Free trials can end up being anything but

I took out a free three-day trial with a US company called Speechify, which converts text into speech so you can listen to articles instead of reading them. As someone who likes to learn on the go, I wanted to see whether this technology would work for me.

It didn’t, so I cancelled my subscription via my Apple account well within the trial period.

Imagine my surprise, then, when I received a notification from my bank three days later telling me Speechify had deducted £105.64 from my account to pay for an annual subscription… More here.

It’s far too easy to miss small payments at times, but I have experienced companies who seem to work on expecting a certain percentage of people to not notice such things. They are called scumbags.

The Dyson Zone™🤣

Today, Jake Dyson has unveiled the Dyson Zone™, Dyson’s first step into wearable technology. The Dyson Zone™ is a set of noise cancelling, high fidelity over-ear headphones which simultaneously deliver immersive sound to the ears, and purified airflow to the nose and mouth. The result of over a decade of air quality research and development, the Dyson Zone™ air-purifying headphones simultaneously tackle the urban issues of air quality and noise pollution… More here.

I would buy this…

if it wasn’t likely to be needlessly expensive like all other Dyson products

if it didn’t look completely rediculous

if the £300 Dyson fan we bought (we returned it within the hour) worked better than the £50 normal fan we bought the next day

if our cordless Dyson vacuum cleaner hadn’t broken just after 1 year when the guarantee had expired, and if the subsequent Tax vacuum we bought wasn’t a better performer in every area for a third of the price

and if James Dyson wasn’t a staunch Brexiteer who has much of his production undertaken abroad. I will never buy a Dyson product again.

Strict new laws to stop phone use while driving

Making calls, texting, taking photos or videos, scrolling through playlists and playing games will all be prohibited. Anyone caught using their hand-held device while driving could face a fine of up to £1,000 as well as six points on their licence… More here.

This is such a difficult area to build rules for, but if anything I see more people using their phones while driving, especially delivery drivers, than ever before.

Video of people trying to avoid drowning will now not be sold for profit

After significant backlash, the Associated Press pulled plans to offer a video of a boat overcrowded with migrants as an NFT. The situation has called into question the ethics of selling photojournalism at all… More here.

This was an unbelievably tone deaf idea. Even if you don’t consider NFTs to be silly, the subject matter is not something that could reasonably be considered profitable. How on earth did this get through without anyone in the chain raising objections?

The HUAWEI MatePad Paper

There’s more than just books though, as this seems like a fully-functioning productivity device with emails, calendars, certain apps available to download from the Huawei App Gallery, handwriting conversion (using the stylus), connectivity between the Paper and a smartphone or PC, voice recording, video playback and more… More here.

Almost. This does look good, but the limitations of e-ink remain. Give me an e-ink phone that does most things and I would be on board in a heartbeat.

Where is the personality in tech?

For geeks who want more than just a standard MagSafe charger for their den, the UFO MagSafe Wireless Charger will be the preferred choice. This cute-looking accessory for the Apple ecosystem is currently just a concept design, but we want to see it make it to the shelves. It’s like a UFO riding on the back of your iPhone 13 minus, all the shenanigans of gimmicky gadgets. The accessory is minimalistic in form and doesn’t go overboard with the spaceship design. UFO MagSafe strikes on first look and doesn’t fade away like other flashy accessories. In fact, it grows on me every time I have a glance at the realistic renders to churn out this write-up… More here.

You could look at this concept design and think that it is childish, or you could ask yourself where the fun and personality has gone in new technology? You could ask yourself if everything is becoming too Apple-ised and you would be right to question it. I think it is time for some more fun to be included in new tech designs. Do you?

Working for a fake design agency

Chris Doocey, a 27-year-old sales manager based in Manchester, started at Madbird in October 2020, a few months before the Zoom call. He would be working from home, but the pandemic was still raging, so that was normal. Covid had upended Chris’s life. It had cost him his last job and was the reason he’d applied for this role at Madbird. The ad described a “human-centred digital design agency born in London, running worldwide”. It sounded good… More here.

A very strange situation, but a fascinating read. Thanks to Andrew.