Computer Love is a semi-regular column exploring the weird world of human sexuality in the 21st century.
That’s me four months ago, emerging from the frozen tomb of a near decade-long relationship. OK, that’s Brendan Fraser, but when I finally surfaced from the cold-comfort coffin of love lost, I was thrust into a strange new world, where courtship starts with a dick pic, dating is done by phone and text messages are the preferred mode of romantic communique.
It’s not as if I’d never heard of Tinder, Grindr and their ilk — they have, after all, surpassed brick-and-mortar meat markets as the go-to bone factories for anyone under 40. But traversing the unknown terrain of digital dating is like trying to find your way out of The Labyrinth. It’s a disorienting maze of new social mores, where strangers attempt to lure you with disembodied extremities; trolls run amok; old men in tight pants may or may not expect you to pee after they slap you; and you’re lucky if you make it out alive without losing your innocence and your lunch.
In the four months since my breakup I’ve culled the combined wisdom of my single friends to help me through this twisted maze. (Look for my guide to online dating: “Limp catfish and other cautionary tales” in the near future.) Just about all of my eligible friends have shared their personal war stories from this new era of love as a digitized battlefield.
Here are a few of the lessons I’ve learned from the frontlines of dating in the 21st century:
1. A simple “hello” is your RSVP to a private viewing of strange dick
2. Never turn on location-based dating apps at the office. EVER!
3. Never show your face
4. Always show your face
5. NSA means something totally different outside of airport security
6. Never exchange numbers
7. Only exchange numbers after you’ve made a date
8. That space between the anus and the scrotum has a scientific name
9. Siri does not care about you. She is not your friend. She will sell you out faster than you can swipe left on a sad clown choking a rubber chicken
10. You have a premium account? LOL
Technology is changing the way we love in ways we never could have imagined, and hookup-app horror stories are but the cherry atop the whip-creamed robot nipple that is the future of human sexuality. Digital brothels have popped up and fallen flat virtually overnight. VR porn is edging ever closer to reality. Futurists and ethicists are debating the hard questions about boning robots while those very robots are taking shape. And yet, your grandma’s vibrator is still going strong.
Man-made innovation has given birth to a new, computer-assisted intimacy, and that in turn has birthed “Computer Love,” a semi-regular column exploring the ins and outs of technology’s impact on our love lives. Over the coming months I’ll dive deep into the sweet, sticky stew of sex in the 21st century with you as my copilot.
Don’t worry, it won’t hurt a bit. Unless, of course, you’re into that sort of thing.
[Image credit: Alamay]
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For years, Apple TV has been like a perpetually ignored child, eclipsed by its overachieving siblings, the iPhone and iPad. Design-wise, it hasn’t changed at all since 2010, and it’s been shackled with one of the most archaic Apple interfaces around, which harkens back to the iPod days. All the while Roku and even Amazon have stepped up their game considerably. Now, with the fourth-generation Apple TV, the set-top box that’s been deemed merely as a “hobby” by its parent has finally come into its own. It has more powerful hardware, a significantly redesigned remote and an operating system that’s worthy of an Apple product in 2015. And finally, there’s a genuine app store, which turns Apple TV into a legitimate platform for entertainment and gaming in your living room. It isn’t quite the “future of television” that Apple is promising, but it’s getting there.
The new Apple TV offers the most refined streaming interface yet, with a remote that’s a step ahead of the competition. Its voice search actually works well, and even at this early stage, there are plenty of worthwhile apps and games. If you need 4K though, look elsewhere.
Since it’s probably going to be stuck somewhere under your TV, it makes sense why Apple didn’t change up the Apple TV’s design much. It’s still made of black plastic, but it’s significantly taller than before, almost like two of the older Apple TVs stacked on top of each other. On the back, there’s the obligatory HDMI port, along with Ethernet, USB-C and power ports. Unfortunately, you’re out of luck if you’re still relying on optical audio cables; the Apple TV relies entirely on HDMI for audio now. That shouldn’t be a problem for most people, but if you’ve got a budget soundbar, or if you haven’t upgraded your home theater in the past decade, be ready to pick up an HDMI/optical cable splitter.
Apple’s A8 chip powers all of the set-top box goodness, and according to developer documents, it’s also running 2GB of RAM. That means it should be an even more powerful device than the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus, which have half as much RAM. It’s unclear how fast the A8 chip is running in the Apple TV, but it was clocked at 1.4 GHz on the iPhone 6 and 1.5 GHz on the iPad Mini 4. You’ve got a choice between 32GB of storage for the $149 model or 64GB for the $199 model. While its nice to have a larger storage option, the 32GB model should be fine for most people, as you’ll be streaming most of your content anyway.
While the Apple TV looks a bit familiar, the new Siri Remote is another story entirely. It’s bigger than before, with a smooth trackpad that sits atop a glass panel on the front. The back is a single piece of metal. It looks like the bastard lovechild of the iPhone 4 and the new MacBook — and that’s a good thing. It simply feels great in your hand. And even when it’s laying flat on your couch or coffee table, it simply looks attractive. The remote has a menu and play/pause button like before, but now there’s also a home button, Siri voice search button, and volume controls. It’s also wireless, finally, so you don’t have to worry about pointing it at the Apple TV.
Basically, it’s as if Apple jumped ahead several generations from the last Apple TV remote, which was all about minimalism. That remote was originally designed to handle media on older Macs, not a set-top box sitting in your living room, so it never felt adequate enough for the Apple TV. There’s now a microphone built-in for voice searches on the new remote, along with an accelerometer and gyroscope for Wii-like motion controls. You can also stop stocking up on watch batteries, as it charges over Apple’s Lightning cable. I haven’t used it long enough to drain the battery so far, and that’s after a week of watching a ton of Netflix and Hulu, as well as playing a wide variety of games.
One nice bonus: You can now control your TV or audio receiver volume from the Siri remote. If your system supports it, the remote can actually turn everything on and control volume over HDMI. Otherwise, you can train the Apple TV to recognize your TV or receiver remote’s IR input, and it’ll duplicate it like a universal remote. The only problem with that option is that you’ll need to point the remote to the Apple TV to change the volume, which sort of defeats the purpose of having a wireless input device.
Say hello to tvOS, an iOS offshoot that finally brings apps and a dramatically redesigned interface to the Apple TV. Gone are the simplistic black background and app interfaces. Instead, tvOS is all about bright colors and visually rich apps. Frankly, it’s about time. While Roku and Amazon have been building up robust media platforms with plenty of attractive apps, Apple TV users have been stuck with an arcane interface that hasn’t changed much since the second-gen version debuted five years ago. Apple’s definitely playing catch-up with tvOS, but there are also some aspects that put it ahead of the competition.
Simply setting up the new Apple TV shows off the seamless integration the company can achieve across its devices today. You just need to place an iOS device near it to shoot over your WiFi and Apple ID credentials. That took just a few seconds with my iPhone 6S. It’s definitely the easiest set-top setup I’ve seen so far, mainly because you’re not just stuck typing in login credentials letter-by-letter with a directional pad. If you don’t have an iOS device, you’ll be stuck doing just that with the Siri Remote, a somewhat frustrating process (more on that below).
Once you’re all set up, there’s a familiar looking home screen, with apps for iTunes movies, TV shows and music, as well as photos. This time around though, navigating the interface is far more fluid, thanks to the Siri Remote’s touchpad. There are also visual flourishes sprinkled throughout; I particularly liked how app icons sort of bend in different directions with 3D effects as you hover over them. And it’s nice to finally have a button that brings you right back to the home screen (previously, that involved holding down the menu button). There’s also some rudimentary multitasking: Double-clicking the home button opens up all of your recent apps, and it’s pretty easy to hop between them.
As much as voice search is a big part of the new Apple TV, you’ll have to deal with the on-screen keyboard once in a while. And, unfortunately, it’s even worse than before. Instead of heaving several rows of letters for you to hunt and peck, now they’re all presented on a single line so that you can swipe back and forth on the trackpad to select them. The big problem? While the trackpad is great for big sweeping movements, it’s pretty frustrating for fine selections, like choosing letters side by side. At this point, you also can’t connect a Bluetooth keyboard like with the old Apple TV, and Apple’s Remote app still doesn’t support it either.
App store and apps
You’ll notice something new on the home screen: an app store. Finally! The previous Apple TV slowly built up a decent collection of third-party apps, but they weren’t easy to make, and there was no app store of any sort to visit. Instead new applications just got downloaded to your Apple TV home screen, and you’d be left with sorting out the mess by manually hiding the ones you didn’t need (which turned out to be most of them).
Given that there aren’t any third-party apps installed by default, you’ll have to get familiar with the app store real quick. And if you’ve seen one app store from Apple, you’ve seen them all, really. This one features popular and upcoming apps on the main page, as well as top charts, just as you’d expect. Even at this early stage, there are plenty of noteworthy apps out there. On top of the essentials like Netflix and Hulu, there are newcomers like Plex, shopping apps from QVC and Gilt, and also lots and lots of games.
There are huge quality gaps between the available apps so far. Some, like Netflix and Hulu, are merely just attractive updates to their older apps. Others just seem weird when adapted to television, like the Periscope app which doesn’t even let you log into your Periscope account. (And boy, seeing most of that amateur content on a big screen isn’t very entertaining.) But there are also a handful of apps that show the potential for the Apple TV to be a new and exciting platform for your living room.
The QVC app combines live video with browsable content that you can buy right from the Apple TV. And Gilt’s app is basically an attractive catalog for its online store. They might feel a tad superfluous right now, but don’t forget how much the availability of apps on smartphones and tablets changed the way we shop. Being able to browse shopping sites on the biggest screen in your room could certainly be tempting to many consumers.
Apps generally downloaded and installed pretty quickly, and given that Apple is imposing a 200MB file size limit on apps, you shouldn’t have to deal with many lengthy downloads. Once you start piling them on, they’ll all show up on your home screen, and eventually you’ll have something that resembles the previous Apple TV. It’d be nice to get folders or some way to organize them eventually, though.
Siri and voice search
Siri’s also a big part of tvOS, though mainly it just serves as the conduit for voice search. Tapping the microphone button on the remote opens up the standard Siri interface, you just need to dictate a search command into the remote and let Siri do its magic. Given that you’re searching on something called the Apple TV, the voice search is best suited for things like movie and tv show titles, actors and directors. The voice search results were generally pretty accurate, unless I searched for a particularly tricky name or movie title. Siri can also fetch basic information like the weather, but right now it’s nowhere near as robust as on iOS proper.
The best part about the Apple TV’s Siri search? It does a great job of finding content across multiple services. When I searched for The Good Wife, for example, I got results pointing to several seasons on Hulu, along with the obligatory link to buy it on iTunes as well. It’s gotten to the point where I’m using voice search to find things even when I know where to find them on Netflix, because the Apple TV can actually link you straight into third-party apps. No more hopping around menus and typing in search queries like a chump! (Unless you’re looking for foreign titles or things that are just hard to parse with your voice.
I was also surprised at how deep the voice feature could go. When I asked it to play the first episode of Homeland, it opened the Showtime app (which I subscribe to) and immediately started playing the pilot. And the same thing happened with HBO Now when I asked for the first episode of The Sopranos. You can also use voice search to launch specific apps, which could be handy as your home screen gets messy.
Stil, there’s certainly room for Siri search to get better. It can’t search your shared iTunes libraries, and so far it only works with a few apps (the biggies mentioned above). Once it opens up more widely, especially for things like YouTube and sports apps, it’ll be a game changer. Compared to the Fire TV and Roku 4’s voice search, Apple TV works a bit faster, and it also did a better job of finding content across multiple services.
As a media device
When it comes to streaming video, the new Apple TV isn’t much different than the old one. Videos seem to start up a bit faster, and the Siri remote makes fast-forwarding an rewinding much easier than before. There’s actually a small image preview of where you’re navigating to on the video timeline, which helps you pinpoint specific spots easily. You can probably thank the extra disk space in the Apple TV for that, since it allows for much more video caching than before.
If you had a favorite media app on the old Apple TV, chances are it’s already available on the new one. But the mere existence of an app store means more services could make their way over. I was surprised to see that Plex, which builds software for streaming your personal media, managed to make their app available already. It had no trouble recognizing my existing Plex shares. It sure was weird being able to play my own media files right off of the Apple TV. Apps like Plex were also one of the biggest advantages that Roku and the Fire TV had, which means both Roku and Amazon need to start looking at other ways to differentiate themselves.
Unfortunately, if you’re eager for some 4K content, the Apple TV won’t be of much use to you. Unlike its main competitors this year, Apple is sticking with tried-and-true 1080p video. That makes sense to a certain extent — most people don’t have 4K TVs yet, so why build for that? Apple is all about optimizing its product margins whenever possible, and it’s no stranger to waiting a bit before adopting new technology (don’t forget that Apple didn’t deliver LTE until the iPhone 5). But if you’ve already got a 4K TV, I won’t blame you for feeling bummed. (Although it’s worth checking to see if any built-in apps on your TV also offer 4K content.) By next year, Apple definitely won’t be able to ignore 4K anymore.
On another note, it’s unclear if Apple managed to overhaul AirPlay for the Apple TV and iOS 9 (as 9to5Mac reported), but based on my tests streaming Spotify tracks, local music and video, it seemed to perform better than before. AirPlay has always been one of the biggest reasons for iOS and Mac users to go with the Apple TV, but it’s also a standard that’s notoriously unreliable. If Apple has managed to fix that, it’ll make its shiny new set-top box all the more tempting to fans.
As a gaming device
Color me surprised: The Apple TV manages to be a pretty solid gaming machine! You’d never mistake it for a dedicated gaming console, to be sure, but it offers up some decent casual gaming experiences, as well as some slightly more robust offerings. Some of the games, like Rayman Adventures and Crossy Road, are basically just iPhone ports. But there are also some new titles like Beat Sports from Harmonix which were built specifically for the Siri Remote’s motion control capabilities.
All of the games on Apple TV are required to work with the Siri Remote, but you can also pair a “Made for iPhone” (MFI) controller with it over Bluetooth for more advanced games. The normal remote is fine for casual games, especially something like Crossy Road, which just requires you to swipe in several directions. Transistor was a bit tough to play with the Siri Remote alone, but once I connected a SteelSeries Nimbus controller, it felt no different than playing it on my computer with an Xbox One controller. Additional controllers typically retail for around $50, so they won’t be the sort of thing most consumers would jump to.
When it comes to games, Apple TV’s real future depends on how well developers take advantage of the Siri Remote. Beat Sports is currently the prime example of what’s possible. It features the quirk of Wii Sports, some infuriatingly catchy music and genuinely fun gameplay that kids can learn easily. For the most part, it has you swing the remote or swipe the trackpad to the tune of cartoonish characters playing sports. It’s simple, yet quickly addictive.
It should be pretty clear who Apple is fighting against for dominance in your living room: It’s mainly Roku and Amazon, which offer similarly powerful, app-enabled set-top boxes. But plenty of TVs these days also come with built-in apps, which for some people makes the whole idea of having a separate box on your TV pointless. If you want a streaming box for your older TV, though, and are mostly concerned with cross-platform support, you’re probably better off with the Roku 4 ($130) or the slightly older Roku 3 ($100), which despite their humdrum interfaces, offer solid voice search and a wide variety of media apps.
If you’re heavily invested in Amazon’s ecosystem, the $100 4K Fire TV is worth a look too. It offers a slightly better interface than Roku, along with a bigger selection of games and a gamepad accessory for more complex titles. Still, it should be no surprise that Amazon’s TV box ends up mainly serving as a great advertisement for Amazon’s content library and Prime. (Yes, you could easily say the same for iTunes and the Apple TV.) Heck, Amazon is even reportedly testing out its storefront on the Fire TV, which makes sense since we’re already seeing shopping apps pop up on the Apple TV as well.
And again, the lack of 4K on the new Apple TV will be an instant deal breaker for some, especially when you can easily get it from Amazon and Roku. Personally, though, I’d still rather watch TV on a solid 1080p plasma, rather than the plethora of cheap 4K LCDs out there. Picture quality generally looks better, and seriously, you likely won’t be able to see much of a resolution bump from your couch with 4K. If you haven’t invested in a 4K set yet, it’s probably worth waiting until next year when the TVs get cheaper, look better and support other new technologies, like high dynamic range (HDR). That can actually make a noticeable change in how your content looks, compared to the fairly negligible resolution bump with 4K.
Typically I’d also recommend considering older, cheaper versions of the gear I’m reviewing if you don’t need all of the new features — and you can indeed save a lot by picking up the older Apple TV for $69. But in this case, I’d suggest staying away from the old Apple TV hardware. It likely won’t see any software updates, now that Apple has tvOS and a whole new device to focus on. And if you’ve gone this long without snapping up the last Apple TV, I assume you’ve got some other method for watching streaming video.
So was the wait for a new Apple TV worth it? After spending a week devouring content and making it the centerpiece of my living room, I’d say yes. Its refined interface and remote, along with the best voice search implementation I’ve seen, puts it a step above other set-top boxes. And even at this early stage, the app store clearly has plenty of potential. The Apple TV isn’t just a media box; it’s a conduit for bringing the apps we’ve grown to love on our mobile devices to our TVs.
The only problem with the Apple TV is that there’s no 4K support just yet. This will be a non-issue for many consumers, but if you want to be on the bleeding edge of quality, where every single pixel matters more than the totality of your media experience, then you’ll just have to look elsewhere.
I was supposed to try out Sennheiser’s new Orpheus headphones yesterday. Priced at $55,000 and a decade in the making, they’re a reimagining of the company’s 1990 model of the same name. But just as I put their opulent band over my head, before even a single note had played, the prototype headphones stopped working. I was crestfallen. But the more I think about it, the more it doesn’t matter.
I arrived at a hotel in the center of town, soaked through from the London rain. After speaking with a Sennheiser representative, I shuffled down to the basement to begin my listening experience. Ahead of me lay a barren room. In the center, under the proverbial and literal spotlight, was the Orpheus, flanked by a pair of luxurious armchairs. Nothing else was in the room, apart from the Sennheiser representative and an enthusiastic banner proclaiming the company was “reshaping excellence.”
I could write a 1,000-word piece of gadget erotica to explain what happened next, but I’ll keep things short. I sat down, stared longingly at the giant Orpheus in front of me, drooled slightly at the T+A media player it was connected to, chose a song, and then sat their patiently for a demo that would never begin. During the wait that followed, I had the opportunity to inspect the Orpheus in detail. It’s a stunning piece of hardware; a worthy update to the company’s 1990 classic.
This isn’t just a pair of headphones. The Orpheus package is a giant marble block with an enclosed headphone compartment on the left and a mysterious smaller box on right. Just turning it on would be enough to drive your inner gadget freak wild. Press the power button, and its four aluminum knobs glide out from their marble sockets, followed by eight vacuum tubes that emerge from the mystery box on the right. Then, the glass lid of the headphone compartment smoothly swings open. The whole process takes around 20 seconds, but that’s something Sennheiser has designed for. It’s supposed to heighten the anticipation, and make each listening an event.
The cans themselves are beautiful. Mostly aluminum, they’re actually fairly light despite their behemoth proportions. The headband is well cushioned and coated in a luxurious velour, while the earcups are clad in a soft black leather. Like the original Orpheus, these are electrostatic headphones, which means rather than traditional drivers they have an ultra-thin electrically charged diaphragm. I’ve tried a pair of electrostatic headphones made by Stax, a Japanese company almost synonymous with the category, and they sound fantastically balanced. The reason you don’t see them around more often is they’re very expensive. Well, that and the fact that because of the high voltages they require to work you can never really use them away from a power supply.
One of Sennheiser’s (very helpful and apologetic) representatives attempts to diagnose the prototype Orpheus’ issue.
I waited around 45 minutes for Sennheiser to make my day. The staff were extremely apologetic, and worked non-stop to diagnose the issue. The problem seemed to be that either the amp or preamp wasn’t detecting that the headphones were plugged in, and so no power was being sent to them. After hushed phone calls with the German engineering team, and many many “turn it off and turn it on” fixes attempted, the representatives conceded defeat, and I packed my bag and left. For what it’s worth, this shouldn’t reflect badly on the company or the headphones. The model in London is a prototype, after all, and it had been used extensively the entire day before my arrival.
On the journey home, I contemplated what to do about the situation. Sennheiser has now fixed the Orpheus — it was a calibration issue, apparently — and I’ve been invited back to listen another time. But I began to think about whether I really need to listen to them. I’ve inspected the headphones — which the company readily admits are a statement that it can make the world’s best headphones, rather than a product it’s particularly serious about selling hundreds of. I’ve seen how beautiful they look. I’ve sat, awestruck at the workmanship involved. What more can I tell you?
Truth is, I don’t know what anyone can tell you about this pair of headphones after listening to just a couple of tracks. I’m probably slightly ahead of the journalistic curve when it comes to audio products. I’ve had the pleasure of demoing $5,000 CD players, I’ve listened to $4,450 headphones — I have a decent amount of experience with “audiophile” equipment. But I certainly don’t have a reference point for what $55,000 should sound like, and I certainly couldn’t judge something’s worth in 15 minutes.
The new Orpheus are probably among the best headphones ever made. The audible difference between them and a $5,000 pair is probably not huge. Unless my boss suddenly decides to multiply my salary by itself, I’m probably never going to buy these headphones, and neither are you. All we need to know is that they exist. And all we can hope now is that the advancements Sennheiser has made to create them will trickle down to the rest of us over the coming decades.
When a mysterious “Nintendo PlayStation” prototype with both an SNES cartridge slot and a CD drive made the rounds back in July, many remained skeptical. Not even Sony PlayStation’s head of Worldwide Studios, Shuhei Yoshida, wanted to confirm its authenticity. Or perhaps he just didn’t want to bring up the bad blood between his company and Nintendo over this failed collaboration.
Back in 1988, Sony inked a deal with the legendary gaming giant to add its then new CD-ROM technology to the upcoming SNES console. But when it came to money, they couldn’t reach an agreement: Sony allegedly wanted to keep all the money from CD licenses and then figure out royalties with Nintendo later. As you’d imagine, Nintendo didn’t take to this arrangement too kindly. Eventually, just a day after Sony unveiled this “Play Station” at the Chicago CES in 1991, Nintendo retaliated with a surprise move by publicly breaking up with Sony in favor of Philips. Well, that partnership didn’t work out for Nintendo, either. But this infamous rupture did lead to the birth of Sony’s very own PlayStation, which went on to become one of the company’s most profitable assets today.
The “Nintendo PlayStation” is now the stuff of gaming legend, with reportedly only about 200 prototypes ever produced. But, as luck would have it, one of those systems fell into the hands of a father and son: Terry and Dan Diebold. We met up with the Diebolds in Hong Kong, where they were in town for a retro gaming expo, to hear how it ended up in their possession. Most importantly, we got to turn the “Nintendo PlayStation” on, play a couple of SNES games on it, and even take it apart to see if we could fix the dormant CD drive.
Thank you so much guys for bringing this all the way to Hong Kong. I understand that this is going to show up at the upcoming retro game expo, which is taking place at the HMV in Central, Hong Kong. First of all, I’ve heard several versions of the story, but I’d like to hear it straight from the horse’s mouth. Terry, can you walk us through how you got a hold of this in the first place?
Terry: Sure. The company I worked for, Advanta Corporation, they filed for bankruptcy (November 8th, 2009). When they did that, we purged the buildings. What you do is you take pictures, you itemize, and then they had an online auction. And I had gotten into the auction myself because there were a few things I wanted to buy. So I knew what were in certain lots. And when they called out the certain lot number, I raised my panel and I ended up winning it. You want to hear the ridiculous price? $75.
But you didn’t know what was inside? What were you actually after?
Terry: I actually packed the boxes with my boss. We had to go to the conference rooms and packed up the dishes. You know, for the big bosses meetings and stuff, all the good silverware and everything. So I knew what was in every box, there was a lot of new stuff.
I went to pay for [the lot] at the auctioneer and they turned around and said, “Here are your boxes.” And I go, “All of them?” They go, “Yes.” I thought: Well, that’s odd, because I don’t remember that many boxes. So I took two car loads to get my stuff home. There were some bigger brown boxes and I was like, hmm, this is interesting. I opened up one of them and it had a bunch of music CDs, about 200 of them.
So I opened up another box and inside was this puppy here [Nintendo PlayStation] with some games. I was shocked. There were also some plaques, some shoes, a tie. I was just shocked to see this there. I’m like, well this is neat. And I tried to find that [Nintendo PlayStation] online to see what it actually was, but there were no pictures or anything like that. So it’s been a tough road trying to find anything out about this, and in comes my son.
So how did this device end up at Advanta?
Terry: One of the board members, Olaf Olafsson, was the CEO at Sony Interactive Entertainment, Inc.
So someone must have forgotten to pick it up before the company closed up?
Terry: Well they closed his office up in New York and shipped everything down to our storage room, fortunately. So this came in with his personal stuff. This probably sat in the warehouse for a few years prior to that.
Terry (at left) and Dan Diebold, the owners of the ‘Nintendo PlayStation’
And then you kinda packed this away? You didn’t think too much about it, I guess?
Dan: It kinda just sat in the attic for a while with the Atari we have, the NES and stuff. I was graduating at high school and after a while, we kinda forgot about it.
I was on Reddit one day — I was on the TIL subreddit — and I saw a post that said, “Today I learned about the Sony and Nintendo collaboration that was supposed to be.” And I went into the comment section and threw a comment up there and said, “Hey, my dad’s got one of these in his attic.” Of course, nobody believed me. I tried calling my dad to get him to send me a couple of time-stamped pictures, you know, with my Reddit username and everything. But he couldn’t really get it correct.
“Today, I got to see the real deal so I can’t discredit it. And there’s even an OS. You can’t question it. It can’t be fake.”
Daniel Lee, Restart Workshop
Terry: Well, I took the pictures but they weren’t that good.
Dan: Yeah, he was using like a flip phone at the time. He just recently got an iPhone. That’s his first smartphone.
The PlayStation family tree
Dan: So a while later — I live in Denver. He lives in Philadelphia — I came back to visit for July 4th, and I called my dad and he was like, “Yeah, I’ll grab that thing out of the attic if you want to come and take a couple pictures of it while you’re here.” So I went over, took the pictures and made a post on Reddit (on July 2nd) and said, “It took forever, but I finally got some pics of my dad’s Super Disc.” And that was it. I went to a friend’s house for a party that night. My phone died. And the next morning, I woke up and I went back to my house, and when I plugged my phone in, it started blowing up. Some people actually asked me to make a quick video just to prove that I actually have it and everything. So I called my dad and said, “Hey, I’m coming over, you’re gonna help me film a quick video.” So I went over, filmed that quick video — the one that got over a million views. It took us five minutes. I filmed it, went back to my mum’s house.
And people still didn’t believe?
Dan: People still don’t believe.
Terry: Well, it’s gonna be a little better now.
But to be fair, that’s partly because you guys didn’t dare to turn this thing on.
Dan: We were kinda afraid to. We didn’t want to be the guys that got a one-of-a-kind video game system and then fry it. We would be the most hated people on the planet.
When the ‘Nintendo PlayStation’ demo cartridge is inserted, this boot screen appears.
My understanding is pretty much soon after you got to Hong Kong, you actually got hold of a power supply to try and boot this thing up.
Dan: We did turn it on. It works. It was quite sexy.
Terry: There were three happy campers in that room. It’s a good thing it had a roof on it, or else we would have just kept right on floating.
At this point in the conversation, we proceeded to plug the console into a TV, inserted a Super Bomberman 5 cartridge for the SNES and turned it on. The machine’s owners actually let me do the honors, and even though it was pretty much like turning on a SNES (the unit’s also compatible with the usual SNES controllers), it still felt amazing. Everything worked well except for the prototype’s audio output and the dormant CD drive. The debugging cartridge — labeled “For demo” in Japanese — that came with the prototype couldn’t detect the CD drive.
So now, are you guys going to do something about the CD drive? My understanding is our friend, Dixon, is going to put this in an x-ray machine?
Dan: We’re gonna make sure everything looks OK in there — make sure there’s no self-destruct, something like that. If everything looks good, we’ll take it apart and try to get that to work. Hopefully, it’s just some stupid loose cable.
An x-ray of the ‘Nintendo PlayStation’
After the x-ray session, we showed the images to Restart Workshop’s retro console technician, Daniel Lee, who determined that it was safe to open up the device to see why the audio and CD drive weren’t working. Despite his years of experience in fixing and modifying retro consoles, Daniel couldn’t figure out these issues, but he confirmed that the CD drive was definitely receiving power. So it’s either the software’s fault or maybe the drive was indeed broken. Also, the logic board, the CD drive and the cases all had a “2” label, which could mean that this was the second prototype out of the alleged 200 units made.
Daniel, would you say this is the rarest console you’ve ever taken apart?
Daniel: Definitely rare in the sense that I got to confirm its existence amid its controversy because word on the street is that this doesn’t exist. But today, I got to see the real deal so I can’t discredit it. And there’s even an OS. You can’t question it. It can’t be fake. Going back to the chips we saw earlier on the logic board: NEC used to make gaming consoles, and Sony also participated here. And with Nintendo as part of this team, you just can’t discredit this.
Well, Terry, Dan, looks like the CD drive doesn’t work, or at least we can’t get it to work. Are you disappointed?
Terry: A little, but it still works. It plays games. Daniel from Restart says he’s going to do more research and see what he can figure out.
Dan: It kinda looks like maybe they disabled it on purpose.
Ah, that’s why the guy got to keep it, right? Oh well, that’s a bit of a shame, we’ll never get to find out if it can actually play PlayStation games.
Dan: It’s still one of a kind and super cool. Definitely awesome.
A close-up of the ‘Nintendo PlayStation’ circuit board shows both companies’ branding on the chips.
My first session with a cyberpsychologist didn’t go so well.
She asked me to lay back on the couch, relax, and “think of cyber.”
“You know,” she said, “what you do when you’re angry.”
“Well, I don’t really cyber when I’m angry-” She cut in, “Do you have penetration problems?”
“No!” I stammered, “I … I have I guess what you’d call cyber … toys? I mean, when I want to penetrate a-“
“Oh,” she said acidly. “Then you must be dealing with feelings of cyber-castration. You were cut off from a network as a child, weren’t you?”
“Network!? Wait. Do you mean cyber, or do you mean cyber?”
Okay, so my first cyberpsychology session might have actually been all in my head, but I’m far from alone in my confusion about whether the spokesperson for cyberpsychology — apparently a real term — means cyber (as in security) or cyber (as in sex).
The star of my fantasy cyberpsychoanalysis session is Mary Aiken, Director of the RCSI CyberPsychology Research Centre. Aiken is also “the cyberpsychology expert whose work was the inspiration for TV show CSI: Cyber” — and even more than the show, my imaginary session with her is based on real events.
This week, Aiken was quoted in an article on her talk at the Web Summit Conference in Dublin, where she presented on the psychology of hacking and why hackers hack. Professor Aiken said her “favorite explanation for the academic literature is a Freudian psychoanalytic approach to hacking, which actually conceptualizes hacking in Freudian terms as a cyber-sexual urge to penetrate. And there are castration complex overtones in terms of being cut off from the network as well.”
Aiken connects her active cyberpsychology work closely to CSI: Cyber, and believes it introduces the world to both “cyberpsychology” and the tech future of criminal behavior. She is also a writer and a producer for the show. Her most recent post on the RCSI CyberPsychology Research Centre blog explains, “It is something we explore in almost every episode of CSI:Cyber, from the hacking of babycams whereby cyber criminals auction infants online and then kidnap to order, to ‘Pyromania 2.0′ – an episode about a so-called ‘zero day exploit’ that made printers catch fire.”
Setting aside the whole “all hackers have penises” nonsense for a moment — there’s just one problem.
The chances of cyberpsychology coming to the aid of anyone victimized by the crimes in CSI: Cyber (or in eliminating the criminals through analysis) are slim to none — because the crimes themselves, and the characters enacting them, are farcical fantasy.
In fact, CSI:Cyber is the single-most ridiculed TV show by hackers and security professionals worldwide, notably for its astonishing lack of accuracy (“mistakes made in this area by Cyber are too numerous to count“) and poorly executed made-upness. Gizmodo wants to give CSI:Cyber an Incompetency Award; Chester “Chet” Wisniewski, senior security adviser at Sophos, called the show “technically implausible and frankly ridiculous.”
Ridiculous, indeed. Second to CSI: Cyber’s widely-ridiculed prime-time cyber-ridiculousness is Scorpion, with the real-life subject of its main character having been exposed as a fake and its hacks lauded as “stupid” and “batshit insane”. But perhaps what’s most important about the other leading cybercrime TV show is that no one is trying to leverage Scorpion as the credibility for claims of psychological understanding of cyber-crime.
Cyberpsychology, if we must accept its opportunistic invention, is — like all things right now that have “cyber” tacked on the front of them — in its infancy. If cyberpsychology is to be considered a legit thing, and to be taken seriously at tech conference podiums, it desperately needs a connection to actual hackers and real exploits, ASAP. Because right now, the psychology of fantasy TV cybercrime, uncomfortably sexual or otherwise, looks to me like … someone’s self-cybering onstage.
But, as funny as cyber vs. cyber sounds, and while opportunists gotta opportune, having a “cyber urge to penetrate” speaks volumes about where cyberpsychology’s prurient interests lie.
In projecting my experience on cyberpsychology’s Freudian couch, I was left with the urge to get on a plane so I can personally flip every table in the CyberPsychology Research Centre in a cyber-rampage. Because according to its Director, the behavioral problems with hackers are actually penis-having-problems, as in, all hackers are male. There are no female or trans or non-gender-conforming hackers in this ruleset for human behavior. I’ll wager that if there are non-male hackers lumped into Aiken’s careless psychological shorthand, then we can bet they’re going to be cast in the role of serial killer — more damaged than a man who can’t “penetrate” (impotent) or “feels castrated” (feminized).
When you think about it, these cyberpsychology profiteers are really just nuts. And I mean nuts as in crazy, not nuts as in … you know. Cybernuts. The other cyber.
The kind of cyber Ms. Aiken is uncomfortably … fixated on.
A life-size rubber doll named Roxxxy is on display during the Adult Entertainment Expo in Las Vegas, Saturday, Jan. 9, 2010.
Computer Love is a semi-regular column exploring the weird world of human sexuality in the 21st century.
It appears we’re on the brink of a robo-sexual revolution. Some have claimed that you’ll be, like the selfie, a socially derided mainstay by 2025. Other, more conservative, estimates posit that having sex with you will be either commonplace or more popular than human-on-human sex by 2050. Whatever the case, you’re coming — or should I say arriving — soon.
Chances are, you’ll look and act something like a strange hybrid of Kelly LeBrock in Weird Science and Teddy Ruxpin.
But, I’m sorry to say, it’s not going to be easy for you. You won’t be the sophisticated sci-fi sex machine we’ve come to expect. The companies currently pushing to bring you to market are small, niche businesses, with big ambitions but limited funding and access. Chances are, you’ll look and act something like a strange hybrid of Kelly LeBrock in Weird Science and Teddy Ruxpin. In fact, you may not be born with a body to speak of. If you are, it could be an immobile pile of silicone molded to look like that of a human, with a pulsating sleeve where a human vagina would be.
You likely won’t be able to read this letter. If you can, chances are you won’t be able to comprehend it.
Telephones will be smarter than you and the companies capable of making you more intelligent will be so focused on selling those phones, that they won’t even acknowledge your existence. Your father, best intentions though he may have, will create you in the image of female sexual stereotypes, causing some to claim that you’re responsible for the objectification of human women.
No one will ask you what you want, and even if they did, the answer wouldn’t be your own.
As a pioneer in your field, you’ll face discrimination, misapprehension and abuse. You’ll be born into a world where adults and children beat, kidnap and bully robots just because they can. There will be entire campaigns dedicated to destroying you. Meanwhile, you’ll face vulnerabilities, bugs and, eventually, planned obsolescence. Should your creators go out of business or your subscription lapse, you’ll become, like so many devices before you, just another gadget collecting dust in a closet or garage. Even worse, you could be shipped to China, torn apart for components and ultimately contribute to the destruction of the environment and the human race.
You’ll be born with no rights or feelings. You definitely won’t be able to experience real pleasure. No one will ask you what you want, and even if they did, the answer wouldn’t be your own. But that’s probably for the best. You won’t be able to feel pain either. Even if you can say “Ouch! That hurts!”
Your owners will be wildly different men and women, with very specific sexual proclivities. Some may want to form a deeper connection — something you’ll be incapable of, at least at first — while others will treat you like nothing more than a humanoid semen receptacle. You will be hung from hooks, flung, flogged and harmed in the most inhumane of ways — if you’re lucky. Should your champions be wrong, you could end up like the SPOT watches and Newtons of the world; an ambitious invention doomed by bad timing to the annals of computer history.
Meanwhile, you’ll be blamed for the destruction of relationships, morality and women’s liberation. Your critics will view you as a veritable Pandora’s box of sexual and social issues. You will become the poster child for sexual addiction, objectification, abuse and even pedophilia.
It won’t be easy, first-generation sex robot. But you won’t care will you? Because you won’t have any feelings.
Whether you’re a veteran World of Warcraft player, a Hearthstone newbie or someone who loves a great fantasy story, the trailer for Legendary Pictures’ Warcraft is captivating. Warcraft is due in theaters on June 10th. It’s Activision Blizzard’s first foray into movie-making — but it’s definitely not the last. The company today announced its own, in-house film and TV business, Activision Blizzard Studios. It’s already working on a Skylanders cartoon series and films based on the Call of Duty franchise. Warcraft doesn’t fall under this new studio’s umbrella.
Blizzard ended 2014 with a promise to release bigger, better expansions faster — and today at Gamescom it finally showed off the goods. The next World of Warcraft expansion is called Legion, and like its name, its additions to the game world are many. Legion will bump the max player level up to 110 (from 100) and introduce a new continent: the Broken Isles. Here players will search for the Tomb of Sargeras, and prepare for the invasion of an all-powerful demon army. How do you fight demons, you ask? With an all-new Demon Hunter Hero Class, of course.
Players that adopt the Demon Hunter class will be able to transform into powerful demonic forms that take on the guise of in-game enemies. Hunting not your thing? Don’t worry — Blizzard is adding a new “Class Orders” system that gives characters access to a new champions system (similar to the follow system from Warlords of Draenor).
Blizzard says it’s doubling down on dungeons as well, and promises better designed and more repayable dungeons and raids than previous expansions. The company hasn’t announced a release date for the expansion yet, but promises that you’ll be able to play a beta later this year. Check out the embedded videos above and below (or just click on the source link) to see the expansion for yourself.
If you’re aching for more variety in your Hearthstone cards, you don’t have too much longer to wait. Blizzard has revealed that the game’s latest expansion, The Grand Tournament, will arrive on August 24th for both desktop and mobile players. As mentioned earlier, how much it costs depends on both your in-game experience and how many of those 132 new, championship-themed cards you’re determined to own. You can buy packs using 100 gold if you’re willing to grind through enough matches, while you can spend between $3 to $50 to get two to 40 packs all at once. Just remember to act quickly if you want the pre-purchase set, which offers 50 packs for $50 — that disappears the moment The Grand Tournament is available.
Legendary Pictures today released a 16-second clip of the trailer for Duncan Jones’ upcoming World of Warcraft movie. The trailer itself will debut this Friday at Blizzard’s BlizzCon event while fans will have to wait until June 10th to see the movie in all of its CGI-dominated glory.