I Am Unreasonably Excited About This Thermostat

I consider myself a computer geek -- I'm comfortable with that. But today I'm having a new feeling: apparently I'm a thermostat geek. Yesterday I came across the Nest "Learning Thermostat," which has been making the rounds of nerd blogs. Basically, this is a computer-driven thermostat with some fancy features: wifi, various sensors, a HAL-like Big Red Eye, and even remote control (via wifi/web). There's also an aspect of gameplay built into the thing -- much like some hybrid cars have an indicator showing you when you're driving "optimally," the Nest shows a green leaf to urge you in the direction of using less energy (for example, in the winter it may show the leaf for a setting a few degrees cooler than you'd normally use -- encouraging you to use less heat). And finally, it actually has moving, physical parts (a ring), rather than the awful, awful touchscreen on my current thermostat (don't try to turn on the heat in the dark using my current thermostat -- it's impossible). Oh, and did I mention this was designed by Tony Fadell, who ran the iPod division at Apple? Basically, this is a geek's paradise. I've rounded up some of the Nest videos so you can geek out with me.

Introducing Nest

Very Apple-like.

How It Learns

More Videos

There are more videos on Nest's YouTube channel, and a demo/interview with Fadell on TechCrunch.

Further Reading

First up, check out Fadell's blog post "Thermostats? Yes, thermostats." Then read the Wired profile which includes some technical details, including how this thing manages to power itself. There's much more at the Nest website. The device isn't out yet, but is slated for late November. And in case you were wondering, no, I'm not paid by Nest or anyone else for this endorsement -- but I am super psyched to have a HAL-ostat on my dining room wall.

Clemens Bilan, AFP/Getty Images
Purchased a PlayStation 3 Between 2006 and 2010? You May Be Entitled to $65
Clemens Bilan, AFP/Getty Images
Clemens Bilan, AFP/Getty Images

All that time you spent playing video games in the late aughts could finally pay off: According to Polygon, if you purchased an original-style "fat" PlayStation 3 between November 1, 2006 and April 1, 2010, you're eligible to receive a $65 check. You have until April 15 to file your claim.

PS3 owners first qualified to receive compensation from Sony following the settlement of a lawsuit in 2016. That case dealt with the "OtherOS" feature that came with the console when it debuted. With OtherOS, Sony promised a new PlayStation that would operate like a computer, allowing users to partition their hard drive and install third-party operating systems like the open-source Linux software.

OtherOS was included in the PlayStation 3 until April 2010, when Sony removed the feature due to security concerns. This angered enough PS3 owners to fuel a lawsuit, and Sony, facing accusations of false advertisement and breach of warranty, agreed to settle in October 2016.

PlayStation 3 owners were initially told they'd be receiving $55 each from the settlement, but that number has since grown to $65. To claim your piece of the $3.75 million settlement, you must first confirm that you're qualified to receive it. The PlayStation 3 you purchased needs to be a 20 GB, 40 GB, 60 GB or 80 GB model. If that checks out, visit this website and submit either your "fat" PS3 serial number or the PlayStation network sign-in ID or online ID associated with the console.

[h/t Polygon]

Apple Wants to Patent a Keyboard You’re Allowed to Spill Coffee On

In the future, eating and drinking near your computer keyboard might not be such a dangerous game. On March 8, Apple filed a patent application for a keyboard designed to prevent liquids, crumbs, dust, and other “contaminants” from getting inside, Dezeen reports.

Apple has previously filed several patents—including one announced on March 15—surrounding the idea of a keyless keyboard that would work more like a trackpad or a touchscreen, using force-sensitive technology instead of mechanical keys. The new anti-crumb keyboard patent that Apple filed, however, doesn't get into the specifics of how the anti-contamination keyboard would work. It isn’t a patent for a specific product the company is going to debut anytime soon, necessarily, but a patent for a future product the company hopes to develop. So it’s hard to say how this extra-clean keyboard might work—possibly because Apple hasn’t fully figured that out yet. It’s just trying to lay down the legal groundwork for it.

Here’s how the patent describes the techniques the company might use in an anti-contaminant keyboard:

"These mechanisms may include membranes or gaskets that block contaminant ingress, structures such as brushes, wipers, or flaps that block gaps around key caps; funnels, skirts, bands, or other guard structures coupled to key caps that block contaminant ingress into and/or direct containments away from areas under the key caps; bellows that blast contaminants with forced gas out from around the key caps, into cavities in a substrate of the keyboard, and so on; and/or various active or passive mechanisms that drive containments away from the keyboard and/or prevent and/or alleviate containment ingress into and/or through the keyboard."

Thanks to a change in copyright law in 2011, the U.S. now gives ownership of an idea to the person who first files for a patent, not the person with the first working prototype. Apple is especially dogged about applying for patents, filing plenty of patents each year that never amount to much.

Still, they do reveal what the company is focusing on, like foldable phones (the subject of multiple patents in recent years) and even pizza boxes for its corporate cafeteria. Filing a lot of patents allows companies like Apple to claim the rights to intellectual property for technology the company is working on, even when there's no specific invention yet.

As The New York Times explained in 2012, “patent applications often try to encompass every potential aspect of a new technology,” rather than a specific approach. (This allows brands to sue competitors if they come out with something similar, as Apple has done with Samsung, HTC, and other companies over designs the company views as ripping off iPhone technology.)

That means it could be a while before we see a coffee-proof keyboard from Apple, if the company comes out with one at all. But we can dream.

[h/t Dezeen]


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