November 2016

Speaker-battery combo for electric bike

Emma Tucker at Dezeen writes about a new feature of the "Angel" electric bicycle by Noordung.  The Angel is a high-end electric bike clearly meant to appeal to an exclusive market, at the exclusive price of €9,760 each.

The alcohol patch

When you hear the term alcohol patch, what do you think of?  An imaginary place more adult than the Cabbage Patch?  Wrong!  A patch that slowly releases alcohol into your bloodstream?  Getting warmer!

As Mike Hanlon describes it in New Atlas, the ONUSblue alcohol patch is a sensor that rests on a person's skin and monitors their blood alcohol level:

Predictive policing and ghetto avoiding

Logan Koepke has written an interesting article at Slate about the nature of predictive policing.  Predictive policing involves the use of computer algorithms to assign police coverage to a given region on the basis of anticipated risk of crime. 

Bringing back US manufacturing work?

One of the promises driving support for Donald Trump in the recent U.S. election was his promise to bring back manufacturing work.  Many Americans have seen their industrial jobs disappear without much prospect of return.  They and Trump blame globalization for moving these jobs overseas.  Thus, changes in trade policy are touted to bring them back.

Digital Dependencies: How we upload and offload ourselves

A panel discussion by three UWaterloo professors is set to take place that would be of interest to readers of this blog.  The speakers and topics are as follows:

Aimée Morrison (English) 

Loneliness and social media: What does it mean, and not mean, to have ‘Friends’ online?

When innovation precedes knowledge

One theme raised in our STV 202 class is that acquisition of information may precede practical knowledge of what to do with that information.  This issue is especially noticeable in health, where it has become very easy to track people's vital statistics but not so easy to know how to use the results to benefit them.

Think of any commercial fitness tracker you can name.

Should people be made to do without their smartphones sometimes?

An interesting article by Alice Hopton on CBC news discusses when people might be required to do without their smartphones.

The article describes Yondr, a small pouch in which smartphones may be locked during concerts, classes, and other social gatherings.  Yondr's inventor, Graham Dugoni, argues that some people's habit of recording concerts, rather than just experiencing them unfiltered, undermines the point of such events, which is:

Does fake news swing elections?

As Scott recently point out, the recent U.S. election has been characterized by a deluge of fake news.  A concern about this phenomenon is that it distracts from the real news and entrenches readers in their prejudices through confirmation bias

Do bots win elections?

As we contemplate the fallout of the election of Donald Trump as U.S. President, it is interesting to consider the rising influence of social media in modern politics. 

Automotive safety standards

William Gibson, the Canadian science-fiction writer, once said:

The future is already here — it's just not very evenly distributed.

Is this blog post fake or not?

According to a recent BBC report, the US election season has produced a bumper crop of fake news. Of course, people have been making stuff up and passing it off as genuine probably forever. But the BBC seems to be focused on two tech-related factors: social media and advertising, and less on the non-tech-related one: satire.

The dishonest printer

Andy Greenberg at Wired points out an interesting project by one Julian Oliver: A printer that highjacks cell phone traffic.  You may have heard of the StingRay, a device used by police (among others) that intercepts cell phone traffic by spoofing a legitimate cell phone tower.  Well, Mr.

The book is not dead yet!

Andrea Ballatore and Simone Natale write whatever is the opposite of an obituary for the old-fashioned, print book.  The piece was occasioned by the news that ebook sales among the UK's top-five booksellers actually fell in 2015.  This news, the authors suggest, show that predictions that print books were doomed by the rise of the e-book were hype.

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