Tech round-up for April 1: Clean Reader, Future Shop, Amazon Prime Air

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This week, April Fool’s jokes abound. Except these aren’t jokes, even though we may want them to be.

Clean Reader is not an April Fool’s joke, but it should be

There’s a new app available for Android and iOS that “prevents swear words in books from being displayed on your screen”.

I’m not linking to the app here because I believe that the software is a bad idea. In a blog post, the creators encourage people to buy Game of Thrones and read it with Clean Reader “so you won’t have to read any of the swear words in the series!”

For christ’s sake. It’s hard not to swear at the inanity of it all.

This is from author Chuck Wendig
          “I am an author where much of my work utilizes profanity.
          Because fuck yeah, profanity. Profanity is a circus of language.
          It’s a drunken trapeze act. It’s clowns on fire. And let’s be clear
          up front: profanity is not separate from language. It is not lazy
          language. It is language. Just another part of it. Vulgarity
          has merit. It is expressive. It is emotive. It is metaphor.”

Authors choose words carefully and with purpose. If you don’t want to read a book that has profanity in it, you should opt not to read the book. There are plenty of others you can enjoy.

More from Wendig, in response to the “I don’t want to read profanity” notion:
          “To which I say, then I don’t want you reading my books.
          Nothing personal, but I wrote the thing the way I wrote the thing.
          If that troubles you, then I don’t want you reading it. No harm, no foul.
          Surely there are other sanitized, anesthetized stories that will
          grant you greater comfort. But don’t sanitize mine. Don’t anesthetize
          my work or the work of any author. Do not take that consent away from us.”

Cory Doctorow, on the other hand, believes so strongly that this is a free expression issue, so while he condemns the people who would use the app, he defends their right to use it.

The question seems to be whether you think somebody scrubbing the profanity from a book is the same as editing the text. If so, then changing it is actually violating the moral rights of the author.

Debate among yourselves.

Future Shop is dead. Long live Future Shop

Another April Fool’s joke that wasn’t. I was surprised to learn this weekend that Future Shop was being shut down. Ever since Best Buy, the U.S.-based company, purchased Future Shop in 2001, I’ve been waiting for this to happen. Frankly, I’m surprised that it took so long.

At the same time, because the two brands have been operated independently for so long, I was starting to think that it might never happen.

For many Canadians Future Shop was the electronics retailer, especially those in Western Canada where the first stores were opened in the 1980s. But online shopping is simpler, cheaper, arguably more informative, and certainly free from sales staff working on commission. Even at attempt to leverage bricks-and-mortar stores for online shopping wasn’t enough.

I suspect the surprise shuttering of the Future Shop brand is a matter of good timing. Better to transition to Best Buy now and build on that franchise, rather than let two businesses languish. Frankly, by next year is anyone going to remember anyway?

Amazon testing delivery drones in B.C.

Amazon, frustrated with the time it was taking for the U.S. Federal Aviation Authority (FAA) to grant them permission to test drones for its Prime Air delivery service, has started testing in B.C. again. Reportedly within sight of the U.S.-Canadian border.

The Guardian broke the story on Monday.

The joke is actually on the FAA, which last week, after eight months, finally granted Amazon its exemption. But the model of drone for which the exemption was granted — the one in the video below — is obsolete. The model being tested in Canada is newer, and being kept very secret.


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