01 Dimensioning Instrument

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The InstruMMents pen uses the right kind of technology to upgrade an age old user experience. The pen replaces the trusty-old yet potentially-frustrating measuring tape, presenting itself as a vastly smaller, and infinitely more powerful alternative. Using a magnetic roller and a guiding light, the dimensioning pen can measure everything from straight lines, to curves and even corners. It doesn’t have an end, like a tape, so you can go on and on for meters (feet, if you don’t like the metric system!). The pen is accurate to the nearest 0.1mm, and syncs with your phone to display and even record measurements. The pen comes with a sensor that allows you to capture contours of the things you measure, so it doesn’t act as just a scale, it acts as a contour gauge too… More at YD.

Somehow I have missed this product in the past, but it looks amazing.

A Very, Very Strange Year At Uber

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After the first couple of weeks of training, I chose to join the team that worked on my area of expertise, and this is where things started getting weird. On my first official day rotating on the team, my new manager sent me a string of messages over company chat. He was in an open relationship, he said, and his girlfriend was having an easy time finding new partners but he wasn’t. He was trying to stay out of trouble at work, he said, but he couldn’t help getting in trouble, because he was looking for women to have sex with. It was clear that he was trying to get me to have sex with him, and it was so clearly out of line that I immediately took screenshots of these chat messages and reported him to HR.

Uber was a pretty good-sized company at that time, and I had pretty standard expectations of how they would handle situations like this. I expected that I would report him to HR, they would handle the situation appropriately, and then life would go on – unfortunately, things played out quite a bit differently. When I reported the situation, I was told by both HR and upper management that even though this was clearly sexual harassment and he was propositioning me, it was this man’s first offense, and that they wouldn’t feel comfortable giving him anything other than a warning and a stern talking-to. Upper management told me that he “was a high performer” (i.e. had stellar performance reviews from his superiors) and they wouldn’t feel comfortable punishing him for what was probably just an innocent mistake on his part… More at Susan J. Fowler.

Shocking, unless you are a woman in which case you have likely suffered some kind of sexual harassment in your life.

Battle of the buds

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Apple’s iPhone 7 isn’t the first phone to ship without a headphone jack. But the iPhone 7 is definitely the most important and popular phone to discard the headphone jack, and Apple is dragging the industry toward a wireless future, whether we like it or not. At least the company provided its own solution, eventually: its $159 AirPods are one of the newest truly wireless earbuds you can buy. By “truly wireless,” we mean they’re just two buds that sit in both ears without anything connecting them. Much like other Apple technology, AirPods are not the only truly wireless buds on the market. They’re certainly not the only regular wireless buds available.

But again, like other Apple technologies, AirPods have a unique spin that sets them apart from the competition. Apple hopes to convince consumers that its buds are the best to pair with their iPhones, but consumers have many options to choose from when it comes to competing wireless earbuds. I tested a handful of wireless buds to see how the AirPods stack up in terms of ease of use, comfort, music quality, and battery life. I’ve done an anecdotal assessment of music quality for all the buds I reviewed. I spent hours with each pair, listening to a variety of music including pop, rock, jazz, and classical in environments with different levels of outside noise… More at ars technica.

A really good round up of some of the best wireless buds currently available. This industry will explode very soon.

Apple Expected to Debut New iPad Pro Lineup, 128GB iPhone SE etc

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In terms of the iPad Pro lineup, the report claims Apple will announce new 7.9-inch, 9.7-inch, 10.5-inch, and 12.9-inch models. The 10.5-inch model may not ship until May, while the other sizes are said to ship in March.

If the report is accurate, it would suggest Apple plans to refresh the iPad mini 4 with a new 7.9-inch iPad Pro model, update its existing 9.7-inch iPad Pro and 12.9-inch iPad Pro models, and introduce an all-new 10.5-inch iPad Pro, which is widely rumored to feature an edge-to-edge display without a Home button.

Mac Otakara previously said the 10.9-inch iPad Pro—it now says 10.5-inch—will have the same overall footprint as the current 9.7-inch iPad Pro thanks to its edge-to-edge design. The earlier report said the top bezel will remain in order to provide space for the front-facing FaceTime camera, but it will likely be slimmer… More at MacRumors.

Just give me the 128GB SE. Now.

Should you take your phone, or yourself, to the United States?

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That is the rather startling advice in a blogpost that is being widely shared right now.

Its author, Quincy Larson, is a software engineer, who has previously written about the importance of protecting personal data.

He now fears that data could be at risk every time you cross a border.

His concerns were sparked by the story of Sidd Bikkannavar, an American-born Nasa engineer, who flew home from a trip to Chile last month. On arrival in Houston, he was detained by the border police and, by his own account, put under great pressure to hand over the passcode to his smartphone, despite the fact that the device had been issued to him by Nasa.

Eventually, Bikkannavar did hand over both the phone and the passcode. It was taken away for 30 minutes and then returned, and he was free to go… More at the BBC.

When I was last in the US 3 years ago I complained about having to have my fingerprints taken at Orlando International. I asked why they needed them and the answers were so weak that I continued to complain.

My wife took me to one side, after having had her fingerprints taken, and advised me that if after an 8 hour flight and a 2 hour queue at the airport we had to get back on a plane to the UK because of my complaining, she would remove my man parts and give them to me in a jar.

She is persuasive at the best of times, but I was in a bind. We were in Orlando for the kids, it was an expensive holiday and there was no choice but to give over my fingerprints just because the American government felt I should do so.

As it happens, the next 2 weeks were a blast and we loved every minute. We felt welcome throughout, there was a sense of calm everywhere and it was the America I grew up reading about and watching on the TV when I was a child. Admittedly, we were mostly in the Disney bubble, but it was a great experience all the same.

If we fast forward 3 years to the crazy time we are in now, America feels very different from across the pond. Stories like the one above send a shiver through my spine even though I could probably sail through any American airport without a hitch. I am white, I have a Scottish surname (Trump is half-Scottish I am ashamed to say) and I don’t pose a threat at all. I do not pose a threat purely on that basis, apparently, and my nationality and colour are the only indicators that I could be a terrorist, apparently. What a load of shit that kind of policy is and how much likelier does it make the chance of a terrorist attack? More likely I would say and it only plays into the hands of people who want to change the way people live their lives in the West.

My wife and I were discussing our next holiday last week and America didn’t even figure. It always has before, it is usually right at the top of the list, but the vibe from the US now is one of exclusion, fear and complete craziness. I feel so sorry for normal right-minded intelligent Americans who have to suffer what is happening now, but having to open my phone to a Government employee is merely the tip of the iceberg for a country that overnight feels remarkably unfriendly.