Big Tech &
AppleCare+ monthly plans switch to subscription model (3 minute read)
Apple has quietly changed the terms of AppleCare+ to allow customers to essentially purchase an indefinite monthly subscription rather than be restricted to a two to three year period. The changes almost went under the radar after Apple's recent event. Customers will be able to continue their monthly AppleCare+ subscriptions as long as they like or until Apple is no longer able to service their device.
California Bill Makes App-Based Companies Treat Workers as Employees (7 minute read)
The bill to require Uber and Lyft to treat contract workers as employees has passed in California. Starting from January 1, workers must be designated as employees if a company controls how they perform their tasks or if the work is part of a company's regular business. Other states are also considering similar bills. Many app-based companies have built their businesses on inexpensive independent labor and have avoided giving employees access to basic protections like minimum wage and unemployment insurance. It is estimated the bill will cause the costs of hiring workers to rise by 20 to 30 percent. Uber and Lyft have warned that they will have to start scheduling drivers rather than allowing them to work whenever they want. This means that the number of drivers who are allowed to work during non-busy periods may be restricted as the companies can not justify the payroll costs for employees.
MIT’s color-changing ink could let you customize your shoes (2 minute read)
A new type of ink developed by MIT's Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory is able to change the color or pattern of an object when exposed to UV light. PhotoChromeleon Ink is a mix of cyan, magenta, and yellow photochromatic dyes which can be applied to any object. UV light is used to activate or deactivate different colors, and the effects last in natural light. The whole process takes about 15 to 40 minutes for an object the size of a shoe or a model car. Ford has expressed interest in the ink, hoping that it may cut down the cost and time required to create automotive parts. It may be possible in the future to customize the look of a vehicle on a whim.
Ultra-Locally Grown Urban Farming Takes Off in Germany (10 minute read)
Urban farms apply techniques gained from years of research with technology to create mini-ecosystems that can be used to cultivate food in city areas. Fish are farmed along with plants, producing natural fertilizers and food. Growing the plants indoors means that almost no pesticides or antibiotics are used, and 90 percent of the water can be recycled. Shorter transportation routes means fresher foods and less need for refrigeration. Urban farming also has a smaller carbon footprint. Indoor farming will play a significant role in the future as climate change and depleted soil begins to have more impact on farming outcomes.
Programming, Design & Data Science
Teens are anxious and depressed after three hours a day on social media (3 minute read)
A study has suggested that teenagers who spend more than three hours a day on social media are more likely to develop mental health problems. 6,600 12 to 15-year-old Americans self-reported on the time they spent on social media, as well as whether they had mental health issues. Those with three hours of social media had a high correlation with mental health problems, even after accounting for history. Teens who did not use social media did not exhibit aggressive behavior or antisocial behavior. Other studies on the subject show conflicting results, with some studies showing no correlation between screen time and mental health. Social media is changing faster than studies can catch up, with different platforms and formats appearing all the time, making it difficult to get an objective view on its effects.