From: Dieter Bohn - Thursday Nov 07, 2019 11:30 am
Command Line newsletter

I propose a new term called the “Hastings Limit,” named after Netflix CEO Reed Hastings. He famously said that Netflix’s real competition was sleep, then Fortnite. Basically anything that took potential attention away from streaming video counted as a threat to his business.

The Hastings Limit is the moment when you admit to yourself that there is more content that you want to experience than you have time for — or will ever have time for. The number of shows I believe I would like, books a really want to read, video games I really want to play, movies I want to watch, and local parks I want to visit has officially become overwhelming.

Exceeding the Hastings Limit means more than just saying “there are too many TV shows.” It means you are actively triaging your content diet and choosing to not experience things you believe you might really enjoy or might really enrich your life in some way.

What I’m telling you is that I haven’t watched HBO’s The Watchmen and I haven’t played Death Stranding and I may never get to.

We are all already over the Hastings Limit, truth be told. The sooner you admit it to yourself, the sooner you’ll accept it and stop trying to see it all. I recommend it, as it could increase the chances that you’ll head to that national park and look at a tree. I find that trees are highly underrated things to watch.

- Dieter

Car news

+ The electric vehicle industry needs to figure out its battery problem

Turns out there’s no free lunch: electric cars also have a kind of emission, namely the batteries they inevitably leave behind when they’re totaled. Justine Calma looks at what could be done with the batteries in today’s cars and how tomorrow’s car batteries needs to change.

“The idea of ‘design for recycle’ is something that battery manufacturers should have in their heads,” Gaines says. “That kind of thinking needs to go into product manufacturing general.”

+ Tesla will unveil its ‘Cybertruck’ electric pickup on November 21st

I guess this means Elon Musk sides with the Decepticons? Cybertruck definitely sounds like an evil Transformer.

+ Serious safety lapses led to Uber’s fatal self-driving crash, new documents suggest

There are and will self-driving accidents that aren’t the result of incredibly bad design and poor (or at least unimaginative) software planning — but this is not one of them.

According to NTSB, the software installed in Uber’s vehicles that helps it detect and classify other objects “did not include a consideration for jaywalking pedestrians.” The system did detect Herzberg who was walking her bike across North Mill Road outside the crosswalk a few minutes before 10PM. But it classified her as “other object,” not a person.

Gadget news & reviews

+ Fossil’s new hybrid smartwatches have physical watch hands and always-on displays

Okay so these don’t run Wear OS after all. I have enjoyed Fossil’s hybrid watches in the past, though I do think they’re unnecessarily thick compared to the Withings Steel line.

What’s most fascinating to me is that this LOOKS like Wear OS. I don’t know if Fossil just lifted the iconography because it’s open source or if it was licensed from Google or what. But if I were Google I’d be a little salty about the brand confusion here.

+ Surface Pro X vs. Pro 7: ARM needs some legs

Tom Warren’s take on the Surface Pro X. He goes into a lot more detail on some of the little annoyances that stack up. One thing neither of us spent a ton of time on is drivers -- if you depend on peripherals that require custom drivers, that’s one more thing that might not work. Or it might! You can’t easily figure it out, and that’s the problem.

I got my Surface Pro 7 yesterday and love it to bits. I’m late to it probably, but I just discovered AutoHotKey, a very simple and powerful scripting platform for Windows. It’s sort of like AppleScript but for Windows. (Only sort of though, please don’t email me corrections.) Anyway — if you are looking to get into a little automation on your Windows computer, it’s a fun thing to play around with.

+ Leica’s latest full-frame mirrorless camera has a new touchscreen and more resolution

Of course, you can get similar performance and resolution from much less expensive cameras made by Sony, Nikon, Canon, or Panasonic. The reason you might consider the SL2 has a lot to do with how it feels and its shooting experience. The SL2 is a brick of a camera that, while expensive, certainly feels the part of a professional tool. It’s also flexible enough to work for a variety of shooting situations, whether that’s in a studio, at a wedding, or in a portrait session. If that seems interesting enough to you to part with the value of a decent used car for a camera, you’ll be able to do so later this month.

+ Amazon Echo Studio review: finally, an Echo that sounds great

Dan Seifert calls it the best-sounding smart speaker. Dan has used them all, so take that seriously.

I can’t believe Amazon is pushing this 3D audio thing so hard, though. There just aren’t that many songs. The fact that one of the “remastered” songs was literally re-recorded with new instruments makes it feel like cheating. It sounds like a whole different song because it is a whole different song.

+ After five years of Amazon’s Alexa, why isn’t it better?

This isn’t strictly gadgets, but since I just mentioned the Echo Studio, here’s a good piece by James Vincent. Ask yourself if you’re doing significantly more today with Alexa (or any digital assistant) than you were a few years ago. I suspect the answer is no. I also think it’s not a technology or machine learning problem. I think it’s an interface design problem: you could get a voice assistant to do all sorts of things, but can you get it to do those things in a way that’s better than just pulling out your phone or your laptop? Right now, nobody knows how to do that.

More from The Verge

+ Behind Color Factory, one of the photogenic pop-ups trying to conquer the experience economy

Here is Ashley Carman with the most amazing, gross, and smart insights into Color Factory, the company making those Instagram pop up spaces

The confetti still gets dirty, though, so Malhotra’s team devised what Lind calls the “hair ball remover,” a tube that uses velcro to grab onto hair so confetti can pass through and come out clean. Hairy confetti, it seems, isn’t cute for Instagram.

Executives at Google are under investigation by the board for how they handled sexual harassment

They say it’s never too late to do the right thing, but I wish Google and Alphabet hadn’t tried so hard to test that theory.

+ Twitter is rolling out Topics, a way to follow subjects automatically in the timeline

I swear I didn’t know this was coming when I argued yesterday that it’s not fair to say Twitter isn’t making stuff anymore. But happy to see my point proven so quickly.

+ Apple’s new privacy pages are easier to read and look way better

We have been including sidebars called “Agree to continue” in all our reviews for the past couple months. It’s simply a list of all the contracts you have to agree to in order to use a given product. They’re often so long it makes it difficult to know how to lay out our articles! Unlike these company, though, we put them all in your face so you have to think about them instead of using dark patterns to try to get you to just click yes.

Anyway, good on Apple for making its pages parseable. You can’t give informed consent if you have no idea what you’re consenting to.

+ Wyze announces (then delays) new subscription service for its security cameras

What better encapsulation of the Fall of Software Fails could there be than a company announcing a brand new service then immediately delaying it due to “critical issues?”

Do not use these two products together, please

+ Cocktails are sometimes hard to make, so Barsys made a smart coaster that helps you do it better

Okay so this is a scale, right? That lights up and syncs with an app? That... actually that could be worth a hundred bucks. This is neat I approve of this.

+ HBO is giving away big cardboard boxes for your next TV fort

We have an open office plan here at The Verge and I am going to buy this and use it at my desk.


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