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★ Google and Levi’s ‘Commuter Trucker Jacket with Jacquard’

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Karissa Bell, writing for Mashable:

After more than two years of testing, Jacquard, the company’s project to embed technology into clothes, is ready to launch. The Levi’s Commuter Trucker Jacket with Jacquard by Google (yes, that’s actually what it’s called), is now on sale in select stores.

And while it’s easy to roll your eyes at the idea of a $350 jacket that comes with its own app, Jacquard is more than a gimmick. After a few days of wearing Levi’s Jacquard jacket, I’m more convinced than ever that the future of wearable tech lies not in tiny screens on our wrists, but in the stuff we’re already wearing. […]

Which gets at one of the other appeals of reinventing wearables as actual clothes: convenience. One of my biggest issues with smartwatches is that glancing at a tiny screen on your wrist isn’t actually that much better that just pulling out your phone.

Limited though Jacquard’s abilities currently are, at least I don’t need to look at a screen to take advantage of them.

I disagree completely. First, this jacket isn’t really a wearable piece of technology. There are touch sensors on the sleeve cuff, yes, but most of the technology is in a flexible gadget that they’re calling a “tag”, which is about the size of an Apple TV remote and which you holster in the underside of the sleeve. It’s not a smart jacket so much as a jacket designed with a custom sleeve to hold the smart device. But even the device itself isn’t all that smart. It’s not a fitness tracker. I’m hard pressed to come up with a more generous description of it than “a Bluetooth remote control”.

Bell’s “biggest issues with smartwatches” is a link to a piece Bell wrote earlier this year, under the headline “It’s Time to Stop Pretending Smartwatches Are Useful in Any Way”. One can certainly argue that smartwatches were overhyped, but it’s preposterous to argue they’re not useful at all. Apple Watch in particular is terrific for fitness tracking and for showing notifications — neither of which things this jacket can do.

The only features of this jacket that Bell (or Google, in their own post announcing its release) cites are about audio control. Here’s Google’s own list of features:

  • Play or pause your music, skip to the next track, or ask what song is playing.

  • Get your next direction, ETA, or the current time.

  • Receive updates on incoming call or texts with a subtle LED light and a vibration on your sleeve, and have the text message read to you.

Unless I’m missing something, if you don’t have headphones in and your phone with you, this jacket does nothing other than keep you warm. It’s a glorified remote control for audio playback and talking to Google Assistant. It’s no smarter than the little clicker on the earbuds that come with every phone.

It’s great not to have to look at a display to use a device. That’s why Apple Watch has haptic feedback. But you know what else is great? Being able to look at a display when you want to. You can wear a watch every day, in all weather conditions. And you keep it on all day. A jacket is something you wear in specific weather conditions and generally take off once you get inside. I don’t see how this is better than a smartwatch in any way.

And this jacket looks even worse compared to AirPods. You need to have headphones in for any of the jacket’s features, so why not just buy smart headphones instead? They work every day, with every outfit you wear (including while you work out).

There is a future for wearable devices that don’t have displays. AirPods are part of that future; a jacket with a Bluetooth remote in the sleeve, not so much.

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the7roy
22 days ago
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"the bulky tag does have an unfortunate resemblance to the anti-theft tags you commonly see in clothing stores."
Mountain View
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macjustice
19 days ago
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"this jacket isn’t really a wearable piece of technology"

Really?
Seattle

An American in the UK National Health Service

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It had been a stressful few weeks, with far more than the usual amount of fuckery and frantic frenzy, and I arrived in Liverpool last Friday on a total of about 4 hours of sleep in two days. Walking around the Liverpool One area shortly after dropping off my bags, heading towards the Tesco to get some supplies, I realized that I was sweating like Nicholas Cage on a meth bender and my heart was racing like, well, the same. I felt a tightness in my chest, short of breath, needing to sit down, and I thought, "Well, fuck, this would fuck up the next week or so." When your Dad dies of a heart attack at 46, you take that shit seriously.

So I found a National Health Service walk-in clinic just around the corner from Tesco. It was in the same space as the NHS's sexual health office, which offered free morning after pills, among other things. I went in and there were maybe twenty people sitting there. I don't know how many needed sex-related attention and how many needed regular medical help. But a very nice receptionist took my name, date of birth, and phone number, and then she asked what was wrong. I described my condition without the mention of Nicholas Cage or meth, which could have confused the whole situation. She very nicely told me to take a seat and that triage would be with me shortly. The triage nurse, I learned, examines everyone to see who might need to get in sooner than others. Apparently, I was looking terrible enough to be bumped to the front of the line.

After a few moments, I was called back to see the nurse practitioner, Niamh (pronounced "Neeve" because, well, Irish names). I can honestly say that I've never been treated with as much care, patience, and good humor by a medical professional as I was by  Niamh. She asked permission every time she wanted to do anything, from take my blood pressure to listen to my pulse. Even as I kept insisting that I was probably just exhausted and whiny, she took everything about my condition incredibly seriously and assured me that I should just follow through with what she was recommending. "It won't cost you anything," she said more than once, as if understanding the anxiety that Americans have about health care spending. "Unless you're admitted to hospital." She laughed and joked, and we talked like we're human beings having a conversation, not a transaction.

Niamh asked me a few questions about health insurance in the United States and shook her head at it. "I'm afraid we're going to head to that kind of system," she exclaimed. She told me a story about when she and her family - husband and five children - visited New York City the previous year. Her youngest, a toddler, had gotten an ear infection, so they went to a walk-in clinic, just as I had come to this one. She told the receptionist that they would pay out of pocket for expenses because they would be reimbursed when they came home. "Now, they prescribed my little one a medicine," Niamh said, "one that I know is in that locked cupboard behind you. And I know that it costs about three pounds. Do you know how much they charged me in the states? $354." She laughed, as one can when they get the money back for outrageous expenses. I told her that her experience is pretty typical.

Apparently, the way the UK system works is that whoever is taking care of you stays with you until you are moved on to the next person. Niamh recommended that I go to the Royal Liverpool Hospital for blood tests. She called ahead to see if they could move me through quickly because she knew that I wanted to get back to what I was doing. And she insisted, gently, that I take an ambulance to the hospital, even as I said I could just take a cab and would be embarrassed by such a fuss. She thought I was foolish for saying that and said that she didn't want to have to worry about anything happening to me on the ride over. I relented when she said I wouldn't be wheeled out on a stretcher. Just a wheelchair.

The two EMTs were also kind and professional and chatty, utterly and completely concerned with my well-being. One of the EMTs, a woman named Phil, told me that she had just gotten into the Royal Coast Guard sea rescue training program. The other, a man named Jack, told me about his two teenage boys, one who loves history and one who was an IT guy. When we arrived at the hospital, they advocated for me to get treatment, even though my blood pressure had returned to earth and, really, I was feeling much better. Phil and Jack said their good-byes when a nurse took me (by now, I was on a wheeled stretcher) to check me in, sitting in the hallway outside the emergency room. I was placed next to another gurney with a grizzled old man there who said he was "Mike" and wanted me to fist-bump his scabby, fungal hand. I did because, fuck, why not.

People working there wanted to talk about New York and New Jersey. One attendant, an old guy named Mick who sounded like John Lennon, chatted me up about Bruce Springsteen and Jake Clemons. The nurse who did my ECG (my second of the afternoon) wanted to talk about The Sopranos and places she could visit from the show (looking at you, Holsten's Ice Cream).

Finally, I was brought to a curtained room in the ER where, after a bit, a doctor came in and took blood samples. The doctor examined me again and, even though she insisted I should stay for another two hours and await the lab results, she brought me forms where I could discharge myself, promising I would call to see if the tests showed anything. (Spoiler: They didn't. I was fine.) As I filled out the forms, I asked her and the attending doctor, who needed to witness, for restaurant recommendations, which they readily gave me.

I've sped up the last part here, but, from walking into the clinic to leaving the ER of the hospital, it was a total of four hours. And there was not a single person I met who seemed angry or beleaguered or disgusted by the system they worked in. Every one of them was simply devoted to making sure I was ok. No profit motive. No forms to fill out. No card to check. No in-network or out-of-network. No phone calls to beg for approval. I didn't pay a dime. That's how you treat a guest.

I was blown away. Obviously, I know it can't always work so smoothly and efficiently (and that there are rocky times ahead for the NHS), but, holy shit, there was something so sane and humane about the entire process that I felt a revulsion towards what we're put through in the United States just to try to not die, the degradation of putting a price tag on our health.

If we actually lived up to the ideals that we supposedly have as Americans, we'd look out for each other by making sure that no one has to have one's worth measured against what one can afford.

Fucking pass single-payer. Or stop fucking pretending that we're a society and just admit that the USA is a Darwinian dystopia.
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the7roy
32 days ago
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glenn
29 days ago
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"there was not a single person I met who seemed angry or beleaguered or disgusted by the system they worked in. Every one of them was simply devoted to making sure I was ok. No profit motive. No forms to fill out. No card to check. No in-network or out-of-network. No phone calls to beg for approval. I didn't pay a dime." ditto in Canada on many occasions for my mother especially for acute care which is when you really need to not be worrying about anything else.
Waterloo, Canada

Philips Hue starter kits now better value with 4 bulbs per pack, new ceiling light fixtures coming soon

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Philips have announced several updates to their HomeKit-compatible smart home lighting range, Hue. Firstly, the new starter kits offer better value for money.

The flagship White and Color Ambience kit bundled three bulbs and a hub for $180, the new generation adds a fourth bulb and sells for just $199. The new white ambience kit sells for $150 and the cheapest entry point into the Hue ecosystem is now the White starter kit for $99, which features 4 A19 white bulbs and a hub.

Hue also announced that new suspension and ambience ceiling Hue lights will go on sale from October, as well as selling multi-pack bulbs for the first time (i.e. four standalone additional bulbs, no hub) …

more…





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the7roy
41 days ago
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Yeah, I don't particularly like thinking about how much I've spent but at least it's not that much. It's easier over time, because each purchase is exciting :) I haven't done everything though, 6 recessed lights in the kitchen are still CFL on a Wemo switch for those times when I break a glass and just need light. Hue lights are for the hang-out spots where we want to have some fun.
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JayM
47 days ago
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If I lived in an apartment... would totally be Hued.
Atlanta, GA
the7roy
46 days ago
I have 16 hue lights in 5 rooms of my house. Are you saying it's hard to fill a house with smart bulbs (no contest, it's taken 5 years of gradual purchases) or that Phillips is the wrong choice for a house?
JayM
46 days ago
Just expensive... and a lot of recessed lighting. Not sure if they have those yet...
JayM
46 days ago
BR30's color - $50/each... Like $500 for kitchen, $450 for upstairs hallway. Maybe just the basement.

‘Red Rising’ by Pierce Brown

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red-rising-by-pierce-brown

I just finished Red Rising, the first novel of a science fiction trilogy by Pierce Brown that tells the beginnings of a tale of a slave on Mars named Darrow who becomes a revolutionary in a society where your role is determined by your Color. As a lowly Red, Darrow works as a slave underground, mining helium-3 so that the explorers on the surface can terraform the red planet into a place suitable for human living.

The problem? It’s all a lie:

But Darrow and his kind have been betrayed. Soon he discovers that humanity reached the surface generations ago. Vast cities and lush wilds spread across the planet. Darrow—and Reds like him—are nothing more than slaves to a decadent ruling class.

Inspired by a longing for justice, and driven by the memory of lost love, Darrow sacrifices everything to infiltrate the legendary Institute, a proving ground for the dominant Gold caste, where the next generation of humanity’s overlords struggle for power. He will be forced to compete for his life and the very future of civilization against the best and most brutal of Society’s ruling class. There, he will stop at nothing to bring down his enemies . . . even if it means he has to become one of them to do so.

While I wouldn’t necessarily put this novel in the pantheon of greats alongside Ender’s Game or Dune, it kept me engaged throughout and was a solid enough read that I definitely plan to finish out the series. Darrow is one of those characters who happens to be too good at everything he does (*ahem* Kvothe) but the author’s poetic ability to turn a phrase more than makes up for that, and certain scenes with the Sevro character in particular made me chuckle out loud.

A note for parents of sci-fi fans: This book doesn’t contain much in the way of sexual content, and the characters’ curse words are all future-slang (“slag that” and “bloodydamn”), but it’s worth mentioning that there’s quite a bit of of graphic violence and descriptions of physical abuse.

Get Red Rising in these formats:

Buy Now

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the7roy
43 days ago
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One of the best sci Fi I've read recently. Go for the trilogy.
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Jackass of the Week: James Damore

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If you’re still looking for a succinct, pin-point-accurate, easily grasped explanation for what was wrong about Google engineer James Damore’s essay arguing against Google’s efforts to address gender (and, I think implicitly, racial) diversity in its workforce, look no further than Damore himself, in this series of tweets:

Imagine your company spent $250 million on programs that assumed Santa Claus is real.

Then you wrote a document detailing why Santa Claus is a myth, which upset the brainwashed employees that believe in Santa Claus.

It’s your fault if you make a 3 year old cry by telling them Santa Claus isn’t real. It’s society’s fault if that makes 30 year olds cry.

I found his original document extraordinarily tedious to read because it contained about two pages worth of ideas spread across 10 pages of a sort of academic-ese-like writing. He used that abstract, detached, wordy point-of-view to make his thesis come across as non-confrontational. I’m not against women in tech, I’m just pro facts, and here are some facts.

Now, unleashed from any pretense of evenhandedness or detachment, we get a succinct summary of his argument: the notion that women should, based on merit and talent, constitute a larger percentage of the tech industry is like believing in Santa Claus. A fantasy.

Fuck this guy.

Also, nobody cried after reading his “document”. They simply explained, often in point-by-point painstaking detail, why he was wrong and needed to be fired.

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the7roy
56 days ago
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I wanted to cry when Blind polls said there were so many people who disagreed with his firing. Fuck this guy and fuck those guys.
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The Verge’s Essential Phone Review

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Dieter Bohn, writing for The Verge:

It won’t be long now before we take edge-to-edge screens like the one on the Essential Phone for granted, but for the moment it’s still something special. There’s a cutout at the top for the selfie camera (and a couple of sensors) shaped like a little U, splitting the status bar in half between notifications and your radio status icons.

That cyclops eye seems like the sort of thing that would be distracting, but in my experience it becomes invisible almost immediately. Ninety-five percent of the time Android doesn’t put anything of value in that particular part of the screen anyway, and the phone is adept at keeping apps that go truly full screen (like video) letterboxed in. Every now and then you will have something like an image that will be full screen and cut off by the camera, but it’s rare. […]

Even though we’ve seen the no-bezel trick on phones like the Galaxy S8, it still feels remarkable to have such a large display on such a small phone. The 5.7-inch screen on the Essential Phone is bigger than what you’ll get on an iPhone 7 Plus or a Pixel XL, yet the phone itself is much smaller. It’s much closer in size to the smaller counterparts of those phones, the iPhone 7 and Pixel, and their significantly smaller displays.

It does look like a beautiful device. And it deserves kudos for lacking a camera bump. But: the camera is, in The Verge’s terms, “somewhat disappointing”. There’s one and only one reason why recent iPhones have camera bumps: to improve the quality of the images and videos shot by the camera. I hate the bump, but I’d rather have the bump and better image quality than no bump and worse image quality. Wake me up when someone figures out how to make a best-of-breed phone camera with no bump.

Update: Google’s Pixel phones don’t have a bump, and are top-tier cameras. Neglecting to mention them is an inexplicable brain fart on my behalf, given that I own a Pixel and like it far more than any other Android phone I’ve ever seen. But it’s not like the Pixel achieve a no-bump design without a significant compromise: the entire form factor of the phone is wedge-shaped — the top (the camera end) is noticeably thicker than the bottom. In some ways that’s better, and in others its worse. But what I want is what the iPhone SE has: no bump, no wedge — just a perfect slab with a flush camera lens. I fear the bump is here to stay, though.

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the7roy
57 days ago
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I don’t need such a thin phone though. Gimme 1mm more battery depth and keep your wedges and bumps.
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