If Game Of Thrones Houses Were Tech Companies Or Something

We get it, HBO’s Game of Thrones ended with a distinct dragon-lady-bad note. Ham-fisted symbolism and rationalizing plot points that don’t make sense aside, we still have undying admiration for the world-building of George RR Martin. Straight up, we love the world of Westeros and with our love of technology and an editor’s deadline looming, we thought this was a great idea. 

So in recognition of the world of Westeros and the larger Planetos* (*NOT the last few seasons of the show, geezuskrist) and in preparation for next year’s release of Winds of Winter (yeah, right) we’d like to share this stupid ongoing-nerd-tastic-debate in our office break room.

So we give you: If Game of Thrones houses were tech companies, the Game of Tech Thrones

Microsoft – House Lannister

House words: Hear me roar 

House motto: A Lannister always pays his debts (except when they don’t)

House sigil: Golden lion on a field of crimson

Good or bad, Microsoft is big enough and rich enough to attack any endeavor the tech-world throws at it. Just like Lan the Clever somehow finagle Casterly Rock, Bill Gates somehow finagled an operating system from Xerox (just like Steve Jobs) and has been enjoying sitting on the gold mine that is the most dominant consumer operating system in the world. They also have a AAA bond rating, just to round this metaphor out here. 

Twitter – House Stark 

House words: Winter is coming

House motto: Kings of the Norf!

House sigil: A running grey direwolf on an ice-white field

For anyone or entity with Twitter, it’s only a matter of time till something or some tweet sets off an onslaught of harsh attacks onto your account. It’s known as the catch Twitter2. You have to have a Twitter account, but you’ll inevitably get embroiled in a Twitter-avalanche burying you in metaphorical snow. Winter is always coming for you twitterers, it’s not a warning, it’s a battle cry. Be like the Starks and the dumpster fire of Twitter and just embrace the cold. 

Google – House Martell 

House words: Unbowed, unbent, unbroken

House mottos: It’s always sunny in sunspear

House sigil: A gold spear piercing a red sun on an orange field

While other houses were forced under Targaryan rule, house Martell joined through marriage. Google could have just stuck to search ads and still be one of the richest companies in the world, but like the Dornish they chose to participate in the Game of Tech Thrones. And also like the Dornish, they have a master plan that is somewhat convoluted and the execution is questionable. You have Quintyn in Essos who may or may not be dragon BBQ (#QuintynLives), the Brave Companions in Westeros who may or may not be double agents for/against the Lannisters, and Oberon who may or may not have an open casket (probably not). We’re sure Google and the Dornish have a master plan cooking, sometimes it’s just hard to see what the hell it is. 

Apple – Targaryens 

House words: Fire and Blood

House motto: The roof, the roof, the roof is on fire

House sigil: A three-headed red dragon breathing flames on a black field

Once the mighty rulers of Westeros (the consumer tech industry), the Targarians (Apple) were unseated from their throne and banished across the narrow sea. But just as they once rose to power with fire and blood on the backs of their 3 dragons (stealing Xerox’s UI, superior marketing, and Steve Jobs), they have returned to prominence with a vengeance with 3 new dragons (services revenue, Apple Silicon, & the ghost of Steve Jobs).

Mozilla/Firefox – House Tully 

House words: Family, duty, honor

House motto: A river runs through it

House sigil: A leaping silver trout on a field of blue and mud red

Mozilla, it could be argued (look, I’m doing so right now), is perhaps the only major web player that isn’t explicitly trying to wring its users for every cent and usable/sellable datapoint. From its open-sourced beginnings to its non-profit Mozilla organization, like house Tully, Firefox hasn’t lost sight of some of the high-minded foundations of the internet. And while we have nothing but admiration for them for that, we don’t see house Tully or Firefox as the likely winner of the Game of Tech Thrones.   

Facebook/Instagram/WhatsApp – House Tyrell 

House words: Growing strong

House motto: Green is the new black

House sigil: A golden rose, on a green field

Just like the rich farmlands of Reach is for Westeros, Facebook is the breadbasket for advertisers. Sure Google has the search ads on lock, but if you’re looking for juicy intrusive data points to sculpt ads around, Facebook is the place. With the #1 and #2 social network, it’s hard to match the bounty of unscrupulous data collection from the Zuckster and co. The Reach feeds people’s bellies, Facebook feeds people’s neuroticism – both needs we all have. 

Amazon/Twitch – Greyjoy 

House words: We do not sow

House motto: Wet hair, don’t care 

House sigil: A golden Kraken on a black field

Money, please!!!!!!?!! Combine where you spend all your money with where you watch all your videos with where you give subs to streamers for being good or cute at begging – and you have the odd marriage of Amazon and Twitch. From Amazon’s monopolistic and tax-avoiding tactics to the sick sad world of Twitch-simping, they do not sow but they sure as heck do reap. 

YouTube – House Baratheon

House words: Ours is the fury

House motto: BRING ME THE BREASTPLATE STRETCHER

House sigil: A black-crowned stag on a gold field

Visit the comment section of a YouTube video on a controversial topic (or non-controversial topic) and witness the fury. Basic things like whether the earth is flat or a sphere become comment shitstorms of epic proportions. If you ever need to get riled up, go to the news section on YouTube and read the comments for 20 minutes. By the end of that, you’ll be so amped up and angry at the stupidity of people you’ll be ready to swim all the way to Sothoryos just to get away from them.

Netflix – House Arryn

House words: Higher than honor

House motto: I can fly twice as high

House sigil: A sky-blue falcon soaring against a white moon on a sky-blue field

Sure, this works – they both sit atop mountains looking down on everyone else. With house Arryn it’s a literal mountain, with Netflix it’s a metaphorical mountain made up of money and development deals that come out of vending machines. At this point, if you’re still reading, we’ve underestimated your attention span and willingness to read these specious parallels. Let’s face it, you’re just a nerd who is into consumer tech and loves the creative world of George RR Martin. That’s cool because we are too! 

Dual-Screen Phones: Evolution or Destined for the Junk Pile?

Something is happening in the world of mobile phones. You can choose to dismiss it, or you can see it as a bold new era, but you cannot ignore it. We are entering the generation of the dual-screen smartphone, which is driving a major change in the way in which we view and use mobile devices.

In fact, dual-screen and folding phones are pushing mobile technology through its biggest evolution since dumb feature phones became smart over a decade ago. In this article, I am going to explain why dual-screen phones are the future of the smartphone world, but why those who say the tech is “right here and right now” are wrong.  

Yes, dual-screen tech is the change the mobile market needed, but now is not the time to buy into the revolution!

What Is a Dual-Screen Phone?

As the name suggests, any device that has two screens is essentially a dual-screen phone. Perhaps the best current example of a true twin-display smartphone is Microsoft’s new Surface Duo. It is designed to look like a book, with a completely bare outer shell and two separate screens inside.

However, there are also some variations on the dual-screen theme. Folding phones are also classed as dual-screen, despite a handset like the Samsung Galaxy Z Flip or the Motorola Razr 5G only having a single display. These devices use folding screen tech to deliver a twin-display experience, even if there is only one panel.

Then there is the Samsung Galaxy Fold 2, a smartphone that is something different. It too has a folding screen, allowing it to be used like a single display tablet or a dual-screen unit. It also has a screen on the outer shell. Does that make it a three-display smartphone? I am not sure, but Samsung classes it as a dual-screen device.

What are the Best Features of Dual-Screen Phones?

Here’s where it gets a little tricky. All the dual-screen smartphones look fantastic, with the Surface Duo and Galaxy Fold 2 especially standing out. However, when we scratch below the surface of these devices, there is a clear problem. Specifically, many of the benefits of what dual-screen tech can bring are not mature enough yet.

Because of their very nature, dual-screen phones provide a boost in productivity. For example, you can sit a device in a laptop-like position and use one display for the content and the other as a keyboard. Multi-tasking is the biggest change dual-screens promise, allowing you to have multiple apps and connected services open.

Sounds good, right? Well, all that is on paper because in many instances the app ecosystem has not caught up to the idea of dual screens. Until apps optimize, the multitasking and productivity promised by these products remain niche.

That means the best features on dual-screen phones remain the screen quality, camera, and UI. Yes, the very same features you would look for on a regular smartphone. And here’s the uncomfortable truth, standard smartphone flagships from Apple, Samsung, Google, and others, still deliver better displays, better cameras, and better overall experiences.

What Are the Price Points of Dual-Screen Phones? 

Dual-screen phones represent a juxtaposition in the smartphone market. They are bleeding edge technology from a hardware perspective, so their price reflects that. However, they are also simply not as good all-round products as a standard smartphone flagship. As such, the price point of dual and folding screen devices is hard to take.

For example, Microsoft’s Surface Duo costs $1,399, more than flagships from Apple, Samsung, Sony, LG, Huawei, or any other brand. Yes, the Duo is a sumptuous piece of design, but it is also in some respects a failure. Certainly, it has a “first-generation product” written all over it. Whether it’s the frankly embarrassing camera or the shaky software and gesture controls, the Surface Duo needs more years to become a refined experience.

And then there’s the Samsung Galaxy Fold 2, a device that has had the benefit of a first-gen attempt and looks better for it. This second iteration is a good smartphone with plenty of quality. However, I would say its hinge technology still looks ugly and the crease in the screen is still too distracting. Oh yes, the Galaxy Fold 2 costs around $2,000!

Spoiler alert: it is not worth it.

How Do Dual-Screen Phones Compare to Traditional Smartphones? 

Not very well is the real answer. There is not a single dual-screen or folding phone that is “better” than a standard flagship. Samsung’s Galaxy Fold 2 is perhaps the closest, but it is not even near the quality, usability, and design of the Galaxy Note 20 Ultra.

Microsoft would have you believe its Surface brand is a rival to Apple, and in the PC realm, it probably is. However, the admittedly stunning Surface Duo is a lame competitor next to the iPhone 12.

What I ask myself when reviewing any dual-screen smartphone is how would the product hold up if it only had a single screen? The answer is whether it’s the Galaxy Fold 2, Galaxy Z Flip, Motorola Razr, or the Surface Duo, all these handsets would be firmly in the mid-range if they have a single display. Yet, as consumers, we must pay above flagship costs for them!

If you want to be on the curve of bleeding edge, that’s the compromise you need to make. For the average consumer, it is not worth it.

So, We Should Ignore Dual-Screen Phones?

This is where I am going to send some mixed messages. You probably should ignore dual-screen phones, at least for the time being. However, that does not mean this form factor or type of phone is going away. In fact, it is the future.

But that’s part of the problem, it is not worth paying thousands of dollars for the future. You want a device that works seamlessly now and not one that promises to be good in 2023. Of course, there are some people who love to have the latest and greatest. Fine, but most consumers want a smartphone that looks good, works, and without compromises. At the moment, dual-screen handsets are full of compromises.

This form factor is not ready to take over the smartphone world just yet, so wait two or three years for improvements across software, hardware, and price before buying. 

 

Microsoft’s New App ‘How-Old’ Determines Your Age Using Just A Photo

Celebrities spending lots of money to maintain their look is no secret. From placenta serums to plastic surgery, the fountain of youth definitely runs deep. It can be hard to tell someone’s age when they have on all the make-up on their face. This new app is however trying to get through all the cosmetics to allow you to determine how old a person could be by using a picture of them. The website called ‘How old do I look’, allows you to use any picture whether found over the internet or taken from your library, to sum up a person’s possible age.

Inventors of the idea, Microsoft, said, “This may be hard to believe but it took a couple of developers just a day to put this whole solution together, starting with the pipeline from the web page to the Machine Learning APIs to the real time streaming analytics and real time B.”

The firm shared that the purpose of the site was to show off the capabilities of their cloud server software. It was unveiled at the firm’s annual Build developers conference that was held in San Francisco.

“We wanted to create an experience that was intelligent and fun could capture the attention of people globally, so we looked at the APIs available in the Azure Machine Learning Gallery,” they added.

The system is said to work by analysing 27 points on the face. These points called face landmarks, are a series of specifically detailed points on a face, such as the pupils, canthus and nose.

Currently, the Face API has a demo page that uses the API to detect and collect information about faces in an image, and the team of developers decided to work with this idea to invent a site that they hope would go viral.

“We found the ability of the face API to estimate age and gender to be particularly interesting and chose this aspect of it for our project. To make the experience more fun we used the face API alongside the Bing Search API from the Azure marketplace to create.”

Microsoft Reveals Plans To Pull The Plug On Web Browser ‘Internet Explorer’

A recent report by DailyMail shares that Microsoft is planning to drop their Internet Explorer brand. Back in December, the move was rumoured, but now the Redmond-based tech giant has said that it will use a new name for its forthcoming browser, which is currently code named Project Spartan. Claims state that the new browser will look more like that of Google’s Chrome and be much faster than Internet Explorer. It was also shared that the new browser will serve as the primary way for Microsoft 10 users to access the internet, although Internet Explorer will continue to exist, as reported by the Verge.

After trying countless amount of times to revamp the web browser, the move to re-brand by Microsoft comes unsurprising to most, if not all of us. Internet Explorer’s latter version was notoriously insecure and has regularly made the list of ‘the worst tech products of all time’.

The rumour of the new browser was first shared by ZDNet’s Mary Jo Foley.

“Microsoft is building a new browser, codenamed Spartan, which is not IE 12 – at least according to a couple of sources of mine,” she wrote.

A Microsoft Student Partner lead and developer of the modern version of media playing app VLC, Thomas Nigro, claimed on Twitter in December that he had also heard that Microsoft was building a brand-new browser.

“However, if my sources are right, Spartan is not IE 12,” he said. “Instead, Spartan is a new, light-weight browser Microsoft is building.”

It is believed that Windows 10 will ship with both Spartan and IE 11 to ensure compatibility with all web sites.

Microsoft Releases Another Video Sequel Of Their Productivity Future Vision Project

In another Productivity Future Vision video, tech giant Microsoft has yet again treated us to their vision of the future. By the integrated use of a flexible touch-screened device that seems to link up seamlessly, the video focuses on how technology will further assist us in productivity with regards to our social and work lives.

Similar to the device in their last Microsoft vision of the future sequel, this technology is also heavily based around touch screen devices and interconnectivity. While the device in the previous video was supposedly set for 2019, this latest video is set for sometime between 5-10 years from now.

In the video, there’s also appearances of 3D printers, holograms and super thin bendable devices as one ‘tablet’ that looks like a flexible book that expands into a bigger device when it is fully opened out. It is also touch operated and uses a stylus that seems to charge up as if your loading ink into a pen.

A wrist worn bracelet that you can unclip from your wrist and then extend out into a rectangular device that can be used as a remote was also showcased in the video. Another device which can be described as a holographic device that displays some trivial 3D charts also raised questions towards 3D augmented reality, as we wonder if the firm could be working on developing HoloLens that don’t require a virtual reality headset.

The release of the video comes just before Microsoft’s TechForum event which will include representatives going into the more detailed aspects of the research project and highlighting plans they have going on.

Microsoft’s HoloLens Is All Augmented Reality For Everything

If you may not notice, a halt has been placed to the production of the Google Class as they say that the world may not be ready for augmented reality. Due to the vast capabilities of the Oculus Rift of the same technology, people are more to gravitate towards it as a small assessment states that its interest is certainly at a high. Another approach to the eyewear technology has been revealed by Microsoft called the HoloLens. The device allows you to wear a computer on your face in an augmented reality fashion.

Featuring Windows 10, the HoloLens headset projects a ‘hologram’ that only the person wearing the headset is able to see. Once you are in use of the device, others around will therefore only be able to see you waving around your hand making gestures at nothing. The gadget was recently displayed at a demonstration conference.

The first demonstration called Building Blocks featured an augmented reality Minecraft scenario type game where the wearer was able to build structures around them using virtual bricks. In the demonstration, Microsoft’s Skype was also showed off as it exhibited that a person on the other side of your webcam is allowed to see what you can see, and provide clear cut instructions and demonstrations using the items themselves.

In the third scenario, a person was allowed to design 3D objects in live space using a CAD tool. As they concluded the show, another project they called Walking on Mars that is being done in collaboration with NASA, was presented. As the name suggests, it involves a walkthrough in a virtual world of Mars.

Currently, the HoloLens is in its early stages of development. From the reaction of the media at the demonstration, it will receive many great reviews.

Microsoft’s “Transparent PC” – The Next Era Computer

Microsoft’s “20 years research program” is a well designed and a very organised program that shows us that where will we be heading in the next 20 years. Today we would like to introduce one of their very amazing technology on which Microsoft has been researching for quite some while. Its dubbed as the “Transparent PC”, its basically a computer that has a 3D projected display which can be manipulated by the user with the help of his hands. The PC uses kinect which gives user the ability to manipulate the 3D screen with his hands, adding more usability and ease of use. Here’s a gallery of this next generation computer. Dont forget to watch the video and leave your comments!

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oGa1Q7NvsI0&feature=player_embedded[/youtube]

Mirage Table Brings Augmented Reality To Your Tabletop

Cutting edge technology is being used to innovate new products every day. Lately we have been watching some amazing research products by Microsoft which were part of their “20 years Research program” and they all were pretty awesome. Today we found another Microsoft product which is named as Mirage technology and it would be implemented in daily use gadgets in coming years. This technology uses a 3D projector with a Kinect sensor. The sensor checks your movements and the projector projects images accordingly. In short, you get full time Augmented Reality in front of you. A curved sheet makes things look more like in 3D. You can play games over it, make different things. To top it up, you can chat in 3D and even interact with different objects while talking to your friend who is sitting at the other corner of the world.

Soon the time will come when we will be watching such technology replacing Skype and other such video chat hubs and people will be more happily interacting with each other virtually. Indeed this invention could revolutionize many existing gadgets being used by consumers. Check out the video to see it in action.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=EaCjTog0u40[/youtube]

Features Reveiled For Upcoming Xbox

The next generation Xbox is presumably set to debut at next year’s E3. Some features of Xbox have been unveiled by Xbox World magazine. According to them the new gaming machine will have a quad-core processor along with 8 Gb of RAM. Beyond these specs, the new Xbox will ship with Kinect 2.0 and augmented reality capability. According to the news, the augmented reality will be driven by a pair of glasses (might be Google glasses!?) Moreover Blu-ray support is supposedly a lock as well. So far these are the top new features of upcoming Xbox.

Previously Microsoft made a huge amount of sales over Xbox 360. So far the new Xbox is promising a lot of fun with a whole new dimension of gaming. Lets just wait and watch how Microsoft comes up with their new gaming machine in next year’s E3

IllumiShare – The Upcoming Technology

There is something superb which we will be going to see in the near future as it is already in development at Microsoft research program. Sasa Junuzovic, a post doc researcher at Microsoft has come up with a brilliant idea of making the hardware and the software integration in a pretty decent fashion so that the users feel like interacting with the natural objects instead of computers.

 

Illumishare is the technology in which there is a projector and a receptor that actually does the work of playing, working or any possible function you want from it. All you do is interact in a natural way with the object under the light of illumishare. For example, playing tic-tac toe you are playing it on your physical paper with the pen under the projector light and the sensor picks it up and share with your friends at any part of the world. There they play the game in a similar way and their moves also get shared with the first party.

This technology can be a leap forward in science by which there could be a lot of improvements and you could enjoy/ create a whole new experience of sharing, working and playing. Here is the video explaining the working of illumishare

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ewmw8fUTa0Y&feature=player_embedded[/youtube]