Jetpacks, Spying TVs, and the Post-Apocalypse: The Future is Now
Your Top Five Tech Stories of The Week

Jetpacks, Spying TVs, and the Post-Apocalypse: The Future is Now

Bethesda Softworks

It’s Official, Netflix is Better Than Broadcast TV

The results are in, and the online streaming giant is objectively better - at least when it comes to original shows. Rob Toledo of streaming news site Exstreamist ran the numbers and found that the Rotten Tomatoes rating for Netflix shows clocked in at 71 percent, 4 percent higher than the best cable performer. Netflix was itself flagging behind HBO, which had the highest rating at almost 80 percent. NBC lagged way behind the pack in last place, with a 59 percent average.

Netflix holds several advantages over regular television: For one, they aren’t beholden to advertisers, allowing them to run shows that aren’t structured around the next commercial break. They also have a mine of analytical data that far outpaces the outdated Nielsen system, allowing them to perfectly tailor their shows to their key demographics.

Your TV Might Be Spying on You

…at least if you own a Vizio. The budget TV brand, which is sold in electronics outlets and big box stores like Costco across the country, could be collecting and sharing the data from their Smart TV users. Electronics blog BGR theorizes that the so-called ‘feature’ (called “Smart Interactivity” – in what can only be described as a master stroke of DoubleSpeak) could collect your IP address, and assemble a profile of every person who uses a Vizio smart TV. This information (which might include your TV habits and your income) could then be shared with advertisers.

Remember the telescreens from 1984? Yeah, this is basically that. Thankfully, in the wake of the public outcry, Vizio has quietly released instructions regarding how to turn it off.

Fallout 4 Sees Record-Shattering Release

The Fallout video game series has been around for a while now, in which the player explores the post-apocalyptic wasteland of an America that never got the chance to grow out of the Atomic Age. Earning a huge follower base thanks to its sense of humor, expansive world maps, and occasionally hilarious bugs, everyone expected the release day to be big.

And big it was. Bethesda Softworks, the game’s publisher and developer, announced today that the game shipped 12 million copies on opening day alone, earning the company over $750 million in revenue right off the bat.

This puts it close to the $1 billion mark reached by Grand Theft Auto 5 maker Rockstar back in 2013, when its big title earned $1 billion just three days after release.

A big day for video games, a slightly less big day for some other industries. Porn streaming site Pornhub reported that their traffic dropped 10 percent the day Fallout 4 was released. Correlation or causation? You decide.

Surprise, surprise: Yelp Reviewers are Racists, at least in New York

Like the Netflix story above, this is another story of science proving something that was pretty much common knowledge. This real life super-serious official study written by CUNY and published in the Journal of Consumer Culture compared reviews of two gentrifying neighborhoods of Brooklyn, NY: the “white” neighborhood of Greenpoint, and the “Black” neighborhood of Bedford-Stuyvesant. According to the abstract of the study:

A framing analysis of 1056 reviews that mention the neighborhood indicates that most Yelp reviewers feel positive about the White neighborhood, where they consider the traditional Polish restaurants “authentic,” while they feel negative about the Black neighborhood, which they criticize for a dearth of dining options and an atmosphere of dirt and danger.

Furthermore, according to GrubStreet, reviewers described the Greenpoint restaurants using terms likes “cozy,” while the Bed-Stuy establishments were treated to reviews calling them “hood,” and “ghetto.”

Racism? On Yelp?

I’m shocked.

I Guess Jetpacks Are a Thing Now

“If 2015 is so great, then where’s my jetpack,” is the oft-repeated sentence that you’ve probably heard from the same drunken estranged uncle who still demands to see Obama’s long-form birth certificate and says things like, “Look at all this much for global warming!”

Not so fast, Uncle Rick! Jetpacks are totally a thing now. And not a cumbersome wingsuit, or microlight, or something that looks like a rejected prop from The Magnificent Men and their Flying Machines. No, an actual honest-to-god jet. That fits on your back. Like a pack.

A couple of days ago, the jetpack was taken around the statue of Liberty on its debut 10 minute flight, and the Internet exploded. Though the jetpack is still in the prototype stage, its manufacturer, Jetpack Aviation (really broke the bank with that name, guys) claims that Jetpack holds 10 gallons of fuel, and burns through a gallon a minute – so put a hold on those daydreams of jetpacking across America. Still, it might be just the thing for when traffic gets a bit too heavy in Midtown.

Following hot on the heels of this, news broke today that Dubai has just ordered 20 jetpacks for its fire department, which will help the fire department manage emergencies in Dubai’s massive skyscrapers.