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List of hilarious and useless things at CES (threader.app)
77 points by seapunk 5 months ago | hide | past | web | 60 comments | favorite

The smart rod made me think.

What is it about competitive hobbies and having the best kit. If you go fishing and have the best rod, bait, hooks, where's the upside? You cant be sure that massive fish you caught is your skill or just tech. Everyone would expect you to catch a big fish because you have all the kit.

If on the other hand you just have a cheap rod etc, that big fish you catch, you caught because of your skill. The guy sitting next to you with all the kit, that's just caught a massive fish is ok, because he has all the kit.

I've noticed the same thing with cycling and golf.

I suppose you could say its to prove you're part of a group, but isn't being sat in the rain, next to a muddy pond proof enough?

A part of the puzzle is just that it feels better. It's a bit like taking a long walk - with nice shoes you'll enjoy the views and weather, with bad shoes you'll just think about the pain in your sore back and knees.

Myself, I generally strive to find the stuff at the point of diminishing returns. Top stuff is often just expensive in comparison, bottom stuff you just have to fight all the time.

Good point, I think it goes past that though? Racing cycles and saddles aren't comfortable. And as for the quality feel. Is a smart rod going the feel better than a traditional rod?

>Racing cycles and saddles aren't comfortable.

They aren't uncomfortable if you're fast. The harder you ride, the more force you're applying to your pedals and so more of your weight is borne by your feet and hands. The saddle on a racing bicycle is more of a perch than a seat; it's a very important link in the connection between rider and bicycle, but it doesn't need to be plushly padded. A wide and heavily padded saddle deforms and creates a large and unstable contact area with the rider, which increases friction and leads to nasty chafing on longer rides. It seems superficially insane to use a hard and narrow saddle and padded shorts, but it's actually a very comfortable solution for a fast rider who spends a lot of time in the saddle.

It's also worth bearing in mind the relatively enormous forces that a fast rider can apply to their bicycle. Solutions that work fine when you're pootling along at 120w are hopelessly unstable if you're banging out 500w in a hard effort or 1500w in a bunch sprint. You need a very stiff frame, you need stiff shoes with a rigid attachment to the pedals, you need high pressure tyres with good lateral stiffness. That stiffness can be bone-rattling at times, but it can also be very satisfying. There's a directness and agility to a good road bike, a precise connection to the road that is essential for professionals and hugely enjoyable for a certain sort of amateur.

You can't do this on a "comfortable" bike:



> You can't do this on a "comfortable" bike:

I had one of those bikes. You lower the saddle, and they're very, very comfortable, because of how light those bikes are. You can pick them up with one hand and throw them 5 meters easily. For comfort, I guess you'd replace the steering wheel, but these are kinda cool.

The saddles are built so athletes can realistically sit on them for 10 hours a day for 4 weeks. I assure you, they're pretty comfortable. Not motorcycle saddle comfortable, but those get in the way of actually pushing the pedals. They're as good as they'll get.

You want to take them on the bus/train ? Talk about easy. You need it standing up in an elevator ? No problem. Bounce on stairs ? They do that unbelievably well, even with you on them. And they're fast, very fast.

Only thing you could say is that they're built for speed, and the compromise is that they slip really easily. Don't use in snow, mud or on ice or something like that, you'll break something.

Also anywhere in Europe they get stolen faster than a steak in a bengal cat nest. Which is a pretty serious disadvantage.

Well said. I doff my cap, you obviously quite like cycling. :)

1500w though, that's very high, like Greipel territory. I wasn't quite thinking of that when I had my rant.

Even though a hobby may be competitive, you don’t have to do it competitively. Maybe you just want to go fishing and catch fish and you’re happy if you caught one and want to catch more.

As a hobbyist cyclist, I like having a decent bike simply because it’s more fun to cycle with less effort. Of course I could get an old crappy one to show off my skill and constitution, but that’s not the point for me. The point is to have some fun and while part of this fun is due to achieving goals, achieving a hard goal with a little help such as a good bike is still more fun than not achieving the hard goal, especially if it’s due to comparably-bad tech.

Whether your threshold for bad tech is now a really old bike or a not-newest bike is merely a quantitative difference and in the end subject to personal preferences.

Where do ebikes fit into that picture?

They fit a different niche. Some people cycle for fitness or sporting reasons; a motor might compromise the sense of achievement of going faster and further under your own power. A lot of people cycle just to enjoy the outdoors; the idea of going faster and further for the same effort might seem perfectly logical. Ebikes are a great solution if you're just using a bicycle as functional transport, serving as a convenient halfway house between a bicycle and motorcycle.

Ebikes can be of assistance without spoiling the entire experience. For example, they may allow you to make more miles with the same human effort. One application is that they might allow you to bike to work, in cases where it would otherwise not be practically possible.

People who go fishing for competitiveness are going fishing for the wrong reason, AFAIC.

"Many men go fishing all of their lives without knowing that it is not fish that they are after." - Thoreau

It's everywhere though not just hobbies. Whether it's what clothes you wear, what phone you have, what car you drive. (Most) people want to have better stuff than those around them. "Beat the Joneses" etc.

Consumerism is a drug, and it's incredibly addictive. It took me a long long time to stop caring about having the best stuff. New phone every year, new laptop every 2. As fancy a car as I could afford, high end fishing gear, etc.

Thankfully, having kids let me "grow up" a lot in a very short timeframe, and I now have a 15yr old car, 4yr old phone, and generally just cheap but functional stuff around me, but it's still hard to shake that urge.

Why use proper technique - wouldn't it show more skill to catch a fish when using poor technique? If you're not trying to catch fish why are you fishing at all?

There is joy in doing a hard thing well, in improving yourself. But the only way to actually improve is to have an objective-enough standard for the thing you're doing - weight of fish, speed on bike, number of strokes in golf. Without that it devolves into "I only caught a small fish? Oh well, I was using a cheap rod, and my left hand, and I wasn't really trying anyway". Whereas if you caught a bigger fish this time, there's no way to fake that.

"There is joy in doing a hard thing well, in improving yourself"

Yes, which is why I'm confused. I'm not asking why people cycle instead of motorcycle, or don't go to the fish shop instead of fishing.

With fishing surely theres an upper bound on the size of the fish, the worst rod can still catch it, while showing superior skill.

> Yes, which is why I'm confused. I'm not asking why people cycle instead of motorcycle, or don't go to the fish shop instead of fishing.

Well, it's two sides of the same coin: why is "no motor" a restriction that makes for an interesting hobby but "crappy bike" isn't? My answer is that trying to be as fast as possible subject to x can be interesting provided there's a clear sharp line between x and not-x. E.g. plenty of people ride single-speed bicycles - but they'll still try to be as fast as possible within that restriction, and may well buy an expensive single-speed bicycle for doing so. Indeed the vast majority of cyclists follow UCI's decidedly arbitrary rules which are explicitly designed to make cycling a bit less pay-to-win (minimum bicycle weight so that bikes made with cheaper materials can still be competitive, arbitrary spoke/frame shape requirements to make wind-tunnel testing less effective and limit innovative designs).

You could say that people stick to the UCI rules so that they can compare to other UCI cyclists and be part of the same community, and I'm sure that's a part of that, but IMO that's a minor factor. The really important thing is having a ruleset that you can't easily change yourself: the UCI rules are external and fixed, whereas if I tried to follow my own definition of what a "crappy bike" was and be as fast as possible within that, there would always be a question of why that particular definition, and whether I could/should change something. If I got a new bike and was faster on it, would that be "cheating" because the new bike wasn't "crappy enough"? What about things I hadn't thought of in my ruleset? (e.g. when I first started cycling I hadn't even heard of cleats, so would switching to cleats have been breaking my rules?)

Well, that's partly because you've specified "competitive hobbies".

98% of cyclists don't compete in time trials or races. If you single out the 2% of cyclists whose hobby is trying to go faster than the guy next to them, and ask why they buy equipment to make them go faster than the guy next to them, isn't the answer obvious?

98% of cyclists may not compete, but a large % will shave their legs, don Lycra, and time themselves etc.

Plus 98% of cyclists don't ride around on sit up and beg bikes, wearing normal clothes etc, outside of the Netherlands and a few other countries.

No doubt it depends on your location. Cycle commuters in my locale look like [1] - you might see people with TT bars and shaved legs from time to time, but it's certainly not the norm. And if instead of cycle commuters you look at weekend cyclists on scenic bike paths, or the bikes locked to bike racks at major train stations, the vast majority won't be top-price high performance bikes.

[1] https://www.123rf.com/photo_30847100_london-may-6th-unidenti...

"scenic bike paths"

We obviously live in different UKs.

It is more of a weekend rider thing, I note theres still only one sit up and beg, to the two drop handled bikes.

Edit: Just to add, that picture is quite encouraging. People actually cycling in 'normal' clothes, a sign of an improving cycling culture. Hopefully it will spread to the rest of the UK.

why are Scandinavian style bikes, ridden by people in day clothes, seemingly the only acceptable bike commuter to you?

what is it about the look of someone on, say a hybrid, who's wearing gear appropriate to their commute (which may be athletic gear) that induces so much tut-tutting?

> but a large % will shave their legs

well for 51% of the population in places like the US and UK, it's also a cultural thing...

Like car buying. In the UK many people buy over powered cars as if they're going to be racing them, preferring speed over comfort/durability/economy. Then they commute in them sitting alone in super-accelerating, high-speed, family-sized vehicles in traffic jams going under 30mph.

Like car buying everywhere. For as rapidly as Teslas can accelerate off the line, I don't think I've ever had one out pull me leaving a light, and I'm never flooring it either

Yep, this is what eventually leads to back-to-the-nature movements (barefoot running, free climbing, expeditions without oxygen masks, etc.).

It seems to be a device that you attach to your rod and it records where and how you cast. I don't see why that's hugely different to recording running/walking/cycling activity - which loads of people already do (and I do for walking/cycling).

I don't know. Some of the tweets are funny, but it's effortless to be cynical about other peoples work. (Especially when presented by non-native English speakers)

Similar lines could have been written about once crazy ideas that we take for granted today.

Yeah, I’m usually pretty cynical in general about the bevy of marketing hyped ‘smart’ devices being sold these days, but this takedown feels really low effort.

Some of the products being mocked actually look like interesting ideas written off because of their bad marketing copy.

I actually looked up the mini dishwasher from one of the pictures because I’d like a portable dishwasher for my small apartment kitchen. The the ones on the market right now are really clunky and it appears to have been a zero-innovation kind of space for some time. Unfortunately the first version is Euro-only, but I have my eye on it for the future.

> Similar lines could have been written about once crazy ideas that we take for granted today.

That's right, I hope some startups will succeed even if they are mocked or criticised like it was the case for Dropbox.

Most of the products are pretty terrible or lack innovation. Seems like things I would have found at a sharper image 20 years ago. That being said it doesnt preclude them from success considering electric scooters just became a billion dollar industry.

> Similar lines could have been written about once crazy ideas that we take for granted today.

The post mocks the presentation of the products, not the products. Submitted title here in HN makes it look like it is about mocking the things.

Actually, the guy is spot-on. Not only are the ads dumb, the actual products are dumb, too. Is there one thing on that list that the world needs?

There’s so much weird stuff at CES, but I feel like it’s almost Darwinian. 90% of it is crap but sometimes the zany stuff works. I’d recommend people in the tech world attend at least once just to see the intensity of it all. It’s free if you register far enough in advance. CES is an experience!

This blog post is mostly just making fun of bad English marketing copy though. Yeah lots of international companies have trouble describing things well in English, but that isn’t really the right metric to judge them on.

I plan to go there one day, and see it with my own eyes. A lot of cases presented are "french tech" startups which means these startups are invited with the money of the France taxpayers. It became a subject of mockery in France because institutional folks who never launched anything give business lessons to entrepreneurs and we see the result in Vegas each year.

I thought you were exaggerating until I got about halfway through and discovered the French Tech section. I honestly can't tell if La French Tech are being knowingly ironic. Their website [1] is a gloriously detailed coming soon page ("Our site is undergoing renovation, and will be back online with in 2019") and the idea of starting an English language local French Tech community in your own country is perplexing. I'm fascinated, thanks for mentioning it.

[1] https://www.lafrenchtech.com/en/

It's an alright community but it's targeted at business people in IT, not developers, the one in my local area does not have any tech people for example.

Some of these things are just downright silly, though... does the world REALLY need a sofa with YouTube? A humongous camera headset? Or a 'smart toilet'?

I guess there's a market for mindless consumerism products, but I can't help feeling that a lot of smart people could be of better use solving real world problems...

I used to work for an ecommerce site that sold the Numi toilet (gen 1), and it's amazing how many people shell out $8000 for a creepy automated toilet. I agree it's silly, but there is apparently a market.

This is how ordinary people see tech people.

A lot of French Tech in those photos - I suspect there’s a mix of ‘useless tech’ and ‘bad marketing copy in a second language’ behind that.

Not sure if those 'La French Tech' signs are supposed to be marketing or warnings.

From what I took from Ed's comments, he only covered a tiny chunk of the whole exhibition area until now. So he may just have happened to walk past the French area.

Some of those are genuinely terrible, many others are a great example of why it's as important to sell your idea well!

"The requested content cannot be loaded. Please try again later."

That's all I get instead of pictures.

Images are from twitter. Is the browser blocking tracking content? (for me, on firefox, that's the case).

original twitter thread https://twitter.com/edzitron/status/1083476320808398849

Maybe because of hotlinking media. Thanks for pointing this out.

You know what's missing? NBASE-T USB adapters. What's going on? They were announced last summer and they are nowhere to be found.

I don't think Aquantia is "consumer focused" enough.

Looks like the next presentation is January 16.


Well, there is the Realtek RTL8156 at 2.5gbit as well and there are no products AFAICS.


The World's First Smart Sofa reminds me of The World's Most Comfortable Chair from The Tick: https://youtube.com/watch?v=Ah7GxKHGHPg

That would've been something.

I think that I should take inspiration from some of these and add some new possibilities to my Idea Generator: http://www.stevesque.com/ideas

Needs more Alexa and Youtube in everything! (Yes of course I want Alexa in my toilet, what a fantastic idea! </s>)

Thank you OP I haven't laughed that hard in a while. I honestly have no words for some of them. Water 2.0?!

The WowCube - The World's first Twisty Games Console... I am actually intrigued.

I agree. That's the only one that seemed worth looking up.


I can't see any of these images in Firefox.

Edit: Works in Safari.

It's a good thing the internet has enough ad space to sell all this crap

Firefox's tracking protection blocks hotlinked Twitter images.

It works on my Firefox, maybe you have some add-on interfering.

It's missing the Google Assistant Ride: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NtRHdhj-imA

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