It’s easy to build something that’s more powerful than an iPad—and very, very hard to do it without introducing complexity.
Over at Medium, MG Siegler (parislemon) has a nice piece likening the iPad to a typewriter. He means the comparison to a defunct piece of technology as a compliment: Writing on an iPad with an external Logitech keyboard, he says, strips away all the distractions of other applications and web services and lets you focus on your thoughts and the words.
I like the fact that iPad apps run in full-screen mode and usually aren’t overwhelmed by interface clutter or features I’ll never use. I like the fact that I don’t have to spend much time maintaining my iPad, and don’t have to futz with stuff like anti-virus software. I like the fact that my iPad has built-in LTE wireless Internet which is (AT&T willing) available the moment I turn on the tablet. And I absolutely love the fact that I dependably get 10 hours of battery life on a charge, which means that I can be smugly productive while those who tote notebooks are frantically hunting for wall outlets.
In short, an iPad with a keyboard—my current fave is Belkin’s Qode Ultimate Keyboard case—is the closest thing I’ve found to the ideal general-purpose PC for me. I still run into folks who tell me I’m nuts, but there seem to be fewer hidebound naysayers than in the past. And more people like MG Siegler.
NPR (npr) One rethinks everything, even ditching the Like button.
Stark white and minimally designed, the new NPR One app looks like a paradigm of technology. But surprisingly, the app isn’t powered by algorithms, filters, or other pseudo-intelligence—it’s still good old human editor curation on the backend.
“For us, the algorithm that programs the app is very importantly focused on the human curation part of it,” says NPR VP of digital media Zach Brand. “A lot of people tend to think of it in terms of machine learning—which is a portion as well—but we have dedicated staff making sure that the most important stories are populated from the outset that represent the best experience right at the first moment. As we get to know the listener, it then tailors even more to them.”
In a conflict as grisly as Syria’s civil war, getting humanitarian aid to those who need it can be a life-threatening affair. Fortunately for those hoping to help, data from sources like Twitter, YouTube, and a range of others lets researchers turn war into a giant data science project, helping understand the tension between groups, how armed they are, and where they’re headed next.
One year ago, Palantir Technologies donated their data organization software to nonprofit the Carter Center. “We wanted to see who the biggest fish amongst the opposition are, everyone relates to one another, and who’s funding who,” says Christopher McNaboe, who works on the Syria Conflict Mapping project. Now that the the U.N. has granted unauthorized border crossing into Syria to provide relief, that data can finally be put into action.
No more animal testing and no more guesswork about whether drugs that work on animals might also work on humans. Scientists are making an entire electonic set of organs that can test our drugs quickly and easily.
Tell it your prescription, and the experimental screen makes blurry images clear for you.
People with vision problems, rejoice: A team from Microsoft, U.C. Berkeley, and MIT has created an experimental screen technology that would allow you to view your devices clearly without your glasses.
Do your Internet habits hold you back, or help you succeed?
In theory, technology should increase both work flexibility and productivity, but it is also responsible for procrastination and a major threat to people’s work-life balance.
In fact, much of the recent debate about work-life imbalance is concerned with our relationship with technology, in particular our inability to disconnect or go offline.
For example, in the U.S. almost 50% of working adults report being “hooked” on email, which is estimated to cost the nation’s economy at least $900 billion a year in productivity loss. According to consulting firm McKinsey & Company, professionals spend 28% of their work time reading or answering emails. These statistics explain the international success of bestselling books like The Four Hour Work Week.
Furthermore, even people who manage to keep their email addiction in check are prone to getting hooked on other sites or apps, such as Facebook or Twitter, with a growing number of people trying social media sabbatical, where they detox from these sites for a couple of months or so. Needless to say, our digital excesses may harm not just our productivity but also our personal relationships with others, especially if they demand exclusive attention from the physical world.
So how can we better manage our web-life balance? Here are four practical suggestions you may want to consider: