Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Web Secret 468: ThinOPTICS

At what age will you need reading glasses?

When I was young, I was a bit off with my guess.

By several decades.

I thought I wouldn't need reading glasses until I was in my eighties.

In fact, the average age at which Americans get reading glasses is around 40. By age 45 most of us are doomed.

And here's the truth: reading glasses are a pain in the neck.

People lose them, forget them, and otherwise never seem to have them on hand when they need them.

It's SUPER annoying.

Thank the Lord for ThinOPTICS.

They are wafer thin, weightless, pince-nez, that fold into an insubstantial case you can attach to the back of your smartphone.

They come in 6 different colors, or, if you want more visual excitement, in designer patterns.

For under $30.

You can thank me now.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Web Secret 467: Slouching towards Gattaca

To this day, one of the finest and most important science fiction films I have ever seen is Gattaca (1997).

Briefly, the movie depicts a time in "the not-too-distant future", when eugenics is common. A genetic registry database uses biometrics to classify those so created as "valids," while those conceived by traditional means and thus more susceptible to genetic disorders are known as "in-valids". Genetic discrimination is illegal, but in practice genotype profiling is used to identify valids and qualify them for professional employment while in-valids are relegated to menial jobs.

After I watched Gattaca, 20 years ago, I knew that all I had to do is sit back and wait, and past would become prologue.

On April 6, 2017, I received an email from 23andMe announcing that: "The U.S. Food and Drug Administration granted 23andMe authorization to offer ten genetic health risk reports including late-onset Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, celiac disease, and a condition associated with harmful blood clots."

The email also noted: "23andMe is now the only company authorized by the FDA to provide personal genetic health risk reports without a prescription."

RED ALERT.

I wasn't the only one to be alarmed. By April 7, Popular Science published an article titled "Getting your genetic disease risks from 23andme is probably a terrible idea." I quote from this article at length below:

"If you could know whether you were going to develop a debilitating, inevitable, untreatable disease at age 50, would you want to? 23andMe is offering you that opportunity—but they’re not going to ask you that question.

The central problem is this: 23andMe aims to give you all the information you want about your genetic background, but they don’t want to be responsible if that knowledge actually impacts you. Are you upset by results that indicate you’re likely to spend the last years of your life dependent on a caretaker, shaking uncontrollably, and losing the ability to speak? Talk to someone else. You’re not 23andMe’s problem anymore.

You can’t unring that bell. [emphasis mine]

And if a company is going to sell customers their right to know, they should have to provide help when that knowledge hurts."


It gets scarier:

"23andme's ultimate business plan product isn’t really a kit, [it's] YOU [emphasis mine]. With a massive database of genetic information, the company can turn around and sell that data to other companies...23andMe assures customers that all their information is completely anonymized. Of course they would never, ever break that rule. Except that even if they don’t, it turns out you can find out a man’s last name using only the short repeats on his Y chromosome and access to a genealogy database. Oh, and then you can identify his age and which state he lives in using publicly accessible resources."

Full circle back to Gattaca.

It only took 20 years.

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Web Secret 466: Upwork

Here is my observation after 10+ years working as a web editor.

Most people out there can't write for s**t.

And that includes:

Boomers with PhDs

Millenials of any sort

Physicians

Lawyers

Real estate brokers

And there's more...

It's a disease that has reached pandemic proportions.

Have you ever tried to read a product manual?

Case in point, yesterday I tried to change the water filter in my Miele refrigerator/freezer for the first time.

I read the manual and I still I could not remotely ascertain where to find the location of the filter.

I called Miele customer support (MCS).

Me: "uh, it says the filter is located in the freezer compartment, but I don't see it."

CS: chuckle "Oh, it's actually under the freezer compartment."

Me: ???

CS: "You can only see it if you open the freezer compartment, get on your knees, and look under."

How about spelling that out in the manual, accompanied by some helpful diagrams?

Come to think of it, they need to improve origami instructions. I'm cool until I get to about step 5 - then I'm lost. How did they get from step 4 to step 5?

But I digress.

If you need help with writing of any sort, and other dreaded tasks like web development.

If you need an app maker.

If you need a personal assistant.

You need not suffer anymore.

Meet Upwork.

The freelancing website that will connect you with people who possess the time and/or skill to perform the tasks you can't squeeze into your daily schedule, or don't have a clue how to get done.

Sign up tout de suite.

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Web Secret 465: Earth 2050

A couple of days ago, my mind exploded.

And I thought yours should to.

And all because I looked at a map.

Of course it wasn't your typical map - Earth 2050, provides a fascinating glimpse at a future based on predictions from futurists, professionals and members of the public.

If you want more background on this amazing project, read the Wired article.

But if you want to barely suppress screams of delight and awe, as well as an incipient panic attack, just click here.

Jaw drop.