How did Blade Runner's tech predictions stack up?

The BBC's Szu Ping Chan takes a look at the futuristic technology depicted in 1982's Blade Runner, which was set in November 2019. It now being November 2019, how did it do? We're doing great on telecommunications and despoiling the planet, but not well on the genetically-engineered vat-grown human clones front.

computational photography is becoming the norm, helping our phones take incredible low-light pictures, and automatically blur the background of our portrait shots. But the Esper machine, which Deckard uses to find clues by zooming in on different things within photos, remains ahead of its time. It enables him to see objects and people from different angles, and items which were not previously visible. AI researchers are working on software that can create interactive 3D views from a single 2D source image, but it's likely to be many more years to come before Photoshop gets the feature.

How might Deckard's camera work, practically? The data could only represent what the camera can see at the moment of capture. Recent light-field cameras (with several lenses at different focal lengths) can do the Blade Runner trick, but not enough to offer the shift of perpective Deckard was able to explore on his bulky, single-purpose cathode ray tube photo viewer.

Perhaps the movie-world's cameras spit out little drones, snapping simultaneously from nearby points of view and baking all the data into the original. Or perhaps being a Blade Runner, he has access to encrypted information in the print captured from nearby surveillance cameras. What if the camera is also capturing all sorts of other data--sonar, radar, dim extrapolations from all the other reflective surfaces -- and inferring details? Read the rest

Mary Meeker's 2019 Internet Trends: stalled growth, security dumpster-fires, more online education and fear of regulation

Every year, VC Mary Meeker (previously) publishes her must-read Internet Trends Report, which comes as a powerpoint deck with hundreds of slides (you can watch her power through them in 30 minutes flat at the Re-Code conference). Read the rest

A look at some quirky, and downright strange, 2019 calendars

It hurts me to say this but 2019 is nearly here, and that means stores are filled with calendars.

Well, my daughter and I are traveling this week and while out at one of our favorite stores in Arizona, we saw a huge display of wall calendars. Because of the sheer quantity of them, we couldn't decide on one. So, we left empty-handed and I thought to search out what quirky calendars I could find online. I wasn't disappointed.

Here are some of the crazy calendars "kids" are into these days (notations in brackets are mine):

1. Animal Butts: "Welcome every month of the new year with a new animal butt!" [Or else!]

Available from Paper Source for $19.95

2. Animal Selfies: "did you know that animals love to take selfies too? Its true..." [that's 110% not true]

On Amazon for $10.39

3. NYC Taxi Drivers: "...features 12 of the city's most scintillating and good-humored yellow cab drivers." [Please, do not put jumper cables anywhere near your nipples!]

$14.99 and benefits charity

4. The RGB Workout: "Exercise with Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg... get into supreme shape!" [She recovered so quickly from those broken ribs, I probably should follow RGB's exercise routine!]

$14.99 at Chronicle Books

5. Pooping Pooches: "Do you know someone who loves dogs...too much?" [No words.]

$15.99 and benefits charity

6. Merby's: The 'bearded men in fish tails' calendar by the Newfoundland and Labrador Beard & Moustache Club is back. [Sure, why not? Read the rest