So there we go — another frenetic year in the world of tech draws to a close. While there were plenty of fascinating happenings to wow us along the way, there were a good number of lighter moments to enjoy, too. And with that in mind, why not kick back and check out these 15 stories from the past year that managed to give us a giggle.
No yolk! A photo of an egg becomes the most-liked post on Instagram
“A news item involving eggs almost always features numerous puns that try to eggspress the story in a clever way. But it’s overly easy to embark on such hennoying nonsense, and can be un oeuf to scramble a reader’s brain.”
Terrible jokes out of the way, the story from January goes on to explain how, in the space of only a week, a photo of an egg became the most popular post on Instagram, with more than 21 million likes (it now has 54 million). A British fella called Chris Godfrey turned out to be the person behind the deliberate effort to conquer the photo-sharing app. He said he chose an egg for his Instagram challenge because it has no gender, no race, and no religion, adding, “An egg is an egg, it’s universal.”
Japanese monks hit Twitter to protest driving ticket in the most hilarious way
— 祥山(声優) (@showzan331) 2 January 2019
“When cops in Japan told a monk he shouldn’t drive a car wearing his traditional garb because his robe may affect his ability to handle the vehicle, an offbeat response by fellow monks went viral on social media.”
The monks’ comeback was as simple as it was ingenious — to hit Twitter with the hashtag I-can-do-this-in-robes, at the same time posting videos showing themselves doing everything from somersaulting and playing the drums to juggling and wielding a lightsaber. Buoyed by the support, the monk told reporters: “I’d like to clearly state … that I can drive safely in a monk robe.”
Bank robbery suspect uses Jump scooter as getaway vehicle, gets caught
“Are electric scooters about to become the vehicle of choice for bank robbers fleeing the scene of the crime? Judging by what happened after an alleged robbery in Texas recently, probably not.”
The suspect reportedly walked into a bank before demanding cash from the teller and fleeing on the scooter. But it wasn’t the scooter’s top speed of 15 mph that proved the suspect’s undoing. Instead, it had everything to do with the fact that he rented the two-wheeler from Jump using his own account, making it easy for cops to track him down.
Ford’s ingenious bed for couples keeps mattress hogs in their own half
“Anyone who has shared a bed knows how annoying it can sometimes be when, in the middle of the night, you wake up to find yourself perched precariously on the outer edge of the mattress having been pushed there by your bed-hogging partner.”
Utilizing its autonomous-car technology, Ford came up with the fabulous “lane-keeping bed” that uses sensors and a conveyor belt to ensure that so-called “space invaders” stay on their side of the bed.
How much?! British Airways glitch results in $4.2M quote for family vacation
“There have been quite a few cases where website mishaps have enabled travelers to snap up airline seats at absurdly low prices, but here’s a story in which someone found themselves at the complete opposite end of the scale.”
Debbie Andrioli was hoping to book a reasonably priced package vacation with her husband and three children to Mexico’s Riviera Maya, an idyllic spot on the country’s Caribbean coastline. But a glitch on British Airways’ website presented a price of $4.2 million — around 200 times greater than it should’ve been. No, Andrioli didn’t hit the “book” button.
A giant carb-free potato has just become an Airbnb rental
“Fancy spending a night in a potato? OK, perhaps we should explain. In its previous incarnation, the Big Idaho Potato Hotel used to travel up and down the country on behalf of the Idaho Potato Commission to promote the state’s most famous crop. The giant spud’s nationwide tour recently concluded, but it seemed a waste to trash the prop, so tiny-house developer Kristie Wolfe proposed transforming it into a quirky Airbnb rental.”
The carb-free accommodation is located in 400 acres of farmland about 20 miles south-east of Idaho’s state capital, Boise. You can stay for $200 a night (think how many potatoes you could buy for that!), which’ll get you a queen bed and a bath. It also has air-conditioning and an indoor fireplace (for that baked potato feeling).
Tormented robot pulls a gun on its creators in latest Boston Dynamics spoof
“Boston Dynamics has made a name for itself building incredibly agile and skillful robots, its steady stream of demonstration videos never failing to impress. And scare us a little, too.”
The videos sometimes show engineers shoving their robots to demonstrate their ability to stay upright, so, in response, a team of creators in Los Angeles knocked together a wonderful spoof showing a “Bosstown Dynamics” robot refusing to take anymore of the mistreatment and turning on its creators.
The guy who invented USB finally admits it’s annoying to plug in
“You know how it is. You need to get some files off your thumb drive so you go to plug it into your PC and … nope … it ain’t going in. So you flip it around and fiddle and fumble to find the port again and … nope … it still ain’t going in. So you flip it around again and … what the … somehow it still refuses to slot in as it surely should. How can that be?”
Yep, it took a while, but 2019 was the year when USB creator Ajay Bhatt finally got around to publicly acknowledging that the design has caused a great deal of frustration over the last few decades. Thanks, Ajay.
Steve Ballmer shows us he’s still crazy after all these years
— Digital Trends (@DigitalTrends) July 30, 2019
“Former Microsoft boss Steve Ballmer showed he’s still as pumped as ever when he welcomed NBA stars Kawhi Leonard and Paul George to his L.A. Clippers team at a press conference in the city this week.”
There was something reassuring about seeing Ballmer launch into one of his much-missed, famously passionate outbursts over the summer. It wasn’t as sweaty as those from yesteryear, but nevertheless displayed plenty of that unmistakable Ballmer bluster and energy. And thankfully he managed to avoid ripping his vocal cords this time, an injury that he reportedly once suffered during another outburst at a Microsoft sales meeting.
Nissan creates a self-driving golf ball that always finds the hole
“If you’re a keen golfer but your putting game sucks, you might want to try getting hold of Nissan’s self-driving golf ball.”
Like Ford and its lane-keeping bed, Nissan built its unique golf ball primarily to showcase its autonomous-car technology. The setup uses an external camera linked to software that locates the hole and the ball, while an algorithm controls an internal motor that operates according to how the ball is initially struck. It’s a must-have gadget for crap golfers everywhere, but unfortunately Nissan has no plans to commercialize it.
Watch this guy catch a dropped iPhone during a roller-coaster ride
“If you’ve ever dropped your smartphone, you’ll know very well that awful sinking feeling as you watch it fall toward the ground, your reflexes not quite sharp enough to rescue it on the way down. But dropping it while traveling on a roller coaster at a speed of 80 mph? Well, that’s something else entirely.”
For one lucky rider at a theme park in Spain, eagle-eyed Samuel Kempf was sitting a few rows behind. When the rider dropped his iPhoneX, Kempf was quick enough to catch it in the brief moment that it appeared above his head. And the incredible feat was even captured on video!
Virtual reality goggles for dairy cows? Pull the udder one
“Dairy farmers in Russia are putting virtual reality headsets on their cows to encourage them to eat more grass. Of course, we initially thought this rather amoosing story was a load of bull, but it appears it’s not as udderly ridiculous as it first sounds. (Look, it’s not every day we happen upon a story about cows wearing VR glasses, so don’t be surprised that we’re milking it for all its worth).”
Environmental conditions can impact a cow’s health and, as a consequence, affect the quality and quantity of the milk that it produces. So, in grim weather, some farmers in Russia decided to stick some VR goggles on their dairy cows and play a video showing “a unique summer field simulation program.” Tests showed that the video lowered the cows’ stress levels, suggesting cattle with headsets could become a thing.
HBO competition prize is a cardboard box where you can watch TV in private
“HBO has had the ingenious idea of making a box where you can watch TV in private. Although it is a rather small one. The cardboard creation, which is black and box-shaped, is the top prize in a contest aimed at college students who might not have access to the kind of privacy they’d like in their dorm room.”
According to the promotional video, the HBO Box features “dual leg chambers,” an internal shelf, and ventilation holes. It also praises its portability, though we can’t imagine anyone wanting to use it on the train.
This flying robot-vacuum is not an altogether terrible idea
“Crackpot inventor Peter Sripol appears to have a penchant for attaching wings to anything from power drills to gaming chairs before sending them skyward. Why? Because … well, just because. But now the popular YouTuber has built something that’s at least half-sensible: A robot vacuum that flies.”
That means you don’t have to carry it between floors, or buy two machines for different parts the home that are on different levels. The idea is far better than the precarious device Sripol finally came up with, but with a little bit of tinkering — and massive investment and development from a team of highly skilled engineers — it could work.
Finally, a chocolate iPhone case you can eat
View this post on Instagram
“Digital Trends is packed with carefully curated collections of cases for iPhones and other smartphones, but up to now, none of the featured cases have been edible. Even those ‘chocolate’ cases you see advertised are merely plastic representations of the tasty treat loved by so many.”
But then, in November, we learned of an iPhone 11 case made from real chocolate — that you can eat. Great for chocoholics. Not so great if you want to protect your phone.
- Implantable payment chips: The future, or cyberpunk pipe dream?
- Finishing touch: How scientists are giving robots humanlike tactile senses
- Analog A.I.? It sounds crazy, but it might be the future
- How 5G is changing journalism
- Xiaomi 11i Hypercharge hands-on: Fastest charging phone ever, but does it last?