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Amish Hackers

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Today's surprising article: Kevin Kelly on Amish hackers. In a thoughtful article, Kelly explores Amish culture (from an outsider's perspective, anyway) focusing on their use of technology. Kelly's thesis is that the Amish aren't anti-technology per se -- they're just slower to adopt technology, and have a highly developed sense of which technologies they adopt. In Kelly's visits to Amish territory, he witnessed a people who had carefully selected their technologies, balancing family and community values with technological convenience. This attitude towards technology is in stark contrast to the typical Western practice of adopting whatever is newest or fastest.

Here's a snippet from Kelly's article:

...Amish lives are anything but anti-technological. In fact on my several visits with them, I have found them to be ingenious hackers and tinkers, the ultimate makers and do-it-yourselfers and surprisingly pro technology.

...Cruising down the road you may see an Amish kid in a straw hat and suspenders zipping by on roller blades. In front of one school house I spied a flock of parked scooters, which is how the kids arrived there. Not Razors, but hefty Amish varieties. But on the same street a constant stream of grimy mini-vans paraded past the school. Each was packed with full-bearded Amish men sitting in the back. What was that about?

...The Amish are steadily, slow[ly] adopting technology. They are slow geeks. As one Amish man told Howard Rheingold, "We don't want to stop progress, we just want to slow it down," But their manner of slow adoption is instructive.

1. They are selective. They know how to say "no" and are not afraid to refuse new things. They ban more than they adopt.

2. They evaluate new things by experience instead of by theory. They let the early adopters get their jollies by pioneering new stuff under watchful eyes.

3. They have criteria by which to select choices: technologies must enhance family and community and distance themselves from the outside world.

4. The choices are not individual, but communal. The community shapes and enforces technological direction.

Read the rest for a thoughtful look at Amish techno-culture (with great photos, too).

(Via Waxy.org. Photo by Dominik Füssel.)

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Live Smarter
Beware of This New Phishing Scam Targeting Netflix Customers
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iStock

Between binge watching 30 Rock, Louie, and all the other TV shows soon leaving Netflix, keep your eyes peeled for a sneaky phishing scam that’s currently targeting the streaming platform’s customers.

As WGN-TV reports, subscribers have reported receiving fake (yet very official-looking) emails that appear to come from Netflix, informing them that their account has been temporarily disabled due to billing problems. To “reactivate” it, they’re occasionally instructed to update their payment information by clicking on a link that leads them to a fake website. Other times, they’re asked to send these details by email.

For the uninitiated, schemes like these are designed to give hackers direct access to your personal banking details, and can lead to a case of credit card or identity theft. So if you’ve received a billing email that appears to be from Netflix, take the time to vet it to see if it’s legit. Always check who the sender is by hovering your cursor over their email address, and above all, never click on any links that are included in the message's body. (Bad grammar and typos are also a giveaway that some "customer service" emails aren't 100 percent real.)

If the message is, indeed, suspect, log into your Netflix account directly. Then, you'll able to see whether or not the warning was real. If you have fallen victim to the scheme, don’t despair—but do remember to keep a close eye on your bank transactions, change your passwords, and touch base with your bank if anything fishy (or phish-y) occurs.

In the meantime, Netflix has advised members to learn more about keeping their personal info safe against phishing scams by visiting Netflix.com/security, or by contacting customer service directly, according to Good Housekeeping.

[h/t WGN-TV]

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Design
IKEA’s New Augmented Reality App Lets You Test Out Virtual Furniture in Your Home
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IKEA

No matter how much measuring and research you do beforehand, buying a piece of furniture without knowing what it will look like in your home is always a gamble. With its new augmented reality app, IKEA hopes to take some of the guesswork out of the process. IKEA Place features more than 2000 items in the Swedish retailer's inventory, and visualizing them in the space where you live is as easy as tapping a button.

As WIRED reports, IKEA Place is among the first apps to take advantage of Apple's ARKit, an augmented reality platform that debuted as part of iOS 11. iPhone and iPad owners with the latest update can download IKEA's new app for free and start browsing through home goods right away.

To use the tool, you must first select the product you wish to test out, whether it's a loveseat, a kitchen table, or a dresser. Then, with the camera activated, you can point your device at whichever space you want the item to fill and watch it appear on the screen in front of you.

According to IKEA, the 3D models are scaled with 98 percent accuracy. Factors that are hard to analyze from photos online, like shadows, lighting, and textures, are also depicted as they would appear in real life. So if a sofa that looks great under the lights of a store looks drab in your living room, or if a desk that seems tiny online doesn't fit inside your office, the app will let you know. It's the closest you can get to seeing how a piece of furniture complements a room without lugging it through the doorway.

IKEA isn't the first company to improve interior design with computerized images. Several hardware stores and furniture outlets offer their own AR apps. Other services like Modsy let customers pay to create full virtual models of their homes before populating them with 3D furniture. Even IKEA had a basic AR app prior to this one, but it was glitchy and not always accurate. This newest iteration aims to provide a more seamless shopping experience. And with the latest iOS update placing a greater emphasis on AR, you can expect to see more apps using the technology in the near future.

[h/t WIRED]

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