Short cuts 70
by Paul Stephens
Paul Stephens takes a sideways look at IT in this month’s Special Hoax Issue
HardCopy Issue: 70 | Published: November 4, 2016
This issue’s coveted Short Cuts Meanest Thing Ever award has to go to Taras Maksimuk, a Californian gentleman who published a YouTube video encouraging iPhone 7 owners to drill into their phone’s casing and uncover a hidden 3.5mm headphone socket.
Such was the hunger for old-style connectivity among iPhone 7 owners that a number of them did just that – or so they claimed, with comments including “I did this to my moms iPhone now it no work you **** idiot how **** stupid are you” and “**** you techrax, i did the same & it doesn’t work, it broke my taptic [sic] engine & mic.” These may have been hoaxes too, although Short Cuts suspects that some might not have been. After all the video was aimed at people who’d just paid £700 for a phone that’s not a whole lot different from the phone they paid £650 for a year or so ago except that it doesn’t have a headphone socket, so a degree of gullibility is not entirely out of the question.
Of course the key to any good hoax is an element of credibility, the feeling that, although it seems unlikely, it could basically happen. In this case the credibility test was whether people believed Apple really would be bloody-minded enough to include a headphone socket then blank it off just to prevent customers using their old headphones and force them to buy new, ridiculously expensive ones. Put that way, we have to admit that it’s a difficult call.
The iPhone drilling video is just the first of a tidal wave of semi-credible instructional videos, as the Short Cuts investigative team, redeployed from their normal duties of offering bungs to football managers in hotel bars, discovered. Here are some shocking examples.
- Give your tablet computer a real keyboard. Fed up with your tablet’s on-screen ‘virtual’ keyboard, and longing for the days of real key travel with a satisfying click (OK, spludge of deformed rubber membrane)? Take one large tube of superglue and one tube of silicone filler (buy good ones – no raiding the pound shop!). Bring your tablet’s virtual keyboard on-screen, spread the superglue over it and blend in the silicone filler. The mixture will absorb the on-screen keyboard, presenting you with a neat, and very permanent, QWERTY layout. TIP – add more mixture to the upper area to create a slanted keyboard, and don’t forget the Function keys!
- Convert your Toyota Prius to petrol-only operation. Forced to own a Prius for business reasons but sick of all this namby-pamby eco-electric hybrid nonsense? Take some industrial bolt-cutters and some even more industrial rubber gloves. Locate the Prius’s traction battery (it’s under the back seat), find the power lines that connect it to the electric motor, and double-check that you’re wearing the rubber gloves. Now cut the lines using the bolt cutters, and cap the exposed wires with the superglue/silicone mixture left over from your real tablet keyboard project. Your Prius will henceforth run on petrol only, allowing you to drive for Uber and still be a real man!
- Get a proper task bar on Windows 10. Are you a former XP/Vista user pining for the days when there was a proper, 3D-look task bar at the bottom of your screen, instead of a ‘modern’ one with confusing jump lists and drab, flat-look icons? Take a hacksaw (put your PC in standby mode before beginning) and make two full-width horizontal incisions across the lowest 1.5cm or so of your monitor or laptop display. Cut at the sides between the incisions, remove the section of display, and you’ll find the old Task Bar underneath. It’s 2005 all over again!
- Rescue your data from the Cloud using a GPS receiver and laser gun.
(That’s enough hoaxes – Ed).
Bing on the ball
For something that sounds like a hoax but isn’t, you can always rely on Microsoft. Its Bing search engine has, apparently, turned football sage, predicting that Manchester City will win the Premier League this season with 94 points, followed by Man United (89) and Chelsea (83). Microsoft says Bing uses ‘online search, social sentiment and past player performance’ to calculate probabilities, and boasts that it correctly predicted the outcome for all 15 knockout matches at the Brazilian World Cup in 2014, although it fared less well in predicting a home win for Chelsea on 16 September (Liverpool won 1-2), and also predicted a 55 percent win for Remain in the EU Referendum. More top predictions at bing.com/explore/predicts.