When I'm not here pointing out dog videos, I spend the rest of my work day as a technology journalist. I decided that I wanted in on this line of work because I love gadgets. There was always something new coming out that I couldn't afford to buy. Now, as I get to play with new tech on an almost daily basis, I don't feel like I'm missing out on much of anything. My office is full of smartphones, computers, wearables and travel gear. It's loaned to me, I play with it and then, I send it back. It's such a privilege to have access to the sorts of swag that a lot of geeks like me drool over. I never get tired of playing with new products. But having done it for close to a decade has left me a bit jaded: what's new is seldom as spectacular as we want it to be.
Take this year's crop of flagship smartphones, for example. They're a little bit faster, a little bit glossier. Maybe the one you've been looking at has an edge-to-edge display. I get it: bezels on a handset are bullshit, so, you totally want one. I know I do. But I also know, having played with them, that the incremental differences between one year's model and the next is so moot, that they won't make a lick of difference in my day-to-day life. TVs are the same. Most of the folks I know just want the shows and movies that they watch to look their best. Read the rest
Parents who load their tablets and smartphones up with fun educational apps for their kids to play with may actually be doing them more harm than good. According to The Guardian, spending too much time tapping and swiping away at touchscreens is leaving the muscles in many children's hands too weak to hold a pencil.
In the article, Sally Payne, a pediatric occupational therapist, explains that the nature of play has changed over the past decade. Instead of giving kids things to play with that build up their hand muscles, such as building blocks, or toys that need to be pushed or pulled along, parents have been handing them tablets and smartphones. Because of this, by the time they're old enough to go to school, many children lack the hand strength and fine motor control required to correctly hold a pencil and write. In order to correct the problem, some parents are going so far as to send their kids to pediatric occupational therapists, like Payne:
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Six-year-old Patrick has been having weekly sessions with an occupational therapist for six months to help him develop the necessary strength in his index finger to hold a pencil in the correct, tripod grip.
His mother, Laura, blames herself: “In retrospect, I see that I gave Patrick technology to play with, to the virtual exclusion of the more traditional toys. When he got to school, they contacted me with their concerns: he was gripping his pencil like cavemen held sticks. He just couldn’t hold it in any other way and so couldn’t learn to write because he couldn’t move the pencil with any accuracy.
Apple's been in the headlines over the past few months, for all of the wrong reasons. According to TechCrunch, their PR losing streak isn't going to stop any time soon.
TechCrunch reports that an IOS software development house has discovered that two unicode symbols, when inputted into a number of popular iOS apps, will cause the apps to crash. In many instances, once the apps crash, it's impossible to open them again. TechCrunch was able to recreate these crashes on a number of pieces of hardware running iOS and a Mac running the latest version of MacOS:
The bug crashes apps including Mail, Twitter, Messages, Slack, Instagram and Facebook. From our testing, it also crashed Jumpcut, a copy and paste plugin for Mac. While it initially appeared that the Chrome browser for Mac was unaffected and could safely display the symbol, it later crashed Chrome and the software would not reopen without crashing until uninstalled and reinstalled.
This isn't the first 'text bomb' issue that Apple's been confronted with. In January, it was discovered that it allowed a specific web address to crash any iPhone it was texted to.
Given that this bug effects so many different devices (all of which I use) I'm hoping that it gets sorted out fast.
Image courtesy of Pxhere Read the rest
iFixit Video always does informative overviews of new gadgets, like this nifty look at how Face ID works. Read the rest
The Essential Phone, a $700 premium Android handset launched to much fanfare, has sold only 5,000 handsets.
Essential, the first major startup from Android founder Andy Rubin’s venture capital firm Playground, currently sells the $699 Android-powered Essential Phone through Sprint and promises to release the Essential Home smart-home hub later this year. Essential was named as one of FierceWireless’ top 15 startups to watch in 2017. The relatively low sales figures from BayStreet for the Essential phone can be contrasted with the company’s valuation; Bloomberg columnist Tim Culpan recently calculated that Essential is now valued at roughly $1.2 billion, the Verge reported.
Can $3.5m in sales sustain a billion-dollar unicorn? You betteridge your life it can!
Screengrab courtesy @awhite Read the rest
killed 3 and injured 23 more in a bombing campaign inspired by the erosion of human freedom and dignity under modern technology. The Chicago Tribune's
Steve Chapman writes that the latest iPhone proves him right
: "it’s an excellent illustration of something that has long gone unrecognized: The Unabomber had a point."
To do without a cellphone — and soon, if not already, a smartphone — means estranging oneself from normal society. We went from “you can have a portable communication device” to “you must have a portable communication device” practically overnight.
I was all geared up to enjoy a diarrhea-hot take from a suddenly and insanely woke normie but this column doesn't quite live up to its implicit billing! There's no real discussion of the new iPhone scanning our faces in 3D, for example, which is clearly its go-to dystopian feature. If you're going to dive in to the ideology of a man who found anarcho-primitivism too comprimised for his liking, details would be nice.
In fact, of all the human things Kaczynski math-dorked his way to being insightful about, Chapman's pick is tres basic. It amounts to the cri de coeur of the cartoon Millennial: "It's impossible to go off-grid! Without my phone!" But unlike them, it led not into a subscription to Tiny House Magazine but to a new appreciation of the Unambomber manifesto.
People on the left complain about the center, liberals and libertarians and whatnot, accommodating fascism out of an active commitment to principles of civility that tend to mediate whatever extremes are in play -- a commitment that becomes grotesque when the "extremes" move from the once-cosy fringes of political normality to, say, "anti-fascism vs. Read the rest
In July 2016, Andrew "bunnie" Huang and Edward Snowden presented their research on journalist-friendly mobile surveillance resistance at the first MIT Media Lab Forbidden Research conference; a little over a year later, they have published an extensive scholarly paper laying out the problems of detecting and interdicting malware in a mobile device, and presenting a gorgeously engineered hardware overlay that can be installed in an Iphone to physically monitor the networking components and report on their activity via a screen on a slim external case.
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Most tech-media takes on the iPhone's 10th anniversary are bland and self-congratulatory, but I like Tom Warren's at The Verge. He laments how Apple's pocket computer killed his inner nerd. As a youngster, he'd be constantly tearing down and building computers, even in the sweltering heat of summer. But now...
...All of that tinkering and hacking things ended for me shortly after the iPhone arrived ... When I look at modern PCs, tablets, and phones now I’m surprised at the simplicity of them. Not all of them are perfect, but technology is rapidly turning into something in the background that’s accessible to everyone and doesn’t require hours of configuration. I miss the thrill of hacking away and tinkering, but as I shout to Alexa to turn off my lights at night I can’t help but appreciate just how easy everything is now.
If anything I've had the opposite experience. I hate having to fiddle with technology because I have to if I want it to do something interesting, or simply to work in the first place. But now tinkering is all creation. Experimentation, hacking--all of it is freed from whatever technical needs I have.
Perhaps what people miss is the feeling that tinkering with tech will put them on the cutting edge of performance, will move them into the unequally-distributed future. But the same thing is now diversion, mere art, and that's not what they care about.
It's true, though, that the iPhone made gadgets boring. It's striking, when you look at the products released around that time and for years thereafter, just how astronomically ahead of the game Apple was in 2007. Read the rest
Ask any photographer or filmmaker about the lamest question they get the most, and they'll probably say questions about what gear they use. Georges Antoni showed that camera doesn't matter as much as other factors by shooting the June Elle Australia cover on an iPhone 7 Plus: Read the rest
Lev Grossman, author of the Magicians trilogy, reviews Brian Merchant's origin story of the iPhone, called The One Device, in the NY Times:
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If you’ve ever worked on a hopeless project that felt like it was going nowhere, you will draw spiritual strength from Merchant’s account of life in the Purple trenches. It includes fascinating dead ends and might-have- beens (a prototype based on the original iPod’s click wheel, backlit in blue and orange); personal sacrifices (“The iPhone is the reason I’m divorced”); obscure technical hurdles (the phone’s infrared proximity sensor, which turns the screen off when it’s near your head, wouldn’t recognize dark hair); backstage tension at the launch (I was actually there, watching Jobs rehearse the famous iPhone keynote, but apparently missed everything); even a symbolic onstage assassination (when Jobs publicly demonstrated swiping to delete a contact, he used Apple vice president Tony Fadell’s name, foreshadowing Fadell’s imminent departure).
NYU grad student Dejian Zeng worked undercover at an iPhone factory in Shanghai, China for six weeks, and "grim" is a nice way to describe it.
Zeng was in charge of one screw per phone, fastening the speaker to the back of the iPhone case. He had to show up at the factory at 7:30 and work 12 hours per day, but was only paid for 10 1/2 hours per day since breaks are unpaid. And his work week consisted of 6 days per week, for which he only gets paid $450/month, including overtime.
The workers live in prison cells, er, I mean dorm rooms that are as bleak as hell. They have only one uniform to wear all week, as well as a pair of slippers. But they do not receive an iPhone as a perk – it's rare to see anyone with a personal iPhone at the iPhone factory. Most workers have a phone that is cheaper.
The thing that shocked Zeng the most was the managers' attitudes - "yelling at the workers is kind of routine in the factories." But the good thing is that the company has installed nets around the stairs to prevent people from committing suicide. Oh, and the windows have cages around them so no one can jump out and kill themselves.
There are more fascinating details in this video. Good undercover work, Zeng!
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Last week Carla posted Scotty's amazing video about building an iPhone from scratch. Scotty just sent me a couple of photos that show just how difficult it was to build the phone:
The attached photos are from one of the booths that sells screws and brackets and other accessories for repairing and refurbishing iPhones.
The first photo of the laminated card is showing "foam, stickers, and dust mesh accessories". These are all the little bits of adhesive and foam and mesh hole coverings you need to make an iPhone totally perfect. Most notable are the two grids of pink dots. Those are water damage sensors, which turn red when you get them wet (the other side is faces up when installed, and is white). This is what Apple looks at to see if your phone has gotten wet.
The other photo is a bin of brackets for iPhone. They're mostly coverings for connectors, or to hold the camera or other parts in place. The baggies in the upper right are camera covers - they glue into a hole in the metal shell, and are the round piece of glass that prevents the actual camera itself from getting scratched.
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I have been enjoying this bendable iPhone lightning cable. It is great for keeping the phone where I can see it.
Using it with a 20000mAh USB battery as a base works well too.
Not rigid enough to work as a stand in my car.
COMROLL Cable Charger Holder Flexible Holder Stand Up USB Desk Charging Sync Data for iPhone 5S 6 6S 7 Plus 50cm via Amazon Read the rest
VICE Media, USA Today owner Gannett, and the Associated Press today announced a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit against the FBI. The news organizations want to how much and who the government paid to hack into the San Bernardino shooters' iPhone, during the government's investigation into last year's mass shooting.
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If you missed the iPhone 7 event, this five minute recap will fill you in. Read the rest
I just stocked up on USB-to-Lightning cables again, as they tend to disappear around my house. A 4-pack of the RAVPower MFi Certified cables (the kind I usually get) are on sale for $16 if you use code 2DCN7DO4 at check out. Read the rest
I feel like you can't go wrong with Anker charging cables. I have found them to be more durable than Apple's own cables, which tend to tear over time. I wanted a short cable to charge my phone from a portable charger, so I bought a 1-foot Anker PowerLine for $9 on Amazon. The housing around the connectors is very sturdy, and has a 4.8 out of 5 star rating on Amazon. Read the rest