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Every gadget has a story. A new publication from Medium about consumer technology.

Apple’s new Bluetooth based tracker’s deceptively simple design hides impressive utility

How odd, an Apple device without a single moving part, button, display, or touch-sensitive part. Apple’s new AirTag item tracker is a tab that is, aside from a startling ability to produce sounds without a speaker grill, essentially inert.

It’s not dead though. Inside is a little circuitry, Bluetooth, ultra-wideband (UWB), sensors, and a watch battery all working together to look after your stuff. Actually, it’s more accurate to say AirTag keeps a watchful eye on momma iPhone, bleating like a lost lamb if the device (and its owner) strays too far, for too long.

Apple’s AirTags ($29.00 for one…

Tech Shortcuts for Life

Save money, reduce consumption, and support local businesses

Tech Shortcuts for Life is a weekly column from Thomas Smith on Debugger exploring the apps, automation, gadgets, and other tech tricks that can make your life more efficient.

In 2019, my family and I challenged ourselves to reduce the amount of trash we threw away with the goal of getting as close to zero waste as possible. Despite being a family of three at the time — and cooking about 30 meals per week for family and members of our community — we leveraged tech and used simple shortcuts and hacks to reduce our landfill waste from 96 gallons…

Spam and robocalls have made this stalwart communication system unusable

“I called you, but I guess you didn’t hear it,” said my mother.

“This line?” I said, popping my AirPods Pros in my ears.

“No,” she said, sounding a bit concerned (or annoyed).

“Oh, you called the house phone.”

That’s when I realized my landline was unplugged. It wasn’t broken. I’d done this on purpose.

Let’s go back two weeks ago.

My home phone rang, and even though I suspected it was a spam or robocall, I glanced at the caller ID. …

Blended in-person/virtual meetings, weddings, birthday parties, whisky tastings, and more

Over the last year, we’ve all become Zoom experts. My four-year-old knows to shout “Unmute yourself!” at people he can’t hear on video calls. Much of daily life has gone virtual, from meetings and conferences to weddings, happy hours — even, for better or worse, court appearances.

Now that more people are vaccinated, Covid-19 case rates are dropping, and the world is beginning to open back up, though, all that is changing. According to TechRepublic, 2021 will be the year of the “hybrid event.” …

This year’s refresh is focused on internals, so it’s what’s on the inside that counts

The Surface Laptop 4
The Surface Laptop 4

For the last few years, Microsoft has been on a tear building some of the best laptops on the market alongside the most exciting developer tools available. For the last few weeks, I’ve been testing the company’s new 15-inch Surface Laptop 4, which is no exception.

From the outside, the Surface Laptop 4 looks and feels similar to the previous generation of laptops; it’s ultra-thin at 14.7 mm with a tall 3:2 display and comes in a slick set of colors to choose from as well as metal or Alcantara fabric finishes.

But this year’s refresh is focused on internals…

The Xperia experiment

I grew up in New York City, but I have lived in the midwest for almost a few decades. When I tell people this in Detroit, they often ask me what the city is like. My default answer is usually the same: If you want to visit New York City, you should go twice. The first time to do all the tourist stuff: Go to Times Square, see the Statue of Liberty, etc. The second time you’ll experience the real magic of New York, as I call it. The vibrant food and art scenes and visiting the other boroughs outside…

Yes, it’s absurd. But it also says a lot about the world of fashion.

People often criticize Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg for his exorbitantly expensive hoodies. Zuck is the master of spending $400-plus on articles of clothing which make him look like a disheveled college student who is too busy writing Python code to bother with fashion.

Yet a new hoodie puts even Zuckberg’s covert clothing indulgences to shame. According to the aptly named NFT clothing brand Overpriced, the company recently sold an NFT-linked hoodie for $26,000 on the marketplace Blockparty.

A spokesperson for Overpriced told me that “the world’s first NFT Powered Hoodie features scannable QR codes to link it to an original…

An elegant solution for an issue that’s hard to stomach

Global food waste is happening on an insane scale. In the United States alone, it’s estimated that food loss at the retail and consumer levels is around 31%. According to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), there were 103 million tons (81.4 billion pounds) of food waste generated in America in 2017. That equates to between 30%–40% of the food supply, and $161 billion in monetary cost — a figure that’s hard to stomach.

Pela, a company that makes “everyday products without everyday waste,” including the world’s first fully compostable phone case, have set their sights on the world…

It might be a UX thing. I don’t know, it feels wonderful.

I used to have a tough time reading long-form articles on the internet. Part of my job at Medium is to encourage writers to publish long-form articles on the internet, so this was hard to admit. If you recommended an article to me, I’ll bookmark it into a folder called to_read and then keep working. If it’s urgent, I’ll block out some calendar time to read it. While I’m reading, I may get a Slack or a text. I may pause in the middle for an errand. Over the course of hours or days, I’ll eventually finish it. …

A move-by-move guide

Lord Ravenscraft is a video essay series created by Eric Ravenscraft. You can watch the latest full episode on YouTube.

Guy Ritchie’s Sherlock Holmes movies don’t get the credit they’re due. Especially A Game of Shadows. The latter of the two films had the gall to end, not on a CGI battle, but on a chess match. Not just any chess match, mind you, but the game Sherlock and Moriarty play is a variation of a famous (in chess circles anyway) game played in 1966.

The game in question was played between Grandmaster Bent Larsen and then-World Chess Champion…

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