Freddy deBoer writes that he's been telling the same joke for years about Silicon Valley's only product, which might be universalized as "At last, a way to verb with nouns on the internet!" But the social-media techopoly is stable, now, and so the venture capitalists have moved on to the three terrible trends that will now occupy their interest.
First is infecting everything with DRM so it's controlled by the manufacturer and limited to their ecosystem. Second is charging rent for being in it and using algorithms to maximize it. Third is marketing workaholic poverty to the young as a way of life.
Read the rest
We Love Doers So Much We Want to Give Them a Hellish Existence of Endless Precarity
The basic idea here is that 40 years of stagnant wages, the decline of unions, the death of middle class blue collar jobs, the demise of pensions, and a general slide of the American working world into a PTSD-inducing horror show of limitless vulnerability has been too easy on workers. I’m sorry, Doers, or whatever the fuck. The true beauty of these ads is that they are all predicated on mythologizing the very workers who their service is intended to immisserate. Sorry about your medical debt; here’s a photo of a model who we paid in “exposure” over ad copy written by an intern who we paid in college credit that cost $3,000 a credit hour. Enjoy. The purpose of these companies is to take whatever tiny sense of social responsibility businesses might still feel to give people stable jobs and destroy it, replacing whatever remains of the permanent, salaried, benefit-enjoying workforce with an army of desperate freelancers who will never go to bed feeling secure in their financial future for their entire lives.
Alex Wood is an addict but won't give up his smartphone. But he has five strategies for limiting its control over him: "I used to wake up tired. My body would ache and my head felt sore, like waking up with a hangover. Finally, I took control, like attending an AA class for addicts, I faced my tech demons. Now I wake up refreshed and realise how much it was a ‘real’ addiction that affects your health."
1) Don't charge it by your bed. 2) Kill all notifications. 3) Delete Facebook, Twitter, Insta and other "attention loop" apps. 4) Switch to Android, because it has the good self-control enforcement apps. 5) Stop checking email/turn off Push email.
Ok, it’s not just solar powered. It’s also an anti-theft, waterproof marvel that keeps my phone’s power bar from ever getting into the red.
Sure the idea seems obvious now - tuck a gigantic solar powered battery pack into an exposed slot and turn the wearer into a walking energy harvester. Simple maybe, but I didn't think of it. Way to go Solgaard.
The battery brick is called the Solarbank and the backside acts as a nifty speaker that wirelessly plays tunes from my phone.
And as long as there’s direct sunlight, I can have non-stop music playback with absolutely no battery drain. I believe it'd be the perfect "trapped on a desert island device". In fact, if Tom Hanks had one in the movie Castaway (and a brand new smartphone), he wouldn’t have needed that goofy volley ball at all.
And I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking my desert island concept is flawed because the sun would eventually set and its magical recharging rays will disappear. Well I can’t argue with you on that – but just imagine a life where you weren’t trapped on a desert island and followed my easy to execute 2 step plan.
Step 1) Create an autonomous vehicle that moves fast enough around the Earth so that you’re always under direct sunlight. Below is a handy illustration that explains how to gain maximum charging time with a LIFEPACK backpack.
As you can see, it all depends upon your starting latitude and your ability to stay within it as you travel. Read the rest
The office I work in is full of things old people buy to make themselves feel young again. I can honestly say that our awesome new toy, The Swagtron T3 Hoverboard, makes me feel very, very old. I’ll explain why later.
Swagtron T3 ProsThere's no way to overcharge the battery and that means no more pesky fires and unplanned explosions! This model actually has a battery life indicator! There’s a new SwagTron app that syncs with your hover-board. You can set the top speed and sensitivity of both acceleration and steering. There’s an odometer that keeps track of lifetime miles traveled. You can toggle the Hoverboard on and off with the app – so no more bending over. Ever! The app has a speedometer! Amazing right?
Swagtron T3 ConsThe app has a speedometer! Crazy right?! You have to look at the app while riding to enjoy the speedometer and if you do, you’re no longer watching the terrain which goes against every rule of motorized vehicles. It's pretty pricey at $449.99.
But I have to say that the Swagtron T3 is much better than their previous models. The wheels are beefier, the ride is stable, and the motor is peppier.
Why does the Swagtron T3 make me feel old?
Tonight, I decided to live on the wild side and switched from “Standard” to “Advanced” mode on the app. When I did, I got this friendly warning:
“Extremely high injury risk”?!
There was a time when I’d completely ignore a message like that or treat it as a challenge. Read the rest
One thing that’s consistent among amateur pool players is that they unknowingly stand up during their shots. Just as in golf, pool players need to keep their heads down and stay still after they shoot in order to hit straight.
The DIGICUE helps keep shots consistent by letting you know every time you’ve had extra movements that may alter your path. It conditions your play by silently buzzing whenever you’ve moved in an awkward way.
Here are the actions that the DIGICUE is constantly looking for:Jab strokes – When striking the cue ball, you always want to “strike through” and have the tip a few inches beyond the impact point rather than a quick poke. Steering - This is the action of moving your stick left or right after impact with the cue ball. You want to avoid this because it creates unwanted spin and trajectories. Standing up during your stroke – When this happens, your body can not help but steer the cue ball. Body english – This is when a player moves his body in the direction of where he wants the object ball to go while it’s in motion. Body english is the kiss of death because the more movement you rely on for each shot, the harder it becomes to replicate.
I’ve been playing pool my whole life and I wish the DIGICUE was available decades ago because it would have helped me to learn quicker. It slips onto any pool cue and you’ll hardly know it’s there because it weighs less than an ounce. Read the rest
A leaked memo from Apple CEO Tim Cook to his staff explaining why he met with Donald Trump -- a guy who called Apple traitors for refusing to defeat their own security -- explains the rationale: "tax reform." Read the rest
The financialization of everything is just as real in the boardrooms of technology as it is everywhere else; though the deferential press likes to paint the tech-sector leaders as geniuses, superheroes (Elon Musk as Iron Man), and super-villains (Peter Thiel as Lex Luthor), the reality is that they're basically run-of-the-mill financial engineers, whose major creation is stock bubbles, not "revolutions." Read the rest
This gadget does exactly as promised: it looks like a thumbdrive (sort of) and fries the circuitry of any computer it's plugged into. It's made from camera flash parts, is charged with a standard AA battery, and delivers a 300V zap of DC destruction to the port for all your USB-murdering needs.
Note that this is not useful for any interesting purpose (unlike, say, the USB Kill stick): it won't scramble or delete data or accomplish any forensic or utilitarian outcome. It's just an asshole stick. Read the rest
This image depicts the most commonly-found stylesheet colors on the web's top sites—Paul Hebert did an amazing amount of analysis and this is just one of the intriguing visualizations he came up with.
Most of these are obvious staples, especially HTML red and blue, though it's interesting how far the blue "cluster" is from the default blue hue, whereas the red cluster merely modifies the saturation and lightness. This might be influenced by various "studies" of the most effective link color.
The odd thing is the popularity of #d2b48c (triggered by the "Tan" HTML color name), which appears to be the single most popular nonblack color after #0000FF (HTML Blue) and #FF0000 (HTML Red). Google uses it somewhere (though I don't see it) Is everyone just following the leader? (UPDATE: see below)
UPDATE: Hebert explains the Tan thing in the comments.
With the cacophony of an election year ablaze with unparalleled drama being fought on the front lines of Twitter, we find ourselves slowing down and staring at it like a bad accident. The need for escapist relief is perhaps more dire than usual right now. This fall, if it's drama you crave, but the Hillary v. Trump show is driving you to near-suicide, then the AMC series Halt and Catch Fire is your new best friend. Returning for its third season on Tuesday, August 23rd with a two-hour premiere, you'll still get your fix of intriguing plot twists, flawed personalities, and high stakes, but without the partisan tantrums and pre-apocalyptic anxiety.
What the Hell is this Show About?
The show's title refers to the computing term (HCF), "Halt and Catch Fire," an early technical command that sends a computer into race condition, forcing all instructions to compete for superiority at once. Control of the computer could not be regained. The namesake series takes place in the personal computing boom of the 80s, when IBM was dictator, and before "website" was a word. Though HCF is categorized as a "workplace drama," you could say the same thing about Breaking Bad, and you'd be completely missing the point--and the thrill--of both shows.
To "break bad" is a colloquialism used in the American South meaning to challenge authority. Breaking Bad and HCF have three important things in common: obscure, nondescript titles that run the risk of losing potential viewers who need their plot summaries spoon-fed and hashtagged, a committed, forward-thinking home on AMC Networks, and the consistently visionary TV producer Melissa Bernstein. Read the rest
Today a future without schools. Instead of gathering students into a room and teaching them, everybody learns on their own time, on tablets and guided by artificial intelligence.
In this episode we talk to a computer scientist who developed an artificially intelligent TA, folks who build learning apps, and critics who wonder if all the promises being made are too good to be true. What do we gain when we let students choose their own paths? What do we lose when we get rid of schools?
Illustration by Matt Lubchansky.
Where are our petabyte drives? Brian Hayes takes us through the reasons storage is "stuck" in the low terabytes. The tl;dr is that we got such exceptional capacity growth in the late 90s and early 00s we don't need much more right now, so the focus since then has been on SSDs, networking, interfaces, etc, which address performance bottlenecks. A great line: "Maybe in a decade or two the spinning disk will make a comeback, the way vinyl LPs and vacuum tube amplifiers have. Data that comes off a mechanical disk has a subtle warmth and presence that no solid-state drive can match."
Odd memory: my first story at Wired involved interviewing Mark Kryder. Read the rest
In this episode of the Flash Forward podcast we travel to a future where humans have decided to eradicate the most dangerous animal on the planet: mosquitos. How would we do it? Is it even possible? And what are the consequences?
We talk to experts on mosquito ecology, public health, and a guy who’s trying to genetically engineer mosquitoes to eliminate themselves. We talk about everything from how hard it would be to exterminate mosquitoes, to which species we should target, to what the potential side effects might be. Listen for all that and more!