The Trembling-Wallet Edition Sunday, June 23, 2019

The New Service Wars Are Here To Suck Your Wallet Dry, by Sam Rutherford, Gizmodo

This evolution has spawned an endless variety of monthly subscription services looking to sell you crates filled with your favorite nerdy swag, foreign confections from around the world, dental hygiene supplies, and basically anything else you can imagine. It’s a subscription service feeding frenzy out there. But it’s the tech companies that have perfected this model, as they have transformed things that once seemed like everyday pleasures into services that feel more like a tax on your paycheck. It sucks. When you combine these services with monthly bills for important things like housing, utilities, and internet, suddenly, a big chunk of the disposable income you think you have vanishes into the ether at the beginning of the month.

So here’s a look at some of the biggest battles being waged in the services wars and the companies behind them. Be still your trembling wallet.

Google Chrome Has Become Surveillance Software. It’s Time To Switch., by Geoffrey A. Fowler, Washington Post

Over a recent week of Web surfing, I peered under the hood of Google Chrome and found it brought along a few thousand friends. Shopping, news and even government sites quietly tagged my browser to let ad and data companies ride shotgun while I clicked around the Web.

This was made possible by the Web’s biggest snoop of all: Google. Seen from the inside, its Chrome browser looks a lot like surveillance software.

Lately I’ve been investigating the secret life of my data, running experiments to see what technology really gets up to under the cover of privacy policies that nobody reads. It turns out, having the world’s biggest advertising company make the most-popular web browser was about as smart as letting kids run a candy shop.


New 'Shot On iPhone' Experiment Video Focuses On Water Imagery, by Malcolmn Owen, AppleInsider

Apple has moved on to its third iteration of "Shot on iPhone Experiments" video series, with the latest "Cascade" focusing on imagery of water flowing in a variety of different ways, all taken with the iPhone XS' rear camera.

9 Weight Loss Apps To Help You Shed The Pounds, by Jill Duffy, PC Magazine

Sure, there's more to losing weight than simply computing calorie input and expenditure, but that's already a huge challenge to conquer. The apps below can help you reach that first level of success much faster than a notebook, pen, and calculator.


Plants Are The Oldest Sensors In The World. Could They Be The Future Of Computers?, by Katharine Schwab, Fast Company

Today, electronics are made out of heavy metals and rare earth elements, which have spawned a global mining operation that’s bad for the environment and often exploitative toward the people who work in the mines. But an MIT researcher is proposing a new way of thinking about circuits: Instead of always relying on traditional materials to make them, what if instead we looked toward some of planet’s oldest sensors?

“Plants are these wonderful things. They’re billion-year evolutionary machines,” says Harpreet Sareen, an assistant professor at the Parsons School of Design and an affiliate researcher at the MIT Media Lab. “They have naturally occurring signals, they change their color, their orientation, the position of their flowers. And they can sense things around them. We were looking at how these sensing mechanisms are all things we try to do in our electronics.”