By Aneesh Karuppur (VI)

First, an update from the Pingry Student Technology Committee (STC) and its subsidiary projects. Starting this February, the Code Team, in which students program solutions to Pingry issues, is running a weekly workshop on different fundamental tools, from GitHub version control to Python-Flask web design. Moreover, the Apple Certified Mac Technician (ACMT) training group has started their comprehensive regimen on laptop repairs. After the ACMTs pass their final exams from Apple, they will be able to diagnose and repair Apple computers owned by the School and members of the Pingry community. STC team meetings have lately been occupied with weekly presentations from different project groups, including the 3D Printing Team, the Communications Team, and the Tech-Ed Team. Finally, and perhaps most importantly, STC Help Desk has been open for some time now! Now that we have a regular schedule of in-person school, the friendly, qualified STC Team Members who staff each flex and CP Helpdesk shift are here to assist you with any of your tech needs. Whether it’s a new application, like Zoom, or an old “friend” like the printer or Google Docs, STC Help Desk in the Tech Office is the place to go to receive quick tips and pointers. Be sure to stop by if you need anything tech-related!

From January 11 to 14, the 2021 Consumer Electronics Show (CES) was in full swing. Traditionally an in-person event, CES pivoted to a fully virtual setup this year to accommodate for the pandemic. LG hinted at the impending launch of their rollable phone. Unlike folding phones (which are on the market if you’re willing to pay the princely price tags), LG’s device would not suffer from the durability and practical difficulties of opening and closing a massive phone like a book. Instead, according to patent information, it could simply extend one edge of the device and unfurl a wider display in the process. As usual, several PC makers including HP and Acer revealed new updates to their laptop lineups. Finally there were a few one-off products, like the tech-enabled N95 masks from gaming hardware-maker Razer. These clear masks feature active ventilation. LED lights, and self-sanitization functionality. Adding on to products that nobody asked for but seem pretty cool, Cadillac hinted at an electric air taxi drone-car mashup, Samsung invented a robot butler, and the Infinity Game Table converted classic board games into a tabletop touchscreen.

Finally, let’s turn to the issue of social media. There has been renewed scrutiny into social media networks as a result of misinformation and plans for violence in recent months. Platforms have been banning and suspending the accounts of individuals with dangerous or objectionable content. In an age where seemingly everything happens on social media, lawmakers have been grappling with whether privately-owned social media platforms can be defined as public fora with free speech protections. Furthermore, laws that provide digital platforms with immunity from hosted content, such as Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act of 1996, have come under scrutiny for a variety of reasons. Interestingly, print media publications do not afford those same protections. More important than the individual details is the glaring need for tech literacy in American society and policy. Congressional lawmakers have oftentimes demonstrated a woefully limited understanding of the internet and its platforms, so it’s important that the public involvement of the next generation of Americans is well-informed. 

Thanks for dropping by on this Tech Column! Hopefully the weather will be a tad warmer when we return for the next issue.