The Weekly Round-Up: The perils of Xmas gadget gifts and Kinecting with your PC

Plus a sprinkling of lavatorial humour...

Plus a sprinkling of lavatorial humour...

In a moment that chilled the blood, the Round-Up's father announced this week that he was planning to buy a smartphone.

The Round-Up has a certain grasp of personal technology and therefore tends to act as the reluctant tech support guy for family and friends.

If you're reading silicon.com, there's a good chance you know what the Round-Up's talking about as you've been put in the same position, too.

Old man on mobile phone

Alright, jolly good. Now how do I hang this thing up?Photo: Shutterstock

But what really curdled the blood is that Round-Up Sr is interested in buying an Android phone. That means that - as an iOS user - the Round-Up will inevitably receive mystifying emails and phone calls and texts with Android-related questions like, 'How do I turn off so-and-so on the internet?' or, 'Why does this thingy pop up when I press the speech bubble?' and the inevitable, 'Your mother's done something and I don't know what she's done'.

Yes, all of these and even less specific questions.

When the support calls are about a technology that's familiar, it is merely a Sisyphean labour of rolling a rock up and down a hill, in perpetuity. When it's a new system or gadget it's like having the rock roll repeatedly over your toes.

A report this week completely failed to assuage the Round-Up's fear. The report claimed that with Christmas on the way, a smartphone would be top of many people's lists but the devices may well cause frustration and despair.

The research by emporia Telecom said its survey respondents demonstrated that more functionality and complexity within smaller devices is not what people want from new technology, with comments such as, "I have no use for this functionality" and, "I do the same with another device".

Which raises the question: Why in the name of all that is good and decent did you buy a smartphone in the first place?

Think of the people who have to support it. And besides, it'll never be turned on anyway.

Hold on. Let's say that again - it'll never be turned on anyway.

And with that revelatory thunderclap, the Round-Up momentarily found peace once again...

Giving Windows the finger - literally

Microsoft has had a runaway success with the Kinect add-on to its Xbox gaming console. Not down with the world of gaming? Well, the premise is simple: the Kinect's sensors pick up the movement of the user and translate that into in-game actions.

The Round-Up is a big Xbox fan but personally the appeal of the Kinect is limited. It's true your intrepid columnist is currently battling dragons and ghouls in the rugged world of Skyrim but he prefers to do battle from a sedentary position on the sofa rather than leaping around the room.

Far more relaxing and much less red wine on the carpet and curtains.

Yet for some, leaping about the living room, dancing to pop songs and playing tennis while hacking at virtual foes is seen as pleasurable. The over-energetic fools: they'll be doing sports next.

But now Microsoft has decided to...

...bring Kinect firmly into the mainstream by integrating Kinect into Windows.

To the Round-Up this is a terrible idea. Xbox is about gaming, leisure and enjoyment. Working with Windows is an entirely different kettle of fish and most of the gestures the Round-Up makes when using Microsoft's operating system are ones of anger, despair and frustration.

The Round-Up wonders how a Kinect-enabled PC will interpret some of his most common behaviours...

"My owner has covered his face with his hands and is shaking uncontrollably. Perhaps he is cold or maybe I shouldn't have let him work on that spreadsheet from Outlook without prompting him to save it to his hard drive."

"My owner is gesticulating that he would like two of something. Wait, he's changed his mind - now he only wants one of something. But what?"

"My owner is removing large clumps of his hair from his head. I do not understand this gesture at all. I shall deploy my minion, the talking paper clip, to find out more and ease his frayed nerves."

A wee game

And now, brace yourself, for the Round-Up is about to descend into toilet humour. Quite literally.

Earlier this week, Silicon Towers received a press release entitled 'World's first pee-controlled video game'.

The Round-Up will forgive you for being a wee bit perplexed - male toilet etiquette is tricky enough to master without this new element to minding your Ps and Qs.

The pee-controlled game is apparently being fitted out in gents' urinals.

For example, those in need of bladder relief will be able to play a pub quiz-style game, picking their answer by weeing either to the left or the right.

The results can be posted to an online leaderboard or to Twitter. Yes, really.

According to Captive Media, who make the gaming machines, the devices are a way of "tapping into men's innate competitiveness". The Round-Up can see what they're getting at: once you approach the field of play, urine it to win it.

If you're wondering what the point of all this is, apparently advertisers will also be able to put their sponsored messages in front of toilet-goers for an advertising break that normally lasts "around a minute", targeting a market that's "notoriously difficult to reach". Well, the Round-Up supposes that's one way for marketers to make a splash...