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Links, News, and Observations from Small Planet

March 2017

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March 24, 2017

The Best iOS 11 Concept Designs So Far
“Creative minds are already at work creating concepts of what they want the OS to look like. These aren’t based on any facts, but rather things the creators want to see in iOS 11.” (digitaltrends.com)

What If My Sports Team…
“In honor of March Madness, Small Planet is thinking about how big-time sports could leverage technology to engage fans. Audio feeds, digital tailgating, armchair activism, replay options…(smpla.net)

American Farmers Are Hacking Their Tractors
“To avoid the draconian locks that John Deere puts on the tractors they buy, farmers have started hacking their equipment with firmware that’s cracked in Eastern Europe…(vice.com)

The Big Bend
“Architecture studio oiio has conceived a bending skyscraper for New York, dubbed ‘the world’s longest building’…a single building that doubles back on itself at its peak to form an inhabitable arch.”
(designboom.com)

Everything About Mars is the Worst
“At first glance, Mars seems pretty nice. The sun warms its rusty surface to a balmy 70 degrees Fahrenheit during the day, and gentle breezes ruffle its dirt. Too bad it’s such a jerk.”  (fivethirtyeight.com)

The Math Inside the US Highway System
“Numbers increase towards the Northeast. (Hey, NYC thinks it’s the center of the world, right?) I-5 is on the West coast, I-95 on the East coast. I-10 must be in Texas…(betterexplained.com)

Jennifer Brook on Design Research at Dropbox
“That wasn’t the only lesson Brook learned during her time at Apple…Jobs expected the same sort of honesty on the iPad as he would be providing on their prototype.” (creativebloq.com)

Does X-Men Technology Really Exist?
“Before we start laying out Wolverine’s powers and how CRISPR can be used to imbue humans with the same attributes, let’s first define exactly what CRISPR is and how it works.”(mic.com)

What’s It Worth To You?
Planet Money Episode 759: “The amount left under kids’ pillows by the Tooth Fairy is an overlooked economic indicator. We bring you the story of how an economics team helped settle on the right price per tooth.”  (npr.com)

 


 

March 17, 2017

How “Designed in California” is the New “Made in Italy”
“The state’s global design influence skyrocketed from 1960s counterculture to Silicon Valley tech culture. Divided into five parts..” (architecturaldigest.com)

Oxford Comma Wins
“The milk and cream company likely never appreciated the serial comma so much as it did Monday, when the lack of that little curved stroke cost the company an appeals court ruling…(npr.org)

John Maeda’s Design In Tech Report 2017
“Delivered at SXSW on March 12, 2017: This report covers related M&A activity, new patterns in creativity × business, and the rise of computational design.(vimeo.com)

Superhero Fiction Needs to Change or Die
On Iron Fist: “There’s precious little here that we haven’t seen before, and in a landscape saturated with superhero storytelling, that’s both a crippling flaw and an unforced error.
(slate.com)

Artistic Expressions of Math Over 7 Centuries
“The historical and contemporary works in the small exhibition chronicle centuries of sharing and considering mathematical knowledge through art, design, and publishing….”  (hyperallergic.com)

Alexa, Why Aren’t You a Dude?
“It’s a potentially troublesome phenomenon as anthropomorphic assistants accent non-threatening and subservient qualities to achieve social acceptance.(digitaltrends.com)

Here Comes the Sun
“Worried about your garden getting enough sun, or if the apartment you saw yesterday is bright enough? SunCalc is an app that shows sun movement and sunlight phases during the day at the given location.” (swiss-miss.com)

Gotta Have a Montage
Our new Spotify playlist celebrates March Madness and spring training. Small Planet asks the eternal question: Do you have what it takes to make it to the big game, dance, match, audition, and/or ninja level? (spotify.com)

Quantum Leaps
“A bathing cap that allows others to monitor the wearer’s mind. A sensor that can spot hidden nuclear submarines. A computer that can discover new drugs. The promise of quantum technology…” (economist.com)

 


 

March 10, 2017

The Giant Leap Forward of Jordan Peele’s Get Out
“A meditation on a specific subgenre of American movies, the so-called social thriller, a subject that Peele talks about with wide-ranging thoughtfulness.” (newyorker.com)

10 Breakthrough Technologies You Need To Know About
“Face-detecting systems in China now authorize payments, provide access to facilities, and track down criminals.(technologyreview.com)

Space Badges: The U.S. Army’s Coolest Award
“There’s a little-known training path that can earn you an honest-to-goodness Space Badge…something right out of Roddenberry’s vision of the future…(atlasobscura.com)

5G Will Make Smartphones Boring
“The arrival of 5G may also finally bring millions of rural consumers into the high-speed data lanes where marketers increasingly sell their products.” (adage.com)

The Upside Down
“The game tasks you with naming cities and countries based on an out-of-context, zoomed-in image of a random landmass or body of water that’s been flipped in one way or another.”  (visualnews.com)

Keep SXSW Weird
“The broad format helped it survive. By providing an adaptable canvas for brands, art, technology, and politics to be recombined as the times demanded, SXSW never got pigeonholed as one thing.(smpla.net)

Why America is Self-Segregating
“In a world in which we have countless tools to connect, we are also watching fragmentation, polarization, and de-diversification happen en masse.” (zephoria.org)

I Am a Robot, Here’s Your Pizza
These wheeled robots—or call them land-based drones if you want—have a leg up on aerial-drone delivery services envisioned by Google, Amazon, and others.(arstechnica.com)

Why super-smart people may be drawn to crime
“Indeed, Oleson’s high-IQ group reported higher crime rates, compared to the control group, for 50 of the 72 types of crime surveyed. These included minor offenses…” (qz.com)

 


March 3, 2017

The Myth of Digital Equality
“Sharing apps were supposed to make services open to everyone. But real-life discrimination can be exacerbated in an economy where we are vulnerable to biases…” (gulfnews.com)

The Wisdom of Nokia’s Dumbphone
“The simultaneous fragility and…expense of smartphones also helps explain why the Nokia 3310 might appeal even to consumers who can afford better.(theatlantic.com)

How Filmmakers Use Color To Set The Mood
“Red is used to denote passion, danger or power. Pink signifies innocence, femininity and beauty. Yellow is associated with joy, naivety and insanity.(digitalsynopsis.com)

Uber Is Doomed
“After a discombobulated 2016, in which Uber burned through more than $2 billion, amid findings that rider fares only cover roughly 40 percent of a ride, it’s hard to imagine…” (jalopnik.com)

Walden: A Game
“The new video game will urge players to collect arrowheads, cast their fishing poles into a tranquil pond, buy penny candies and perhaps even jot notes in a journal…”  (nytimes.com)

Using tech to address gender bias in film
“Dubbed the Geena Davis Inclusion Quotient (GD-IQ), the tool can identify a character’s gender and it knew to a fraction of a second how long each actor…(google.com)

The Past, Present, and Future of Flying Cars
“Modernizing the concept of foldaway wing, Slovak flying car developer AeroMobil is attempting to take to the skies with the use of regular gasoline.” (futurism.com)

No CEO, No Problem
Do you really need someone to tell you what to do at work? Software consultancy Crisp decided that the answer was no. The firm had already trialled various structures…
(bbc.com)

Submerged in the Cosmic Kingdom
“Among the Shangri-Las scattered through the remote mountain valleys…the most exotic may be the medieval kingdom of Guge.” (nybooks.com)

 

 


February 24, 2017

Minority Report
“Federal investigators can use the 30-year-old law to access your stored electronic content. It went into effect long before you probably sent your first e-mail… ” (technologyreview.com)

Only 12% Of Employees Use Enterprise Apps
“Companies want their employees to have the same amount of enthusiasm for enterprise apps as they do for consumer apps.(arc.applause.com)

Exploring the Ruins of Ford’s Fantasyland
“Hardly a lost city, Fordlândia is home to about 2,000 people, some who live in the crumbling structures built nearly a century ago.” (nytimes.com)

Two Brothers Are Obsessively Filming Every National Park
“We were lucky enough to be there when the lava was actually hitting the water — and it ended up being quite dangerous, too.” (digitaltrends.com)

What’s a Best Picture Nomination Worth?
“Movie studios are notorious for taking a creative approach to accounting, and that makes it difficult to calculate just how much money is being made.”   (variety.com)

What If Alexa…
“Spoke with a Scottish brogue? Got out of the house more? Lived in the moment? Small Planet talks about what we’d like to see (and perhaps build) for everybody’s favorite AI. (smpla.net/2m9zbd5)

All the Cool and Crazy New Toys Coming in 2017
“The Ponycycle comes in different sizes and moves on wheeled feet as you move the pedals up and down with your legs, making it look as if you’re riding a pony.” (cnet.com)

Alexa on the Desktop, iPhone, and iPad
“Developers at U.S. digital consultancy Rain have created Reverb, which allows users to access Amazon’s Alexa virtual assistant from their Mac desktop or iOS device. ” (macrumors.com)

Every Star, Every Planet
NASA’s Kepler mission has verified 1,284 new planets – the single largest finding of planets to date. Nearly 550 could be rocky planets like Earth…and nine of these orbit in their sun’s habitable zone…” (nasa.gov)

The Number One Job Skill in 10 Years
Video: Billionaire investor Mark Cuban speaks with Bloomberg’s Cory Johnson at the NBA All-Star Technology Summit in New Orleans. (youtube)

 


February 17, 2017

Something in the Airbnb
“A war of words between Airbnb and New York, its largest market, has escalated with the first fine issued by the city in what is expected to be a crackdown on ‘hosts’. Unfortunately, city and state laws…” (theguardian.com)

Attack of the Apps
“We’ve now enabled a system where a major retailer can know, for example, that a teenager is pregnant before her parents do simply by correlating her activity, search and purchase data.(techcrunch.us)

Generative design software will give designers “superpowers”
“The software can automatically make aircraft lighter, buildings stronger and trainers more comfortable – with the designer acting as a curator…” (dezeen.com)

A Thin Line Between Love and Hate
“Hater is a dating app that matches you with other users based on things you both hate. It’s the No. 1 lifestyle app in Germany right now…”  (businessinsider.com)

Professor Blackjack
“It involved an unexpected conversation with a man in a Cadillac…and discovering a key insight about beating the odds that had implications far bigger than any casino game winnings could be.” (npr.org)

Even the Masters of the Universe Are Threatened
“Software that works on Wall Street is changing how business is done and who profits from it. Automated trading programs have taken over… (technologyreview.com)

Here’s How Much Money You’d Need to be Batman
“Among the Caped Crusader’s vigilante-related expenses: $1 million for a Batsuit with custom Kevlar; $79.5 million for Batmobiles (not including fuel); $210,000 for grappling guns…” (ew.com)

The High Cost of a Home Is Turning Millennials Into the New Serfs
The Daily Beast: “This isn’t about lifestyle choices. It’s about a system in which the boomers are protecting their wealth and views at the expense of the rest of us.” (thedailybeast.com)

A Dead Simple Tool To Find Out What Facebook Knows About You
“A new Chrome extension reveals the unsettling amount of information the company might have on you. If you could measure all the information…” (fastcodesign.com)

 


February 10, 2017

The Privacy Challenge
“Manoush Zomorodi spends a lot of time thinking about that fleeting, uneasy feeling you likely get every time you download a new app and grant it access to your data. You might have had that feeling two months ago…” (fastcompany.com)

Lady Gaga’s Drones
“It’s probably the first time you’ve seen 300 drones flying in formation, but it’s almost certainly not the last. The same drones…will one day revolutionize search-and-rescue, agriculture, halftime shows, and more.” (wired.com)

Rise of the Fake Apps
“The issue is now cropping up again on a far larger scale…during the holidays, dozens of brands were targeted, with fake apps appearing for brands ranging from the Dollar Store to Salvatore Ferragamo.” (adage.com)

Indoor Drive-In to Open in Nashville
“The $10 million project aims to conjure a summer night in the sixties under a 40,000-square-foot, air-supported dome, complete with simulated starry sky.(variety.com)

Do You Smell Like a Locker Room?
“Konica Minolta’s hand-held device KunKun (“sniff, sniff” in Japanese) purports to detect body odors, including those thought to characterize middle-aged men.” (wsj.com)

We Need to Talk About Silicon Valley’s H-1Bs
“The truth is that they want an expansion of the H-1B work visa program because they want to hire cheap, immobile labor — i.e., foreign workers…(huffingtonpost.com)

Now the Russians Figured Out a Way to Fix Slot Machines
“In early June 2014, accountants at the Lumiere Place Casino in St. Louis noticed that several of their slot machines had…just for a couple of days…gone haywire.” (forbes.com)

The World Is Not Enough
“The multiverse…the idea that there are an infinite number of other universes out there besides our own…stretches back at least 2,500 years. It’s an implication of efforts to solve some other problem.(cosmos.nautil.us)

A.I. Is Music to Some Ears
“Jukedeck’s system involves feeding hundreds of scores into its artificial neural networks, which then analyze them so they can work out things like the probability of one musical note’s following another.” (nyt.com)

 


February 3, 2017

How Pac-Man Went from Arcade to Art Gallery
“Pac-Man’s significance to game designers was also critical. Not only was it the first to establish a narrative, which played out in mini-cartoons, it also featured characters with distinct personalities…(artsy.net)

Voice-driven devices are more than smartphones without a screen
“The real problem is that people are trying to apply the business model and perspective of writing apps for mobile phones to these new kinds of devices.
(recode.net)

The Brooklyn Bridge’s Hidden Wine Cellars
“The vaults would once again do what they had been built to do when they were established in 1876, seven years before the bridge was even opened for travel.(npr.com)

50 Years of Super Bowl Ad Pricing in One Chart
Motley Fool: “There’s simply no other way to reach that many people all at once, and that allows the networks to pretty much name their prices.
(thefool.com)

Make America’s Robots Great Again
“Here’s what you might call an alternative fact: American factories still make a lot of stuff. In 2016, the United States hit a manufacturing record…(nyt.com)

There’s Not Always Money in the Banana Stand
“One minute you’re changing the world and the next minute everything is falling apart. This guide about how to start a startup may help.” (superhi.com)

Interactive Map of Every Satellite in Orbit
“Yanofsky and Fernholz created an interactive chart showing the weight, national origin and position of more than 1,300 active satellites orbiting the planet Earth.” (boingboing.net)

How Deep Is Your Love
“This is only the beginning. I believe that over the next few years start-ups and the usual big tech suspects will use deep learning to upgrade a wide suite of existing applications, and to create new products and services. ” (hbr.org)

Celebrate Immigrants
“Openness is at the core of the American DNA. Immigrants are our friends, coaches, teachers, family members—they are the founders and leaders of our country.” (celebrateimmigrants.us)

 


January 27, 2017

Firefox: The Browser That Time Forgot 
Mossberg: “But those days seem long ago. Firefox is hardly discussed today, and its usage has cratered from a high of over 30 percent of the desktop browser market in 2010 to about 12 percent…(theverge.com)

Walking on the Moon
“Nine designs are the winners of the Moontopia competition, which asked architects and designers to visualize life on the moon. Selected by a jury of NASA designers, academics, space architects…
(dezeen.com)

The Women’s March Is a Perfect Example of Social Entrepreneurship
“The media has given us an image of the American entrepreneur. It’s usually a white male, wearing casual clothes and huddled over a laptop with similar friends.” (forbes.com)

The Demon Voice That Can Control Your Smartphone
“Researchers have created creepy sounds that are unintelligible to humans but still capable of talking to phones’ digital assistants.(theatlantic.com)

Technology Versus the Middle Class
“In a polarized labor market, a minority of highly skilled employees—the ones who can leverage technology to be more productive—effectively replace the labor of others…” (wsj.com)

England Players Told Mobile Phones Are Bad for Their Game
“England’s new vision consultant is to crack down on players’ use of mobile phones…to enhance their spatial awareness.” (telegraph.co.uk)

The Rise of Big Compute
“Cloud 3.0: Big Compute is the next transformational shift for enterprise cloud computing. Just like Big Data removed constraints on data and transformed major enterprise software…” (blog.rescale.com)

Blade Runner Blues
“Eerie photos take you down China’s neon-lit alleyways. Marilyn Mugot’s Instagram feed teems with cinematic images of cluttered streets, slumbering high-rises and…” (wired.com)

Status Updates on All the Major Movies and TV Shows Stuck in Limbo
“The Splash remake got a lot of buzz when it was first announced because of the flipped-script idea to cast Tatum as the merman…”
(io9.gizmodo.com)

 


January 20, 2017

App Annie: Worldwide app downloads grew 15% 
“App Annie said U.S. time spent in apps grew more than 25 percent. Worldwide, downloads increased 15 percent by more than 13 billion across both iOS and Google Play.” (venturebeat.com)

What does George Lucas’ museum say about L.A.?
“It also played to…certain ideas Los Angeles has about itself, that it’s a city without a robust culture of civic engagement, that builds first and asks questions later…
(latimes.com)

We Don’t Have To Explain That Tech Is Not Diverse
“One of the first things my team did…was establish the norm that we will be talking openly about race and gender and socioeconomic backgrounds and physical abilities.” (fastcompany.com)

Go big and go home
“India’s Telangana government is doing something unprecedented: bringing broadband internet to every rural home in the region, some 23 million people in all.” (wired.com)

Trump’s ‘Cadillac One’ limousine will be ‘fitted with emergency blood’
“The military-grade armor will make the doors so heavy that Mr Trump won’t be able to open them from the inside.” (news.com.au)

10 future-focused films coming in 2017
“This film will be the third entry in Paramount’s “Cloverfield” franchise and will most likely be renamed to fit in with previous titles…” (newatlas.com)

A Fix for Gender Bias in Health Care? Check.
“The implications were alarming: Women who were trauma patients at Johns Hopkins Hospital…were in considerably greater danger of dying of preventable blood clots than men.” (nytimes.com)

Big in Japan
“I started my company while I was on a tourist visa. This meant I didn’t have a Japanese phone number, permanent address, or residency card. All of these details had implications on my process.
(behere.asia)

Alexa Gives Amazon a Powerful Advantage
““The data had already helped make progress on a longstanding challenge known as the cocktail party problem…picking out a single voice from a hubbub of many people talking.” 
(technologyreview.com)

 


January 13, 2017

What if the iPhone had never arrived?
“The rise of the truly open cellphone – what Android was supposed to be but isn’t – would have created an entirely new ecosystem for cellphone apps…(techcrunch.com)

With 150 million daily active users, Instagram Stories is launching ads
“Just five months after its debut, Instagram Stories — and the 150 million people using it every day — are no longer free real estate.(mashable.com)

Neon Museum is saving Las Vegas’ most beautiful tech
“We consider neon Las Vegas’ native art form, and we have been entrusted by our community to care for and protect its heritage.”(cnet.com)

Throwback to the Future
“Volkswagen unveiled another new microbus concept in Detroit…blast from the past that probably won’t have much of a future.” (theverge.com)

US Army wants bullets that turn into plants
“The seeds should only sprout after being in the ground for several months and be safe for animals to consume.” (engadget)

The $3,607.08 Question
“Amazon’s most profitable division could be Amazon Web Services, the cloud-computing platform that brings in $10 billion…(practicalecommerce)

Gargoyles of New York
“Photographing and observing these urban fixtures during two years I had the opportunity to see them change. Sometimes for the worse and sometimes for the better…” (https://gargoylesofnewyork.wordpress.com)

 


 

January 6, 2017

Your Smart Bike Is Watching You
“Aimed at active users, these road and mountain bikes have GPS navigation and fitness tracking built-in…these new bikes are debuting at CES 2017.(cnet.com)

What I Learned about My iPhone After Switching to the Google Pixel
“Everything from the build quality to the extra attention and care paid to the operating system felt closer to the iPhone than I’ve seen before.(subtraction.com)

Super Mario Run’s Not-So-Super Gender Politics
The game is rife with stale, retrograde gender stereotypes — elements that were perhaps expected in 1985…but that today are just embarrassing.”(nytimes.com)

Amazon’s Floating Warehouses in the Sky
“Blimps would circle over cities at 45,000 feet and launch drones carrying orders. The drones would initially fall to earth relying largely on gravity…” (money.cnn.com)

The Best Version of the Star Wars Prequels is Still the Legendarily Bad Chinese Dub
“…One of their most legendary forms makes them watchable by making them even less sensible…” (avclub.com)

CES 2017 Innovation Award Honorees
“AI allows mobile phones to recognize thousands of items in real-time to assist the blind and visually impaired with exploring their surroundings.(tech.co)

Read more Dispatches from CES 2017