Trigger Warnings Avert Trauma

Bailey Loverin,  second-year literature major at UC Santa Barbara, is the student sponsor and co-author of a resolution supporting trigger warnings.

If students are suddenly confronted by material that makes them ill, black out or react violently, they are effectively prevented from learning. If their reaction happens in the classroom, they’ve halted the learning environment. No professor is going to teach over the rape victim who stumbles out in hysterics or the veteran who drops under a chair shouting.

Furthermore, seeing these reactions will leave other students shaken and hesitant to engage. With a trigger warning, a student can prepare to deal with the content.

Jesus H. Christ-when did we get so sensitive and easily offended?

Source: USA Today


Colbert Arrives at “The Late Show”

I’ve always been a huge Letterman fan. I remember his morning show when he first got to network television, and every incarnation since. HUGE fan. I have been lucky enough to see his show live twice. The last time was when John Kerry was there. Letterman came out before the taping to chat up the audience as he is won’t to do. I asked him if he could get mine and my wife’s picture with Kerry. He took our camera and took a picture of us in the audience (see below), after pretending to steal our camera by running off-stage with it.

Then when the taping started, Dave said on national tv that he got a new camera that day. Classic.

At The Late Show

Colbert. HUGE fan as well. Last time I was in Manhattan my wife and I had the pleasure of running into him, and he was gracious enough to allow a picture (see below). We walked out of our hotel near Times Square, and Colbert just happened to be walking by. We stalked I mean followed him for half a block before he ducked into a cheesy souvenir shop. That’s where we pounced. He allowed 1 picture, and we left him to go about his day (I think his sister was in town and he was picking something up for her). Class act all the way, and a super-nice guy.

I’ll definitely miss Letterman, but I can’t imagine someone better than Colbert to take his place.

Godspeed, Dave.


Me and Colbert

Source: USA Today


CES Logo

TechSHIZZLE Preps for CES 2014

Quick note-we’re dotting our Is and crossing our Ts in prep for the annual pilgrimage to Las Vegas for CES.

Look for us in TechSHIZZLE garb-most likely with a beer in one and, iPhone in the other.

See you there!


John Siracusa Grades Apple’s 2013

Prolific blogger and Apple-watcher John Siracusa has announced his grades for Apple’s performance in 2013 based upon his predictions he announced at the beginning of the year.

His grading seems pretty fair for the most part.

However, I have not seen any of the issues he claims have plagued iCloud. For me, it does “just work”. I haven’t had any issues with buggy behavior, etc. Sure, I’d love to see an expanded feature set akin to Dropbox, but I’ve had no problem with iCloud’s performance.

As John Gruber points out re: AppleTV, the “F” grade is overly harsh. There are only a couple of issues with Apple’s “hobby”and they fall into the “Features I wish it had” category:

  1. No App Store- Come on, Apple, get this done already
  2. Cable Alternative- I know this isn’t really Apple’s fault. Television content providers/cable companies are afraid that Apple will wield too much power should they come to agreements with it, so they are VERY slowly negotiating to allow Apple access to their content. I don’t see why they don’t understand that Apple saved the music industry when it was threatened by Napster, et al. by selling songs at $.99 and making music easily available to all through its iTunes music store.

Otherwise, AppleTV works extremely well and does exactly what I need it to.

[button url='#' size='small' style='blue'] Source: Hypercritical [/button]


Pebble: Something Special This Year at CES

Smartwatch maker Pebble has announced that they will be debuting “something special” at CES 2014 next week in Las Vegas.

Pebble had announced at CES 2013 that their Kickstarter crowdfunded smartwatch would ship to the public on January 23, 2013.

Pebble CEO Eric Mijicovsky will make the announcement on Monday, January 6, at 11 am Pacific (2 pm Eastern). The announcement will be live streamed on their website here.

No further indications of what will be announced, but there has been speculation that it may be a Pebble 2 smartwatch with touch screen.

As I’ve mentioned elsewhere, I love my Pebble, but I wouldn’t complain about a sleeker, touch screen enabled version.

Join us at CES this year!

[button url='#' size='small' style='blue'] Source: Pebble [/button]


Scoble: Google Glass is Doomed

Tech columnist Robert Scoble at The Next Web has a great counterpoint to Matthew Honan’s Wired piece that sensationalizes the alleged paranoia of the general public when they see someone wearing Google’s Glass wearable “computer on your face”.

Said Honan:

When I wear it at work, co-workers sometimes call me an asshole. My co-workers at WIRED, where we’re bravely facing the future, find it weird. People stop by and cyber-bully me at my standing treadmill desk.

I’ve never seen such “get off my lawn you whippersnappers” demonstrated by young, tech-oriented people. Perhaps Honan was expecting that response, and that’s what he experienced as a result. Perhaps not. Read some of the comments to the post to see what I mean. Why do people think they have some expectation of privacy in a public place?

Scoble, on the other hand, says he hasn’t experienced any glassholery while wearing his pair:

Nearly everyone wants to try it. Google is brilliant. They got us to pay $1,500 (plus tax) to be its PR agent. It’s gotten to the point where even I don’t want to wear them around. At one conference a few people in a bathroom wanted to try them on. I figure I’ve shared my Glass with 500-1,000 people.

Ill-informed social paranoia aside, Scoble feels that Glass is doomed for these reasons:

  1. The expectations are too high
  2. Too expensive and not user friendly
  3. Not enough apps
  4. Poor UI implementation
  5. Poor battery life
  6. Poor photo workflow
  7. No Facebook on Glass
  8. No contextual filtering of information presented
  9. No app store/distribution
  10. People are afraid they would “lose themselves in their mobile addiction”

Issues 1-9 will undoubtedly be fixed eventually. Given time, and Google’s coding and algorithmic expertise, these will become non-issues and be ameliorated.

I can’t buy the mobile addiction argument, though. Scoble again:

Most are disappointed in themselves and their lack of ability to put their phones down. They fear that if they were to go with Glass they would just totally lose themselves to their mobile addictions. They are right to be scared of that. If Glass actually worked the way I’m dreaming of I would be even more addicted to our online world than I am today. People are scared of losing their humanness. What makes them human.

Are people really disappointed in themselves because they are unable to put their phones down? How is a phone/Glass/other internet portal any more than a bringer of information and facilitator of communication? Have people lost their humanness because they choose to ride in a car, wear clothing, or partake of any countless number of other technological innovations? Would the use of a “Super-Glass” make wearers mindless drones, unable to unplug from the online world?

I think Scoble underestimates the paranoia many people feel around a Glass wearer. Typically, many people whom have never actually used Glass complain about being photographed or videoed on their daily public comings and goings, like they are invisible between their car and the grocery store. Between Facebook and the NSA, privacy is dead; that train has left the station, and it ain’t coming back. Get over it.

Like mobile phones themselves, or bluetooth headsets, people will adapt and the use of Glass and Glass-like wearables will be routine, and we’ll look back and wonder what the big deal was. Ok, most people will simply forget there was pushback. It will be as if Glass and it’s wearable tech progeny always existed.

And this is the conclusion of both Scoble and Honan-wearable tech with persistent internet connections are coming-eventually. The hardware and software hasn’t matured enough, so 2014 won’t be Glass’ year. Add to that society’s unreadiness to accept Glass.

But in the not-too-distant future, it will be here, and I guess we’ll all be mindless internet-addicted shells of our human selves.

[button url='#' size='small' style='blue'] Source: The Next Web [/button]


Uncle Walt Mossberg and Kara Swisher Launch re/

Wow, the new year has really brought a lot of change in the online tech world.

It seems like everyone at AllThingsD left the site recently. Their most visible writers, the venerable Walt Mossberg, sidekick Kara Swisher, Apple-watcher John Paczkowski, Ina Fried, et al., have now formed re/code.

Browse on over to AllThingsD, in fact, and it now redirects to the Wall Street Journal Tech page.

According to the press release for re/code:

While we are presenting an improved new face, we promise that, if you liked what we were doing at All Things Digital and the D conferences, you will love what we are now planning for Re/code. We pledge to bring the same energy and standards to our news, reviews and events, with the plus of adding in even more talented staff and resources to the mix.

Mossberg and Swisher announced their exit from WSJ/AllThingsD on September 19, 2013. Bloomberg reported that talks between the columnists and AllThingsD’s parent company, Dow Jones & Co., fell apart over the pair’s desire to maintain control of ATD’s well-respected conference. Mossberg had been the personal tech columnist for the WSJ for over 20 years.

re/code and the  Code Conference are part of Revere Digital, a partnership between the columnists, NBCUniversal News Group, and Windsor Media.

According to Bloomberg, the AllThingsD conference was quite the cash cow:

Tickets to AllThingsD’s most recent conference, at the end of May, cost $5,500 each, for a total of $2.75 million. The conference also takes sponsors – such as Oracle Corp. (ORCL) and Sony Corp. — which pay as much as $400,000 each, adding up to more revenue than ticket sales generate, according to two people with direct knowledge of the business.

Steve Jobs and Bill Gates sat down with Walt and Kara in 2007:

And Steve Jobs alone was interviewed at the conference again in 2010:

re/code has announced that it will launch the inaugural Code Conference in May of this year “near Los Angeles”.

We wish Walt, Kara, and all the gang the best of luck in 2014.

[button url='#' size='small' style='blue']Source: re/code [/button]



Autoblog’s 100 Top 2013 Photos

I love cars. I love blogs about cars. I love blogs about pictures of cars. I have a long history of keeping a car for about a year, then moving on. I’m a regular at the L.A. Auto Show every year.

My wife knows this, and got me a gift certificate to drive the exotics at Exotics Racing the year for Christmas; yeah, she’s the best.

Exotics Racing 458

So it was with a certain amount of glee that I saw that Autoblog has posted their Top 100 Photographs of 2013.

Did I mention I love cars?

Anyway, head on over there to take a look. If you have even the slightest interest in cars, I’m sure you’ll enjoy the pics.

[button url='#' size='small' style='blue'] Source: Autoblog[/button]


Appointed Apple Monitor Doesn’t Like Being Called Out on His BS

Following the farce of a trial over the alleged e-book price-fixing by Apple in its iBooks Store, U.S. District Judge Denise Cote ordered that her friend and relatively new monitor Michael Bromwich oversee e-book pricing reform and regulatory compliance.

However, the acrimony between Bromwich and Apple’s upper management began upon the disclosure of Bromwich’s exorbitant fees.

Bromwich charged Apple $138,432 for his first two weeks on the job.

According to Bloomberg:

Bromwich justified the administrative fee on the grounds that he’s handling the assignment through his consultancy, the Bromwich Group, rather than through his law firm, Goodwin Procter LLP, according to Apple’s filing.

The distinction “seems slippery at best” given that Goodwin Procter issued a press release “clearly meant to drum up more business” announcing Bromwich’s appointment as Apple’s antitrust monitor, Apple’s lawyers wrote.

Bromwich’s invoice for his first two weeks of work was $138,432, the equivalent of 75 percent of a federal judge’s annual salary, Apple said in its filing, which described the administrative surcharge as “unprecedented in Apple’s experience.”

The Wall Street Journal exposed the overly-friendly past of Judge Denise Cote and her appointee, Michael Bromwich:

Readers may recall Mr. Bromwich as the political fixer President Obama brought in after the BP deepwater oil spill. He worked for Iran-Contra independent counsel Lawrence Walsh in the Reagan era and as inspector general for the Justice Department in the Clinton years.

He was confirmed for the latter job despite conflicts of interest; his mentor Philip Heymann was Deputy Attorney General and inspectors general are supposed to be impartial watchdogs. In 1994, Judge Cote wrote Mr. Bromwich an effusive endorsement letter to help push him over the Senate hump.

Hon Denise Cote

Furthermore, WSJ addresses Bromwich’s experience in compliance monitoring:

While he has great political connections, Mr. Bromwich has no experience in antitrust law. The greenhorn is billing Apple at an $1,100 hourly rate and he was forced to hire the law firm Fried Frank to make up for his lack of expertise, at $1,025 a hour. He racked up $138,432.40 in charges for his first two weeks. A spokesman for Mr. Bromwich’s firm, the Bromwich Group, declined to comment on matters currently before the court.

So that’s the backstory. How does Bromwich defend the accusations?

AllthingsD quoted Bromwich’s response to the fees:

My fees are reasonable, and you have no idea what a reasonable fee looks like. Also, it doesn’t matter if you think my fees are reasonable, because you don’t get to negotiate them: You just pay them. The court will approve them.

Apple complained that Bromwich conducted a “roving investigation”, seeking to interview Apple board member Al Gore, and SVP of Design, Jony Ive.

Bromwich’s responded:

Apple’s characterization of his team’s activities as a “roving investigation” in fact “bear no relation whatsoever to the activities we have attempted to conduct.”


“This is far less access than I have ever received during a comparable period of time in the three other monitorships I have conducted.”

In other words, if Apple won’t roll over for Bromwich like in his previous couple of investigations, then they’re not giving him access.

[button url='#' size='small' style='blue']Source: WSJ[/button]

MS Paint Santa Claus

Photorealistic Drawing of Santa Claus Done With MS Paint

Casey Chan of Gizmodo offshoot Sploid dug up this amazing time-lapse video of a photorealistic drawing of Santa Claus, all done with MS Paint.

Electric Asylum Art produced this unbelievable video, which they claim took over 50 hours to complete.

This follows the recent video of a drawing of Morgan Freeman on an iPad

And to think you probably wasted your time this week earning a living to provide for your kids or some nonsense like that.

[button url='#' size='small' style='blue'] Source: Youtube [/button] [button url='#' size='small' style='blue'] Via: Sploid [/button]


Belkin Announces Chromecast, Er, Miracast

Huge accessory maker Belkin announced its new Miracast Video Adaptor, a dongle that plugs into your tv’s HDMI port (and is powered from it’s USB port). Users can send video from an Android smartphone.

Does this sound like Google’s Chromecast?

Well, both devices drive their respective monitors at 1080p.

Both plug and play into the display’s HDMI port.

Both receive their power from the display’s USB port.

Both cost $35. Uh, wait-Miracast costs $79.99.


Well, if you were considering a dongle to stream video, audio, and game output from your handheld/tablet/Chromebook, looks like the Chromecast is the way to go.


Get your Chromecast here for $35.


Android in the Car?

The Wall Street Journal is reporting that Google and Audi will be announcing a new initiative at CES 2014 to bring the Android OS to your car dashboard, much like Apple is pursuing with iOS in the Car.

iOS in the Car

iOS in the Car

Next week at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, Google and German auto maker Audi AG plan to announce that they are working together to develop in-car entertainment and information systems that are based on Google’s Android software, people familiar with the matter said.

Is there no safe harbor from the Google/Apple war?

Apple announced its “iOS in the Car” initiative at its annual WWDC last June. It was mostly considered a throw-in announcement, but it may turn out to be a huge opportunity for any company able to become the de facto standard for in-car infotainment technologies. Google is already crowdsourcing a lot of its traffic information thanks to its Waze acquisition also in June if this year. Onboard operating system integration will most certainly boost the amount of data streaming to their servers, including miles driven, geolocation data, amount of time in the car, music listened to while commuting, texts/emails sent and received (you know who you are!), etc.

In other words, a gold mine of data.

I wonder what complimentary services could come from a autonomous vehicle combined with an extension of the OS controlling the infotainment…

We’ll let you know more from the floor of CES 2014 next week.

[button url='#' size='small' style='blue']Source: WSJ [/button]


Best Whatever of 2013

With so many “Best of” posts all over the blogosphere, we at the Shizz thought we’d throw our hats in the ring.

However, we won’t focus solely on tech. We’ll list whatever we feel like listing.

It’s our site, so why not?!

Scott Bell

Best Movie

It’s an interesting time in film right now. There are still big studio tent poles (Man of Steel, The Wolverine, World War Z), and plenty of sequels (Iron Man 3Despicable Me 2, Riddick, The Hunger Games: Catching Fire, The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug, Anchor Man 2: The Legend Continues). Some especially good (Gravity) and some horribly disappointing (Elysium).

Even more disappointing than WWZ.

Even more disappointing than WWZ.

But filmmaking is getting more democratic and accessible as studio-quality equipment is getting more affordable all the time. See the Blackmagic Cinema Camera (What?! $1,995 plus accessories! Insane!!) Add Final Cut Pro X for $299.99 and you’re in showbiz. It’s almost to the point where all you need is a little cash, the ability to write dialogue and plot over a three act arc, and you can make a movie to rival the Spielbergs of the world.

Blackmagic Cinema Camera

Blackmagic Cinema Camera

Having said that, my vote for Best Movie of 2013 is The Wolf of Wall Street.

Leonardo DiCaprio turns in yet another fantastic performance. Simply put, the movie is raw and over the top, just like the times (and ambition of it’s protagonist) it’s set in. It’s so over the top, some critics have complained. But the complaints that it’s too much miss the point-it IS too much, and that’s why the story’s main character, Jordan Belfort, was ultimately indicted for fraud and money laundering.

Best Television Show

There are so many damn good tv shows now! Once the bane of “real” actors, television has become the darling of long-form story telling, with the ability to tell deep and detailed stories over several seasons. Now a writer has 30-40 hours to tell his/her tale, instead of 2-3 hours on the big screen.

So many good shows: (Sons of Anarchy, House of Cards, Girls - Ha! just messin’ with you!, The Walking Dead).

But the “Best” was a two horse race: Game of Thrones and Breaking Bad.

There were so many highs this year on GoT: the Red Wedding, the Tyrion/Sansa wedding, et al. I cannot wait until next season for the Purple Wedding! I will say no more…

I can't even look...

I can’t even look…

But ultimately, the best overall had to be Breaking Bad by a nose.

I am the one who knocks.

I am the one who knocks.

An incredibly satisfying ending where anti-hero Walter White tries to right some of his wrongs, but ultimately sacrificed his family to what he was “good at”. The show built to a crescendo all season, and I have no doubt this will be talked about with reverence for decades to come. Television simply doesn’t get any better than this.

Ok, some tech.

Best Smartphone

As good as the Samsung Galaxy S4 was this year (and it is some damn fine hardware), I have to give this to the iPhone 5s.

Some say the Galaxy Note 3 screen is better, but overall fit and finish, ecosystem, and interoperability puts the iPhone 5s on top.

If the iPhone had a slightly bigger screen, it wouldn’t even be close for me.

But it is a very narrow margin, I will be the first to admit, and the S4 is a fine handset. If your preference is the Samsung, I won’t quibble with you: it’s a crapshoot.


Eeeny meeny miny mo…

Best Tablet

The Nexus 7 is the Android flagship, and oh, what a flagship it is.

But some reviewers had their niggles.

Those aside, there isn’t a tablet that can touch the 7 when price is factored in.

Or is there?

My choice for best tablet of 2013 comes down to the iPad Air, and the iPad mini. They’re virtually identical, spec-wise, save for the screen size, so I’ll treat them as one.

While I prefer the portability of the iPad’s baby brother, my old eyes require the larger screen of the Air for comfortable reading. The thinner profile and lighter heft are bonuses.

So, if price isn’t your major determinant, the iPad(s) pulls in the top tablet spot this year.

But unlike the smartphone category, this isn’t close-yet.

I suspect this lead will be diminishing in 2014 (if not disappearing completely).



Best Smartwatch

This is certainly turning into a crowded space.

Samsung introduced the Gear.

I don’t care what others say, I do like the look of the Gear. It’s pretty industrial-looking, no-nonsense. It’s not a fashion piece, and it’s too big for small wrists. It also as a horrible user interface (see The Verge’s review) and poor battery performance. Unfortunately, the Gear is a solution looking for a problem; what itch does it scratch? In fact, I just saw a Samsung commercial today that shows a woman holding her Galaxy S4 in her left hand. Her phone rings (clearly visible on the screen of her S4 in her left hand, and she turns her hand over to answer the call on her Gear, conveniently strapped to her left wrist, 3 inches from her phone. Why wouldn’t she just slide to unlock her phone instead of the Gear?

Samsung Gear

Other smartwatches include the very interesting i’mWatch, from Italian firm, i’mSmart. I originally saw this watch at CES 2013, and almost shelled out the $349 for my very own (there may have been a $50 discount as well). This watch looks fantastic, has an app store, and allows phone calls to a tethered iOS or Android phone. However, the call quality was subpar, the UI was laggy when I tried it, and the “Droid 2″ OS crashed several times during my brief time with the watch. I can’t help but think i’mSmart is onto something with the looks, but doesn’t have the engineering expertise to deliver the goods. It’s a shame.

All show and no go.

All show and no go.

The top of the smartwatch heap, though is the Pebble.

The Pebble started out as a crowd funded Kickstarter campaign. I was an original backer, in fact. It became the highest grossing Kickstarter campaign ever, and collected move than $10,000,000 in funding.

The Pebble succeeded because it didn’t try to do too much too soon. Think the original Palm Pilot (the Newton MessagePad was a far superior machine, but didn’t do it’s myriad tasks nearly as well as the Pilot did it’s limited number of tasks). It has an e-ink screen to save power, so there’s no fancy AMOLED color screen. In fact, the screen isn’t even touch capable-it’s controlled by several buttons along the sides of the watch.

But you can add apps such as watch faces, a golf GPS app that connects via bluetooth to a smartphone, a running app to track distance, etc. Nothing too fancy. It also displays notifications for texts, email, and incoming phone calls. You can even control your music playback of music playing on your smartphone (and it displays song titles as well).

The battery lasts a week with pretty regular use, so there’s no need to plug it in every night.

The Pebble is nothing to look at; certainly not as aesthetically pleasing as the i’mWatch, or even the Gear.

But the Pebble is cheap (weighing in around $149), and I have no fear of wearing it in the roughest os areas and beating the heck out of it like an old Casio. It’s tough, it’s cheap, and does what it does better than any other smartwatch.


Look for our 2014 predictions in a few days.

Disagree? Did we leave something out? Give us your picks in the comments below.