Are dashboards really the best way to deliver analytics to people who want to “just blog”?
I can’t make sense of website analytics at all. When I go to my personal blog, I want to just blog, not pore over dials and meters like a Con Ed repairman. Which made me curious about Ghost, a new open-source platform expressly designed as, as the creators put it, “just a blogging platform.” It’s pretty darn gorgeous. And right there in the middle of their pitch is their so-called “revolutionary” analytics dashboard, which also looks great: it’s flat (in 2013, you gotta be flat, yo), it’s got great typography, it’s got Feltron-esque infographics.
A startup that converts conversations to text so it can offer instant information gets financing from Telefónica, Samsung, and Intel.
Would you give your wireless carrier permission to listen in on your phone calls? Telefónica, one of the world’s largest mobile carriers, is testing a technology that can understand conversations and quickly pull up relevant information. If that info turns out to be useful, customers may want to invite it to listen in.
Painful finger-prick blood tests for diabetics could become a thing of the past, say physicists who have built a sensor that measures glucose in saliva
The largest-ever release of mobile-phone data yields a model for fixing bus routes.
Researchers at IBM, using movement data collected from millions of cell-phone users in Ivory Coast in West Africa, have developed a new model for optimizing an urban transportation system.
Bringing ordinary consumers into the pro-environmental fold is Nest’s great achievement.
Nest, the only company that has ever gotten journalists to use the words “sexy” and “thermostat” in the same sentence (see “A Smart, Sexy–Thermostat?!”), today announces a sexy thermostat software update for its sexy thermostat hardware. As the Verge and others report, Version 3.5 of Nest’s software brings data to solve a few basic problems. For one thing, the Nest thermostat is now smarter about knowing when its being directly hit by sunlight (which could lead it to think your house is hotter than it is). Nest is also getting smarter about fighting mold, automatically turning off the AC to keep things dry in periods of high humidity. And Nest’s Auto-away feature has reportedly grown stronger, too, so it’s better at saving power when you’re out of the house. Last week, Nest also announced some features that help reduce energy demand during peak periods (that only rolled out with a few partner grids).
As consumer tech companies bring brain interfaces ever closer to the mainstream, human-friendly legalese could become a crucial part of the user experience.
The New York Times recently claimed that brain-computer interfaces (BCI) are headed for the mainstream market sooner rather than later. Whether these kinds of “think it and the computer does it” UIs will be practical and useful enough to achieve adoption outside the “glasshole” set is up for debate. But one thing’s for sure: consumer products mean legalese–a lot of it. Few of us read the Terms of Service (TOS) agreements associated with the bevy of networked technology we blindly rely on. We only tend to notice or care about TOS when something breaks or freaks us out after the fact (as Instagram found out last year). But when a consumer product claims to jack itself right into your mind? That might just make people want to actually read these contracts up front.
Google’s smart personal assistant hits iOS, but will users care?
Google Now, which offers users automatically updated, personalized information via a series of on-screen “cards,” just made the jump from Android to the iPhone, hoping to woo fans of Apple’s Siri. iOS users can get Google Now as an update to Google’s existing Search app; you just swipe a finger upward on the app’s main screen to pull it up.
Doctors argue that some drug companies are charging too much for their cancer drugs, to the detriment of patients.
A group of more than 100 cancer experts have called out drug companies for the high prices of cancer drugs. The doctors, all specialists in chronic myelogenous leukemia or CML, published their opinion on what they call “astronomical” prices on Friday in the scientific journal Blood.
Berkeley Labs spin-off Points Source Power develops fuel-cell charger for Kenya powered by cookstove fires.
In trying to create a power source for off-grid villagers in Kenya, entrepreneur and scientist Craig Jacobson has picked a seemingly improbable technology–a fuel cell.
A materials scientist has created the world’s toughest fiber using a mechanism based on a slip knot.
A novel chemical pathway could address the high cost of transporting cellulosic materials to make diesel fuel.
Within a year, a pilot plant in Indiana will start converting the stalks and leaves of corn plants into diesel and jet fuel. The plant will use a novel approach involving acid as well as processes borrowed from the oil and chemical industry, which its developers hope will make fuel at prices cheap enough to compete with petroleum.
What gets removed from China’s social networks shows how censorship strategies are advancing, and can even hint at the government’s plans.
In February last year, political scandal rocked China when the fast-rising politician Bo Xilai suddenly demoted his top lieutenant, who then accused his boss of murder, triggering Bo’s political downfall.
The best of the rest from the Physics arXiv preprint server
Zoomboard—a miniscule keyboard that zooms when you tap it—could make it easier to type on smart watches.
It seems like everyone is building a smart watch lately. Pebble ran a wildly successful Kickstarter campaign earlier this year for its e-paper watch; Samsung has confirmed it is making one; and both Apple and Microsoft are thought to be developing their own versions, too (see “Smart Watches”).
A Boston-based company shows how it converts delivery trucks and other commercial fleet vehicles into hybrids.
I hate feeling tethered to the internet. So why do I love FreedomPop?
Rarely do I, even in casual conversation, refer to something as the “best thing ever.” And yet I’m fairly certain I’ve used that epithet a few dozen times in gushing to friends, acquaintances, and strangers about my latest toy: the Freedom Stick 4G from FreedomPop. “Go ahead!” I dare them, as they scatter to the edge of the sidewalk. “Try and name a better thing!”
A response to Jason Pontin’s essay on free speech by the author of Principles for a Free Society.
Jason Pontin has written a perceptive analysis of a timeless question: what changes in law need to be adopted in order to account for technological advances (see “Free Speech in the Era of Its Technological Amplification”)? In answering that question, he takes the right approach by taking up John Stuart Mill’s harm principle, which at its core makes this claim:
An experimental new touch screen, the Obake, has a stretchable surface that to reacts user interaction in new ways.
An inexpensive new prototype device called the Obake adds a new dimension to touch screen technology. The surface of the device, developed by Dhairya Dand and Rob Hemsley of the MIT Media Lab, can react to how it’s being used by reaching out toward the user. It was relatively simple to make: the researchers used an open source software framework to enable the screen to react; the hardware costs between $50 and $60, Dand says.
It’s pretty, yes. But more importantly, it doesn’t force you to interact with it.
I can’t believe I’m about to say this, but Yahoo’s new weather app for iOS is great. Is it “innovative”? No. Well, actually it is. Its innovation is in being as non-“innovative” in its interaction design as possible. No fussy gestures, no neato animations, no infographics to “explore”. No “interactivity” at all, really. It’s more a piece of graphic design than interactive design–and my God, I wish more apps were just like it.