It goes without saying that anyone talking about women as bitches and innovators of only rolling pins is an idiot and doesn’t deserve an audience. What a ridiculous notion, right? Regardless, those points were being touted by the emcee at a Dell summit to the laughter and applause of 800 Dell employees and partners. Myself, I would have walked out. But I wasn’t there, so I guess Dell can suck it the next time I need a laptop. Still, that's not the point.
If you're in the industry and you've never gone to CES, make 2013 your year. We ladies are under-represented in a big way. CEA does not report on gender demographics, but by my visual estimation I'd say ladies made up no more than 5% of exhibitors and attendees (no offense to them, but I'm not counting booth babes). What's happening here? Soap box aside, we are simply a bigger slice of the pie. And while I could well get lost in satisfying my curiosity about all the reasons why, that's not really the point. The point is, CES needs us and we need CES.
I don’t know if I was more intimidated by my husband Sean’s stories of CES and its chaos, or the stereotypical Las Vegas of films and television. I’d never had an inclination to go to either, but Sean insisted I should at least give it a chance this year. I joined him and I'm glad I did. I'll be better prepared for CES 2013 - because I'm going back!
I have long wished for a perfect iPad 2 case, one that was equal parts pretty and useful. My first iPad came with Apple's no-nonsense black neoprene case, and for the money (free to me!) it was perfect. When I handed it down and upgraded to this iPad 2, I also picked up a Smart Cover and Belkin protective back cover. For the next five months I lived in fear of catching a door jam or counter top with a corner of my beautiful new iPad. I've truly been as careful with this thing as I ever was with my newborns' noggins. As pretty and slick and thin as the cover combo I'd created was, it kept me on edge until I was clutching it with two hands whenever I moved with it.
I'd like to think I've got a couple of average teens, but I'm told the mere fact that they're growing up with an uber geek (not myself, but thanks) means they're not average when it comes to technology desires. Regardless, what follows is a quick run-down of their favorites.
After reading a somewhat serious review on an iPhone/iPad app that features jiggling Jell-O, it occurs to me that techs are odd characters when it comes to silliness. They can also be a little unreliable in the humor department, but I think that depends more on who made the joke.
I actually have some personal experience with geeks and this sort of thing. A couple of years ago I forwarded an email about a silly calculation with letters and numbers and corresponding words to my dad, something I thought was hilarious and worthy of sharing with an analyst and statistician. He proceeded to check the work, find a flaw in a calculation, and correct it. Then he made a few of his own (correct) calculations to make another silly but clever joke, and sent it back to me.
Nerds live for that kind of thing, they seem to love the complicated stuff. And silly complicated stuff, like well-written apps depicting accurately jiggling gelatin: definitely. In my own house, where geek has ruled for years, humor and silliness are very odd things. There is no family, not anywhere, which pauses movies more often to recap or compare notes after comedic scenes. We pretend it’s so we don’t miss the next line or two, but it often lasts into thorough re-creations and performances – all of which are judged for accuracy and delivery. I’m serious. The last time we watched Snatch it took at least four hours, even though some of us were already doing our best voiceovers in sync with the characters. (I am not part of that some, and those who are know it makes me crazy, which is why they now pause the movie.)
My own seventeen-year-old son, who I absolutely adore, spends more time over-complicating even the most basic of the silly things. He has actually described to me why a particular Bugs Bunny skit is funny. While I have always appreciated the whole Werner Brothers crew and their use of thought-provoking antics for humor, I think I appreciated my son’s take on it more that day. And I wondered if my dad ever explained Bugs Bunny to my grandmother.
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Jonathan Stark was curious about something. As a gadget-laden mobile app developer with a thirst for Starbucks, he wondered how he could associate a single Starbucks mobile card with more than one mobile device. He tried this workaround for Starbucks limit: he took a screenshot on one device and emailed it to another. Turns out Starbucks doesn’t mind, displayed barcodes all scan the same.
He uploaded the photo to his blog and his lucky followers were treated to this bit of information, as well as a cup of coffee on him. Before the end of the day, his initial $30 was down to $1.26. He reloaded $50 “for his friends on the west coast” and it was depleted again in hours.
Here’s where it gets interesting: a friend of Jonathan’s did him a solid and reloaded the card. It also turns out Starbucks will not only let anyone with an image of the card use it for coffee, they also don’t care who reloads it as long as they’ve got the barcode.
Being the developer he is, he quickly wrote a bot that scrapes the Starbucks site and updates a Twitter account he created for the card. Jonathan figured if you’re getting on board, you can follow the card tweets and decide whether to get a latte, or maybe help the next guy out.
Once the idea took off, more than his blog followers were playing along and his idea got the notice of more than just the tech sites for its uniqueness. The card’s Twitter account currently has over 9000 followers and in just the past hour includes seven tweets about reaching a zero balance, and 21 for positive amounts. Jonathan admits the transactions and reloads are not aggregating correctly, so it’s impossible right now to tell how often and for how much the card is being used. We’re confident he’ll figure it out though and update his followers, who have surely grown by the hundreds – full of developers, retailers, and philanthropists alike.