Dropbox’s quest to win your heart, and Wall Street’s too

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By Ian Sherr

What do you do when Steve Jobs says you’re destined to fail?

That’s what Dropbox co-founder Drew Houston had to answer after meeting Apple‘s co-founder seven years ago.

Houston’s startup made waves when he unveiled his storage service in 2008, offering a dead-simple way to upload and save your files in the cloud and then synchronize them between your computers. At 27, he was talking to the most influential name in tech — and his own personal hero.

“It was an interesting conversation because he said he liked our products,” Houston (pronounced “how-stun”) later recounted to Forbes. “I can’t think of much higher praise than that.”

But Apple’s co-founder wasn’t convinced Dropbox was destined for success. Jobs wanted to buy the company, likely to integrate it with Apple’s own forthcoming file-syncing service.

Jobs declared Dropbox to be a “feature, not a product.” Or, put another way, Jobs believed Dropbox didn’t have a future as a standalone company. Houston said no thanks.

Since then, Houston and his team have been trying to prove Jobs wrong.

They’ve added more than a dozen features, including specialized photo storage and document editing. They’ve made it so apps can connect with Dropbox to store and sync files across devices. And they’ve worked to become even more attractive to businesses by making it easier for teams of people to share files.

So far, Dropbox has convinced more than 500 million people and 200,000 businesses to sign up. The question is, how many people are paying for its service? A privately held company, Dropbox won’t say how many people pay. And unless it tells us, it’s nearly impossible to know.

Dropbox, like most web companies, gives away a limited free version of its service when you just sign up. Over time, the company hopes you’ll come to rely on its offerings, at which point you may decide to pay more (starting at $10 per month for individuals and $25 per person per month for teams) to store additional files.

Even so, all those people using Dropbox helped turn it into one of the first and largest Silicon Valley unicorns, or companies valued at more than $1 billion — on paper, at least. For Dropbox, that happened in 2011, when investors valued it at $4 billion, according to CrunchBase.

Dropbox seemed on its way to becoming one of the great tech success stories, complete with a future that included a high-profile initial public offering beneath the ringing bell of Wall Street.

“They had the market cornered,” said Brian Blau, an analyst at Gartner.

But it hasn’t happened. All those years after meeting Jobs, Dropbox is still a private company. Its value, which zoomed up to $10 billion in 2014, hasn’t changed. Bloomberg reported in August that Dropbox’s financials may not justify that value when the company eventually begins selling public shares, something that could happen in the not-too-distant future. According to Bloomberg, Houston was preparing to file paperwork to begin that process.

Dropbox said in January that it’s on track to tally $1 billion in sales this year, more than the nearly $400 million its already-public competitor Box tallied last year.

Houston, now 34, hopes that data point, among others, will make Dropbox a compelling buy for Wall Street. “Warren Buffett better be able to look at our business and say, ‘This lemonade stand makes money,'” Houston told Bloomberg.

As for getting you and me to use Dropbox and pay for it? Houston has a plan for that, sort of. After years of working to come up with new and innovative ideas, Dropbox is now trying something else: an artsy rebranding campaign.

Starting Tuesday the San Francisco company freshened its look with new colors, different fonts and a flattened version of its storage box-like logo. Ultimately, the company is hoping to help remind people there’s more to it than the free syncing service they signed up for and maybe rely on for work. It’s also to remind them that Dropbox is more than just an always-there “feature,” as Jobs put it so dismissively.

Dropbox now wants to be known as a place for creativity as well. Whether it will or not remains to be seen.

Twitter, what the hell with all the harassment?

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By Ian Sherr

Hey @jack. Can we talk?

This past weekend was the Jewish holiday of Yom Kippur, when we ask forgiveness for our transgressions and forgive others for theirs.

But this year, I was having an awfully hard time with Twitter.

So I decided to write this open letter to you, Jack Dorsey. I figure Twitter’s CEO and co-founder would be a good place to start.

You’ve been making moves lately that just don’t make sense, and it’s becoming a problem.

I’m not talking about questions of how you’ll turn a profit or convince more people to join today’s 328 million tweeters. And I’m certainly not worried how you’ll stay relevant because, thanks to President Donald Trump, Twitter has that written all over it every day and in headlines all around the world.

I’m talking about decisions that undermine your integrity and ignore what actually matters.

Let’s be frank: You need to deal with harassment. The pervasive, nonstop, everyday, all-encompassing harassment some people have been subjected to on your platform. It’s the hate campaigns, the racism, the intimidation, the deadly assault and the Russian interference in the US election. All of it.

Reality is coming down hard on social networking, and no one seems more publicly oblivious than you.

When Twitter met with lawmakers on Capitol Hill last week, those problems were on full display — though, not to the rest of us, since testimony was behind closed doors.

One senator, Democrat Mark Warner of Virginia, said the meeting was “deeply disappointing” and “showed [an] enormous lack of understanding from the Twitter team of how serious this issue is, the threat it poses to democratic institutions, and again begs many more questions than they offered.”

Ouch.

Since you rarely say much about harassment, and the company declined to make you available for an interview, I’m going to go ahead and ask my seven questions here instead.

Chicago maps its underground maze

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By Ian Sherr

J

ames Jackson has a problem: He doesn’t know what he’s getting into.

Every time a construction crew begins digging in Chicago, there’s a chance they’ll hit something they didn’t know was there. It might be an old water line, abandoned long ago and forgotten. Or perhaps a gas pipe, still in use but poorly documented.

Sure, his utility maintenance and construction firm, HBK Engineering, always talks to the city, and gathers blueprints and collects maps of underground pipes wherever they’re about to work. But the crews can never be certain.

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In Chicago, incorporated in 1837, the underground network of pipes is so complex, and the records are so outdated and incomplete, the city has created an Office of Underground Coordination. Its job is to pore over dozens of old maps to try to identify what’s underneath a construction site before a crew digs.

And when crews do find something unexpected, they have to stop what they’re doing and call the city, which brings in a specialist to see if the pipe is being used. The crew then has to get approval to take it out so they can start work again.

“That’s just delaying time,” says Jackson, a senior vice president at HBK.

Now the solution may rest with the phone in his pocket, and a computer program the city helped develop that creates a digital blueprint of Chicago’s underground pipeline network of sewer, water, electricity, gas, broadband and other services from about 30 companies and utilities.

The mapping project is just one of dozens of smart city initiatives happening around the world. Places like Barcelona, Singapore, San Diego and Sicily are exploring projects or coordinating citywide efforts that, for instance, allow their residents to automatically report potholes, find and reserve parking spots, monitor air quality and even answer the all-important question: When will a snowplow clear my street?

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In Chicago, many of these efforts are being created through $320 million public-private partnership called UI Labs (“University + Industry”). Based on Goose Island on the north end of the Chicago River, UI Labs aims to “address problems too big for any one organization to solve on its own,” according to its website. That includes the 3D map of Chicago’s underground infrastructure, launched last October.

Chicago has other projects underway as well. One standout: finding ways to combat rats. The city, which has historically received more complaints about rodents than any other major metro area in the US, saw rat complaints surge 70 percent in the first three months of 2016. Now it’s using computer analyses to predict where rats will be, based on reports of overflowing garbage andplanned water and sewer pipe repairs, which tend to bring the long-tailed pests into the open.

The city also has a website where people can see the real-time locations of snowplows after a blizzard (a big deal, given the average snowfall in Chicago is 37.6 inches). And starting next month, Chicago will begin replacing its 270,000 street lamps with LEDs, saving electricity costs and, eventually, connecting to a system that will dim the bulbs as the sun comes out.

While the projects are largely disconnected from each other, they all aim to make Chicago a much smarter city to live and work in.

“My whole thing is to allow us not just to use data to be better at what we do, although that’s what it is, but also to continue to give people a chance to interact and interface with their government,” Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, former chief of staff for President Barack Obama, tells me when we sit down together at Chicago’s City Hall.

“You have to think of this in my position, not yours,” he adds. “How do you make it — when talking about it —relevant to people? Not threatening, but welcoming?”

These smart cities in Italy put Silicon Valley to shame

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By Ian Sherr

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little after 2 p.m. on an impossibly muggy summer day in June, I squeeze my sweaty, 6-foot-1-inch body into the passenger seat of Antonio Puliafito’s shiny black Maserati.

As excited as I am about speeding along the Italian coast in a luxury convertible, Puliafito isn’t showing off what his nifty ’90s-era, 6-cylinder Italian sports car can do. He isn’t even particularly interested in the ride, though we both relish the breeze after a punishing day in the heat.

Puliafito wants me to look at his phone.

On it is a map of the area we’re navigating in the hilly city of Catania on Sicily, the island just off the toe of Italy’s boot-shaped mainland. The city dates back nearly 2,800 years, when the Ionians settled there. Today, Catania is home to 313,000 people, in addition to industrial, chemical and manufacturing companies like pharmaceutical maker Etna Biotech.

I’ve flown more than 6,568 miles from the heart of the tech revolution in Silicon Valley to this coastal Sicilian town where I was promised a taste of the future. And maybe some pasta. More specifically, I’m here to get a glimpse of what the city of the future will look like.

I also talked to people working on smart city projects in London, San Diego and Louisville, spoke with experts across the tech industry — including “father of the internet” Vint Cerf — and sat down with Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuelto understand how governments plan to make their cities “smarter.”

Sicily is working to become home to some of the world’s truly smart cities: A place that keeps its streets clean by alerting the sanitation department when public garbage bins are full. A place where you can unlock your office door and turn on your computer before you even arrive at work. A place where you can learn about a medieval building’s rich history just by pointing your phone at it. And a place where that phone can also find, reserve and direct you to a parking space with the tap of a button — which is what Puliafito is about to show me as we steer around Catania’s mountains.

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Puliafito, 51, calls this two-year prototype effort SmartMe (pronounced “SmartMAY”). With it, the University of Messina computer engineering professor wants to push the cities of Catania, Messina and Palermo alongside the techiest cities on the planet — and ahead of San Francisco and San Jose, in California’s storied Silicon Valley.

If Puliafito and his team of programmers, designers and partners succeed, the sensors installed in parking lots and on buildings, bus stops and trash cans — and everyday objects in between — will plug into SmartMe and talk to one another as well as our phones. Just as important, all that information will be pulled together on the SmartMe website, where everyone can see it.

“What we’re trying to do is to integrate all these different services together,” says Puliafito, who also leads SmartMe.io, a spinoff from the University of Messina that’s hoping to bring this technology to more cities that want it. “People will realize that they live better.”

How to scrub hate off Facebook, Twitter and the internet

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Peter Strain (for CNET Magazine)

By Ian Sherr

Brittan Heller doesn’t know quite what caused it.

Maybe she turned a man down for a date too quickly, bruising his pride. Maybe she just bothered him in some way.

Whatever it was, Heller inadvertently unleashed waves of attacks from a fellow Yale law student when she did whatever she did a decade ago.

Back then Facebook didn’t have the reach it currently has. So Heller’s tormentor raised an online mob on AutoAdmit.com, a message board for law students and lawyers. Soon, posts appeared accusing her of using drugs and of trading sexual favors for admission to the elite school.

That sucked her into a larger maelstrom raging on the message board. Other female students at Yale were being accused of sleeping with professors to get better grades. Behind pseudonyms, some posters said they hoped the women would be raped.

Often, this is where the story ends. The women, harassed and degraded, close their accounts or drop out of school, anything to put distance between themselves and the anonymous hatred.

Heller, now a lawyer for the Anti-Defamation League, and her peers chose to fight, suing AutoAdmit to reveal the names of their harassers. They eventually settled. The terms of the settlement are confidential, Heller says, but the experience set her on the path toward a career fighting hate speech.

“My work would be a success if no one ever needed me,” Heller says. But so far, it’s the opposite. “We’re in a growth industry.”

Hate is everywhere these days. It’s hurled at people of different skin colors, religions and sexual orientations. It isn’t limited by political view; it’s not hard to find hateful words and acts on the left and the right. And it takes place everywhere: airports, shopping malls and, of course, on the internet.

Hate groups have taken up residence online. The hateful meet up with like-minded gangs on sites like Reddit, Voat and 4Chan, terrorizing people they don’t like or agree with. Because much of the internet is public, the medium magnifies the hateful messages as it distributes them.

The ADL a civil rights group, found that about 1,600 online accounts were responsible for the 68 percent of the roughly 19,000 anti-Semitic tweets targeting Jewish journalists between August 2015 and July 2016. During the same period, 2.6 million anti-Jewish tweets may have been viewed as many as 10 billion times, the ADL says.

It would be bad enough if digital hate stayed locked up online. But it doesn’t. It feeds real-world violence. In May, a University of Maryland student who reportedly belonged to a Facebook page where white supremacists shared memes was arrested in the stabbing death of a black Army lieutenant. A few days later, a man who had reportedly posted Nazi imagery and white nationalist ideology to his Facebook pagewent on a stabbing spree in Portland, Oregon, after threatening two women, one of whom was wearing a Muslim head dress. Two Good Samaritans were killed. The man who opened fire on a Republican representatives baseball practice was reportedly a member of Facebook groups with names such as “The Road to Hell Is Paved with Republicans” and “Terminate the Republican Party.”

And that doesn’t count the garden variety taunts people get because of how they look, or the bomb threats or vandalized cemeteries.

The legal response has varied from place to place. In the US, where freedom of speech includes the expression of hate, activists are pushing lawmakers to draw a line at harassment, and treat it the same whether it’s in real life or over the internet.

In other countries, like Germany, where hate speech that includes inciting or threatening violence is already outlawed, the government is working with social networks like Facebook and Twitter to ensure enforcement. Last month, Germany passed a law that could fine social media companies more than $50 million if they fail to remove or block criminally offensive comments within 24 hours.

So far, tech has proved ineffective at curbing online hate speech, and that’s not just because of the internet’s reach and anonymity. Take today’s tools that automatically flag derogatory words or phrases. Humans get around them through simple code words and symbols, like a digital secret handshake. So instead of the slur “kike” for Jew, they write “skype.” The smear “spics” for Hispanics becomes “yahoos,” “skittles” stands for Muslims (a reference to Donald Trump Jr.’s infamous comparison of the candy to Syrian refugees) and “google” stands for the N-word.

Now tech companies, activists and educators are devising new approaches and tools that, for instance, hide toxic comments, identify who we are and verify the content we see, or make us stop and think before we post. They’re also experimenting with virtual reality, potentially putting us in the shoes of a victim.

Their goal: to encourage civility, empathy and understanding.

“It’s not impossible,” says Caroline Sinders, a Wikimedia product analyst and online harassment researcher. “It’s fixable.”

What form that fix will take is anyone’s guess. This problem, after all, has existed since before the internet was even a thing. And right now most efforts to curb online hate are in their early stages. Some may show promise, but none appears to be the answer.

“It’s going to be a combination of different approaches,” says Randi Lee Harper, a coder who founded the Online Abuse Prevention Initiative after being targeted by online hate mobs.

Just admit it, we love game sequels

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By Ian Sherr

It was around the time I was looking at the 19th Assassin’s Creed adventure game that it struck me: There sure are a lot of sequels.

I don’t mean just a few. It isn’t like there are merely a handful of standout franchises worthy of a follow-up, like Sony‘s zombie apocalypse drama The Last of Us 2. Or even industry-defining standbys, like Nintendo‘s Super Mario Odyssey action game, the 32nd major title for that particular character.

This year, during the E3 video game conference in Los Angeles, we saw Star Wars Battlefront 2, Destiny 2, FarCry 5, Call of Duty: WWII and Kingdom Hearts 3.

Capcom, which has made more than three dozen fighting games for its Street Fighter franchise over the last three decades, almost seemed to wink at its prolific catalog with the name for its newest installment, Marvel vs. Capcom: Infinite.

Of course, it’s easy to believe all those sequels are from lazy companies just trying to cash in on successful games for easy money. But the truth is that these games, which typically sell for around $60 apiece, exist for the same reason superhero movies continue to punch their way into the box office and the same reason neon is back in style: We’re buying the goods.

“It’s a bit a sign of the times,” said Joost van Dreunen, head of market watcher SuperData Research. “People want to play a game they already know is great.”

GamerGate to Trump: How video game culture blew everything up

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Aaron Robinson/CNET

By Ian Sherr and Erin Carson

When it first happened, many of us were a little dismissive. After all, people on the internet are always mad about something.

In 2012, it was the backlash against Anita Sarkeesian, a feminist media critic.

In May of that year, Sarkeesian announced she was starting a crowdfunding campaign for a video series called “Tropes vs Women in Video Games.” In her introductory video, Sarkeesian — clad in a paisley hoodie and hoop earrings — sits on a lime-green couch and talks into the camera as she touts the virtues of video games, such as improving hand-eye coordination, multitasking and enhancing players’ cognitive abilities.

But the gaming community, she says in her 4-minute talk, also has a bad side. “Many games tend to reinforce and amplify sexist and downright misogynist ideas about women,” she says.

Considering the increasingly central role video games play in our society, Sarkeesian said she planned to create a series of five videos to look at how women are portrayed, from the damsel in distress to the sexy sidekick to the villainess and beyond.

The trouble started soon after.

Sarkeesian hoped to raise $6,000 over the next month to help pay for her project. The fundraising window overlapped with the 2012 Electronic Entertainment Expo, the video game mega-marketing event held in Los Angeles each year.

She hit her goal in the first 24 hours. In the end, she’d raised more than 26 times what she asked for, tallying $158,922.

But not everyone was applauding. An army of hateful trolls woke up, found each other online and launched a crusade of harassment, targeting not only Sarkeesian but anyone else who questioned their view of how the gaming world should be.

So why should you care that people on the internet got angry?

Because attacks on Sarkeesian marked the beginning of a cultural shift — and a key marker in what some people consider the decline of civil discourse. What happened to Sarkeesian is that internet trolls, predominantly anonymous posters, realized they could work together to try to destroy the lives of people who disagreed with them. The online hate directed at Sarkeesian and her project over Twitter, Facebook and Reddit included calling her a slut, threatening to rape and kill her and suggesting someone should go to her parents’ home (which they identified) and kill them too.

That was just beginning.

A few years later, anonymous online trolls threatened to rape and kill indie game developer Zoë Quinn after her ex-boyfriend posted a 9,000-word online screed accusing her of sleeping with a games journalist for a positive review.

The whole campaign against Sarkeesian, Quinn and other women became known as #GamerGate.

Today, angry internet mobs routinely use the threat of rape, bombings and assassinations as a way to lay claim to whatever it is they think they’re losing to what they describe as political correctness. And along they way, they’ve adopted new approaches that combine old-school write-in campaigns with internet terror efforts like publishing people’s private information online, with the intent of bringing chaos and fear into their lives.

In short, trolls are now causing havoc in the real world.

Sarkeesian, who like Quinn declined to comment for this story, was forced to cancel a speech at a college campus after receiving an anonymous email from a supposed student threatening “the deadliest school shooting in American history.” Brianna Wu, co-founder of indie game development studio Giant Spacekat, had to hire personal security after she became a target for speaking out. Quinn’s family also received threats and was subjected to harassment.

The message was always the same: If you mess with games, you’ll regret it.

Soon, the mob’s attention turned to a world much wider than video games. Ultimately, some of them — like the popular right-wing commentator Mike Cernovich — moved on from GamerGate to attack presidential candidate Hillary Clinton.

“GamerGate was an excellent breeding ground and practice ground,” said Soraya Chemaly, director of the Women’s Media Center’s Speech Project, which tracks online abuse. Over time, different groups on the internet that tend to respond negatively to women, such as some communities of hardcore gamers, coders and far-right white supremacist groups, began to coalesce around shared harassment of women and distaste for social change.

Chemaly’s team tracked attacks on Clinton as a woman, such as pasting her face into pornography and other sexist imagery, that had been used earlier in response to Sarkeesian and other social critics.

“To those of us familiar with GamerGate, it was more of the same,” she said. “I always caution against thinking of GamerGate as an outlier event.”

A mind-blowing VR arcade won me over. It’ll get you too

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By Ian Sherr

Virtual reality has turned me into a globe-trotting adventurer.

I’ve scuba-dived massive undersea shipwrecks, coming face-to-face with a blue whale. I’ve fought off hordes of oncoming zombies with nothing but a shotgun, an ax and my wits to stay alive. And I’ve piloted a spaceship in an epic dogfight against — does it even matter?

But through every adventure, I’ve known it was fake.

Until one day, when I explored a room on the top story of some city building with VR goggles on my head, a computer strapped to my back and a flashlight in my hand.

I was walking with my real legs, but seeing a virtual world. As I moved down the corridor, I felt a gust of hot air on my left. I turned and saw a furnace. Then, to my right was a stool. I kicked it with my real foot and it moved in the game world.

Then came the moment of truth.

A voice warned me drones were invading the city, and my only hope was to grab a gun, run outside and make my way to another building to disable them.

I headed for the edge of the building where a board was waiting for me to cross. I peered down the several-story drop and felt my throat tighten. In that moment, fighting down a wave of panic, I’d totally forgotten I was safe and sound, standing on the ground in a warehouse north of San Francisco.

The experience was created by a new virtual company called Nomadic, which is mixing movie-magic sensors and VR headsets to deliver thrills I’d never before experienced in virtual reality.

Nomadic, and its investors who just poured $6 million into the company, believe you’ll be willing to pay as much as $20 to have your stomach turn as you walk across that wobbly board while shooting down an invading army of drones.

I think so too.

Because Nomadic may hold the secret to the question that’s dogged VR makers for the past couple of years: What will it take for you and me to buy this stuff?

WikiLeaks CIA docs show it’s not 2017, it’s 1984. Now what?

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By Ian Sherr

This past week, we learned what’s in the new health care law being crafted by Congress, we found out IBM can cram a lot of data onto a single atom, and… what else?

Oh yeah, your TV could be spying on you.

And so could your phone, your tablet and your friggin’ car.

It all came from more than 8,000 top secret documents reportedly from the Central Intelligence Agency and released by WikiLeaks on Tuesday. Aside from scaring the bejesus out of us, it also brought new life into our collective gallows humor and tendency to quote from George Orwell’s dystopian classic, “1984.”

That’s the novel where people are constantly spied on by Big Brother, the omnipresent all-seeing government. One of the most potent tools in its arsenal was a “telescreen,” or a television that can spy on you.

So, yeah, welcome to the future.

It turns out the fantastical tech we’ve brought into our lives, from phones that sit on our nightstands to tablets that entertain our kids, also have cameras and microphones that can be used to spy on us.

What’s even more sigh-inducing than all these new revelations — which are being compared to 2013’s shocking Edward Snowden leaks involving the National Security Agency’s mass surveillance programs — is how shoulder-shrug-emoji everyone is about it.

The truth is that even though CNET and CBS haven’t so far confirmed the authenticity of the WikiLeaks documents, and the CIA isn’t supposed to spy on us domestically, these disclosures are a kind of confirmation of things hackers have been telling us for years.

“We know we have a spy agency,” said Dan Petro, an associate at security research firm Biship Fox.

Even the CIA basically said, “Yeah, so what?”

“It is the CIA’s job to be innovative, cutting edge, and the first line of defense in protecting this country from enemies abroad,” Jonathan Liu, a CIA spokesman, said in an emailed statement. “America deserves nothing less.”

A decade ago, talk of this type of spying was relegated to conspiracy theorists and the “tinfoil hat” crowd. (Here’s a handy video showing how to make one, if you’d like.) Now it’s just part of everyday life.

And just like the people in “1984,” it turns out there isn’t much we can do about all this, aside from convincing government to change.

Though Microsoft, Google and Apple say making sure your software is up to date should keep you safe, it’s hard not to feel like maybe the only true answer would be to just ditch our tech once and for all.

OK, I know: A tech news and reviews site telling you to ditch tech is pretty ironic. But these are the times we live in. Big Brother is watching. No amount of how-to-ing is going to solve this one.

Nintendo hooked me as a kid. Can the Switch win over my son?

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By Ian Sherr

I vividly remember the first Nintendo game I played.

It wasn’t long after the 1985 debut of the Nintendo Entertainment System in the US. I was around five years old and at my babysitter’s house in Fremont, California. It was a sunny summer day, and we were calming down after playing outside.

My sitter, who also took me for my first ride in a classic Volkswagen Beetle, sat my younger brother and me down in front of the living room TV. She’d just gotten a Nintendo and wanted to show it off.

She pulled out the controller, flipped the TV to channel 3, then took a game out of its holding case. I watched as she blew along its bottom to make sure there wasn’t any dust.

Then she popped it in and turned it on. Music started playing and the title appeared: Rad Racer.

The game was crude by today’s standards, but my younger brother and I were mesmerized. We watched as the car on the screen sped up, moved around, steered past other cars on the road and eventually crashed.

Then it was my turn.

Crash!

I laughed hysterically.

Then I did it again — and again. I sped up as fast as I could, then veered the car off the course.

Crash!

I was totally hooked.

Few companies get kids as well as Nintendo does. And fewer still have such a deep catalog of the kind of engaging and fun games that have kept me playing over and over again for the past three decades.

There’s the silly boxing game Mike Tyson’s Punch-Out!! (or Punch-Out!! as it was later called) on the Nintendo I started with. Or the cartoonish but beloved spaceship dogfighting epic Star Fox 64 on 1996’s Nintendo 64. There’s nearly every version of the racing game Mario Kart, too.

Now that I have an infant son, I’ve started drawing up a list of the nerdy stuff I plan to introduce him to. Nintendo games are high up there, alongside stuff like the Star Trek (except the odd-numbered movies) and Star Wars (sans the prequels — “what prequels?” I’ll joke.)

But now that Nintendo’s next-generation console, the Nintendo Switch, is coming to store shelves on Friday, I’m looking at the likely device my son might use when he’s ready to start playing his own games in a few years.

So, should I get him one?