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 May 20 2016

Weekly Recap: Google I/O, Hyper-Reality, Trainerbot, iSocket 3G, Node.COBOL, etc.

Google I/O 2016

Did you miss Google’s presentation in Mountain View ? No worries, The Verge has created a 10-minute video of the highlights.

The Verge, “The 10 biggest announcements from Google I/O 2016.”

Google Ara

Google is about to release its modular Android phone, a product of Project Ara. The developer version will be available this fall and the public-at-large version in 2017. We hadn’t seen any radical innovations in the mobile phone world since the iPhone. We're pumped.

Wired, “Project Ara Lives: Google’s Modular Phone Is Ready for You Now.”

The dystopia of ubiquitous augmented reality

In his short, “Hyper-Reality”, Keiichi Matsuda imagines a not-so-distant future in which augmented reality is unescapable. We’re worried.

Popular Science, “This is what happens when augmented reality takes over.”


Trainerbot is a robot that will coach you in Ping-Pong. Hopefully it will be followed by a robot designed to pick up those dozens of balls on the floor.

Ars Technica, “Trainerbot will push your ping-pong skills to the limit.”

KickStarter, “Trainerbot: Smart Ping Pong Robot.”

Connected Bottle Openers

Seriously ? When most North-American beer bottles are now twist-off? What will they connect next? Actually, we just read this week about a connected … tampon.

Digital Trends, “This bottle opener will text your friends every time you crack open a tasty beverage.”

iSocket 3G

The iSocket is a neat device that sends you a text when the power goes out back home. The not-so-neat thing about it is the combined price of the device and the telephone service needed to operate it.

The Verge, “This outlet texts you when the power goes out.”

This Week’s Bug

Ring Doorbell Pro

Ring Doorbell Pro is a Wi-Fi-enabled camera that lets you use your mobile phone as an intercom with video. This great concept was marred by a nasty little bug that left its users perplexed: though they had an image of a house on their screen, it wasn’t their house.

Circuit Breaker, “Smart doorbell owners saw video from other houses thanks to a weird bug.”

Selfie Stick Unreal

Ego-shot lovers dream about it. Unfortunately for them, it is not (yet) an actual product.

Mashable, “Smile for the world’s first automated selfie stick.”


IBM 1401

Have you always dreamed of starting a Web server with COBOL (or Fortran) ? Ionică Bizău has developed a solution by calling up the execution of Node.js scripts in COBOL (and Fortran) (unfortunately, Node.js is incompatible with z/OS). Those who thought that COBOL was long gone would be surprised to realize how many large companies, especially in the financial and banking sectors, still use good old COBOL code in the deepest recesses of their systems. In fact, 85% of financial transactions world-wide are carried out in COBOL. And COBOL programmers are among the highest-paid in the world.

Which reminds us of the old joke:
A COBOL programmer had made so much money off the Y2K bug that he was able to purchase a top-notch cryogenic service. When he was brought back to life years later, he asked why he had been unfrozen. “Well, we’re now in 9999, and you know COBOL.”

Ars Technica, “Who put this JavaScript in my COBOL? Node.cobol, that’s who.”


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