Short Circuits: Romulan Ale and Peanut Butter

May 28, 2013
By: Rory J. Thompson

Open Mouth, Insert Foot … and Smile!

Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer seems to have quite the knack for generating publicity, but despite what the PR flacks might say, not all publicity is good publicity. Case in point: When announcing recently that Yahoo was revamping its languishing photo site Flickr, Mayer told a crowded assembly in New York, “…there’s really no such thing as professional photographers anymore.” (Oh No She Ditn’t!) Yeah, she did, and the response from those who make a living taking pictures was predictably fast and furious. As collected by the website GigaOm, commenters offered their responses in pithy quotes such as “How insulting”, “Everyone thinks they are a CEO these days”, “Wait, what? Are you serious?” and our personal favorite, “Marissa Mayer, you’re clueless.” For someone purportedly leading a technology giant, Mayer really needs to tune in to social media and learn how fast it can turn on you.

Well, We Already Have Communicators; So Why Not a Tricorder?

It’s been a good spring for Trekkies. First, the latest Star Trek movie came out and scored some solid box office numbers, even while loading the film with sly references to previous episodes and characters (Tribbles, anyone? How about Nurse Chapel?), to the delight of its hard-core fans. Now a company called Scanadu has raised the stakes with the “Scanadu Scout,” a handheld device that can check a patient’s temperature, heart rate and blood-oxygen level in seconds. Just like Dr. McCoy’s Medical Tricorder! The device, selling for $150, is getting rave reviews from early testers. The only drawback is that the device needs to be synched up to a smartphone, but who doesn’t have one of those? (Uhhhh, me.) Still, as a volunteer Emergency Medical Technician, this reporter already knows what he wants for Father’s Day. Besides an official Star Trek Admiral’s tunic.

What, Your Battery Needs Charging? There, It’s Done

Charging up your cell phone means you need to plug it in somewhere for a few hours. If you have your charging cable with you. Or a co-worker has one that fits your phone. Then, you have to remember to unplug it when you have to leave. Life is so difficult sometimes, isn’t it??? Not anymore. The runner-up winner to this year’s Intel (News - Alert) International Science and Engineering Fair, an 18-year-old high school student, has come up with a device that she says can charge your mobile devices in about 30 seconds. Eesha Khare designed and created a “supercapacitor” that powered an LED, but she believes with a little research it can be adapted to today’s technology. And maybe she’ll be the one to do that research. Her prize for coming in second is a $50,000 scholarship. And for those who need to know, the first-prize winner came up with a low-cost, self-driving car. Yeah, yeah, that’s great, but can it quickly charge my cell phone? No? Step aside, son…..

You Say PoTAYto, I Say PoTAHto…..

What’s in a name? Well, if you’re Steve Wilhite, inventor of that short piece of animation technology known as a “GIF” (short for “Graphics Interchange Format”), quite a bit, actually. Recently honored with a Webby Award for his early tech work, Wilhite wants the world to know that it’s pronounced “Jif” (like the peanut butter brand) and not “Gif” (with a hard “G”, like “Gift”). Who knew? As Wilhite himself said recently when the topic came up, “The Oxford English Dictionary accepts both pronunciations. They are wrong. It is a soft “G,” pronounced “jif.” End of story.” Wow. Steer clear of Mr. Touchy.

Edited by Rich Steeves