Can we fix it? The repair cafes waging war on throwaway culture
- He sits down at the table of Colin Haycock, an IT professional who volunteers at the repair cafe, which has been running monthly for about four years and is a place where people can bring all manner of household items to be fixed for free.
- He is vehement about the “right to repair”, a movement opposed to the practices of companies like the machinery company John Deere, which, under copyright laws, doesn’t allow people to fix their own equipment or take them to independent repairers.
- Teaching people how to fix their own gear is at the heart of the Edinburgh Remakery, a store on the main street of Leith that is part repair shop, part secondhand store, part repair education centre.
- Michelle McGagh spent a year without buying new things, which involved a fair amount of fixing as well as going without, her experiences make for fascinating reading.
China to ban people with bad 'social credit' from some forms of travel
- Starting May 1, Chinese citizens with low scores on its social credit system will be unable to travel via plane or train for up to a year, according to a release by the country’s National Development and Reform Commission.
- Criminal acts and financial misdeeds affect the score, as do seemingly arbitrary actions like who citizens speak with, what they do, and items they purchase.
- Those found to have committed acts like spreading false information, causing trouble on public transportation, using expired travel tickets, failing to pay social insurance, or smoking on trains will be the first group punished under the new system, according to Reuters.
- The final version of the scoring system is set to be unveiled in 2020, and will relay real-time data reports on citizens to government officials, law enforcement, and possibly even other private citizens.
HTC's U12 Plus flagship leaks ahead of May launch
- VentureBeat’s Evan Blass has shared an image of the upcoming HTC U12 Plus flagship that the Taiwanese hardware brand has been working on for a slated May unveiling.
- If Blass is on point as he usually is, the U12 Plus will feature slim bezels on the front, a horizontal dual camera system and a fingerprint sensor on the rear.
- It’ll be interesting to see if this helps HTC compete with 2018’s premium handsets; we saw a bunch of formidable rivals at MWC last month, and more from the likes of OnePlus are on the way.
- If the U12 Plus looks like the image above and skips the notch, I’ll count that as a minor victory for the brand in today’s me-too era of phone design.
Fitbit takes a second swing at smartwatches with the $199 Versa
- At a press event in New York City, Fitbit executives were covertly wearing the new smartwatches ahead of their keynote, and it was difficult to tell the devices apart from the Apple Watches attendees had been wearing until you start looking for a digital crown.
- The features aren’t particularly exciting, especially if you’ve been following Fitbit’s products for awhile, but they’re what you’d expect from a smartwatch trying to take a bite of the wearables market that continues to aggressively grow year over year.
- The question is whether the lower-priced Versa will help Fitbit regain some of its steam in the smartwatch market, having just ceded the title of number one US wearable maker to Apple and coming off a disappointing holiday earnings report.
Segway’s new scooter is a cute, $1,300 rolling robot that carries your stuff and follows you around — and it’s straight out of science-fiction
- You might get something like Loomo, a new robotic scooter from Segway, the makers of the original self-balancing transporter.
- The device, which will be available for preorder on Indiegogo starting Tuesday, can act like a Segway scooter, follow owners around like R2D2 when they're not riding it, and can take pictures and video on command.
- The screen alternately lists Loomo's apps, shows what Loomo's camera sees, and displays a circle that vaguely looks like the device's eye.
- Among the things you can tell Loomo to do are to follow you around, take your picture or shoot video, or "transform" from its scooter to its robot mode — or vice versa — by turning its screen 90 degrees.
- In addition to being able to ride Loomo and command it via voice, owners will be able to use a smartphone app as as remote control for the device.
NASA finds a large amount of water in an exoplanet's atmosphere
- Much like detectives study fingerprints to identify the culprit, scientists used NASA's Hubble and Spitzer space telescopes to find the "fingerprints" of water in the atmosphere of a hot, bloated, Saturn-mass exoplanet some 700 light-years away.
- In fact, the planet, known as WASP-39b, has three times as much water as Saturn does.
- Wakeford and her team were able to analyze the atmospheric components of this exoplanet, which is similar in mass to Saturn but profoundly different in many other ways.
- Using Hubble and Spitzer, the team has captured the most complete spectrum of an exoplanet's atmosphere possible with present-day technology.
- "This spectrum is thus far the most beautiful example we have of what a clear exoplanet atmosphere looks like," said Wakeford.
- Looking ahead, Wakeford hopes to use the James Webb Space Telescope - scheduled to launch in 2019 - to get an even more complete spectrum of the exoplanet.
Bill Gates weighs in on one of the oldest, biggest battles in programming
- For the record, the Microsoft cofounder is a tabs guy.
- Tabs fans cheered having one of the most famous coders on their side.
- At the time of writing, Gates' answer had almost 14,000 "upvotes," making it one of the most popular posts in his AMA session.
- The debate over tabs and spaces has raged for years.
- Advocates of tabs argue that putting one after each new line makes code more readable.
- Despite all the "upvotes" on Gates' post, he and fellow tabs fans may actually be in the minority.
- In 2016, a Google research analyzed a billion files across 14 terabytes of data and found that in almost every programming language developers used spaces far more often than tabs.
- Meanwhile, a study last year found developers who use spaces get paid more than those who use tabs.