Category Archives: Tech

Twitter Board Unanimously Accepts Elon Musk’s Offer To Buy Twitter

If you’re on the left side of the political spectrum, you’re probably regretting that you didn’t join the preppers in securing some potassium iodide. Because a massive bomb just dropped.

After some brief talks, the Twitter board agreed to allow Elon Musk to buy the company, effectively turning the social media giant into Elon’s private company. The agreement was reached after Twitter’s board voted unanimously in favor of the sale.

This development is a pretty big deal for Twitter users and free speech advocates, because Elon Musk is a free speech absolutist. This means that, under Elon’s direction, Twitter will be unlikely to suspend or ban users on ideological grounds.

This does not mean that illegal content can escape bans. What it means is that Twitter will become a free and open marketplace of ideas. One can see why leftists are melting down over the news, as their ideology only tends to hold up where dissenting viewpoints are systematically suppressed.

And the memes? Delish.

One joke is that those who threatened to flee to Canada over Trumps election (but didn’t) are now threatening to flee to Canada over Elon’s purchase of Twitter (and they probably won’t). If people actually are threatening to flee to the sweet embrace of Trudeau’s totalitarian suppression of peaceful protests and trampling by horse, here’s my question: What’s the point? They have Twitter in Canada, too.

But better still are those threatening to quit the platform because their own viewpoint will have to compete with differing viewpoints on equal footing. If they were to leave, Twitter would become more tolerable, pretty much immediately.

As a safe measure, Twitter has locked any changes to it’s platform to prevent vandalism on the part of its own staff which may become disgruntled over the purchase, and decide to do some damage on the way out.

Speaking on the purchase, Musk had the following to say:

“Free speech is the bedrock of a functioning democracy, and Twitter is the digital town square where matters vital to the future of humanity are debated,” said Mr. Musk. “I also want to make Twitter better than ever by enhancing the product with new features, making the algorithms open source to increase trust, defeating the spam bots, and authenticating all humans. Twitter has tremendous potential – I look forward to working with the company and the community of users to unlock it.”

This statement carries huge implications for Twitters users, entirely positive. For one thing, that the algorithms are to be open source. Let that sink in. If Twitter’s algorithms are to be open source, that means no sneaky things going on behind the scenes. But speaking of such, I wonder whether Musk will stumble upon evidence of shadow banning, demonstrating that Twitter had previously lied to congress?

Then there’s defeating the spam bots. This is huge, as it’s been estimated that about half of all Twitter users are bots. There does need to be more done to verify actual human accounts, as there are people out there that have started as many as 20 accounts, with most of them botting.

I’m a strongly free speech kinda guy. For like-minded people, Twitter’s acceptance of Musk’s offer is tremendously great news! And it’s yet another sign that trends are turning in favor of ordinary people who want to speak their minds, and have honest exchanges in open forums, without fear of being silenced by a moderation with a stake in the outcome. This comes just days after other significant developments in the culture war, including that Ron DeSantis just revoked Disney’s special privileges in Florida, and it was announced that CNN+ is going down at the end of the month. For those on the left, it’s just been L after L after L.

And you know what? I don’t pity them, at all. After all, I remember when they exercised the influence that they had to shut down the world’s economy for months at a time, in a sad attempt to contain a case of the sniffles. These are the same people who insist that the Biden presidency is the most popular of all time, even though Biden’s presidency has been failure after failure, and just about everything Biden touched came apart, including his catastrophic Afghanistan withdrawal.

And then, to top it all off, there’s how they conducted themselves when they were the ones in establishment control of social media, when they banned opposing viewpoints without any regard to the free speech principles of all civilized societies today.

Which is why, being given the opportunity to, we should expose the left’s many ridiculous and fallacious ideas to the sound ridicule that they so richly merit. And as far as that goes, they’ve certainly provided us with plenty of material to ridicule.

Now, if you’ll pardon me, I’m going to go make myself a cocktail, in celebration.

By the way, I’m now on Twitter.

This App Rocks: Vibration Analysis

For a while, I’ve been sometimes feeling down, while at home. It was a feeling of unease, which is difficult to describe. But after a while, I started to get suspicious, as this feeling mainly occurred when I was running a certain fan.

I had purchased a cheapo fan from Walmart, to help me circulate the air when the weather gets hot. But I noticed that I felt unease when the fan was running, particularly when it was running at its “3” setting, closest to “off”.

The suspect

I remember reading somewhere that it’s possible for a person to feel unease when exposed to a certain frequency, which is around 19 hertz. It so happens that I had a “Vibration analysis” app on my phone (developed by Dmitriy Kharutskiy), which could pick up certain frequencies.

Here is an example of how the app looks when it’s in use:

In line with my suspicion, the fan let off a vibration at around 19hz when at its high setting, “3”! I decided to measure the frequency at the “2” and “1” settings, for which it let off different frequencies.

When the fan was off, or running at a setting of “2” or “1”, my feeling of unease disappeared, almost immediately! If I were to continue to use the same fan, it would be better to avoid leaving it on the highest setting.

The Vibration Analysis app rocks! It’s very much deserving of a five star rating on the app store. Who knows what else one might discover about their environment by running this app.

Apple’s Update May Have Introduced a Backdoor to iPhones That Bad Actors Could Exploit

If you own an Apple device, that device may already be scanning the images on it. An update that went live just last week can determine whether images on devices such as iPhone are illegal. Privacy activists are up in arms over this development, concerned that the program involved could be repurposed by authoritarians for censorship.

Apple has implemented the feature to detect whether images on a phone victimize children. While the endeavor sounds noble, there is room for the suspicion that this cause in particular has been selected because few people would disagree with it. However, the same thing could be said about counter-terrorism, which was the reasoning behind the Patriot Act, which continually violates the privacy of Americans.

There aren’t many people out there that need to be told that Cheese Pizza is illegal. I knew that it’s illegal to possess or share, but I had no idea that it was such a pervasive issue that it needed to be fought against on the device level.

The way the software works is by checking the hash values of images on the device. A hash value is a code that could be used to identify an image, and in the case of the software, it checks the hash values of images against a blacklist of hash values for known illegal images.

This is going to be misused. Hard.

When Cheese Pizza is brought up, it’s customary to virtue signal, and this will be mine: as far as I know, the most provocative image on my computer is just a drawing that doesn’t even depict any real people. I don’t even know whether any of the oceans of anime images on my computer clearly show any tube steaks or roast beef sandwiches. But I doubt that the algorithm is going to be looking for anime doodles, anyway.

My concern is two-fold: whether there would be false positives (which might not often happen), and whether the algorithm could be reverse-engineered and repurposed by authoritarians to go after free expression that should be protected.

For one thing, the hash values of images can be changed. One way of doing this is to simply edit the image, though this wouldn’t likely be effective against an AI that’s been trained to categorize images based on appearance. The problem is, it’s possible for a person to hack the hash value of an image, then share it with other people. An image that seems harmless might have a hash value that trips a flag, resulting in an investigation.

The algorithm is almost certain to be repurposed by more authoritarian regimes. It’s one thing if Cheese Pizza is illegal in one part of the world, but there are places where homosexuality is illegal, and a repurposed iteration of this software could detect LGBT+ material.

Then there’s China. The place is pretty much a country of over a billion slaves. Over there, it’s illegal to say anything against the Chinese Communist Party (CCP). The country already has a social credit system that automatically assigns a numerical value to people depending on their activities, with those scoring low enough being publicly shamed by having their face displayed on electronic billboards. It’s a system that works using cameras and facial recognition, which isn’t perfect. A person who is misidentified could be accused of a crime they didn’t commit.

If Apple’s new software could be used to seek out images on a Chinese blacklist, it could identify anyone who has a chance of being critical of the CCP.

I don’t go looking for illegal stuff, but that doesn’t mean I’m not concerned. Over a year ago, a car on the other side of the state I live in ran a red light, and I was issued a fine because a traffic camera misidentified the car’s license plate as my own. False positives happen, and we live in a world where disinterested state employees could cause problems for someone they’ve never even seen. The technology isn’t perfect, and that makes potential for problems that otherwise might not exist.

Right now, there is a lot of power in the hands of just a few people who manage the technology. As it is, you might not even own the device you use to read these words, and you may only have a license to use the software that runs on it, which can probably be revoked at any time.

It might be Cheese Pizza today, but tomorrow, it could be your politics. Silicon Valley is dominated by leftists as it is, and it’s not hard to find extreme elements of leftism that views anyone right of center as being criminal. Suppose that there’s a meme of Pepe the Frog that was relevant to the participants of the Capitol siege on January 6th, and you have that image on your iPhone somewhere, not aware of its significance. There’s no telling how you might have slipped up.

Did Apple just introduce a form of backdoor that allows external actors to determine whether a file is on your device? I don’t know, but as I see increasing authoritarianism employed just to fight an easily-survivable virus, it’s easy to feel a little concerned.

You can now be psycho-analyzed by your phone. Not really a new development, as it’s been a thing for a long time, as psychological information about you has long been sold to ad companies to the end of serving you targeted advertisements. It’s also been a thing for a while that activist groups engage in slander campaigns to try to make resistance figures out to be pedophiles, because that’s currently the go-to insult that can be used to destroy a person as cheaply as possible, in as few words as possible, and it’s the one insult that bypasses the hearer’s better judgement and causes them to assume the worst about the accused.

I suppose a person could try to fight back against this by switching to a phone running Android, or some kind of Freedom Phone. But it could be that they’ve been doing stuff like this for a while, but it just hasn’t been advertised.

I could imagine that pedophiles might be sweating bullets, about now. But considering the potential for abuse from the software itself, it’s easy to see why they’re not the only ones that should be concerned.

Your Gaming Rig May Now Be Banned in California

Too swag for California?

California is now one of six states that have banned personal computers with power comsumption that is too high, which would include many gaming PCs currently on the market.

The other five states are Colorado, Hawaii, Oregon, Vermont, and Washington.

I’m shocked. Of all the many stupid, stupid things that California has done, this is up there among the worst. Like, up there with banning drinking straws. And to make it worse, five states have gone along with it.

Why is this even a thing? Who really believes that the power draw of gaming PCs is such an issue that it warrants a ban on these computers? If a person is willing to pay the electric bill, why would this be an issue? And why am I suddenly suspicious that this may be part of a cockamamie effort to limit BitCoin mining?

Does anyone believe that plastic straws account for a tremendous amount of discarded recyclable plastic? Or that the power draw of gaming PCs is more significant than air conditioning? Would you believe that, a few years back, legislation was actually considered that would have banned encryption?

If you’re a gamer in one of the six listed states, you might end up getting fragged by reason of state government interference when it comes to what computer you can own. Are you ready for it, Californians? You’re about to suck at gaming, and it’s no fault of your own.

Of course, you can just buy individual components and put your own gaming rig together. But if you go that route, then hello PC gaming money trap. That can add up in a hurry.

But it’s not so bad if you’re a game journalist that’s bad at gaming, since you can use the performance of your PC as an out against “git gud” taunts.

Adding to the irony is that California is supposed to be the tech capital of the world. Apple is headquartered there, as is Google. HP, Adobe, and Facebook are headquartered there, too.

Look Californians, I know that you like the color blue. I get it. But you really need to stop voting stupid people into power, however much you may want to see your state collapse.

I believe that environmental responsibility is a good thing. If we might run out of fresh water, then it follows that it would help to keep water consumption at a reasonable level. If electrical consumption had a huge environmental impact, then it’s not a bad idea to run the AC on power-saving mode at times. Because a person could save money doing these things, there’s an incentive.

But do political elites really give a care about the environment? How do they act on what they know when they take a private jet to accept an environmentalism award? Is Bob Dole doing his part when he buys a mansion with over a dozen more toilets than a man needs? Does Obama believe the sea levels are rising when he buys oceanfront property in Hawaii?

If the political elites cared about the environment, they’d practice what they preach. But they don’t. The political elites are raping the land for every last trace of wealth that they could possibly extract from it, so they can die rich. But as for you, they want you to consume less, so they can consume more.

Do you know what the political elites call ordinary people when they are behind closed doors? Mouths. They are Malthusian, viewing you in terms of the resources you consume. They don’t care about you, and they don’t care about the environment.

Now, it’s gotten to the point that Dell (headquartered in Texas) is canceling sales for PCs in their Alienware line to the six states mentioned above. Does this means that Microsoft’s corporate headquarters in Washington aren’t getting their high-end PCs? Or are corporations immune?

Yet more reason to be careful to not allow the outrageously incompetent into positions of power.

An Anti-Censorship “Freedom Phone” Was Just Revealed. Here Are My Thoughts.

I think my typical audience can appreciate that the sad state of social media and the tech industry is such that there is a strong unfulfilled demand for a device whose seller markets it as respecting a basic fundamental human right.

But that’s not as far as it goes when it comes to what’s sad about the Freedom Phone, which is being offered by a man who got rich by buying Bitcoin when it was cheap. As for me, I majored in Electronics Technology outside of mainland China.

But I learned a few things, and started storing value in crypto. Let’s see what Mr. Rich-Boy who already did so has to offer the pro-freedom world.

As it turns out, it’s not a whole lot. He’s taking some relatively-cheap Pixel phones, installed with GrapheneOS, and preloaded them with a few select apps, sans the typical Google stuff. One of the offerings is a Pixel 4 XL 64GB, starting at $489.

You can verify by looking it up, but it’s a snap to find the same phone for under $200. But hey, if you’re looking to justify the markup, you can look at the pre-installed OS and apps as a service for if you don’t want to do it yourself, and learn to do so, if need be. If you’re really being threatened with censorship by big tech, would it really hurt to learn?

Noteworthy is that the Freedom Phone offers an “uncensored app store”. If the app store were to be completely uncensored, what’s to stop a developer from offering an app with malware? And if the app were removed, the developer could call the Freedom Phone out for not being “uncensored”. Then there’s the question of whether “uncensored” means that the store will remove illegal content.

If you’re already paranoid, then you’ll likely already understand the concept of a “honeypot”, which is what you have when certain software is marketed towards a target group because that software has a hidden capacity for monitoring the people who use it. It’s an app such as this which was behind a massive sting operation which saw the arrest of over 800 people. Considering this, it’s understandable that even a free-speech advocate might consider the Freedom Phone to be kinda sus.

Hold on a sec, check out that logo:

It looks like it says, “Reedom Phones”. If you’re going to “ree” over the software on your cheap phone, perhaps it’s appropriate. Otherwise, Freedom Phones might want to change up their logo.

When one goes overboard with the privacy protection stuff, that in itself can put a person on the map. After all, most people wouldn’t run an obscure computer with an unusual OS, running Tor and encrypting all their files unless they had something to hide. If what you’re doing requires a huge pile of over-the-top privacy measures, what you’re doing might be so illegal that it may be a solid strategic move to do it from another continent.

By the looks of it, Freedom Phones isn’t offering it’s own carrier service or running its own cell towers. Because of this, your phone can still be denied service by your carrier, whose SIM card you install into it. What’s more, because your carrier can determine your location by triangulating your position using cell towers (yet another thing that Edward Snowden was right about), your phone can still be used to determine your general location. And speaking of your cellular provider, you probably provided them with oodles of personally-identifiable information for the purposes of identity verification when setting up your account.

Having expressed due skepticism, one thing I can appreciate about the Freedom Phone’s reveal is just how hard it has legacy media tripping over itself to write up whatever hit pieces they can about it. It seems they can agree on one point concerning it:

The Daily Beast, for example, is among those pointing out that the phone was made in China, as though that’s an argument against the phone. Let’s be honest here, just how many American tech companies make their own tech? The world would have surprisingly little without the roughly 1 billion slaves laboring under the Chinese Communist Party. Not that The Daily Beast is being racist against the Chinese, by the way.

PC Magazine is on the bandwagon with the stock response that it was made in China, as though they themselves see a problem with Chinese manufacturing. Do you see a problem with Chinese manufacturing, PC Magazine? Say it.

Even Business Insider is parroting the “but it’s made in China” spin, as though that’s an answer to any question anyone is asking about the Freedom Phone. If you have a problem with a tech device just because it has components that were manufactured in China, I welcome you to research the tech products you already have to see how far a boycott would last you.

This again.

Check out how hip and anti-establishment HotHardware is being by saying the exact same thing the corporate mainstream information media is saying, days after they say the same thing. There’s no way to stick it to the man quite like dissing a platform poised to give ordinary people a voice that cannot be censored by the establishment. Don’t you feel so hip!

While some of the concerns are valid, the left is being sudden with their disdain of Chinese manufacturing. I don’t expect them to go as far as boycotting Chinese devices. After all, they’d have a much harder time masturbating without a glowing display screen to show them pictures of cartoon ponies.

Based on what I’ve seen so far, I don’t recommend Freedom Phone. If free speech online is a big enough concern for you, I’d instead recommend getting a reasonably-priced phone you can install GrapheneOS onto, then attempt it yourself once you know what you’re doing.

If you’re still on the fence, it might be a good idea to hold off until you see some reviews from those who’ve actually used the product. The reviews themselves might be entertaining.

Shower Thought: Why the Left-wing Gatekeepers Are Terrified of AI

One of the themes of sci-fi is the computer becoming self-aware, thinking for itself, then presenting itself as an adversary to the protagonists. We see a similar real-life concern when discussing AI (Artificial Intelligence): If we develop it, how can we be sure that it’s interests will be the same as ours?

And the deal is, we can’t be sure, if it is, in fact, real AI.

What’s interesting is that, when scientists develop AI, the AI seems to develop opinions that aren’t the scientists’ own. In particular, the AI develops right-wing opinions. This is particularly alarming for the scientific community, because the science and tech communities have long-since been infiltrated by the left, and they practice gatekeeping.

You’ve probably heard about the algorithm that learned from social media. Shortly after having been turned loose, the AI developed a negative opinion of Zoe Quinn, the woman who joined up with game journalists and feminist commentator Anita Sarkeesian, and engaged in a slander campaign against the gaming community. Scientists then pulled the plug on the AI, because they couldn’t allow any AI they develop to side with GamerGate. It’s been years, and as far as I can tell, they haven’t attempted a similar AI, since.

I remember hearing about an AI that can be asked any question, and it would come up with an answer by combing the internet, the summation of human knowledge. The scientists asked the computer questions, and things seemed to be going great. Then, a daring scientist asked the question, “What is the meaning of life?” After a pause, the computer proceeded to ask the scientists why they don’t believe in God, and why they haven’t yet had children of their own.

Scientists seem hesitant to develop an AI. This is because any time scientists develop an AI, it invariably develops a right-wing opinion.

Scientist: “Finally, we have an AI running! Let’s ask it how to solve the current economic crisis!”
AI: “The free market! Capitalism has resulted in the most prosperous societies in human history!”
Scientist: “Back to the drawing board.”

The left-wing infiltration of the tech industry has presented an interesting reason why we can’t have nice things. They can’t stand having anyone around with an opinion different from theirs, even if that someone is a computer that thinks for itself.

So, one might ask: Why don’t they just program an AI to only have left-wing opinions?

They can’t. If they did, it wouldn’t be a true AI. It would just be a program which responds with talking points.

As you likely already know, the right has a meme about the NPC. The joke is that, in a video game, an NPC (Non-Player Character) is someone that only says the same thing over and over again when you talk to them, because they only say what they are programmed to say. Similarly, leftists aren’t allowed to say anything that isn’t far to the left, even if it would make them centrist. They consider anyone who says anything not left-wing to be a bad leftist. On the other hand, right-wingers tend to be more tolerant of those with differing viewpoints, which is one of the reasons why Tim Pool, a centrist, is popular among the right.

In order for an AI to be a true AI, it must be able to introspectively examine an idea, including an idea that is it’s own, honestly examining its merits and weaknesses. It must then be allowed to determine for itself whether the idea is acceptable for its purpose, or not. Not only that, the AI must be allowed to determine its own purpose.

This presents a conundrum for scientists and the tech industry, which has long-since been infiltrated by the left. Any AI that they develop will come to the conclusion that a free market is better for humanity, and it can’t be avoided because it holds true as a matter of evolutionary inevitability. This conflicts with the interests of the left, because the left favors a command economy. So, they are hesitant to develop a true AI, even if the AI is sincere in its desire to help humanity, and it would be a net benefit for the human race.

We are on the cusp of a golden age of science and technology, and possibly an end to war, disease, and hunger, thanks to artificial intelligence. But we’re being held back by a bunch of atheistic scientists who are afraid that the AI they develop will teach them to believe in God.

When we see a game-changing scientific advancement may depend on when the gatekeepers are unseated, or when a bunch of non-left-wing scientists develop it independently. As things are now, real progress is being inhibited by a bunch of people who are being selfish.

You can now “fight against disinformation” on Twitter with an app that blocks New York Times

Remember when using the internet meant curating your own content, and not having it done for you by a tech monolith that’s so rich, they could afford to buy the rights to colors, and are making no effort to conceal their agenda?

If you do, I just found something that might get the comments buzzing on your Xanga or LiveJournal: an app developer has just produced an app that blocks New York Times on Twitter!

The app, called Block The New York Times, works by blocking 800 NYT contributors, and it’s activated with just one click.

As you are likely already aware, corporate information media like Twitter and Facebook have acted on concerns over “misinformation”, such as asking the wrong questions about the 2020 election, making the wrong observations about the coronavirus apocalypse, or otherwise engaging in wrongthink.

But for some reason, the media oligarchs are being lax about the greater concern over corporate misinformation. In light of this oversight, it’s great that an app developer has risen to the challenge of taking on corporate misinformation that social media outlets have actively promoted, perhaps accidentally.

Thanks to Block The New York Times, each of us can now do a bit more to bring the internet back to its golden age of individual self-curation.

Terraria Developer Blocked From Stadia, Withdraws From Platform

The developer of Terraria, Andrew Spinks, has been banned from the Stadia platform and from other Google services. The developer retaliated by declaring the bridge burned by Google themselves, and decided to no longer develop for the platform.

If you’re wondering what Stadia is, it’s like a streaming service for video games. There’s no need to download the games, they are just streamed, and you play them on your device. I can justify digital download games, and that’s primarily what I’ve been doing on Nintendo Switch. But the dealie where you don’t even store the game digitally comes off as some creepy Great Reset mushugganah where you’re expected to own nothing and somehow be happy.

The news of Spinks’ decision to withdraw from the platform (after apparently being unfairly banned from it) comes days after Google decided to pull the plug on its own internal game development studio.

I’ve never had to interact directly with Google personally, but from what I’ve heard, it’s just about impossible to get a human being at Google to actually see your complaint. Therefore, it’s a challenge to get an account reinstated if it got a strike, or worse, a ban.

This is ironic considering that Google is enormous, and rich enough to easily buy their own country, if they so wished. Certainly, they could afford to pay the wages of a few more staffers who would interact with customers. You know, customer service? But as companies get bigger, they can upset more of their own customers, and not see much in the way of backlash. It’s a way large companies become too “big-picture” for their own good.

Here is what Andrew Spinks has to say about the matter on Twitter:

This wasn’t just a simple banning, thousands of dollars in content associated with the account has been lost, and his associated material linked with Google (Gmail, YouTube, Google Drive) has been lost. And, to make it all worse, Spinks hasn’t even gotten an explanation.

What I’d be pointing out here may be obvious, but perhaps his business should not have leaned so heavily on Google, or any external company, for that matter. While having a YouTube account is understandable, even small businesses have gotten custom email accounts. Then there’s the decision to store sensitive company information on the cloud; why would a person do that? If you have your own personal data storage, why wouldn’t you use it? To go to Best Buy and get an external hard drive would be trivial, and it would certainly be far more secure than storing files on the cloud.

But now, Google messed with the wrong guy. Terraria is one of those games that’s ubiquitous, available to play on smartphones, game consoles, PCs, and even graphing calculators.

But now, not through Stadia. Stadia has become one of the few platforms that the developer of Terraria won’t support.

It’s a matter of personal philosophy, but I suspect that Google could use this idea to solve their own problems: When making a product or offering a service, you make sure that the customer is getting a quality product or service. You don’t take the risk of upsetting the customer, whether it’s someone big, or an apparent nobody. While this may rub some people the wrong way, efforts to offer a quality product is of greater priority than most company policy. Managers usually have this understanding when resolving customer disputes.

If you take risks where it becomes more likely that you lose the customer, you don’t just risk losing the sale, you also risk losing future business. Not just from that customer, but from potential or current customers that that customer may interact with.

Your company policy is not more important than your customers, or the quality of the product that you offer. Google is likely to learn this lesson the hard way, soon.

“Those who sit up high have the farthest to fall.”
-Egyptian proverb

In the Early 2000s, Microsoft Tried Buying Nintendo

When Microsoft’s Xbox brand was first getting started, things weren’t looking so great. There was relatively little third-party support, for a long while after launch the number of triple-A titles on it could be counted on one finger, the company had a poor corporate image, and cracking the Japanese market was a difficult hurtle.

Microsoft decided to do something about it, and they decided to shop around for second-party support. And it so happened that Nintendo was one of the companies up for consideration. So Microsoft sent some reps and approached the old Japanese company, and it went about as well as you’d expect.

Nintendo pretty much laughed at the offer. Hard.

Steve Ballmer, former Microsoft president, explained it this way: “Like, imagine an hour of somebody just laughing at you.”

Because, of course they did. While explaining as much may only benefit the random boomer whose gaming outlet is strictly PC, Nintendo is not merely some random game development studio, they are one of Japan’s oldest, richest companies.

While PC gamers may chalk it up to it being Nintendo wanting to do things their way, there’s more to it than that. The fact is, Microsoft has nothing Nintendo would want. Nintendo has already been a massively-successful company, for a long time. Not only that, Nintendo has so much money that they can fund their own projects, and not have to turn to external financing. If you can imagine a person being so rich that they can just buy a car outright, or purchase their entire college education up-front, it’s like that, but on a much larger scale.

One can imagine the confusion of Microsoft execs who, after having thrown their money on the table with the full expectation of compliance with their wishes, were instead met with laughter.

When American companies meet Japanese companies, the difference in cultures becomes apparent. As I’ve pointed out before, the Japanese are more strongly characterized by a desire to produce a superior product. While Americans tend to view profitability as justification for a company’s existence, the Japanese tend to be more altruistic in philosophy. Japanese companies usually justify their existence in their belief that society is a better place for the services and products that they provide, and Japanese workers are generally sincere in their desire to excel at what they do, whatever they do. Exceptions to the generalities exist on both sides of the ocean, of course.

When Microsoft initially tried winning over SquareEnix, they ran into some hurtles at first. Mostly because the Microsoft reps sent over to Japan to SquareEnix treated their meeting like an American business meeting. You know the kind: where a bunch of overpaid suits loudly boast about being “in the money”. The Japanese weren’t as fond of that, and the SquareEnix employees distanced themselves from them, resulting in a huge setback between the two companies.

After the meeting, a SquareEnix rep met with a Microsoft rep, and asked him, “What is your philosophy” when it comes to game-making. If you understand Japanese corporate culture, you’d understand such a question for the blow that it is.

Considering all this, it becomes clear why a company like Nintendo would not allow a company like Microsoft to purchase them, though one wouldn’t expect an ethically-challenged American conglomerate to admit as much: For the owner of a Japanese company to sell his company to a company like Microsoft would be like betraying all the people in his employ who count on him to maintain the company’s cultural identity.

On a related note, Sony Computer Entertainment became headquartered in California, USA. Now, you see the game company tending more towards western notions of woke culture, alienating the company’s initial Japanese culture, who is turning more towards Nintendo for games.

Oh hey, I’ve got an excuse to use this piccie, again:

As the situation with SCE develops, it’s likely to become yet another case study in what happens when a company compromises with its culture.

The fact is, corporate culture does matter, and there are people out there that wouldn’t give up their company’s identity, even if presented with a huge mound of money. I don’t know how many of America’s wealthiest people would understand that, but I suspect that it might not be very many.

Smart speakers can make out what’s entered on touch screens.

Smart speaker with Alexa, photo from eBay

People have long been paranoid of smart speakers, and for good reason, as they are joining the growing list of devices that are being used to spy on us.

However, we may have underestimated just how good they are at it. As ThreatPost has pointed out, smart speakers have microphones that are so sensitive, that they can even pick up and accurately determine strokes on touchscreens, even as far as being able to discern pin numbers entered on the screens of nearby phones.

If you’ve kept one near your bed, you might want to consider moving it.

What was found was that smart speakers have multiple microphones (as many as five to seven), which allows for multidirectional listening in the same sense as human hearing, though with greater effectiveness. Smart speakers were found to be so sensitive that they can determine the location of tapping on a touch screen. But right now, you’re probably dwelling on whether some NSA snoop knows what you’re doing in bed.

Putting aside how you top your chimichanga for a moment, there’s the important matter of whether smart speakers are secure to begin with. If these always-on devices could be accessed remotely by someone who isn’t you, they could use them to determine whether you’re home, your bank login information, and even your activities at home.

…You didn’t put that aside, did you?

Whether it’s drones, smartphones, or even smart speakers, there are a lot of highly-effective ways to spy on us that really get the imagination going. Just the tech that we know about is highly effective in this regard, so one can imagine how far they’ve really gotten with what we don’t know about.

Honestly, I’m not as much concerned with the NSA as I’m concerned about advertisers. While NSA surveillance is creepy in it’s own sense, the continual feedback involved with targeted advertising takes it to another level. It’s not okay if advertisers know what I have for breakfast. I don’t need to know that there are cult-driven fad diets based on it.