In 2008, Microsoft smacked us up the side of our collective domes with a TV commercial campaign featuring comedian Jerry Seinfeld and Redmond commander-in-chief Bill Gates. The banter, we'd heard, would be off the proverbial hook. It was off the hook, alright. As in lying on the floor, dead. Ultimately, the Seinfeld-Gates combo was a bomb for the ages – uncomfortable, pointless, and simply unfunny.
But unlike tech product placement (which is pretty universally terrible), there are some real gems when it comes to TV commercials for tech products.
We humbly suggest the following 30 commercials as the niftiest tech ads to ever hit the small screen. Ground-breaking, dazzling, uproariously funny, and sometimes simply remarkable for their uniqueness, they are, at the very least, a blast to watch. Enjoy.
You've probably read the soundbites: critics say that the Stop Online Piracy Act and the Protect IP Act working their way through Congress will stifle technological innovation, trample free speech and unravel the Web as we know it. Thousands of websites have “gone dark” and shut down for at least a portion of the day just to protest the depths of the bills’ combined sucktitude. But do you really know why SOPA sucks? (Hint: The answer’s different now than it was a few weeks ago.) Do you know which websites joined the blackout? Do you know what YOU can do to help? No? You will after reading this.
If we built a time machine, we wouldn't have to travel back a great distance to find a far different tech world than the one we live in today. Why would we even want to? To retire richer than Bill Gates and Warren Buffett combined, of course! Think about it. If you could go back to 2010, imagine the money you could make by placing seemingly absurd bets on the near future. There's not a single person in 2010 who thinks Duke Nukem Forever will ever see the light of day, let alone actually ship in 2011. And who in 2010 would believe Hewlett-Packard, the world's largest PC maker, would seriously consider severing its PC arm, own the best selling tablet (for a period of time) and open source webOS barely more than a year after acquiring Palm for $1.2 billion? That's a parlay even a priest would take.
Alas, our get rich quick scheme is wishful thinking, because plutonium is both expensive and hard to come by. And even if we did get our hands on some, we'd still need a DeLorean. Bummer. The bigger point here is that 2011 has been a crazy year with plenty of wild headlines and plot twists (or par for course, as it were). As we all get ready to kick off a new year, we've gone and assembled a gallery of the top 50 news stories of 2011. Flip through them and be sure to let us know in the comments section which tech events stand out to you the most, including ones we might have missed.
When you work on a major project for an extended amount of time – be it an awesome new piece of software or some sort of newfangled gadget – you can’t help but become emotionally attached to it. Some even go so far as to call their projects their babies. Well, let’s be blunt: there are some ugly babies out there. And while you might not tell a proud new mother her newborn’s a hideous freak, we’re going to call out some of the worst tech “babies” of all time, be they simple disastrous flops or actual tech-related disasters. Somewhere, coders are covering their faces in shame.
And hey, we’re not just poking fun at these failures; we’re also remembering them, lest they be forgotten and repeated. Because who wants a Virtual Boy 4S?
After watching Captain Picard solving all those Victorian murder mysteries on the Enterprise’s holodeck, we have to say that staring at a basic, flat-panel monitor is sooooo 20th century. Wasn’t the future of television watching supposed to be way cooler than this by now? Yeah, it was, but don’t worry; those spiffy high-tech displays have only been delayed, not scrapped entirely. A veritable army of hard-working engineers have been laboring day and night to bring flexible phones, holograms you can feel, physical 3D interfaces, and touchscreen, well, everything to your living room, car and workplace sometime soon. And hey, we’ve got actual pictures to prove it!
Once you’ve conquered your fear of static electricity and successfully built a kick ass custom PC from the ground up, making the jump to custom electronics isn’t all that intimidating. The open-source Arduino microcontroller breaks down the entry barrier even further. Flexible, powerful, easy-to-use and licensed-to-alter (under Creative Commons Share-Alike), the Arduino is the linchpin behind scads and scads of nifty DIY electronics projects. And hey! It just so happens that we’ve gathered 25 of the coolest, craziest, and most useful Arduino-powered projects in this gallery for your viewing – and building – pleasure. Mind-controlled Nerf guns, anybody? No, it’s not black magic. It’s the magic of Arduino!
“Do a barrel roll!” a virtual dogfighting rabbit screamed into a virtual dogfighting fox’s ear in Starfox 64 and BAM! 14 years later, a Google Easter egg was born. Dorky? Sure. Awesome? Yep. And that’s not even getting into the ironic fact that Peppy Hare – an old male rabbit with a grown daughter – has somehow changed genders and is now laying Easter eggs of his own. Peppy may be surprised from the sudden turn of events, but we’re not: Google has a long, storied history of dropping arcane, geektastic tidbits in the dark corners of its products. And we’re here to show them to you!
Halloween means different things to different people. For some, it means taking the kids out trick-or-treating; others use it as an excuse to dress like Lion-O and Cheetara and drink excessive amounts of alcohol. This gallery isn’t for them. No, this gallery is for you, our fellow PC gamers, for whom Halloween is the perfect reason to turn off the lights, jack up the volume, and try not to pee your pants as angry demons, hungry aliens and the troubled ghosts of psychic children try to turn your virtual character’s insides into your virtual character’s outsides.
While our Data as Art gallery went down mighty fine for many Maximum PC readers, we weren’t fooling ourselves: this is Maximum PC, the magazine that shows you how to build computers, not Maximum Software. You folks want hardware - and hey, who are we to disappoint?
We cast our net far and wide to dredge up 25 of the flat-out coolest examples of people repurposing components from PCs, VCRs, CDs or whatever and prove that, yes Virginia, hardware can be art, too. Where else can you find terrifying robots made out of mice and hard drives?
While it’s a fact that some lame-o ideas flat-out just won’t die, no matter how long in the tooth they are – VHS tapes, dial-up Internet and DRM, anyone? – the inverse is also true. Sometimes, truly groundbreaking ideas pop onto the scene long before the mainstream is ready to embrace it. Rather than praising the success stories, this article takes a look at the lesser known forefathers that made best sellers like the iPad and Hulu Plus possible. Grab a seat and raise a toast to these technologies born before their time; without them, modern life wouldn’t be as comfy and convenient as we know it.