Gadgets

22 articles
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Bangka Island, a frequently lethal link in a global electronics supply chain.

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A history of the cell phone ringtone.

Many recent hip-hop songs make terrific ringtones because they already sound like ringtones. The polyphonic and master-tone versions of “Goodies,” by Ciara, for example, are nearly identical. Ringtones, it turns out, are inherently pop: musical expression distilled to one urgent, representative hook. As ringtones become part of our environment, they could push pop music toward new levels of concision, repetition, and catchiness.

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After years of avoiding the uncomfortable truths about how his gadgets are made, a Mac fanboy travels to Foxconn to see for himself.

Update 3/16/12: This American Life retracted this story today after it was revealed to have "contained significant fabrications."
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The artist discusses her latest record, Biophilia, science and music education. 

Up until she developed a vocal-cord nodule a few years ago, Björk made a point of not investigating how that instrument worked. “With arrangements and lyrics,” she says, squinting over her coffee, “I work more with the left side of my brain. But my voice has always been very right brain. I didn’t try to analyze it at all. I didn’t even know until I started all this voice work, two years ago, what my range was. I didn’t want to let the academic side into that—I worried the mystery would go.”

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The autonomous car of the future is here:

I was briefly nervous when Urmson first took his hands off the wheel and a synthy woman’s voice announced coolly, “Autodrive.” But after a few minutes, the idea of a computer-driven car seemed much less terrifying than the panorama of indecision, BlackBerry-fumbling, rule-flouting, and other vagaries of the humans around us—including the weaving driver who struggles to film us as he passes.

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Apple vs. Google vs. Facebook vs. Amazon.

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The author reluctantly commits to a Kindle.
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On Jeff Bezos, Amazon, and the genesis of the Kindle.

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On cell phones and the decline of public space.

One of the great irritations of modern technology is that when some new development has made my life palpably worse and is continuing to find new and different ways to bedevil it, I'm still allowed to complain for only a year or two before the peddlers of coolness start telling me to get over it already Grampaw--this is just the way life is now.

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A profile of Jaron Lanier, virtual reality pioneer and the author of You Are Not a Gadget: A Manifesto.

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Is the streaming Swedish music service, now making its U.S. debut, the best shot the industry has at staying profitable and relevant?

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Why your phone may (or may not) be killing you.

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"I have the sensation, as do my friends, that to function as a proficient human, you must both 'keep up' with the internet and pursue more serious, analog interests."

An essay on technology’s reach into daily life.

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One of the most valuable cars in the world crashes going 200 mph on the Pacific Coast Highway. Its owner claims to be an anti-terrorism officer. In fact, he’s a former executive at a failed software company—and a career criminal. The unraveling of an epic con.

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How smartphones are changing a continent.

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The next frontier of search is… everything. Voice recognition, image recognition, and why Google’s data set is one of the most valuable scientific tools of our age.

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From the Greeks to George Lucas, 2,200 years of failure.

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A profile of Jobs. The themes: immortality, relinquishing control, and how being adopted affected his choices for Apple. The lede: “One day, Steve Jobs is going to die.”

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An oddball team of ship salvage mercenaries is tasked with uprighting a tipped two-football-field-long cargo ship before it sinks into the darkness of Alaska’s Aleutian Islands.

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A growing movement is seeking a deeper knowledge of themselves through tracking sleep, exercise, sex, food, location, productivity. Technology has made it possible—but hasn’t taught us how to interpret the findings.

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“Amazon has done a great job,” Jobs said. “We’re going to stand on their shoulders and go a little bit farther.” Or they were planning to stand on Amazon’s neck and press down hard.