The Thumb-Twinge Edition Sunday, October 2, 2016

Out Of Hand, by Stephanie M. Lee, BuzzFeed

To be a perpetually plugged-in, emailing, texting, sexting, swiping, Snapchatting, selfie-taking human being in 2016, a little thumb twinge is the price of admission. There are the media-anointed outliers: the Candy Crusher with a ruptured thumb tendon, the woman who over-texted her way to “WhatsAppitis.” And then there are people like the 18-year-old woman who said, “If I’m scrolling down Tumblr for more than half an hour, my fingers will get sore.” “When I hold my phone,” a 22-year-old complained, cradling her iPhone in her palm, “my bottom finger really hurts.” A 30-year-old software engineer said his fingers “naturally curl inwards,” claw-like: “I remember my hand did not quite use to be like that.” Amy Luo, 27, suspects her iPhone 6s is partly to blame for the numbness in her right thumb and wrist. Compared with her old iPhone, she said, “you have to stretch a lot more, and it’s heavier.” Dr. Patrick Lang, a San Francisco hand surgeon, sees more and more twenty- and thirtysomething tech employees with inexplicable debilitating pain in their upper limbs. “I consider it like an epidemic,” he said, “particularly in this city.”

To be clear, no one knows just how bad this “epidemic” is. At best, we learn to endure our stiff necks and throbbing thumbs. At worst, a generation of people damage their bodies without realizing it. In all likelihood, we are somewhere in the middle, between perturbance and public health crisis, but for the time being we simply don’t — can’t — know what all these machines will do to our bodies in the long term, especially in the absence of definitive research. What we do know is that now more people are using multiple electronics — cell phones, smartphones, tablets, laptops, desktops — for more hours a day, starting at ever earlier ages. But we weren’t built for them.

Why Your Smartphone Is So Hard To Ignore, by Kelly O’Brien, Boston Globe

Your brain is not actually multitasking but quickly switching its attention back and forth. Each switch costs you time and mental energy as you refocus on the correct portion of the article. And in the time that you were away on Facebook, some of the information in your working memory faded away, so you’ll probably remember less of what you read by the time you’re done.

Don’t feel bad. As Adam Gazzaley, a neurology professor at the University of California San Francisco, and Larry Rosen, a professor emeritus of psychology at California State University Dominguez Hills, lay out in their forthcoming book on the topic, this behavior isn’t a personal failing of yours but an evolutionary failing of humanity.

The Cobalt Pipeline, by Todd C. Frankel, Washington Post

The world’s soaring demand for cobalt is at times met by workers, including children, who labor in harsh and dangerous conditions. An estimated 100,000 cobalt miners in Congo use hand tools to dig hundreds of feet underground with little oversight and few safety measures, according to workers, government officials and evidence found by The Washington Post during visits to remote mines. Deaths and injuries are common. And the mining activity exposes local communities to levels of toxic metals that appear to be linked to ailments that include breathing problems and birth defects, health officials say.

The Post traced this cobalt pipeline and, for the first time, showed how cobalt mined in these harsh conditions ends up in popular consumer products. It moves from small-scale Congolese mines to a single Chinese company — Congo DongFang International Mining, part of one of the world’s biggest cobalt producers, Zhejiang Huayou Cobalt — that for years has supplied some of the world’s largest battery makers. They, in turn, have produced the batteries found inside products such as Apple’s iPhones — a finding that calls into question corporate assertions that they are capable of monitoring their supply chains for human rights abuses or child labor.


Best Password Manager Apps For iPhone, by Lory Gil, iMore

Password managers are digital vaults where you can keep all of your important information, like logins, credit card numbers, PINs, and more. You can even create a secure note with secret stuff, like future baby names or the answers to life. If you haven't already invested in a password manager, take a look at our favorites and see if any of them suit your needs.

Axon Is A New Health Care Solution That Works With Apple’s ResearchKit, by Dennis Sellers, Apple World Today

It provides a point-and-click interface that connects ResearchKit (and additional capabilities) with Medable's HIPAA compliant platform for creating and launching clinical study apps and submitting them to the App Store.

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I don't think my wife will allow me to wear Apple's AirPod around the house all day long. So, no ear-computer for me.

I do wonder how long more before the ear-computer will respond to Hey Siri without the double-tapping beforehand.


Thanks for reading.