Recent Articles By Andrew Orr [RSS]

Science Confirms Women’s Pockets are too Small

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woman with iPhone in pocket

If you’re a woman you’re probably familiar with the tiny pockets of your clothing. Science has now confirmed what we already know: women’s pockets are too damn small.

“If you’re thinking ‘But men are bigger than women,’ then sure, on average that’s true,” the site adds. “But here we measured 80 pairs of jeans that all boasted a 32 inch waistband, meaning that these jeans were all made to fit the same size person.”

Got a Smartphone Addiction? You Can Get Help

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Smartphone addiction has slowly become more prevalent in our society. Companies like Apple and Google have built new features like Screen Time to help you manage how much time you spend on your phone. 

Numerous studies confirm that smartphone addiction is a problem because phones compel us to use it more often, and more disruptively, than we’d like. It can affect productivity, relationships, quality of life, and happiness.

How to Break Spaghetti in Half Like a Physicist

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In 2005, scientists confirmed that dry spaghetti noodles never break cleanly in half. Instead they tend to split into three or more pieces. If you’ve ever cooked spaghetti you’re probably familiar with having little bits explode all over the kitchen. But it turns out that there is a way to break spaghetti cleanly in half. Famous physicist Richard Feynman once spent a night with a friend snapping pasta to figure out what was happening. He never solved it, but it inspired French researchers to try, which earned them a 2006 igNobel prize. The secret? Twist the noodles hard like you’re wringing out a washcloth. To understand why, they used a high speed camera that recorded the shattering pasta at a million frames per second. The twist prevented the two bent strands flexing back quite as forcefully as an untwisted strand, and the untwisting motion released some of the stored energy in the spaghetti, further reducing the likelihood of a second fracture.

ISPs Say They Can't Expand Broadband Without More Money

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Apparently ISPs have been recently saying that they can’t expand broadband without more government handouts.

Broadband providers have spent years lobbying against utility-style regulations that protect consumers from high prices and bad service.

But now, broadband lobby groups are arguing that Internet service is similar to utilities such as electricity, gas distribution, roads, and water and sewer networks. In the providers’ view, the essential nature of broadband doesn’t require more regulation to protect consumers. Instead, they argue that broadband’s utility-like status is reason for the government to give ISPs more money.

Of course, the biggest issue with this is that the government (read: American taxpayers) have already given ISPs US$400 billion dollars to expand fiber optic networks across the country. The article’s header says it best: ISPs want benefits but not responsibilities.

Your Tweets Can Help Scientists Map Wildfires

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Your tweets can help scientists map the spread of wildfires. Researchers from the U.S. Forest Service published a study [PDF] where they found that—in large numbers—tweets about wildfires can model the way the smoke moves.

If someone #cantbreathe due to smoke, they’re inhaling small particles known as as PM2.5, which measure under five percent the width of human hair. The particles can lodge into the lung tissue and bloodstream and cause health issues, particularly for people with respiratory issues, pregnant women, and children. In extreme conditions, though, the long-term effects can impact others.

Maybe Wi-Fi Could Replace Invasive TSA Body Searches

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Raise your hand if you’ve ever been groped by the TSA. A team of researchers claim that ordinary Wi-Fi can detect weapons and explosives, and maybe it could replace TSA body searches.

The team behind the research tested 15 types of objects and six types of bags. The wi-fi system had success rates of 99% for recognizing dangerous objects, 98% for metal and 95% for liquids. When objects were wrapped inside bags, the accuracy rate dropped to about 90%. The system works by analyzing what happens when wireless signals penetrate and bounce off objects and materials.

The Right to Disconnect From Work

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In France, the right to disconnect from work has been solidified into law. In the El Khomri law, every employee contract must include a negotiation of obligations required of an employee regarding how connected they are outside of office hours.

A new study has found you may be suffering from excessive stress and anxiety about work expectations even if you don’t actively check work emails in your off-hours. The mere expectation of being in contact 24/7 is enough to increase strain for employees and their families, the new research suggests. In today’s ultra-connected world, with many people often getting work emails sent to their smartphones, a growing number of countries and companies are endorsing “right to disconnect” laws, recreating a much-needed boundary between work and home.

YouPorn AI Generated a List of Future Porn Star Names (SFW)

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Last year, YouPorn Foresights used AI to predict what the most popular search terms would be in porn. This year the company did something similar. The data science and machine learning teams trained a recurrent neural network to look at the current most popular performer names, and have now created what science has predicted that the next generation of stars will call themselves. There are 69 names, both male and female, and the results are hilarious. As you would expect from AI, the names sound weird and goofy. My favorite names from the list are Man Master, Al Gorr (obviously my future kid), Summer Sax, and Paris Buttomina. It’s a safe-for-work list that you can check out here.

We Shoot Lightning Into Rocks and Metal to Create iPhones

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Wired offers a fascinating behind-the-scenes article about the “ultra-pure, super-secret sand” we use to create iPhones.

Spruce Pine, it turns out, is the source of the purest natural quartz—a species of pristine sand—ever found on Earth. This ultra‑elite deposit of silicon dioxide particles plays a key role in manufacturing the silicon used to make computer chips. In fact, there’s an excellent chance the chip that makes your laptop or cell phone work…

Siri on macOS Isn't a Good Feature

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I agree with Jeremy Horwitz when he writes that Siri on macOS “barely registers as a feature.” He specifically refers to the Hey Siri functionality though. I’ve used Siri once or twice on my Mac when it first came out, but that’s it.

Apple first added “Hey Siri” — a voice trigger for the assistant — to iOS devices four years ago. Since then, I’ve found that I can consistently rely upon it for basically three things: to tell me the time, to recite the most basic weather when I’m in bed, and to stop or start playback on my office’s infrequently used HomePod. On occasion, I ask it to do more, but frequently have to ignore or manually correct its irritatingly wrong responses.

Voice control is not a good interface for a computer, at least in my life.