Insults to Intelligence

It’s no secret that advertisers think we’re stupid. Intel certainly isn’t the only one.

Case in point: Exxon Mobil is touting its “Synergy gas” that has “7 key ingredients, to help you get better gas milage” (The quote is from their website, not the TV commercial in the previous link.)

What are those wonderful ingredients? Well, start with “Fuel Detergent Number 1” and “Fuel Detergent Number 2”. Somehow those names, with their echos of Thing One and Thing Two from The Cat in the Hat don’t inspire much confidence, but OK, I can see the potential value.

Then there are “Anti Adhesion Compound,” “Corrosion Inhibitor,” and “Demulsifier.” I question whether a properly maintained engine really has enough problems with rust and water intrusions that these mystic chemicals really do much for mileage. But again, OK. Legitimate problems, even if I suspect they’re overblown in the ad.

Number Six is where we start getting into trouble. “Solvent Fluid.” According to Exxon Mobil’s website, “Changes in temperature can cause some ingredients to get jammed. Solvent Fluid helps break them up, preventing congealing and letting the good times flow.” Uh, which “ingredients” are getting jammed? The ones in your gas! Right, one of the magical seven ingredients is included only to keep the others from screwing up your engine. Picture me banging my head on the desk.

And then there’s Number Seven. Lucky Seven. “Marker Molecules.” According to the website, these “signal the dosage of the additive in the gasoline so the balance is perfecto.” Leaving aside the question of whether you can trust anyone who thinks “perfecto” is a real word, they’re saying that something they include to make sure they have the right amounts of the other things they throw into your gas somehow helps your mileage in and of itself. Even better, they’re implying that only their “Synergy” gas has marker molecules. Guess again. Every brand of gasoline includes marker molecules, because their real purpose is to identify the producer and track the gas to ensure that taxes have been paid and shipments haven’t been adulterated. Absolutely nothing to do with fuel economy.

It’s depressing to learn what big companies think of your intelligence, isn’t it? Kellog’s–yes, the big name in breakfast foods (or “foods” if you have low tastes like me)–is a sobering example.

I’m not going to apologize for eating the occasional Pop-Tart®. But after reading the instructions for heating them, I’m reconsidering my position. Yes, that’s right. Kellog’s thinks you need instructions for heating a Pop-Tart®.

According to the box in my cupboard, you can use a toaster or the microwave:

FOR TOASTER:
1. Warm pastry in toaster at lowest heat setting.
2. Cool briefly before handling.

FOR MICROWAVE:
1. Place pastry on microwave safe plate.
2. Heat on high for 3 seconds.
3. Cool briefly before handling.

I’ll spare you the list of cautions that are obviously included solely to ward of litigation from anyone who can’t follow the instructions.

But really, guys. If you’re getting picky enough to tell us to use the lowest heat setting on the toaster, regardless of our preferences in pastry crispness, and specifying that the number of the nuking shall be three, why not go all the way and remind us to remove the Pop-Tarts® from the foil bag before heating? And, gee, maybe you should tell us to eat them before they cool!

Sigh.

You know what’s really depressing, though? The realization that we may actually be as stupid as the big companies and advertisers think we are.

Consider this: there’s a YouTube video that claims you can access a hidden headphone jack on the iPhone 7 by drilling into the shell. The video has racked up over 11,000,000 views in the ten days since it went live.

Inevitably, the comments section is filled with posts from people claiming to have tried it and destroyed their phones. Maybe some of them are real. But that’s not the depressing part of the story.

The depressing part is the sheer number of news outlets reporting as fact that people have been drilling into their phones and warning people against it. Without having done any investigation of the claims

Don’t take my word for it. Google “iphone 7 drill” and cast your eyes down the list of results. The Guardian. Fortune. USA Today. All repeating slight variations on the same thing: “I can’t believe I have to say this, but don’t take a drill to your iPhone 7”.

Fact checking is apparently as dead as a drilled iPhone 7.

My Home Is My Castle

A new element of concern has appeared. It’s not totally new–but let me back up.

We’ve known there were coyotes in the area for quite some time. Every so often, they go on a noise binge. The most recent, and by far the most notable, was the night after we abdopted Sachiko. Hearing the beasts yowling right outside went a long way toward convincing us we had done the right thing in taking her in.

But since then, the coyotes have been quiet and largely unobtrusive. Until last night, that is. While I was getting Rufus’ dinner* together, I spotted a coyote trotting through the bushes beyond the back fence. Nor was I the only one who saw it. Instead of going nose-down in his bowl until he finished dinner, Rufus took a few bites, then went to his favorite lookout post. Back to the bowl, back to standing watch. I was tempted to offer him a sandwich so he could eat and keep watch, but decided his lack of opposable thumbs would make it hard to eat a sandwich.

* Trader Joe’s gooshy fud + lysine for his respiratory system + extra water for his urinary tract = a delicious and nutritious meal. At least, we assume it’s delicious: he certainly eats it eagerly. And he’s definitely putting on weight, which is good. He was far too skinny for his frame.

But coyotes aside, he’s settling in nicely. He’s decided that the shelter in his enclosure is his “safe space”. He retreats to it whenever he’s feeling uncertain. We’ve declared it to be the Fortress of Solitude, but that’s a bit of a misnomer. He’s quite happy to receive guests in the Fortress.

While he does frequently come out for cuddles in the evening, during the day he’s more likely to remain inside and make us come to him.

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As you can see, he’s got the “I’m adorable, come pat me” look down. Combined, as it is here, with the “Rub my tummy” pose, it’s quite irresistible.

And yes, he’s a massive tubby-rub slut. I’m quite sure he’d be happy to have his belly rubbed until Maggie and I wore our fingers down to nothing–at which point he’d probably demand that we continue with our toes.

More Ups and Downs

The roller coaster ride continues.

When I last wrote about the MLB playoff chase, Seattle was two games out of the Wild Card with forty-five games remaining. As I said then, they were relevant.

At one point–August 20-22–they were actually the top non-Wild Card team, a mere one game behind the Orioles. Since then, they’ve been as far out as six games back and as close as two.

Before today’s games, they were (wait for it) two games out of the Wild Card. Exactly where they were, except that now there are only ten games left.

They’re still relevant, and they could still make the playoffs, but the odds aren’t nearly as high as they were a month ago. FiveThirtyEight has them at 15%. Ouch.

On the brighter side, they’re at 80-72, so they only need to win three more games to secure a winning season. Not that that’s much of a consolation.

Seven wins would equal their total from 2014. Doable, but unlikely. Less likely, even, than making the playoffs (FiveThirtyEight has their expected final record at 85-77.)

I’m ironically amused to note that my two fallback teams (the Giants and Mets) are currently two of the three teams tied for the NL Wild Card–with a record of 80-72. New York has a 75% chance of making the playoffs and San Francisco, thanks to their embarrassing string of blown games since the All Star Break, is at 59%.

I take some consolation–not much, but some–in the fact that the hated Yankees are given a mere 7% chance of making the playoffs.

But, heck, two games back? Totally doable. It’ll take a lot of help*, but it could happen.

* Detroit, Houston, and either Boston, Toronto, or Baltimore would need to lose a bunch of games, and Houston is the only one of the five with games left against Seattle.

It could. I’ll take odds of one chance in six*–which is probably why I suck at Yahtzee.

* OK, one in six and two-thirds. Close enough.

Seattle has the day off today. Detroit, their primary competition outside of Houston, is playing a doubleheader against the Twins today. A pair of Minnesota victories would drop the Tigers into a tie with the Mariners. A pleasant thought, that.

Anyway, there’s another week and a half on this roller coaster–and the similar ones fans in Detroit, Houston, Baltimore, New York, San Francisco, and St. Louis are riding. Please keep your hands inside the vehicle at all times.

Squawk!

Well, thanks to the calendar’s decision to put September 19 on a Monday this year, you’ve been spared my efforts to talk like a pirate. I’ll allow you to decide whether that’s a good thing or not–but be judicious in your comments: Talk Like a Pirate Day does fall on a Tuesday next year, and you can be sure I’ll use the occasion to exact fearful revenge upon those who mocked me at the Academy! Muh-hah-hah-hah–huh? Oh, sorry.

Talk Like a Mad Scientist Day is July 27, and I missed it completely.

You knew there had to be one, right? There’s a day for everything. Talk Like Shakespeare Day (April 23, of course). Talk Like a Gangster Day (October 16, apparently). International Talk Like a Quaker Day (October 24–pardon me, Tenth Month 24). Talk Like a Physicist Day (March 14, better known as Pi Day–there’s supposedly a TLaPD blog, but, well, does anyone else find it as amusing as I do that the server is experiencing out of memory problems?)

Correction: there’s one group that doesn’t have their own day to speak up. Ninjas. I would have thought that any group that lets its weapons do their talking would have their own day, through sheer intimidation, if nothing else. But apparently not. A martial arts school in Kentucky declared April 2 “Talk Like a Ninja Day” this year. But, according to the Facebook event page, only one person attended.

Of course, these being ninjas, there were probably thousands more who weren’t spotted, but this is the Internet we’re talking about, where “GIF or it didn’t happen” is a way of life. No pictures of ninjas means no ninjas.

The comic Bug Martini took a look at the difficulties of holding a Talk Like a Ninja Day back in 2013. It hasn’t gotten any easier since.

Day of the Ninja” has their heart in the right place (behind the rib cage, natch). But they’ve been promoting their day–December 5–since at least 2002, but the day, appropriately enough, just keeps slipping past without anyone noticing.

And, in case you don’t have a calendar handy, December 5 is also a Monday this year, so I’ll be letting pass without comment.

But hang on. I’ve just realized something important. We’ve got a day to talk like a pirate, but we’ve completely neglected the pirate’s traditional faithful companion!

To remedy the situation, I hereby declare today International Talk Like a Parrot Day.

Walk up behind somebody (preferably somebody who observed Talk Like a Pirate Day yesterday), scream “Squawk! Pieces of eight! Pieces of eight!”, bite their ear, and run* away.

* Or fly, if you have the necessary physical attributes.

I’m going to make this an annual event on September 20, and I hope you’ll join me.

Those Words

Warning: This post discusses certain words shunned by polite society. The actual words do not appear, but they are referred to in unambiguous terms. If you find such references offensive, please stop reading now.

So, yeah, a little more information about my current project leaked out. I mentioned a few weeks ago that I was researching inside-the-park home runs for the new novel*. Now, my co-conspirator/co-author has let a couple of additional tidbits loose.

* For those of you wondering what’s happening with our first collaboration, The RagTime Traveler, I counsel patience. The publishing industry is many things, but speedy is not one of them. Rest assured, as soon as there’s anything to report, you’ll see it here.

Mo’less Jones is under construction–a phrasing that makes it sound slightly more frankensteinian than it really is–partway through Draft 1. And yes, Jackie Robinson’s and Branch Rickey’s assault on the color barrier in baseball is relevant.

Now, normally I wouldn’t have mentioned this; I know that if you read this blog, you also eagerly load the Poisoned Pen Press blog on the thirteenth of every odd-numbered month to see what Larry has to say. But, quite coincidentally, literary agent extraordinaire Janet Reid* raised the question of forbidden words, and the “N-word” in particular.

* No, not my agent, darn it. I’m still looking, and besides, she doesn’t represent SFF.

Janet observed that we’ve reached the point as a society where some people feel that certain words should never be spoken or written. She feels–and I agree–that a blanket proscription against the use of a word because somebody might be offended is counterproductive. A universal barrier removes thought and empathy from the equation. Better to teach people think about what they’re saying and consider the impact on the listener, than to just say “Don’t use this word. OK, moving on to the next topic…”

So, yeah. It’s my responsibility as an author to tell my story–whatever story I’m telling–as honestly and effectively as possible. If I’m dishonest, if I omit certain words, situations, or concepts to avoid offending someone, then I damage my credibility and, more importantly, my story.

Is it possible to write fiction about the 1940s without a character using the N-word? Absolutely. Is it possible to write fiction about race relations in the forties without using that word? Maybe. Depends who your characters are and what’s happening. But it’s not possible to write fiction–honest fiction–about breaking the color barrier without using the N-word and all its only slightly-less-forbidden synonyms. Why? Because those are the words that were used by the players and fans to punish Jackie Robinson for daring to invade their turf.

That’s not to say the writer can use those words carelessly or with intent to hurt the reader. But carefully placed and with malice toward his characters? Absolutely. No other word could replace the N-word and still give the reader the same punch in the gut that the character is feeling.

The movie 42 got it right, but using the N-word (or any similarly loaded word) properly is very easy thing to get wrong. Use the word as often as it was used in reality and either the reader becomes desensitized or throws the book aside in disgust. Don’t use it enough, or use it in the wrong places, and the reader loses empathy with the character and his or her motivation doesn’t ring true.

Difficult to write, uncomfortable to read. But absolutely necessary.

WQTS 10

WQTS is ten posts old! To commemorate this milestone–one post per finger (for most of us)–I’ve got an unusually large selection of items for us to shake our heads in despair over.

13-1
Looks like a fairly standard calendar page, doesn’t it? Take a closer look at the middle of the month. Maybe I’m an old fogy, not up on the latest* in matters calendrical, but I still prefer my dates to follow the pattern “18, 19, 20”.

* OK, almost the latest; this is actually a calendar from 2015.

It’s easy to see how this happened, though I would have expected dates to be computer-generated, rather than hand-keyed. But how did nobody notice before the company printed and shipped thousands of these? I’m guessing that a “boundary” test went awry: somebody confirmed that the first was a Wednesday, the thirty-first was a Friday, and assumed that meant all of the dates in between had to be correct. In short, an incorrect choice of tests.

13-2
No, I’m not talking about “remodelation” or the lack of capitalization. This is one where QA was lacking in the development of the specifications. Another pair of eyes might have caught the omission of any indication of what name to look for on Facebook. I checked: it’s not the name of the restaurant.

13-3
“Code hoping”? Ouch! This is from the packaging for a device that’s supposed to let you start your car remotely if you were too cheap to buy the manufacturer’s remote-start option. Let’s hope that the QA folks who tested the security features that ensure nobody can start your car without the fob are not the same ones who reviewed the package copy.

Oh, who am I trying to kid? Chances are neither the package nor the code were QAed. After all, that’s what advertising writers and software developers are for, right?

13-4
Ignore the fact that it’s a pretzel covered in some chocolate-like substance (bleah!). Ignore the fact that nobody at Olivier’s Candies Ltd. can spell “chocolatey,” since my dictionary swears this is an accepted variant* and more importantly, what they meant was “chocolate-” (yes, with a hyphen). But didn’t anybody realize that since these are inanimate objects, they cannot be patriots? Please, people, use your adjectives! “Patriotic Chocolate-Covered Pretzel” Oh, and you might want to add an “s” at the end, since I can clearly see there are at least six per package.

* At least they didn’t spell it “chocolatty”.

Again, a case where there clearly wasn’t any QA done at all. Guys, “copywriter” and “copy editor” are NOT synonyms!

13-5
One more case where a copy editor should have been engaged. Not just for “bakering,” though there is that. But “eaten out of hand” does not mean what the sign-maker thought. Clearly, she* thought it meant to eat something you’re holding. But “out of hand” is actually an idiomatic** expression meaning “out of control” or “immediately, without thinking.”

* Pronoun chosen by coin flip.

** An expression that doesn’t mean what a literal interpretation of the individual words would suggest.

I’ve cropped the picture, so you can’t see the apples, but they’re sitting very peacefully in the bin, hence, not out of control. They also look ripe, but not overripe, so eating them immediately doesn’t seem warranted. Perhaps the intention was to suggest that they should be eaten thoughtlessly. But thoughtless eating is generally the province of less nutritious fare–Patriot Chocolaty Covered Pretzels, perhaps.

Well, whatever. Just remember: No matter what happens,
13-6

GT News

Last week, I promised an update on GT. When I sat down to write the update, I was startled to realize how long it’s been. My apologies, both for the oversight and for the resultant length of this post.

So, for those of you who are too impatient to read the whole thing, the most important bit of information is that GT has a forever home.

For the rest of you, allow me to take events in sequence.

As of the last update, August 12, GT had sufficiently recovered from surgery to have the Cone o’ Shame removed, was starting to eat dry food, and was occupying his evenings by charming us with his purr.

He was also–and I didn’t mention this at the time–generating impressively bad breath. You’ve heard of breath that could stun an ox? This was breath that would not only kill the ox, but reduce it to a bubbling puddle of slime.

We were afraid he’d use his breath to melt a hole in the cage, so we took him back to the vet for a dental checkup. And the results were not good. To be blunt, he didn’t have a sound tooth in his head. And, to be brief, he now has no teeth in his head.

That surgery meant another two weeks in the garage with gooshy fud and antibiotics twice a day, a regimen he bore with grace and patience. And, a few days into the recovery period, his Permanent People stepped in.

Uh… That would be us, actually.

Not to put too fine a point on it, the fuzzy fiend seduced us with that purr, then sealed the deal by rolling over on his back to demand tummy rubs. It took a few days for us to admit it, but, yeah, the Power of t3h Kyute compelled us.

So yeah, we’re now a seven-cat household. Sort of. I’ll get back to that.

When we finally said the words, we agreed that “GT” wasn’t going to cut it as a family member’s name. Don’t forget, it stands for “Grey Tabby”. Maggie suggested “Rufus” because his face has a somewhat lynx-like look about it. The problem with that, though, is that Lynx Rufus is the bobcat; the true lynx is Lynx Lynx. Not an insurmountable difficulty, though. His markings–those stripes–are somewhat bobcat-like. But the name was still missing something; it needed an element to hearken back to his previous life. That was easy. Out on his own, GT was a conqueror, and it was only once he started slowing down that he got into trouble. And so, now that he’s retired, bid farewell to “GT”, and greet “L Rufus Alexander*.”

* No period after the “L”. Unlike Presidents Grant and Truman, Rufus refuses to subject himself to the dictates of grammarians. He feels no need for a full stop. Nay, rather, the very concept is antithetical to his being. He may pause briefly, but no more than that. But even he admits that “L, Rufus Alexander” looks peculiar.

As I was saying, we’re not exactly a seven-cat household. The inter-feline political machinations are entirely too complicated with only six cats. Introducing Rufus into the mixture would almost certainly result in an explosion.

The solution?

09-1

Yeah, a truck bed full of lumber and wire. “Some assembly required” isn’t only for toys. After a few hours (and thanks, Ray, for the assistance), it looked rather more useful:

09-2

Note the three built-in shelves on the right side. They should get plenty of sun; perfect for lounging. Note also the airlock construction. It’s a bit of a hassle, but will make unscheduled departures significantly more difficult.

09-3
Mind you, lounging shelves are nice, but Rufus’ retirement palace needed more furnishing. A trip to the hardware store, and we’ve added a sun shade on the left, and a pair of benches with hinged tops. The one at the left has a hole in the side to allow Rufus access to his litter box; the one on the right holds a garbage bag and the bag of clean litter.

09-4
The most important item–well, OK, most important after the food bowl–is the shelter. As you can see, it’s similar in design to the Cape Odd shelter near the Backyard Bowl. However, this version is more sensibly designed. The roof is a single piece, which should cut down on leaks, and was much easier to insulate. (We haven’t told Rufus, but we intentionally skipped the construction step to attach the roof to the rest of the structure–just in case we need to “persuade” him to come out at some point.)

The entire palace needs a little more work. Most notably, we need to add some rain-proofing. Rufus should be snug enough in the shelter, but preventing rain from filling the food bowl seems highly desirable, as does creating a dry area for bipeds when they come by for companionship and litter box cleanings. But that can be done at any point before the rainy season begins.

So we moved Rufus into the palace Sunday afternoon. He immediately vanished into the shelter.09-5He wasn’t about to come out for anything–we even had to put the food bowl inside–but he was happy to be patted and scratched through the doorway.

But he snuck out at some point during the night to use the box, and when we brought his breakfast Monday morning, he strolled over.09-6Yes, that is ‘Nuki inside the house, trying to sneak a peek past Rufus’ privacy shield. His presence didn’t bother Rufus a bit.

Neither did the arrival of an old friend.09-7Yes, Tuxie came by for a visit. I believe the conversation went something like this:
“Dude, where have you been? There’s this black cat that’s moving in on your turf!”
“Not my problem, Buddy. I’m retired from the territory game. You don’t like him? Chase him off yourself.”

Despite the tone of the conversation, Tuxie hung around for quite a while, and they seemed to be on good terms by the time he left. He’s been back a couple of times since, which is nice, since we can’t spend all of our time keeping Rufus company.

Rufus does still stay in the shelter most of the time, but it’s more a matter of that being the most comfortable lounging spot than a defensive measure.09-8Straw smells nice, there’s room to stretch out, and the breeze is minimized. All-in-all, a nice place to chill.

09-9And if there’s something going on–say, an annoying bird to be stared down–the foam matting is nicely butt-friendly.

Insert Apple Joke Here

Well, well, well. Seems it’s that time of year again. You know what I mean: the time when Apple announces its new hardware. Oh, joy, oh rapture. So, as usual, here’s my take on the goodies coming our way soon. Feel free to flee now. I won’t be offended.

Apple began its event yesterday with a reminder: Apple Music is still around and “keeps getting better”. Good to know that it’s not getting worse, I suppose, but “keeps getting better” is awfully faint praise.

We’ve also been reminded that the Apple App Store is still around, and it’s far and away the most popular app store for Apple apps that ever ‘appened. Or something like that. I got distracted wondering why Nintendo coming out with a Mario game for iOS is the first story Apple wanted us to hear. Isn’t that leadoff slot supposed to be the most important one, the equivalent of above the fold on the front page of the newspaper? If so, why does Apple want to bury the new iPhones somewhere in with the local news?

Sorry, I wandered off again. Moving on.

Apple still supports schools. They just want you to know that. Oh, and iWork now supports live collaboration, just like Google, Microsoft, Dropbox, and everyone else. How thrilling!

In hardware news (finally!), we’ve got some software news (what?). Remember all of the goodies for WatchOS 3 we heard about at WWDC in June? We’re getting it. Yes, including the “Breathe” app for everyone who needs a reminder not to inhale and exhale simultaneously. In addition, now that the Pokemon Go fad is fading, Pokemon Go is coming to your Apple Watch! Hurray?

Oh, here’s the hardware part of the news. The Apple Watch Series 2 is coming. Water-resistant to 50 meters. Built-in water spitter. Seriously. How else would you interpret “The speaker design has been changed to eject the water after a swim”? OK, maybe it just sort of dribbles out. But where’s the fun in that? Come on, Apple, make it a high-pressure stream suitable for backyard water fights! Beyond that, it’s faster (presumably not the time-keeping portion), brighter, and has its own GPS independent of your iPhone.

And, speaking of the iPhone, Apple announced two new phones today, the latest in the line of what they modestly call “the industry gold standard, the phone to which all others are compared.” Headband getting a little tight, Tim?

iOS 10 is, of course, coming. We knew that–you told us about it in June. And, coming with it, (surprise!) the iPhone 7 and 7 Plus. High-gloss black finish, smooth curves, shiny anodized layer. Sounds more like a sports car than something you make calls with. Not that anyone makes calls on an iPhone; they just use it to run apps, right?

Anyway, aside from the design innovations and the inevitable boost in processing power*, the new phones have better cameras (similar to, but of course, even better than what we saw in the 9.7-inch iPad Pro). If you’re a photographer, you’ll probably appreciate having a RAW API; presumably only used by third-party camera apps. The 7 Plus goes even further by adding a second camera. No, not for 3D–they’re too close together. One camera is for wide-angle, the other for telephoto. 2x zoom is a true optical zoom. 3x to 10x is still digital zooming, “but still better quality than before”. OK, then.

* “120x faster than the original iPhone.” (And that’s just the CPU. The GPU is “240x faster than the original iPhone.”) Does anyone really remember how fast that phone was–or rather, wasn’t? What good is a comparison that nobody has a referent for?

What else? A new display (like you didn’t see that coming…) that’s brighter and with a wider color display range than ever before. Stereo speakers, one at the top, one at the bottom. (Now there’s a unique concept.) Twice as loud as last year’s phones. And, if you prefer to keep your music to yourself, you can get new “EarPods”. Yes, Apple has confirmed the rumors that the new phones do not have the traditional earplug jack*. The EarPods plug into the Lightning port. Hopefully, there’s a pass-through so you can listen to music while your phone is charging. The phones will come with an adapter, so if you’re an old fogy who prefers the ancient headset you bought last month, you can still use it.

* Apple hasn’t taken this much flack over a design decision since they single-handedly killed off the floppy drive.

Of course, if you stick with your caveman-level Bluetooth (or worse yet, wired) headphones, you’ll be missing out on Apple’s new “AirPods”: wireless earphones that detect when they’re in your ears, have a direct connection to Siri, and can easily switch between all of your (Apple) devices.

Preorders for the new iPhones open tomorrow, and they’ll be shipping on the sixteenth. Are you going to be online, trying to get your preorder in before the allocation runs out? iOS 10, by the way, will be out on the thirteenth.

And, speaking of “by the way”: those AirPods won’t be coming until late October. So you’ll have about a month to get used to using your new iPhone without ’em. Or, if you’re a Beats loyalist, you can wait for Beats’ version. No release date specified, but since Apple now owns Beats, it’s probably in the same general range.

Happy listening, the AppleWay®.

Oopsie!

Let’s get the obligatory disclaimer out of the way, shall we?

I’m not in favor of piracy. IMNSHO, information does not want to be free. And, while I believe the music, movie, and publishing industries, have, to varying degrees, bobbled the transition to a digital-dominated marketplace*, I don’t believe that justifies an attitude that all audio, video, and written material can be “shared”, guilt-free.

* Especially when it comes to the methods they use to enforce copyright.

That said, I had to laugh when I saw this story. You read it correctly. Warner Bros. issued DMCA takedown requests against its own websites because the content violated its own copyrights.

To be fair, the requests didn’t come from WB directly, they came from Vobile, a company whose homepage claims their goal is to “Protect, Measure, Monetize the best movies and TV content in the world” Advertising mis-capitalization aside, that’s a remarkably elitist statement, isn’t it? Do they decide whether your content is among “the best” when you engage with them, or–as seems likely–is the fact that you want them to work their PMM magic sufficient evidence that your content is superior?

Regardless, they use the usual sort of digital “fingerprint” technology to identify their clients’ content–and then, apparently fire off a barrage of DMCA takedown requests with little-to-no human oversight. “Fair use? What’s that?” “Verification? Never heard of it.” Yeah, I’m putting words in their mouths.

Hey, do you suppose Warner has told Vobile that they should stop searching for unauthorized distributions of “Happy Birthday”? After all, the song was only placed in the public domain seven months ago…

Anyway, it’s a nice bit of gander sauce.

Moving on (briefly).

Rumor has it that Google is preparing to release a successor to the extremely popular Nexus 7 tablets. Ars, among many other tech venues, suggests that it’ll be announced at Google’s big October 4 launch party, along with new phones, Chromecast, and VR hardware.

If it’s true, I’m very glad to hear it. The world needs more seven-inch tablets. It’s an excellent size for reading, it’s large enough that watching video and playing games isn’t an exercise in annoyance, and it’s small enough to be carried easily.

I don’t expect to be getting one immediately–I’m still quite satisfied with my $50 Amazon Fire tablet for reading and my Nexus 9 for anything that needs a larger screen–but if the new “Pixel 7” (or whatever they decide to call it) is as affordable as Google’s earlier seven-inchers, I’d give it a strong recommendation to anyone who is in the market for a tablet.