Hardware and gadgets

Lost AirPods: A First World Problem

According to this story, so many New Yorkers are losing AirPods in the subway that it has become a major issue for subway maintenance workers, who are often called to retrieve them from the subway rail tracks.

The tiny cordless ear buds apparently fall out of a user's ears easily in the sweaty hot environment of the subway. One woman bought a broom and duct tape to create a make shift "sticky stick" to retrieve her AirPods.

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Smombies and the decline of civilization

It has come to this: The city of Augsburg, Germany has begun to install traffic lights in the street...because so many people are looking down at their cellphones that they are ignoring traffic signals and being hit by oncoming traffic. This is just sad.

Apple comes to its senses with the iPhone SE

Wired has a review of the iPhone SE, which is Apple's newest smartphone offering. It is essentially the guts of the iPhone 6 in the iPhone 5 case--meaning you can actually put the darned thing in your pocket without feeling like there is a brick in there.

I've handled both the iPhone 6 and the iPhone 6 Plus, and I don't like either of them--just too big. I don't want or need a mini-tablet.

Technology News:

A charger that might be a win

Here is an interesting variant on the ubiquitous battery pack many of us carry around for a quick recharge of our smartphone or tablet. The MyCharge HubPlus combines three functions in one nicely designed package.

It has a built-in lithium ion battery, fold out prongs so you can plug it directly in the wall and use it as a charger for your phone or tablet, and it has built in Lightning (Apple) and mini-USB cables. If you travel a lot, this could reduce the number of things you have to lug around.

Technology News:

One ring to control them all

It is hard to know whether to make a joke about this or to herald it as another great leap forward in technology. Apple has apparently obtained a patent for a ring that can be used to control and interact with your iPhone.

If this sounds like a smaller version of the Apple Watch, you are right. The patent application mentions a microphone, sensors, camera, and perhaps even a display.

Technology News:

Selfies kill more people than sharks

Apparently it is more dangerous to take a selfie than to swim in shark-infested waters. More people are dying from self-inflicted accidents while taking a selfie than from shark attacks.

Folks, put down the selfie stick and try to acquire some situational awareness.

Internet of Things, Part III: Encryption slows down HomeKit use

Vendors who want to roll out home security devices using Apple's HomeKit are complaining. Using the HomeKit API allows customers to control the devices (with many more applications than home security) from their iPhone or iPad.

Apple is requiring a very high level of encryption for HomeKit-enabled devices to prevent hackers from taking over these devices. If the HomeKit-enabled device controls your front door lock or the entire house alarm system, a complex encryption algorithm is a good idea.

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Internet of Things, Part II: Hacked vehicles

The Internet of Things (IoT) continues to roll along merrily, with manufacturers sticking a WiFi chip and a poorly designed single purpose Web server into anything with electricity. That is not so bad. What is bad is the complete and utter disregard for testing for security.

Nest releases home security camera

Nest, the thermostat people, have been busy branching out by developing (or buying) other home gadgets like smoke detectors and security cameras. The company recently announced the Nest Cam, an Internet of Things (IoT) security camera.

Knowledge Democracy:

Shark jumping Part III: The wearable cloud

If you needed still more evidence that the Internet of Things (IoT) has become silly, here is another data point: ReVault, the wearable cloud.

It is a watch thingy that you can strap to your arm and it uses Bluetooth and/or WiFi to automatically back up your smartphone and tablet. Your whole backup plan is based on something that sets off the metal detectors at the airport, so you have to take it off and risk leaving it behind at the security checkpoint.

Technology News:

Internet of things: more shark jumping

The Internet of Things continues to be more hype than substance, and the whole Internet industry is starting to feel like 1998 again, when any Red Bull-addled idea seemed to be able to attract millions in venture capital.

The latest IoT gadget nobody needs is GasWatch, a device that lets you check how much propane is left in your BBQ propane tank.....from your phone.

What?

Technology News:

The Apple Watch jumps the shark

The Washington Post is running online ads touting that you can read the newspaper on the Apple Watch. Really? Really? If there is ONE THING that I have never ever wished for, it has to be this: "I wish I could read a newspaper on my watch."

Does it work something like this?

Today in

(scroll)

Washington

(scroll)

the

(scroll)

President

(scroll)

announced

(scroll)

that he

(scroll)

was.....

Have we completely lost our minds over these gadgets?

Technology News:

Apple Watch strap is ugly

It's Friday, and I am delinquent in writing about hardware and gadgets. I am mildly interested in the Apple Watch, but I do wonder if anyone besides me thinks that the cheesy plastic strap provided with the entry level models is not only ugly but unpleasant. I have worn watches with a plastic strap, and have found them profoundly uncomfortable, especially in the summer or when exercising. Perspiration builds up under the plastic and the band and watch gets hot and, and how do I put it....sweaty.

Technology News:

Apple Watch reviews starting to appear

Some early reviews of the new Apple Watch are starting to appear. This review discusses battery life. I had to chuckle at this comment:


Geoffrey Fowler, The Wall Street Journal:
"The battery lives up to its all-day billing, but sometimes just barely. It’s often nearly drained at bedtime, especially if I’ve used the watch for exercise. There’s a power-reserve mode that can make it last a few hours longer, but then it only shows the time."

Technology News:

The Internet of Things has jumped the shark

Someone has come out with a Bluetooth-enabled baby bottle. As someone who has spent plenty of time feeding babies, I never thought even once, "I wish this baby bottle sent alerts to my phone." In concept, I kind of understand the notion that a "smart bottle" can help train a new parent about issues like letting the child suck too much air (bottle held at wrong angle), or lumps in the milk (did not mix powdered formula enough), but these are things you figure out very quickly on your own.

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The fully automated home: take a glimpse at the future

A good friend of mine who is a programming genius and an inveterate tinker has provided a glimpse of what is possible with largely off the shelf technology. All of the items on the list below are already implemented and in place.

Just what we all need: A WiFi doorbell

The SkyBell is actually pretty cool. It is a WiFi-enabled doorbell with a camera and microphone. Stick it on the wall next to your front door. When someone pushes the "doorbell" button, you get can talk to them via your smartphone. It also has a motion sensor, so the camera turns on and notifies you if someone is hanging around your front door but has not rung the bell.

Technology News:

Internet coffee maker Bruvelo: I want one

The great Hunter S. Thompson said, "When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro." I wrote a couple of days ago about an Internet-enabled Mr. Coffee. But already, that coffee maker seems old and tired. It seems like the Internet coffee maker market just turned pro. Look at the features of the Kickstarter Bruvelo.

Technology News:

Things I never knew I needed....

The venerable "Mr. Coffee" coffee maker has received an upgrade, and is now "smart," according to the Mr. Coffee company. You can now buy a "Mr. Coffee Smart Coffee Maker" that can be controlled from your smartphone. You still have to load up the machine with water and coffee grounds manually, but you can hit the Start button while still in bed...or something. What's next? A "smart" vacuum cleaner? A "smart" Swiffer mop? Is the Internet is making us stupid and lazy?

Technology News:

Put the Google glasses down and join real life

How about this for a future trend? Being treated for Google Glass addiction...A patient who checked into a rehab facility was experiencing involuntary physical tics (constantly tapping his temple to turn the glasses on), and among other issues, was experiencing dreams in which the dream itself was being viewed in Google Glass. There were other psychological issues with the patient, so it is not clear which came first.

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