https://qz.com/1162023/an-optimists-guide-to-a-future-run-by-machines/

An optimist’s guide to a future run by machines

If you’re worried about the future and where technology might lead us, 2017 didn’t help. The warnings kept rolling in about potential job lossesfrom automation and machine learning. More than 375 million of uswill need to completely change occupations to avoid being replaced by robots, a recent report estimated. Meanwhile, artificial intelligence keeps getting smarter: The world got its first robot citizen, another robot learned to do backflips, and DeepMind’s AI has mastered chess.

It doesn’t need to be so frightening, says Tim O’Reilly, the founder and chief executive of O’Reilly Media. O’Reilly is known for spotting and promoting trends and innovations such as open-source software and web 2.0. In his new book WTF: What’s the Future and Why It’s Up to Uspublished by Penguin Random House in October, the tech thinker and writer envisions a future in which people, particularly tech and financial executives, make smart, conscientious decisions to harness technology for good.

“WTF,” most commonly called upon as an expletive, but also an expression of astonishment, addresses the “profound sense of unease and even dismay” that many people experience when confronted with advanced technology, O’Reilly writes.

With the right choices, machines doesn’t have to put humans out of jobsRather, they could create work—and joy— for us. O’Reilly is keen to stress this ideal future, where AI brings us unimaginable delights and higher standards of livings, can only be achieved if we radically change how we view our economy and capitalist system.

“We are at a very dangerous moment in history,” O’Reilly warns. While some of his Silicon Valley neighbors believe we are on a steady march towards singularity, where machine and human brains melt into one force, O’Reilly has a reminder that nations can fail, civilizations can collapse, and technology can go backwards. Climate change, wealth inequality, intergenerational inequality, astronomical CEO pay, and the constant pursuit of corporate profits are all pitfalls that technology could exacerbate. It’s getting harder and harder to solve the problems we have created, he says.

For all its warnings, WTF is defiantly optimistic, and in some places surprisingly almost Marxist. It’s light on practical steps to achieve these idealistic goals, though they include more progressive taxes on financial investments and a “radical” shake up of the education system. However, there is a genuine plea for action, or at least thought, on building a better future. O’Reilly is inquisitive, sourcing ideas and thoughts from across history and disciplines, while the book is littered with quotes from literature, and by historical figures, entrepreneurs, economists, and friends in high places.

Quartz spoke to O’Reilly in London about technology’s role in building a better society. The conversation has been edited and condensed.

Quartz: You’ve been in publishing for decades. Why did you decide this would be your first book for a general audience?

 “Let’s not just celebrate disruption, let’s start to identify the world that we want to build.” Tim O’Reilly: I could see the current tech backlash coming. There’s been a narrative that robots are going to take all the jobs and we’ll have a new Precariat [a social class suffering from an existence without predictability and job security]. I wanted to address the entrepreneurs in Silicon Valley who seem so tone deaf, policymakers, and of course the general public. I wanted to shape ideas and the story I felt I needed to tell was that the digital revolution is coming to the real world and it’s going to be messy but let’s not just celebrate the disruption, let’s start to identify the world that we want to build.

What does the disruption look like in that world?

I refute the idea that robots are going to take all the jobs. There’s plenty of work to be done, just look around. We have crumbling infrastructure, the looming specter of climate change, aging populations in the developed world who are going to need care, and government and healthcare systems that are stuck in the last century. There’s so much work to be done.

Early on in the book you warn that civilizations can fail and technology can go backwards. Is that a general warning or related to something specific you see in the world today?

 “Climate change will either crush us as a society or we will rise to and it will allow us to transform our society.” I studied classics, so how nations fail has always been in the backdrop of my mind. Futurist and inventor Ray Kurzweil talks about steady march towards the singularitybut on human timescales there’s big flat line periods, or downward spikes. It is possible for the world to go sideways, look at things like climate change and the anti-science, anti-progress, extractive, crony capitalism that is taking over governments around the world in the name of populism. We could end up in a very, very, dark time. There’s really two possibilities: eventually climate change is going to be little bit like the aftermath of World War II, something that will either crush us as a society or we will rise to and it will allow us to transform our society.

There’s a lot of ways things that could lead to a worse future, including climate change, politics, and inequality, but you still describe yourself as an optimist.

You have to believe that we can make things better. ‘Why It’s Up to Us’ is the most important part of the book’s title. I think it’s time for us to stop believing in the divine right of capital, that it’s only natural for companies to want to extract as much profit as possible from every unit of work to screw their customers if that will make them richer. Give me a break, that doesn’t work, it’s not sustainable.

“WTF,” most commonly called upon as an expletive, but also an expression of astonishment, addresses the “profound sense of unease and even dismay” that many people experience when confronted with advanced technology, O’Reilly writes.

With the right choices, machines doesn’t have to put humans out of jobsRather, they could create work—and joy— for us. O’Reilly is keen to stress this ideal future, where AI brings us unimaginable delights and higher standards of livings, can only be achieved if we radically change how we view our economy and capitalist system.

“We are at a very dangerous moment in history,” O’Reilly warns. While some of his Silicon Valley neighbors believe we are on a steady march towards singularity, where machine and human brains melt into one force, O’Reilly has a reminder that nations can fail, civilizations can collapse, and technology can go backwards. Climate change, wealth inequality, intergenerational inequality, astronomical CEO pay, and the constant pursuit of corporate profits are all pitfalls that technology could exacerbate. It’s getting harder and harder to solve the problems we have created, he says.

For all its warnings, WTF is defiantly optimistic, and in some places surprisingly almost Marxist. It’s light on practical steps to achieve these idealistic goals, though they include more progressive taxes on financial investments and a “radical” shake up of the education system. However, there is a genuine plea for action, or at least thought, on building a better future. O’Reilly is inquisitive, sourcing ideas and thoughts from across history and disciplines, while the book is littered with quotes from literature, and by historical figures, entrepreneurs, economists, and friends in high places.

Quartz spoke to O’Reilly in London about technology’s role in building a better society. The conversation has been edited and condensed.

Quartz: You’ve been in publishing for decades. Why did you decide this would be your first book for a general audience?

 “Let’s not just celebrate disruption, let’s start to identify the world that we want to build.” Tim O’Reilly: I could see the current tech backlash coming. There’s been a narrative that robots are going to take all the jobs and we’ll have a new Precariat [a social class suffering from an existence without predictability and job security]. I wanted to address the entrepreneurs in Silicon Valley who seem so tone deaf, policymakers, and of course the general public. I wanted to shape ideas and the story I felt I needed to tell was that the digital revolution is coming to the real world and it’s going to be messy but let’s not just celebrate the disruption, let’s start to identify the world that we want to build.

What does the disruption look like in that world?

I refute the idea that robots are going to take all the jobs. There’s plenty of work to be done, just look around. We have crumbling infrastructure, the looming specter of climate change, aging populations in the developed world who are going to need care, and government and healthcare systems that are stuck in the last century. There’s so much work to be done.

Early on in the book you warn that civilizations can fail and technology can go backwards. Is that a general warning or related to something specific you see in the world today?

 “Climate change will either crush us as a society or we will rise to and it will allow us to transform our society.” I studied classics, so how nations fail has always been in the backdrop of my mind. Futurist and inventor Ray Kurzweil talks about steady march towards the singularitybut on human timescales there’s big flat line periods, or downward spikes. It is possible for the world to go sideways, look at things like climate change and the anti-science, anti-progress, extractive, crony capitalism that is taking over governments around the world in the name of populism. We could end up in a very, very, dark time. There’s really two possibilities: eventually climate change is going to be little bit like the aftermath of World War II, something that will either crush us as a society or we will rise to and it will allow us to transform our society.

There’s a lot of ways things that could lead to a worse future, including climate change, politics, and inequality, but you still describe yourself as an optimist.

You have to believe that we can make things better. ‘Why It’s Up to Us’ is the most important part of the book’s title. I think it’s time for us to stop believing in the divine right of capital, that it’s only natural for companies to want to extract as much profit as possible from every unit of work to screw their customers if that will make them richer. Give me a break, that doesn’t work, it’s not sustainable.

https://futurism.com/experts-elon-musk-roadster/

We Asked Experts Whether Elon Musk Can Really Send a Roadster to Space

The First Car in Space

On December 21, SpaceX and Tesla founder Elon Musk posted seven photos to Instagram of his red Tesla roadster being encased within a Falcon Heavy rocket, seemingly confirming rumors (that he had himself started via Twitter) that he plans to make the vehicle the payload for the rocket’s first test. The Falcon Heavy is slated to carry supplies into Mars orbit for future manned missions — but it has to get off the ground first.

After months of delays, the test mission is planned for sometime in January and will utilize the Roadster as a dummy payload.Musk has also been very open about the fact that the first Falcon Heavy flight could very likely fail, so this plan would allow the rocket to demonstrate that it can carry real supplies into orbit but without the risking the loss of expensive equipment packed into the first-ever launch.

“There’s a lot of risk associated with Falcon Heavy, a real good chance that that vehicle does not make it to orbit,” he said at a discussion during the International Space Station Research and Development conference. “I want to make sure to set expectations accordingly. I hope it makes it far enough beyond the pad so that it does not cause pad damage. I would consider even that a win, to be honest.”

Whether the launch is successful or not, there are still lots of questions remaining about the specifics of the unusual payload: is it legal to launch a car in the Falcon Heavy? Is it safe? Does it pose the threat of creating space debris? And, since Musk has stated that he loves the idea of “a car drifting apparently endlessly through space and perhaps being discovered by an alien race millions of years in the future,” is a car really the best legacy we can leave for aliens to discover?

We asked experts about the legal, technical, and extraterrestrial issues that arise from Musk’s planned Roadster launch — and what might happen if that launch fails.

https://www.inc.com/minda-zetlin/googles-new-text-to-speech-ai-is-so-good-we-bet-you-cant-tell-it-from-a-real-human.html

Google’s New Text-to-Speech AI Is so Good We Bet You Can’t Tell It From a Real Human
See if you hear a difference between Tacotron 2 and human speech.

Can you tell the difference between AI-generated computer speech and a real, live human being? Maybe you’ve always thought you could. Maybe you’re fond of Alexa and Siri but believe you would never confuse either of them with an actual woman.

Things are about to get a lot more interesting. Google engineers have been hard at work creating a text-to-speech system called Tacotron 2. According to a paper they published this month, the system first creates a spectrogram of the text, a visual representation of how the speech should sound. That image is put through Google’s existing WaveNet algorithm, which uses the image to produce extremely natural sounding human speech.

Using this method, the researchers report, “Our model achieves a mean opinion score (MOS) of 4.53 comparable to a MOS of 4.58 for professionally recorded speech.” (A mean opinion score is a telecommunications term that measures how true-to-life something sounds.)

As Google’s audio samples demonstrate, Tacotron 2 can detect from context the difference between the noun “desert” and the verb “desert,” as well as the noun “present” and the verb “present,” and alter its pronunciation accordingly. It can place emphasis on capitalized words and apply the proper inflection when asking a question rather than making a statement.

And it can generate text that sounds so similar to human speech that it’s difficult or impossible to know the difference. If you want to see just how hard it is, go to Google’s audio samples page, and scroll down to the last set of samples, titled “Tacotron 2 or Human?” There you’ll find Tacotron 2 and a real person each saying sentences such as, “That girl did a video about Star Wars lipstick.”

So which samples are text-to-speech and which are a real human voice? Google’s engineers aren’t saying but they’ve left a very big clue. Each of the .wav file samples has a filename containing either the term “gen” or “gt.” Based on the paper, it’s highly probable that “gen” indicates speech generated by Tacotron 2, and “gt” is real human speech. (“GT” likely stands for “ground truth,” a machine learning term that basically means “the real deal.”)

Assuming this is correct, here are the answers to the test:

“That girl did a video about Star Wars lipstick.”

Sample 1: Real human

Sample 2: Tacotron 2

“She earned a doctorate in sociology from Columbia University.”

Sample 1: Tacotron 2

Sample 2: Real human

“George Washington was the first President of the United States.”

Sample 1: Tacotron 2

Sample 2: Real human

“I’m too busy for romance.”

Sample 1: Real human

Sample 2: Tacotron 2

How many did you get right? And could you really tell the difference, or did you just have to guess?

Like this column? Sign up to subscribe to email alerts and you’ll never miss a post.

http://www.businessinsider.com/apple-iphone-x-iphone-8-and-iphone-7-vs-iphone-6s-why-upgrading-isnt-worth-it-2017-12

I’ve had the iPhone 6S Plus for two years, and I’m so happy I didn’t upgrade to the iPhone 7, 8, or X

I bought the iPhone 6S Plus when it came out in September 2015 for $800+ (with taxes), and I couldn’t be happier that I saved $800+ in 2016 and 2017 by not upgrading to the iPhone 7 Plus, iPhone 8 Plus, or the iPhone X.

Don’t get me wrong — Apple’s newer iPhones are great and objectively better than the iPhone 6S Plus. They have faster processors and better cameras with dual lenses, which makes for beautiful photos. Those two features are arguably the main reasons someone should upgrade to a new smartphone.

iphone 6s plus backAntonio Villas-Boas

That said, the upgrades to the camera and processor simply weren’t enough to warrant the dent in my bank account that a new iPhone would have caused.

Here’s why:

View As: One Page Slides

 

The iPhone 6S still looks like the iPhone 7 and iPhone 8.

The iPhone 6S still looks like the iPhone 7 and iPhone 8.

The iPhone 7, left, and iPhone 6S.YouTube/SuperSaf TV

The iPhone 6S looks nearly identical to the iPhone 7, save for the redesigned and less visible antenna stripes. The plastic stripes might bother some, but I dress my iPhone in a case, so I can’t see the stripes anyway.

As for the iPhone 8, it’s also largely the same as the iPhone 6S’ design save for the glass back. The glass back on the iPhone 8 feels a little more premium than the metal back on the iPhone 6S and 7, but it’s not a good reason to upgrade, in my opinion.

The newer iPhone 7 and iPhone 8 colors are nice, but I still prefer the silver model.

The newer iPhone 7 and iPhone 8 colors are nice, but I still prefer the silver model.

Apple

While the iPhone’s 7’s jet black and matte black options are nice, they have no effect on my desire for the iPhone 7. If I were to buy a new iPhone 7, it would be the white/silver model, anyway.

The iPhone 8’s new “gold” color option – which looks more like rose gold – is also pretty nice, but I’d still get the silver model.

The only color that would tempt me to upgrade is an ’80s-electronics beige.

The only color that would tempt me to upgrade is an '80s-electronics beige.

Colorware

Check out Colorware’s Retro Edition iPhone 7 »

The iPhone X is absolutely gorgeous, but its price tag is a major deterrent.

The iPhone X is absolutely gorgeous, but its price tag is a major deterrent.

Hollis Johnson

The iPhone X is the best-looking smartphone you can buy at the moment with its incredibly narrow bezels, which allows the display to cover the majority of the phone’s front surface. I have to admit, its design alone has tempted me away from my iPhone 6S Plus. It’s even nicer when you hold it in person, as photos don’t do it justice.

Still, I just couldn’t lay my iPhone 6S Plus to rest if it meant spending a minimum of $1,000.

My iPhone 6S Plus is still speedy and reliable.

One of the main reasons I upgrade to the latest smartphone is to make sure I can run my apps quickly. In my opinion, there’s nothing worse than waiting for an app to open and run — especially Google Maps when you’re in a hurry.

The A9 chip turning the wheels inside my iPhone 6S Plus still feels speedy, and it rarely stutters while opening and running my apps.

The camera in the iPhone 6S Plus is still a great camera.

The camera in the iPhone 6S Plus is still a great camera.

A photo I took during a trip to Hawaii with my iPhone 6S Plus.Antonio Villas-Boas/Business Insider

The iPhone 7 Plus, iPhone 8 Plus, and iPhone X got significant camera upgrades over the iPhone 6s Plus’ camera in the form of a dual-lens camera. Apple’s newer iPhones can zoom without losing photo quality, and the Portrait Mode feature adds that fuzzy, out-of-focus texture from professional cameras, called “bokeh.”

The zoom is a meaningful upgrade, as my iPhone 6S Plus photos will look worse and worse as I try to zoom in with the camera app. But I’m not about to spend $800-plus on better zooming, and Portrait Mode is a mixed bag. Some like it; others weren’t so impressed.

For the extra $800 in my bank account, my iPhone 6S Plus takes photos just fine.

The iPhone 7 and iPhone 8 have a slightly better screen, but it’s not a meaningful change.

The iPhone 7 and iPhone 8 have a slightly better screen, but it's not a meaningful change.

A comparison of the 6, 6S, and 7 shows the iPhone 7 has a marginally brighter and more colorful screen.YouTube/ApplePie

The iPhone 7 and iPhone 8 have slightly brighter displays that can show slightly better colors with their “wide color” features. Yet I haven’t craved a brighter display with better colors on my iPhone 6S Plus. And they all have Apple’s 3D Touch feature, which lets you press an item to bring up a menu of useful shortcuts.

The iPhone X is the only iPhone so far with a major display upgrade, but that price tag…

The iPhone X is the only iPhone so far with a major display upgrade, but that price tag...

Hollis Johnson

The iPhone X has a fantastic OLED display, which makes for incredible colors and beautiful contrast between light and dark parts of the screen.

Still, considering the excellent performance of my iPhone 6S Plus, I can manage without an OLED display until it’s truly time to upgrade.

The home touch buttons on the iPhone 7 and iPhone 8 are nice, but they don’t work any better than the iPhone 6S’s home button.

The home touch buttons on the iPhone 7 and iPhone 8 are nice, but they don't work any better than the iPhone 6S's home button.

Antonio Villas-Boas

I quite like the new home button on the iPhone 7. It’s a capacitive button that you don’t have to physically press, and it feels more modern compared with the iPhone 6S’s mechanical button.

But it’s not an upgrade worth spending more money on. The mechanical button on my iPhone 6S Plus works just fine, and it can read my fingerprint to unlock my phone or make mobile payments with Apple Pay just as quickly.

Face ID on the iPhone X doesn’t tempt me.

Face ID on the iPhone X doesn't tempt me.

Apple

Face ID looks cool because it’s a newer way to unlock your iPhone, but Touch ID has been working just fine.

My iPhone 6S Plus isn’t officially water-resistant, but that’s fine.

My iPhone 6S Plus isn't officially water-resistant, but that's fine.

Hollis Johnson/Business Insider

The iPhone 7’s water resistance is a big deal because the phone is less prone to damage if you drop it in water accidentally.

At the same time, I’ve never dropped my iPhone in water. (I’m literally knocking on wood right now. Look, here’s a photo of me knocking on wood, taken with my iPhone 6S Plus.)

knocking on wood

Also, the iPhone 6S is (unofficially) somewhat water-resistant, which should be enough for minor splashes and drops, even if it’s likely not as water-resistant as the iPhone 7, iPhone 8 or iPhone X.

The only time I’d upgrade would be if my iPhone 6S Plus succumbed to water damage.

My iPhone 6S Plus has a headphone jack.

My iPhone 6S Plus has a headphone jack.

Antonio Villas-Boas

I’m fully on board with Apple’s vision of a “wireless future,” as my tech arch nemesis is the cable. At the same time, I own a pair of wired headphones as a backup to my Bluetooth headphones, and there have been several instances when the headphone jack in my iPhone 6S Plus has come in handy.

Sure, I could still use wired headphones with the iPhone 7, iPhone 8, and iPhone X, but only if I have a dongle or if my wired headphones have a Lightning connector, neither of which is as convenient as the good old headphone jack.

I’m a little worried that I’ll have to adjust to using a dongle, which I’ll surely lose, when I buy my next iPhone — if it’s an iPhone.

So there you have it. I’ve saved a bunch of money by not buying Apple’s latest iPhone, and I don’t feel like I’m missing out.

I’ll keep using my iPhone 6S Plus until it can’t keep up with me. That could potentially take it beyond the iPhone 9, or whatever comes after the iPhone 8 and iPhone X. We’ll have to see what Apple comes up with in September 2018 when it’ll likely announce its new iPhones.

I have noticed that my iPhone 6S Plus’ battery life has been draining a lot faster ever since I upgrade to the latest version of iOS.

Ever since I upgraded to iOS 11 on my iPhone 6S Plus, the battery doesn’t last as long as it used to. I’m planning on replacing the battery for $80 at an Apple Store before buying a new iPhone for $800+.

http://www.newsweek.com/what-does-extreme-cold-do-your-body-761781

WHAT DOES COLD WEATHER DO TO THE HUMAN BODY? LOW TEMPERATURES CAN CAUSE SKIN BLISTERING AND SLURRED SPEECH

Bitter cold weather is sending much of the country into below-freezing temperatures, with wind chills dropping temperatures well below zero in the northern and northeastern parts of the U.S. Even into Atlanta, Memphis and Dallas, below freezing temperatures are in store into the weekend. But what does all that extreme cold do to your body?

Bitter cold weather is sending much of the country into below-freezing temperatures, with wind chills dropping temperatures well below zero in the northern and northeastern parts of the U.S. Even into Atlanta, Memphis and Dallas, below freezing temperatures are in store into the weekend. But what does all that extreme cold do to your body?

GettyImages-71039438New Zealand climber Mark Inglis, a double-amputee, shows the media his badly frost bitten hands upon arriving at Christchurch airport, after returning from Kathmandu, May 25, 2006 in Christchurch, New Zealand.GETTY

Uncovered skin and the extremities, like the hands, feet, nose, cheeks and ears, are most prone to frostbite. You may be experiencing frostbite if any pain or prickling you feel is progressing to numbness, according to the University of Maryland MedicalCenter. Your skin will begin to appear pale and hard with a waxy appearance. Other symptoms include: a burning sensation and swelling that could last for weeks, blisters and black scab-like crusts that develop weeks after exposure to extreme cold. Once your skin is re-warmed, your skin will appear flushed from blood rushing back to the frozen area.

NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE

In extreme cold, your body pushes more blood into the core to keep your heart and lungs warm in order to prevent hypothermia, which is when your body’s temperature decreases, not just your skin. But the lack of circulation and blood in your extremities is what causes them to freeze—quite literally. It’s possible for ice crystals to form around and within cells.

Hypothermia sets in once your body’s temperature drops below 96 degrees Fahrenheit, according to the weather service. This is much more severe and can be deadly. Extreme cold can make your body lose heat more quickly than it can produce heat, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. It can happen even at warmer temperatures above 40 degrees Fahrenheit, especially if you are wet from sweat, rain or being in cold water.

When hypothermia occurs, the most obvious sign is body temperature. In adults, other symptoms are shivering, exhaustion, confusion, fumbling hands, memory loss and slurred speech. If this happens, the CDC recommends getting medical attention immediately, and if that’s not possible, move somewhere warmer, remove wet clothing and warm up the center of the body first.

GettyImages-461087150A woman walks during a snowfall in New York’s borough of Queens on January 6, 2015. Extreme cold gripped Canada and northern parts of the US, prompting calls for residents to stay indoors amid increased risks of frostbite and hypothermia.GETTY

As the New Year arrives this weekend, the weather service recommends dressing in layers if you have to go outside during extreme cold. Cover any exposed skin to reduce chances of frostbite or hypothermia and seek shelter from the wind as much as possible.

https://www.forbes.com/sites/brookecrothers/2017/12/31/pixelbook-vs-macbook-pro-13-review-google-closes-the-gap/#3d78f897467b

Pixelbook Vs. MacBook Pro 13 (Review): Google Closes The Gap

Google PixelBook.Credit: Google

Google Pixelbook.

The new Google Pixelbook is stunning. Is it good enough to make a run at the Apple MacBook Pro? Read on.

The configurations I’ve been using are:

–The late-2017 Google Pixelbook (originally listed at $999 but currently $899) with a 1.2-GHz Intel Core i5-7Y57 (7th Generation) 8GB of memory, and 128GB of storage.

–The mid-2017 13-inch MacBook Pro with 7th Generation Intel Core i5 (base speed of 2.3 GHz), 8GB of memory, and 128GB of storage (and no Touch Bar). It’s listed at $1,299 but is typically sold at major retailers with hefty discounts (more on that below).

Note:

Some readers may believe a better comparison would be between the Pixelbook and the 12-inch MacBook.  I think a more apt comparison is between the budget 13-inch MacBook Pro, as reviewed below, and the Pixelbook.  But I will add some notes below to address this.

This is a concise (not exhaustive) review and is meant to be a quick-read.  I’m going to rate the laptops on six key metrics in order to keep the comparison as concise as possible but with additional notes at bottom.

MacBook Pro 13 (mid-2017) on left and PixelBook (late 2017).Credit: Brooke Crothers

MacBook Pro 13 (mid-2017) on left and Pixelbook (late 2017).

Design: 12.3-inch Google Pixelbook — there’s thin and there’s really thin. The Pixelbook is how I imagine Steve Jobs might have redesigned the MacBook Air in 2018. (In fact, Apple hasn’t significantly redesigned the MBA since circa 2010 and it appears headed for extinction, replaced by the 12-inch MacBook and MacBook Pro).  The Pixelbook’s thinness (a tablet-like 0.4-inches) and weight (2.4 pounds) make it a totable wonder (something I definitely notice when I put it in my bag). Despite this, the all-aluminum chassis feels very solid/durable.

The Pixelbook also has a 360-degree hinge and can fold into various modes including tablet, tent, and stand modes.

The 13.3-inch MacBook Pro is just over 3 pounds but (as I’ve written before) it’s built like a tank with its sturdy all-aluminum construction. And, despite the larger display, appears smaller.  That’s because it makes more efficient use of its real estate (frame/chassis) than the Pixelbook, i.e., the display bezels are narrower and the depth (at 8.36 inches) is actually less than the Pixelbook (8.7 inches) though it’s slightly wider and quite a bit thicker (0.59 inch) than the Google laptop. (See photo below).

Winner: Both excellent. No winner in this category. The Pixelbook is stunningly thin, totable, and sturdy with good weight distribution. But the MacBook Pro is a more efficient design and looks really good too.

MacBook Pro 13 (mid-2017) and PixelBook (late 2017).Credit: Brooke Crothers

MacBook Pro 13 (mid-2017) and Pixelbook (late 2017).

Performance: Both laptops have Intel 7th Generation processors. In other words, neither uses the latest quad-core 8th Gen chips that have recently appeared on thin-and-light laptops like the late-2017 Dell XPS 13 and late-2017 HP Spectre 13 (review). The on-paper difference between the MacBook Pro and Pixelbook is: Apple uses a 15-watt Intel Core i5 processor (on the low-cost model that I’m using) while Google uses a very-low-power Core i5 Y series 4.5 watt chip on my config. More wattage typically means better performance.

But not in this case. The Pixelbook is incredibly fast in day to day use with no lag. That’s with simultaneous use of lots of Chrome tabs (a dozen or so), photo editing, social media apps, and Microsoft Word.  (Yes, you heard me right. Microsoft Office is now available for the Chrome OS — more on that below.)

(See Pixelbook raw benchmark performance here and here. And MacBook Pro 13 without Touch Bar benchmark performance here and here.)

The Pixelbook’s snappy performance is related to the efficiency of the Chrome OS. I can say that because I have a 2016 HP Chromebook 13 with an Intel 6th Gen Y series processor that is also plenty fast.  In short, the Chrome OS pops. You’re just not going to get that kind of zero-lag performance on a Windows 10 ultraportable or 12-inch MacBook that use very-low-power Intel Y series processors.  I can make that claim too because I have used 12-inch MacBooks extensively (and owned a couple) and am now using a 2017 Windows 10 ultraportable with a Y series processor. There’s really no comparison, i.e., Google Chrome OS is just plain fast.

Winner: Pixelbook. The 13-inch MacBook Pro is no slouch but the Chrome OS makes things fly.

Apple 13.3-inch MacBook Pro.Credit: Apple

Apple 13.3-inch MacBook Pro.

Battery life Both the MacBook Pro and Pixelbook have very good battery life. I will give a range because people use laptops often in (very) different ways. And will also give (my version of) real-world scenarios. Not benchmarks.

PixelBook: 41 watt-hour battery (WHr) rated by Google at up to 10 hours.

MacBook Pro 13: 54.5 WHr battery rated by Apple up to 10 hours.

My daily routine involves “productivity” — aka, MS Office work —  light photo editing, video watching, social apps, music listening, web-based research etc.

Best case: The Pixelbook, with intermittent use throughout the day (totaling 4-5 hours each day), has lasted for two days without needing a recharge (per the activity described above). The MacBook Pro not as long. At best, with intermittent usage, a day and a half.

Worst case: Constant use with processor-intensive tasks, and — like any device — you’ll see a remarkable drop in battery life. Only a few hours for both the Pixelbook and MacBook Pro.

(Some tips for extending battery life include turning down screen brightness, no video binging, no extended/heavy gaming, and being cognizant of running browsers with dozens of tabs, i.e., some tabs can run performance-sucking background processes.)

Winner: Pixelbook (but not by much). Chrome OS is really a mobile OS running on a laptop and better suited for conserving battery power.

Display: The MacBook has 13.3-inch 2,560-by-1,600 Retina display (227 ppi). The Pixelbook a 12.3-inch 2,400-by-1,600 (235 ppi) display.

MacBook Pro: Apple is really good at making sure its displays are the best. The MacBook Pro DCI P3 (color gamut) rating is very high (good). And nits (brightness) is very high too.

Pixelbook: the Pixelbook’s display is bright and beautiful. Of course, “beautiful” is subjective and very unscientific. But my impression nonetheless. That said, NoteBookCheck said the Pixelbook display has some “drawbacks” (see NotebookCheck paragraph under the heading of “display”). I didn’t notice the drawbacks (such as backlight distribution and response times) but that’s what they saw in their testing.

Winner: MacBook Pro 13. The MBP wins for color gamut and brightness. Display technology is a religion for Apple and it shows.

Ports: Both the Pixelbook and MacBook Pro have two USB Type C ports. The MBP supports Thunderbolt 3 and the Pixelbook supports 4K display output.

Winner: Neither stands out.

Price/bang-for-buck: this, for obvious reasons, is paramount for most people. It  means a decently configured system at a reasonable price with good quality.

Winner: Pixelbook. Priced regularly at $999 but currently $899.

Note that the MacBook Pro config I’m using can be had (discounted) for about $1,150. If you can find one on sale for that price (at places like B&H Photo), that closes the gap a lot. But not completely. The Pixelbook comes out on top notwithstanding.

PixelBook (late 2017) on right and MacBook Pro 13 (mid-2017).Credit: Brooke Crothers

Pixelbook (late 2017) foreground and MacBook Pro 13 (mid-2017). The Pixelbook has two pads on either side of the trackpad that serve as palmrests and a buffer when you close the display.

Overall Winner: Pixelbook (with a qualifier). A great convertible design, good performance, good battery life, and a beautiful display.

Qualifier: The Chrome OS won’t run some popular applications that users demand. As I said above, it now runs Microsoft Office and Microsoft OneDrive but Office is not the full-blown Office you get on the macOS or Windows. And while you can run things like Photoshop Express and Adobe Photoshop Lightroom CC (and more Photoshop apps are available on the web), the full PhotoShop application isn’t available. Of course, applications like iTunes aren’t available, though there are workarounds, as Google spells out here.

But I’m not going to go through a list of apps not available on Chrome because that’s becoming passé. Chrome is moving rapidly in the other direction: more and more popular apps are available and you can also run Android apps. So, it’s not as much as a disqualifier as it was before.

I really like the ChromeBook platform now because it’s secure, stable, easy to use, and self-maintains. And Chrome OS is more like mobile operating systems such as Android and iOS — a refreshingly clean break from the old, creaky DOS/Windows/Mac platforms.

Note that the MacBook Pro 13 (mid-2017) is well designed and has top-notch quality and I would recommend it highly.  And you can find one these days — as stated above — discounted for about $1,150 with a 128GB SSD, 8GB RAM, and Intel 7th gen processor. That’s a good deal.

—-

Addendum — biometrics:  Both the Pixelbook and low-cost MacBook Pro are missing fingerprint readers and facial recognition. (Though you get a fingerprint reader on the $1,799 MBP 13 with Touch Bar.)

Addendum — keyboard: With the goal of keeping the comparison as concise as possible, I left out the keyboard comparison. That said, I found no glaring problems with the keyboards/trackpads on either laptop. Both laptops’ keyboards/trackpads are excellent, imo. That said, the MacBook Pro has a Butterfly keyboard, which has limited travel and the tactile feedback can be less than satisfying for some users. I may be in the minority but I like the MBP’s Butterfly keyboard.

Addendum — audio: The MacBook Pro 13 wins handily on audio. But that doesn’t mean the Pixelbook’s audio is bad. It’s tinnier than the MBP’s but acceptable.

Addendum — 12-inch MacBook: Some readers may believe it’s better to compare the 12.3-inch Pixelbook to the 12-inch MacBook. Maybe I’ll try that in a future comparison. That said, I believe the Pixelbook is a closer competitor to the low-cost MBP 13 (with “low-cost MBP” being the operative phrase) than the 12-inch MacBook. To be honest, it never entered my mind to compare the Pixelbook to the 12-inch MacBook until I finished writing the review/comparison above. The 12-inch MacBook is really in a class by itself and performance and keyboard size, for example, don’t really compare, imo. But, again, it’s worth including the 12-inch MacBook so I may update this review in the future to include it.

MacBook Pro 13 (mid-2017) on left and PixelBook (late 2017).Credit: Brooke Crothers

MacBook Pro 13 (mid-2017) on left and Pixelbook (late 2017).

http://www.prweb.com/releases/2017/12/prweb15046783.htm

Quikiks Hands-Free Shoes Named “Best Caregiving Innovation of 2017”

Hands-Free LLC, developers of Quikiks Hands-Free Shoes, won the “Best Caregiving Innovation” contest at the 2017 National Caregiving Conference

Award-winning Quikiks Hands-Free Shoes come in a variety of styles

Quikiks Hands-Free Shoes voted “Best Caregiving Innovation” at the National Caregiving Conference

Quikiks can help vulnerable people get into proper securely fastening footwear as easily as those hazardous bedroom slippers.

Hands-Free LLC, a company based in New York City, devoted to improving the quality-of-life of people with disabilities, won the “Best Caregiving Innovation” Contest for their Quikiks Hands-Free Shoes at this Fall’s Annual National Caregiving Conference, held from November 10th – 11th, 2017.

Now in its second year, the 2017 National Caregiving Conference (NCC17), organized by Caregiving.com, is a place where past, present and future caregivers from all over the country and from various disciplines come together to share their knowledge and experiences of their caregiving journeys for the benefit of all. The two day event is filled with seminars, talks and workshops from leading experts in diverse caregiving fields as well as vendors exhibiting related products and services.

Hands-Free LLC’s Founder and CEO, Steven Kaufman said, “It was a privilege to exhibit Quikiks at NCC17 and to meet people from all walks of life and industries who are so passionate about caregiving. It was a moving experience to hear many of the caregiving stories and very gratifying that Quikiks were recognized as being beneficial to so many.”

Using their patented Step-in-Go Technology, Quikiks are the first fully supportive, securely fastening hands-free operable footwear for people lacking the physical or cognitive ability to use traditional fasteners such as laces, buckles or even hook-and-loop straps. The hinged rear portion of Quikiks tilts back allowing the wearer to easily slide their foot in. As they step down, the back rotates closed and it fastens with a magnet. To get out, simply strike the heel on the floor and the back opens up allowing the foot to come out. The Step-in-Go Hands-Free mechanism allows people with severe arthritis or reduced motor skills, those with chronic back pain or bracing, post-op patients partially incapacitated due to back, hip, arm or hand surgery, those struggling with conditions from autism to obesity, post-stroke victims, pregnant women and others, to enhance their quality-of-life and independence by being able to put on their own shoes. The inconspicuously embedded hands-free mechanism also provides its wearers with a great deal of foot support and Quikiks will not inadvertently slip off the feet like flip-flops, slippers or clog-like shoes. Quikiks are available in a variety of styles that have the look and feel of a typical comfort shoe.

Attendees at NCC17 were able to vote for their favorite caregiving innovation from the three finalists in the contest that were represented there. Quikiks Hands-Free Shoes came out on top for the benefits they offer not only to the wearers, but to their caregivers -for saving them the time and effort in putting on their loved one’s shoes and even more importantly, by providing them with the peace of mind knowing that their loved one can independently put on good supportive footwear when they are not around, which will make them safer.

Kaufman notes that, “Falls are the most frequent cause of fatal injury to older adults, and non-fatal falls, which happen to 30% of the people over age 65 every year, often result in injuries that can greatly limit mobility and reduce quality-of-life and independence. Our shoes, with their exceptional support and stability, as well as their totally hands-free operation can help.” He adds, “Studies have shown that wearing non-securing footwear like bedroom slippers, flip-flops, or not wearing any footwear at all can increase the risk of having a slip and fall accident by up to 1000%. Quikiks can help vulnerable people get into proper securely fastening footwear as easily as those hazardous bedroom slippers.”

Following the conference, Kaufman was interviewed by Caregiving.com’s founder, Denise Brown, for her podcast, to talk about the development of Quikiks and his own caregiving journey that inspired their creation.

About Hands-Free LLC
Originally conceiveds in 2007 by a dad whose son was in a scoliosis brace that prevented him from putting his own shoes on, Hands-Free LLC produces their own brand of Quikiks Hands-Free Shoes with their patented Step-in-Go Technology.

Hands-Free LLC’s primary mission is to better the quality-of-life and increase the independence of those that use their products by making tasks easier and less painful. Ten percent of the company’s profits go to agencies that serve people with disabilities.

News from Hands-Free LLC is located at http://www.quikiks.com/news

About Caregiving.com
Denise Brown began working with family caregivers in 1990 and launched CareGiving.com in 1996 to help and support them. Through her blog, she shares words of comfort and offers coping strategies and tips. She also writes opinion pieces about recent research, community programs and media coverage of caregiving issues. She has written several caregiving books, including “The Caregiving Years, Six Stages to a Meaningful Journey,” “Take Comfort, Reflections of Hope for Caregivers” and “After Caregiving Ends, A Guide to Beginning Again.”

SOURCE: Hands-Free LLC

RELATED LINKS
http://www.quikiks.com
http://www.caregiving.com
https://www.caregiving.com/2017/12/a-caregiving-innovation-hands-free-shoes/

https://www.thestar.com/news/world/2017/12/29/who-plans-to-recognize-gaming-disorder-as-a-mental-health-condition.html

Like your video games a bit too much? WHO thinks you might have ‘gaming disorder’

The World Health Organization’s description of gaming disorder says those who are afflicted are characterized by a pattern of persistent or recurrent gaming behaviour, either on digital devices like smartphones or video-gaming offline on machines

The WHO’s description of Gaming Disorder says that those who are afflicted are characterized by a pattern of persistent or recurrent gaming behaviour, either on digital devices like smartphones or video-gaming offline on machines.
The WHO’s description of Gaming Disorder says that those who are afflicted are characterized by a pattern of persistent or recurrent gaming behaviour, either on digital devices like smartphones or video-gaming offline on machines.  (DREAMSTIME

North Americans had “Pac-Man Fever” as far back as 1981, but it has taken until now for the World Health Organization to officially recognize that playing video games too often could be a mental health disorder.

The WHO is planning to add the term “gaming disorder” to its official list of diseases in 2018, according to a draft of the organization’s 2018 International Classification of Diseases.

The WHO’s description of Gaming Disorder says that those who are afflicted are characterized by a pattern of persistent or recurrent gaming behaviour, either on digital devices like smartphones or video-gaming offline on machines.

Read more:

16-hour video game binges almost ruined Calgary teen’s life

According to the WHO’s description you may have a problem if your symptoms include impaired control over gaming — you just can’t stop playing. Right now you are jonesing for a round of Horizon: Zero DawnAssassin’s Creed: Origins or Star Wars: Battlefront II, and you feel that millions are playing at this very second while you’re left out. This could be a red flag.

Or, you give an increased priority to playing video games to the point they take precedence over other life interests and daily activities like eating and sleeping and socializing.

And, the continuation and escalation of gaming continues even after you suffer negative consequences like getting fired for playing on company time or you keep losing relationships because you just aren’t present.

The WHO’s classification means that doctors and insurance companies can recognize gaming disorder as a disease.

The WHO’s clinical description does not include prevention or treatment options.

But Forbes suggests you can self-diagnose by asking yourself the same questions people use to detect alcohol addition. Just swap the word “alcohol” for “gaming.” If you identify strongly with the four questions you may have a problem and are advised to try to cut down:

  • Have you ever felt you should cut down on your gaming?
  • Have people annoyed you by criticizing your gaming?
  • Have you ever felt bad or guilty about your gaming?
  • Are video games usually the first thing you think about in the morning when you wake up?