Apple Fights Discrimination, Europe Fights Geo-Blocking, and More… [Tech News Digest]
Apple chooses a side, Europe chooses freedom, banning selfie sticks, Ford slows drivers, Super Mario 64 in your browser, and Ricky Gervais advertises Netflix in Australia and New Zealand.
Tim Cook Hates Discrimination
Apple CEO Tim Cook has strongly condemned the new rash of laws being passed to protect businesses which discriminate against gay people. Cook wrote the opinion piece for The Washington Post after Indiana passed a bill suggesting religious beliefs trump everything else.
Cook stated, “These bills rationalize injustice by pretending to defend something many of us hold dear. They go against the very principles our nation was founded on, and they have the potential to undo decades of progress toward greater equality.” He continued, “That’s why, on behalf of Apple, I’m standing up to oppose this new wave of legislation — wherever it emerges.”
This is a strong stance to take, especially when it means speaking on behalf of a company that’s the size and scale of Apple. There are likely to be people working for Apple who don’t share Cook’s feelings, but Cook, who is himself openly gay, is making it clear that the company he runs is totally opposed to such pro-discrimination laws.
No More Geo-Blocking for Europe
one of the things i hate the most on the internet is geo-blocking: just because i’m not in the US, i can’t watch stuff i like
— Fabs (@ffffabio) March 5, 2015
The European Commission has announced the Digital Single Market Strategy, a plan to extend the idea of the Single Market to digital goods and services. One area being eyed for reform is access through changes to copyright laws and the practice of geo-blocking .
The press release suggests that “too many Europeans cannot use online services that are available in other EU countries, often without any justification; or they are re-routed to a local store with different prices. Such discrimination cannot exist in a Single Market.”
This led to a comical back-and-forth between Julia Reda and a fellow MEP who suggested that geo-blocking is absolutely fine by saying, “After all, I can’t buy Finnish bread in any German supermarket or bakery. Far too few people here would buy it, so the market doesn’t offer it to me. And you don’t see me demanding that the European Commission bloody-well make that product available to me!” Reda responded by buying Finnish bread online, saying, “One tweet and a few hours later I was the fortunate owner of an artisanal loaf of bread from Finland.”
The Digital Single Market Strategy doesn’t guarantee geo-blocking will be banned in Europe, but it does suggest a groundswell of support for such a move. The Internet has changed the way we all consume content, but content creators seem resistant to changing their rules to help rather than hinder consumers.
Music Festivals Ban Selfie Sticks
Selfie sticks will be the downfall of this generation.
— Colin Daniel (@_semicolin) March 22, 2015
Selfie sticks are increasingly under attack from anyone who doesn’t use them. Earlier this month, The Smithsonian banned the use of selfie sticks in all its museums, and now two huge music festivals have followed suit.
Both Coachella (which takes place in California), and Lollapalooza (which takes place in Chicago) have officially banned selfie sticks. The reasons are unclear, but it’s likely to be with regards to safety concerns or preventing causing nuisance to other attendees. Still, it seems a little OTT, despite the fact that most people agree selfie sticks need to die.
Ford Eyes Intelligent Speed Limiter
Ford has developed technology that prevents you from speeding, which offers a viable solution to the problem unless and until self-driving cars become a reality . The Intelligent Speed Limiter has been developed by Ford’s European arm, and will be available from August on the new S-Max range.
The system combines the Adjustable Speed Limiter and Traffic Sign Recognition technologies to detect speed limits and adjust speeds accordingly. The idea is to prevent drivers from exceeding maximum speed limits, which endangers other road users and leads to millions of dollars in fines being issued each year.
Play Super Mario 64 in Your Browser
You can now play Super Mario 64 in your Web browser, with computer science student and Unity developer Erik Roystan Ross having recreated the game using Unity. Unfortunately, it’s only the first level of Super Mario 64, but it IS presented in glorious HD. Which is a bonus.
Ross recreated the game (minus a few minor details) to demonstrate his Super Character Controller project, and he has no plans to either fix any bugs or recreate any more of the game. Still, provided you have the Unity Web Player installed, this should provide a few hours of fun.
Ricky Gervais Undersells Netflix
And finally, telecoms company Optus has chosen Ricky Gervais to introduce Netflix to Australians and New Zealanders . Unfortunately, Gervais is too lazy to actually put any effort in, so the television commercials for the streaming service feature him doing as little as possible.
Gervais can be seen literally lazing on a chaise longue telling people how he got the gig. Oh, and briefly mentioning how new and returning customers can get six months of Netflix for free. Ironically, it’s this uncaring attitude that has led to the videos going viral. [H/T AdWeek]
Your Views on Today’s Tech News
Is Tim Cook right to opine on behalf of Apple on such a contentious issue? Should geo-blocking be outlawed in Europe and beyond? Should selfie sticks be banned at public events?
Let us know your thoughts on the Tech News of the day by posting to the comments section below. Because a healthy discussion is always welcome.
Image Credit: RecycledStarDust via Flickr