Category Archives: Amazing Technology

tech news, new technology products

Sugar Rush Alert: This Amazing Technology Could Make Sweets Way Healthier

I have a bit of a sweet tooth. Okay, understatement of the century: I have a raging sweet tooth. I’m the kind of girl who would have dessert after every meal if she could, and yes, that includes breakfast. (Umm, leftover brownies are PERF post-omelette. As they are after pretty much any meal ever.) Of course, a diet high in sugar isn’t exactly the healthiest in the world, which is why this news is so amazing. A company has just found a way to cut sugar content without changing the taste of your fave sweets, and it’s totally life-changing for dessert lovers.

Startup company DouxMatok is the brains behind this operation, and it’s pretty genius. According to Fast Company, DouxMatok’s product works by “coating tiny food-safe particles with natural sugar like sucrose or glucose,” which “can trick the sweetness receptors on your tongue into thinking you’re eating a full serving [of sugar.]” That means you can cut your sugar intake while eating sweets and not have to deal with potential side effects of artificial sugars. That’s a ridiculous win-win.

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Google’s Android Wear smartwatches now work with iPhones

Google wants to make sure it gets smartwatches powered by its software on as many wrists as possible — even if that means treading into enemy territory.

The search giant on Monday said smartwatches that run Android Wear, the Google-made software tailored for wearable devices, will now work with Apple’s iPhones.

That move is a major shift in Google’s approach to smartwatches. Up until now, Android Wear smartwatches — made by hardware vendors including Samsung, Motorola and LG — only worked with Android-based smartphones. By connecting to iPhone users, Google expands its potential crop of customers — Apple sold 47.5 million iPhones in the last quarter alone.Google is likely hoping that making Android Wear smartwatches more widely usable will entice iPhone owners mulling a smartwatch purchase to consider an option other than the Apple Watch, which only works with the iPhone. Apple’s first wearable has become the world’s most popular smartwatch within its first few months on the market this year, according to research firm Strategy Analytics.

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New York Times v Amazon: a clash of cultures

Delivering debate: the NYT’s Amazon story prompted a strong reaction from the media. Photograph: Graeme Robertson for the Guardian

Last week the New York Times dropped a lighted match into the tinderbox of the August story drought with an 11,000-word article describing the wincing workplace norms of online retailer Amazon. Detailing stories of employees being treated callously in the wake of family tragedies and grown-ups weeping at desks, the Times noted that: “Amazon is in the vanguard of where technology wants to take the modern office: more nimble and more productive, but harsher and less forgiving.”

Authors Jodi Kantor and David Streitfeld interviewed more than 100 past employees to piece together the distressing picture of data-driven drudgery, but this did not stop accusations that the piece lacked the balance of voices of happy Amazon employees.

A current Amazon employee, Nick Ciubotariu, wrote a rebuttal to the article on, of all places, LinkedIn. New York Times public editor Margaret Sullivan was clear in her assessment of the piece that more data needed to accompany the many anecdotes, though executive editor Dean Baquet shot back that these types of stories can only be told through powerful personal stories. He said he was particularly proud of the article and that its length and prominence were entirely justified, and perhaps should have been even greater.

Jeff Bezos, Amazon founder and owner of rival news organisation the Washington Post, went on the record with a statement to staff, saying the Amazon depicted in the article was not the workplace he recognised, that anyone suffering such abuses should contact HR or email him personally. The line adopted by both Bezos and his new head of PR, Jay Carney (formerly the White House press secretary) was that it was impossible to imagine any company with such practices surviving yet alone thriving in the highly competitive global marketplace.

Not so, said Dustin Moskowitz, one of the co-founders of Facebook, who wrote a personal piece on Medium saying he recognised the culture of Amazon as being endemic in Silicon Valley and the Pacific north-west and that many companies burnt out their employees at an alarming rate. The New York Times’s article was the most heavily commented on in the news organisation’s history, with more than 5,800 comments, many of them detailing similar experiences in a variety of companies.

The back and forth between Amazon and the Times and the conversation it has generated is a perfect meta-narrative for the tension between technology companies and media companies. The modern newsroom is increasingly a place of measurement, and the more you measure (runs the theory), the better you will be as an organisation. Amazon, by the way, recorded $816,000 per employee in revenue last quarter, versus the New York Times’s $441,000 per employee. It is a matter of opinion as to whether this signals Amazon is a far worse or far better employer than the New York Times. Although this is certainly not what inspired the NYT reporting it is true to say that in most newsrooms there is particular curiosity about the quantified workplace as it becomes an ever closer threat (or amazing opportunity) for journalists themselves.

Last week the founder of BuzzFeed, Jonah Peretti, fielded a question about unionisation within the new news organisation by saying that he didn’t think it necessary if your employees were better paid and treated than elsewhere. Of course traditionally chief executives don’t make the decision whether a union should operate in a workplace or not. However Peretti’s statement was an interesting reflection of how the practices within media companies are converging with the philosophies and customs of Silicon Valley and Pacific north-west companies.

It is entirely appropriate that global news organisations such as the New York Times, the Financial Times and the Guardian (all of which have published critical examinations of Amazon’s work practices in the past two years) dig deeply and critically into the powerhouses of the new economy, particularly as the ties between media and technology companies become ever closer. The impact of the NYT’s reporting, which had depth if arguably not enough context or balance, shows the interest in the subject is as intense as it is divided.

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Windows 10 Hardware Brings Fresh Competition For The MacBook Air

2015 Dell XPS 13.

Windows 10 is not only a vastly improved operating system but runs on vastly improved thin-and-light hardware.

Though the gold standard for thin-and-light laptops has always been the MacBook Air, there’s a lot more competition these days, as PC makers over the years have not only taken cues from Apple AAPL -5.66% successful design but, in some cases, surpassed it. (And I should mention that Apple has tried to top itself with the new 12-inch Retina MacBook. But more on that below.)

Here are three of the best new Windows portables that I’ve used.  All offer more than a few reasons to think hard if you are trying to choose between the MacBook Air and a Windows 10-based thin-and-light for your next purchase.

Dell XPS 13, 2015 version: I’ve been using this for more than five months.  It’s probably the best thin-and-light laptop I’ve used since the first MacBook Air (circa 2008).   For starters, it boasts a CNC machined aluminum chassis, a carbon fiber composite that surrounds the keyboard, and a gorgeous Quad QHD+ resolution (3,200×1,800) touch screen with almost no bezel.  It also offers snappy performance and excellent battery life.  The XPS 13 comes with a Core i5 5200 U “Broadwell” processor. At its thickest point it’s about 0.6 inches and weighs 2.6 or 2.8 pounds, depending on the model, and starts at $799, ranging in price to $1,299. (See my review here.)

Hewlett-Packard HPQ +0.00% EliteBook Folio 1020: This ranks right up there with the XPS 13 — but for different reasons.   Crafted from a CNC aluminum and magnesium alloy, it is designed to pass MIL-STD 810G durability (for drop, shock, vibration).  It’s fanless (like a smartphone or tablet) and thus has no moving parts.  The model I’m using includes a 12.5-inch 2,560×1,440 touch screen, Near Field Communication (NFC), a fingerprint reader, a glass ForcePad, and an amazing keyboard. Inside, an Intel INTC -3.85%Core M-5Y71 1.2GHz Broadwell processor runs cool enough to obviate the need for a fan. (Fans are used in virtually all laptops today.). Battery life is decent, considering its use of a very bright, very-high-resolution display in an impossibly thin design.  At its thickest point, it’s 0.62 inches and weighs 2.68 pounds.  A Special Edition of the 1020 (which I have not used) weighs a mere 2.2 pounds.  The Folio 1020 starts at about $1,100 at online retailers (with a 1,920×1,080 display) and ranges up to more than $1,400.  (See my review here.)

Microsoft MSFT -4.65% Surface Pro 3: The Surface Pro 3 is probably the most avant-garde of the three. It’s essentially a high-end tablet with a great snap-on Microsoft keyboard.  And the keyboard is good enough to turn it into a laptop (almost). Flip that argument and it’s probably the fastest tablet on the planet, offering up to a Core i7 processor — and a 2,160×1,440 resolution to display, to boot. Made with a magnesium casing, it’s by far the lightest and thinnest of the three (sans keyboard) at only 1.76 pounds and 0.36 inches thick.  (The keyboard adds a little more than half a pound.)  Its novel design can be a godsend to consumers and businesses that need to use a Windows PC in tablet mode most of the time but want the option to switch to a laptop-like experience.  It is priced from $799 to $1,799.

Let me close by saying the MacBook Air now has competition from inside Apple itself: The 12-inch Retina MacBook is (like HP’s EliteBook above) fanless and offers tablet-like portability at only 2 pounds.  Will it become the new gold standard for thin-and-light designs, eclipsing the Air?  Time will tell.

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Cutting edge hail technology gives amazing picture of recent hailstorm

Official hail records have been kept in Boston since 1950. On August 4th the largest hail recorded since that date fell in parts of the city and some of it did some significant damage. I don’t see any severe weather on the way, but there might be some thunderstorms Saturday, mainly north of Boston. Although many types of weather observation have been automated over the past several decades, hail measurement still generally relies on human monitoring and manual assessment.

There is now technology available which enables measurement of hail size. Meteorologists can use Doppler radar to see hail inside a thunderstorm and certain modes of the radar can even estimate the size of the hail. One issue with this method is although the Doppler radar can “see” the hail, it can’t know if it has reached the ground. In order to know if hail is impacting the surface, we need actual observations or some sort of sensor to tell us hail is actually reaching an area.

I recent became aware of a startup company called Understory Weather who is creating a network of weather stations, each with a very high tech hail monitor. The company’s vision is to have a nationwide network, which when deployed, gives an accurate depiction of where hail has fallen as well as incredibly precise data of wind, temperature and precipitation. Their stations also have wind and temperature data and they are working on other variables as well. \

There are several of these systems deployed in New England, one of them is even in Sommerville. A picture below shows how the system is mounted. The silver ball is the hail sensor.


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Turn Skyrim Into Pixar Movie With Amazing Mod

Though it may not be available yet and may be a work in progress, this Skyrim mod that essentially turns the entire game into the look of a Pixar movie looks to be about the slickest mod this community has churned up. Yes, it may not be available yet, but pretty safe to say when it is, every Skyrim fan will be playing in a much prettier version of that universe.

I just can’t wait to see what it does to the frame rate. I am a realist. Also, I am not officially celebrating until I see this thing in motion. Still pics on the internet often leave me a tad suspicious when it comes to gaming. Guess we will see. Hope it is real, though, as it seems like it will add much replay-ability to this game for fans like myself.


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Google Maps gets night mode for iOS

google maps

Anyone who’s used Google Maps in the dark knows how tough it can be on the eyes.
Google (GOOG) Maps has always had a blinding white interface that made it hard for drivers to adjust from looking at the screen to looking at the road. Turning away from the bright light into a pitch black distance could cause temporary vision loss.

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OnePlus 2 is a $329+ metallic upgrade with a beefed-up camera

OnePlus 2

Almost exactly 15 months ago, the OnePlus One made its debut as a $299 flagship smartphone to wow the geeks; and it’s even been lowered to $249 as of last month. That, of course, is to make way for the company’s next act, the OnePlus 2 (we were asked to stick with “2” instead of “Two”). This update is actually not all that secretive no thanks to the teasers and a recent leak, but that’s not to say you should lose interest in it, especially given the improved camera, better display, extra RAM and the switch from plastic to a more resilient magnesium alloy frame. Not to mention that the 2 also comes with a USB Type-C port, a fingerprint reader, dual Nano SIM slots and a special “alert” slider. As for the OnePlus 2’s price: the 64GB version will retail for $389 while the 16GB version will cost you $329. Let’s break it down.

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How To Prep For A Digital Detox In 6 Simple Steps

If you’ve ever said something to the effect of “I can’t imagine life without my smartphone,” have we got a challenge for you.

A digital detox is a simple, free and healthy way to reconnect with your loved ones, your physical surroundings and yourself. Not to mention the benefits from this time spent unplugged range from rediscovering balance to improving your sleep to reducing feelings ofanxiety and depression. Basically, you’ve been missing out on something truly amazing, and that should end now.

But going off of technology cold turkey can create quite a shock to the system if you’re not careful. So here’s an easy guide to preparing for your digital detox, making the process as comfortable as possible.Step 1: Admit that you need it.
First, you need to assess how significant a toll constant connectivity is taking on your mind and body. If you experience phantom cellphone vibration syndrome regularly, feel perpetually exhausted because you sleep with your phone and can’t remember the last time you took areal vacation day, face the facts that you simply need a break. Have faith that this sabbath of sorts, despite the initial discomfort in adjusting to time spent without your devices, will solve more problems than you can begin to realize in this moment. Step 2: Plan it out.
Don’t just say you’ll take a screen-free day. Commit it to your calendar. Studies have shown that if you schedule something just like you would any other priority by literally writing it down and making it public, you’ll be much more successful in sticking to it. Men are approximately 22 percent more likely to achieve goals that are recorded in specific terms, and women are 10 percent more likely to achieve them if they announce them publicly to family or friends. So go ahead and make it official!  Continue reading

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