Recent Articles By Andrew Orr [RSS]

ReGen Villages Wants to Reinvent the Suburbs

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I’ve been interested in ReGen villages for a couple years now. It’s a high-tech, eco-friendly village located in the Netherlands. Vertical farms will provide food, food waste is turned into fish food for local aquaculture, houses filter rainwater, and there’s a village OS platform that uses AI to manage various systems.

The neighborhood works differently than most. Because of the expected arrival of self-driving cars in coming years, and to encourage walking and biking, the houses aren’t designed with parking; a new bus line along the edge of the neighborhood, with a dedicated bus lane, can take residents to the town of Almere or into Amsterdam.

It sounds like a great place to live, and projects like this should be a model for the future. More sustainability and more environmentally-friendly designs.

Wikipedia Editors Who Fight Conspiracy Theories

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There’s a project Guerrilla Skepticism on Wikipedia. These Wikipedia editors have dedicated themselves to fighting conspiracy theories online. As companies like YouTube, Google, and Facebook have turned to Wikipedia to fight fake news, sites like Wikipedia and Snopes need to contain verified and truthful information.

Their subjects provide a window into the various ways people end up on Wikipedia, and how they find information on the internet more generally. Take Stan Romanek, a UFO enthusiast who says he’s been contacted by aliens. GSoW editors wrote his page years ago and included information casting doubt on his claims, such as an interview Romanek gave in which he admitted to faking some of his evidence. But the page became newly relevant last July when Netflix added a 2013 documentary called Extraordinary: The Stan Romanek Story to its streaming service. Traffic to Romanek’s Wikipedia page spiked that month, reaching nearly 45,000 visitors one day.

Easily Send Greeting Cards With StoryChips

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Want to send greeting cards from your iPhone? Enter StoryChips, a new, out of the box way to send messages. Now just how does this work? How about just three easy steps. 1. Select a card and stickers from the StoryChips website or a retail shop and scan its QR code to activate. 2. Activating the code allows you to create a story from your phone. You can include videos, text and pictures. 3. When your friend receives the card and stickers and scans the QR code, she can see the personal story you created just for her. You can even choose a setting that allows her to be the only one who can see it. StoryChips has a card and stickers for any occasion. Whatever message you would have normally sent with an ordinary card is now more personal, and clearly more fun, courtesy of StoryChips. App Store: StoryChips – Free

Easily Send Greeting Cards With StoryChips

Nike Training Club is Now on Apple Watch

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I’m glad to see that Nike Training Club is now on the Apple Watch. Although I don’t have my watch anymore, I do use Nike Training Club on my iPhone so that I can do bodyweight workouts at home. It’s a great app and I recommend it.

What’s to be expected? A Nike Training Club workout is started on the phone and then the Apple Watch allows for easy check of time or reps remaining on a drill. It also delivers haptic prompts, which signal the beginning of the next drill and run until the workout is complete.

The Nike Training Club (NTC) app will be available globally on the Apple Watch beginning July 25. All 180+ workouts currently available on the NTC app will be supported by the Apple Watch.

App Store: Nike Training Club – Free

Nike Training Club is Now on Apple Watch

LG Screen Issues May Spell Trouble for Apple

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LG screen issues may spell trouble for Apple. The supplier has cut its investment plans out of concern for the global smartphone market. It recently posted a second quarterly loss in a row because of bad display prices.

LG said it would trim investment by 3 trillion won ($2.7 billion) from what was planned by 2020, without revealing its total or previous capex targets. It also warned that it could adjust production in South Korea and China in response to trade disputes between Washington and Beijing.

The investment cut would not impact plans to “speed up the shift” from LG’s mainstay liquid crystal display (LCD) business toward next-generation organic light-emitting diode (OLED) panels, the company said.

This isn’t doom and gloom for Apple, but it does mean the company will have to keep relying on Samsung for OLED iPhone X screens.

There's a Secret Internet Arms Race

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It involves scraper bots and the ways in which retailers use them against rivals.

For retailers, scraping can be a two-way street, and that’s where things get interesting. Retailers want to see what their rivals are doing, but they want to prevent rivals from snooping on them; retailers also want to protect intellectual property like product photos and descriptions, which can be scraped and reused without permission by others. So many deploy defenses to subvert scraping. One technique: showing different prices to real people than to bots. A site may show the price as astronomically high or zero to throw off bots collecting data.

Machines making machines and fighting other machines. How perverse.

This App Lets You Ask Questions of Experts

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Ask questions. You pick a team of experts based on your question topic or on the type of experts. Type in your question and hit send. Your question will be sent to that team of experts right away. As soon as possible, an expert will respond. Sometimes multiple experts will respond if they have something to add to the conversation. Think of it like a group chat – feel free to ask them more questions, respond, say thanks, etc. Depending on what you asked about, an expert might follow up with you later to see how things are going and if there’s anything else they can do to help. The experts have a wide range of backgrounds and experiences. Some are health educators, researchers, sex workers, and teachers. Others are smart folks who have been there and want to share their experiences. Every expert is vetted by staff to make sure you’re talking to people who want to help you get the support you need. App Store: okayso – Free

This App Lets You Ask Questions of Experts

Why Twitter Has a Free Speech Problem

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Twitter is home to alt-right trolls, neo-Nazis, and then there’s Alex Jones. Will Oremus writes about Twitter’s free speech problem (problem is my opinion).

The Twitter executive leading these moderation efforts is Vijaya Gadde, the company’s legal, public policy, and trust and safety lead. I recently interviewed Gadde on Slate’s technology podcast, If Then, where we discussed Twitter’s current approach to harassment, hate speech, and misinformation; whether the social network’s very structure encourages these problems; and why conspiracy theorists like Alex Jones are still allowed to have Twitter accounts.

If you want to see a good example of platform moderation, look to r/AskHistorians on Reddit. Twitter and Facebook need to pay attention.

Have We Reached Peak Smart Home?

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Sylvania Smart Multicolor A19 Bulb with HomeKit Support

Have we reached peaked smart home? Craig Lloyd writes that we have, and there are a couple of things holding the industry back, like competing standards, expensive devices, and problems with voice control.

There’s a problem with the smarthome industry—multiple problems, actually. And after experiencing a huge boom over the last few years, smarthome as a whole has reached a plateau of sorts.

Don’t get us wrong; smarthome technology is a really exciting market, and it’s become so popular that big players like Amazon and Google have dived head first into offering comprehensive smarthome product lines. The thing is, smarthome in general still has a long way to go.

Librarians Respond to Forbes About Amazon Replacing Libraries

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Amazon replacing libraries? Pish posh. Panos Mourdoukoutas, a professor of economics at LIU Post in New York, suggested in a Forbes article that libraries should be permanently replaced with Amazon bookstores.

This is such as asinine suggestion in my opinion. Libraries aren’t just for books, they serve as community centers with public programs like helping kids read, computer classes for the elderly, etc. A librarian can do so much more than an Amazon clerk, as librarian Amanda Oliver says:

It’s librarians helping people fill out free housing forms and visa forms and all things related to basic human needs. It’s shelter when it’s freezing or raining or scorching hot. It’s access to free newspapers and conversation. It’s so much for so many.

Libraries actually provide something for everyone, no exclusions. Literally no one is excluded from access to the library! It’s for everyone. Prisoners, people with disabilities, elderly, the young, the rich, the poor, etc.

Keep that in mind the next time you try to hang out at a typical business and they ask you to buy something or leave.