Unlikely to Give Chase 

Wednesday, October 15th, 2014

Frankly, stealing a prosthetic leg seems like the perfect crime.

Two Million People Are Still Paying AOL for Dial-Up Access 

Tuesday, October 14th, 2014

It’s not likely that two million people are actually still using AOL’s dial-up access, but as of two months ago, that many people are still paying for it.

Meet the All-New Web Voyager 

Monday, October 13th, 2014

There are rumors of a name change for Microsoft’s browser, which has been known as “Internet Explorer” since its debut. Ken Segall takes a good look at how other name changes have worked out.

It’s Fun to Say “Walloon” 

Friday, October 10th, 2014

When 5,000 fish go missing from a Flemish lake, your number one suspect should be the Walloons.

Shoppers Gonna Shop 

Thursday, October 9th, 2014

It’s bad when a stabbing takes place in a Philadelphia supermarket. It’s worse when shoppers keep on shopping.

As discussed in episode #9 of Just The Tip, you gotta watch the blood, watch the blood.

Sympathy Emoji

Wednesday, October 8th, 2014

As the emoji character set gains cultural prominence, the world is still navigating its use as a communications medium. Recently, I saw emoji used in response to the passing of a loved one. Some friends messaged simple, encouraging smiley faces (“Keep your chin up! 😃”), while others offered virtual flowers (💐). These digital pictures may not the most appropriate tool for use in conveying sympathy, but I appreciated the gesture nonetheless. However, it certainly would be possible to truly offend with emoji. So, allow me to present:

An Incomplete List of the Least Appropriate Emoji to Send in a Sympathy Text, Which Probably Should Not Be a Thing Anyway, But That’s The Age In Which We Live

  • Skull emoji Skull (💀) – It should be fairly obvious why this is no good.

  • Ghost emoji Ghost (👻) – This emoji is just called “ghost”, but I’ve always thought of it as the happy ghost. He may also be flipping the Double Deuce, and that’ll hurt a guy’s feelings.

  • Astonished Face emoji Astonished Face (😲) and Dizzy Face emoji Dizzy Face (😵) – The double X’ed out eyes, often used to indicate a dead cartoon character, are truly problematic.

  • Face with Tears of Joy emoji Face With Tears of Joy (😹) – “Crying Face” (😢) might be alright to use, and at first glance, this may seem to be an extra sad version of that. However, the name and larger version make it clear that those are actually tears of joy, so this emoji is right out.

  • Crying Cat Face emoji Crying Cat Face (😿) – Even if the aforementioned ”Crying Face“ is OK, adding a cat to the mix just wrecks it.

  • Weary Cat Face emoji Weary Cat Face (🙀) – This cat is even worse. It’s unclear what exactly makes it “weary”. It looks far more like Munch’s “The Scream”, with its depiction of agony. Even so, it’s just not appropriate.

  • Pile of Poo emoji Pile of Poo (💩) – “Pile of Poo” is a tremendously versatile symbol to convey many different things. While it’s functional in many different situations, it’s best left out in these circumstances.

Ultimately, you’ll be best served by using real words to express your condolences. If you must use emoji, however, at least be sure to avoid the worst offenders.

Goodbye Forever 

Tuesday, October 7th, 2014

Elon Musk is perhaps the most fascinating man in tech. He’s working to transform the vehicle markets of Earth with Tesla, makers of electric vehicles. With SpaceX, he’s already changed the game for travel to the stars as well. As NASA has lost its cutting-edge nature, SpaceX has stepped in to fill the void, with dreams of interplanetary travel. Aeon magazine has a fascinating profile on Musk and the future of space travel.

I found this particular view of space colonization to be quite captivating:

Musk told me this first group of settlers will need to pay their own way [to Mars]…My rough guess is that for a half-million dollars, there are enough people that could afford to go and would want to go. But it’s not going to be a vacation jaunt. It’s going to be saving up all your money and selling all your stuff, like when people moved to the early American colonies.’

The idea of visiting Mars is an interesting one. The idea of moving there permanently, as people moved to a new continent just a few hundred years ago, is truly captivating.

Fore! Score, and Then Another 42 Score 

Monday, October 6th, 2014

Recently, four teenagers were arrested for using a golf club to bludgeon 920 chickens to death. There’s no denying that that’s awful. However, it’s also just a ludicrously large number, given the context. It really just seems like a whole lot of work.

Square Cash and the World’s Worst Negotiator

Friday, October 3rd, 2014

By now, you’re likely familiar with Square, the financial services business which has enabled thousands of small businesses to take credit cards via their mobile devices. Last year, the company unveiled a product called Square Cash. It was initially touted as a way to send money via email, but that’s actually a rather minor part of it. The real key to the service is that it’s a free and easy way to send money from one bank account to another, often nearly instantaneously. Think the original vision of PayPal, but faster and friendlier. If you’re an American with a Visa or MasterCard debit card, you can send and receive cash at no charge. It’s great.

In addition to sending money via email, Square Cash offers mobile apps for iOS and Android, and they work quite well. However, the design of the app is…a little wonky. For instance, after you sign up, you can invite your friends to make use of the service as well. The app looks at your contacts and enables you to send them an invitation. All of them. As you can see, the “Select All” option helpfully set me up to text 433 of my closest friends.

Square's Invitation Screen
Invite your barber, your old dentist, and that girl you took out twice 11 years ago.

Admittedly, my address book may be in want of some cleaning out. Still, enabling a user to send a mass text to hundreds of people is perhaps not the best idea. The bad ideas continue, with the send and receive screen. Here, you punch in an amount to send or request. Sending in Square Cash is initially limited to $250 per week, and maxes out at $2500 per week once you’re verified. Nevertheless, you can attempt a request for up to $99,999.99.

Requesting $99,999.99
You can just pay me $250 weekly for the next 400 weeks.

What really cracks me up, however, is the history. The app uses a rather amusing messages-type view to show money being sent and received. For instance, here you can see I’ve really been raking it in with sign-up and referral fees.

Requesting $99,999.99
“The Cash Team” is a cool name.

Where this gets really ridiculous is when money is passed back and forth with a friend. I like to read this as an interaction with the world’s worst negotiator. We begin with an opening price of $905. A very low $200 counter comes in, but before any response arrives, it’s followed by a $2000 bid! Excitement then cools and the proposal is lowered way back down to $250. The seller responds with a $500 offer, and the buyer finally agrees. Whew!

A terrible negotiation
$200. $2000! $250.

Though the app is goofy in multiple ways, Square Cash really is a great way to transfer money between friends and acquaintances. Sign up here and we’ll each earn an entire American dollar, free. If enough people sign up with that referral link, I intend to “make it rain”1 in “da club”2.


Footnotes:

  1. A slang phrase meaning “place the bills”.

  2. Another slang phrase meaning “my wallet”.

Not Funny. Not Clever. Not Excused. 

Thursday, October 2nd, 2014

Last week, two idiots on Fox News said stupid, sexist things about a female fighter pilot from the United Arab Emirates. While offensive and pathetic, it was just the latest in a never-ending series of dumb stories about Fox News, and it was thus not worthy of a link. However, this open letter response from dozens of American pilots and service members surely is.