.
Normally when I hear about one of these internet connected household gadgets, my first thought is who the hell is this for? But that’s not the case with SKE Labs’ smart jar. Once I get my hands on one, it’s going to be easier than I ever imagined possible to tell something to kiss my ass while I stuff my face with Oreos, which is an awesome use of the future any way you look at it.
SKE (Smart Kitchen Ecosystem) Labs is on a mission to make your kitchen work for you rather than the other way around. Its first product is Neo, a sensor-equipped smart jar that keeps track of what’s inside it, which is communicated to a connected device via Bluetooth. This might sound trivial, but having a ‘conscious’ jar in the kitchen can go a long way to making your life easier — and healthier. As Neo can track the weight of its contents, measuring scoops of flour or sugar for a recipe, for example, is as easy as looking at the app. And Neo can tell you if you’ve eaten one too many cookies by showing you the nutritional contents of the food you’ve removed from the jar right down to the calories, carbohydrates, fat, and protein.
The smart jar can also assist in meal prep. When the food in the jar gets low, Neo will send an alert to add its contents to your grocery list. The app will suggest recipes based on what’s inside, and it will track ‘best before’ dates to avoid using spoiled food in a dish. On top of being smart, Neo also hits some necessities on the container side of things as well. The smart jar is dishwasher safe, has an airtight lid, and looks pretty good as jars go.
Alright, ya got me. Who the hell is this for?
If you need a computer to tell you to take it easy on the Chips Ahoy, you’re either a child, an imbecile or were raised by wolves in a jungle somewhere far away from an education system. And what if I’m being nice and grabbing a couple cookies for myself and a couple for someone else? The stupid jar is going to be giving me the “Hey fatass!” warning unfairly and probably judging me from the cloud for the rest of time, the dick.
Best before dates are garbage a lot more times than you’d think. There are plenty of things that, assuming they’re stored correctly, last weeks or months longer than the date on the packaging would have you believe. If you’re the type to blindly follow what a shiny display tells you without a smell, look, touch or heaven forbid a tiny taste test, you’re going to wind up throwing a lot of things away unnecessarily, costing yourself quite a bit of money in the process. Then again if you’re the sort of person who would intentionally purchase a jar with internet access, perhaps that’s not much of a concern for you.
There’s a much cheaper way to figure out if something needs to be added to your grocery list. If you know what you’re making, make sure you have everything you need before you start. If you don’t, put it on the list and go get it.
It runs on bluetooth and says it charges wirelessly, but it has to get its power from somewhere. Something still has to be plugged in. Who has enough outlets to plug in bases for all this crap? And I’m not sure if you’ve been paying attention, but hydro bills are already high enough without having to plug in all your fucking canisters.
I know they claim it’s dishwasher safe, but a lot of things claim to be dishwasher safe, specifically things that warp and melt after repeated exposure to intense heat. Plus I’ve got this hang-up about putting anything with electronics in it near water because it’s just not a good idea.
Maybe I heard this wrong, but I believe that video said that it knows about everything in your home. Do they seriously expect me to sit there and punch in every morsel of food I own? If yes, I expect them to go to hell and take their stupid jar with them.
If your internet goes down, are you going to forget how to cook? Since you’ve paid good money for a jar that can tell you how to scoop and gives you recipes, signs point to yes. See you at your funeral once you starve to death, assuming there are enough family members left to get the GPS working.
There’s so much technical talent and brilliance in the world. It’s a shame to see so much of it wasted on shit like this. If these folks could channel all of that energy into solving problems that are actually problems instead of building toasters that can surf Pornhub, we’d have one amazing planet.
Police say James Dizney Fields, 58, of Port St. Lucie wore a mop on his head like a mask while banging on a neighbor’s door on Jan. 13, according to a TCPalm.com report.
According to a police report, when the neighbor opened the door, he saw the mop-adorned Fields and couldn’t understand him, so he closed and locked the door. Fields continued his door-knocking antics and added in some doorbell ringing with the end of mop.
The neighbor identified Fields as the man who “terrified his entire family,” police said.
When asked just what in the king hell he thought he was doing, Fields told police that he was short on eggs, needed some to make a cake and was hoping somebody would hook a guy up, but stopped short of explaining how the mop fit into the equation.
Police were happy to hook him up…with a charge of disturbing the peace. At last report he was still in jail on $9,000 bail. if that seems a little excessive, don’t worry, it’s not all for that. It seems he still had some unresolved charges from an earlier incident unrelated to cleaning implements, chicken abortions or the culinary arts. Surprising, I know.
But for one detail, this would be little more than your standard ambling exhibitionist news item.
The strange call came in to police just before 10 p.m. last night. The caller reported seeing a naked man strolling in a parking lot near Milner Avenue and Morningside Avenue, police say.
However, before police could arrive, the man got into a van with more naked men and left according to a Toronto Police Operations tweet.
Yes, there was a troop of them. What could they have been doing, I wonder. Were they just trying to get noticed? Were they playing truth or dare? Did one of them lose his wallet? It’s not as though he had anyplace to put it, so that’s as likely as anything else.
Unfortunately, we may never know. The person who called them in didn’t manage to get their license plate number and it seems police were unable to track them down.
Welcome to the newest great mystery of our time, ladies and gentleman…clothed or otherwise.
The other day, my dad called me. While we were talking, he said that he had been trying to call my sister but her voicemail was full and he couldn’t leave a message. I texted her to let her know, and when she wrote back, I was floored.
“I know it’s full,” she said. “It only holds three messages. I had something saved and then two people called me close together.”
Um…what? A voicemail box that only holds three messages including saves? Somebody managed to build that and sell it to companies while keeping a straight face? I’m sure the companies had to be in on the joke and bought in because they know they can get a segment of the customer base to pay for literally anything no matter how stupid and for all I know it was one of those very companies that commissioned the thing, but still, this is just…wow.
Bell’s call Answer could hold 25 messages in the 1990s. Those old digital answering machines could generally hold at least ten. Hell, the ancient cassette using ones could hold lord knows how many depending on the length of the tape you put in and how long you set the message length. But now, in 2016, when digital storage is so cheap that companies like Apple are giving it away for basically nothing, at least one of our country’s largest cell phone providers has deployed something with the ability to hold three whole messages? And worse yet, they’re making people pay for it?
I don’t know what sort of plan my sister is on, but if I ever found out I was being charged honest to god Canadian currency for the privilege of using a mailbox that small, I’d be on the phone demanding that *they* pay *me* monthly to keep using it. Seriously, why the hell even bother to have voicemail at that point?
As I sit here, thinking yet again that maybe I’m just getting old, it strikes me that while I know many types of people from many different age groups, I have yet to meet a single one who either finds or would admit to finding that a nice dinner out with friends or a loved one isn’t fulfilling enough and would be greatly improved by everyone wearing virtual reality gear on their heads like a bunch of goddamned idiots. Seriously, if I ever meet a person who willingly pays to do something like this for any reason other than it’s his job to test this crap, it’s going to be very hard not to hit him until his stupid goggles fly off and take his head with them. Eat your food and talk to your friends like a properly adjusted human being, you fucking dick.
You dine on the first course of the meal in a garden in Tuscany, surrounded by flowers with a winery in the distance. You adjust your Samsung Gear VR glasses as a cool wind blows and you catch the rich fragrance of the gardens. But when your main course arrives, you now find yourself underwater with dolphins playing and fish swimming. Your Italian table setting has been transformed into an underwater experience and the light in the room has changed to reflect the underwater scene. You can even see bubbles arising from your drinks and water splashes on the table in 3D.
Now imagine that all of this occurred without leaving the Ibiza hotel, or the seat you were in. The magic you see, hear, taste, smell and feel comes from virtual reality technology. By using Samsung Gear VR, restaurants can take the already sensory experience of dining to a new level. While there is a wow factor to using this cutting-edge technology, the impact of virtual reality is a natural fit for restaurants that want to create a complete experience around a meal, not just serve a plate of food.
At best this is a gimmicky way for bad restaurants to cover up worse food, but let’s call it what it is. It’s a terrible idea. One we should, now that we’ve had our moment with it, kill with indifference. And fire. Yes, kill it with fire.
It’s been a while since I’ve gotten one, but I know that those lists of supposedly unanswerable questions still float around email and whatnot pretty regularly. You know, the ones filled with items like “Why did kamikaze pilots wear helmets?” They’re designed to be clever and funny and some of them are…at least until a guy from Mental Floss goes and starts answering them, at which point they start making sense.
Turns out that kamikaze pilots didn’t quite wear helmets proper, but what they did wear served multiple purposes, such as regulating temperature or preventing head injuries and deafness because they didn’t always die on every mission.
What a helmet, or even a softer leather flight cap, is good for is protecting a pilot’s head from getting knocked by the cockpit canopy during high-speed, mid-air maneuvering, like the kind you have to do to avoid gunfire while nosediving into a ship.
Couple this with the fact that kamikazes sometimes had to abort their missions before the explosive finale due to turbulence, weather or visibility issues, and the pilots’ protective headgear becomes much more apparent as an aid to help them complete their mission, not necessarily survive it.
I know this happened a month ago, in fact 4 weeks ago tomorrow, so isn’t exactly current, but I have to write about it, because it freaked me right the hell out when it happened, and when something freaks me right the hell out, sometimes it’s good to write about it. So off we go.
Just because this song has chased me whenever I think about this topic, have a listen.
So yeah, I’m sure anyone around here, or anyone who knows me knows exactly what I’m going to talk about.
For the rest of you, here’s the short version. On the morning of October 5, the story goes that Michael Gibbon was taking his usual early morning walk, when out of nowhere, ptwaaaaong, he got hit in the chest with an arrow. He collapsed in someone else’s yard, was taken to hospital much later, and died. For days, nobody had any answers or clues as to who would do this or why this would happen. Police were searching, stopping people on the nearby streets, trying their best to figure this out, but even they couldn’t tell us if it was targeted or random.
Then, a week or 2 later, they pulled over a dude for a traffic stop, and the dude whipped out a pellet gun and shot a police officer in the face! Huh? So they took him into custody, and it came out that he was one of many persons of interest in this whole arrow thing. after a few days, he was charged with Gibbon’s murder.
Aside: Please don’t think I’m making fun of this. I can’t even imagine what his family is going through.
It’s weird. When I write it like that, somehow it fails to capture the way things felt for those few days, maybe because everything feels all neatly bundled up and tied together. But during those days where nobody knew anything, I’m not going to lie, it entered my mind a lot. I wouldn’t say it changed my behaviour, but it made me be a little more vigilant. Once, while I was waiting for my ride at an office across from one of the high schools that was put into hold and secure, I heard a sound that resembled gasping, hickupping and maybe someone doing push-ups. I never found out who or what was making that sound, but my first thought was “Is that the sound you would make if shot with an arrow?”
It also made me try to analyze why this bothered me so much. People get randomly shot all the time, but I don’t worry about myself. Is it because I don’t hear about as many shootings in Kitchener? But I’m sure there have been people shot. I don’t remember walking down the street wondering if I should worry.
Is it because I know the area where it happened, and have walked there from work? Maybe, especially since the area that got locked down reached not too super far from work.
Is it because it’s a freaking arrow, and who the hell does that? But really, should that matter, except for the idea that arrows are reeeally quiet? Is it more the idea that it’s something that could happen without warning? I could be walking down the road, and suddenly get hit and not even know what the hell happened?
Or is it the fact that it seemed to be completely random? We humans always want a reason for something to happen. Did the attacker and the victim know each other? Were they into drugs or gangs or something else shady? Somehow, knowing that makes the rest of us feel safer, as horrible as that is. But by the sounds of this, we have no idea why Gibbon got hit. For all we know, the attacker just wanted to watch someone go down. Writing that sends chills down my spine.
Or is it all of the above? I’m starting to think it is. I definitely have to say that this story is one of the weirder things I’ve had happen close to me.
So what’s the point of writing all of this, aside from hopefully rationalizing this so it makes sense? I don’t know. I guess I wonder if I’m weird. I hope not. I’d like to think I’m rational and logical, but when things like this happen, I have to wonder just how rational and logical I really am.