Nature Changes The Urban Brain

Gretchen Reynolds, The New York Times:

These results “strongly suggest that getting out into natural environments” could be an easy and almost immediate way to improve moods for city dwellers, Mr. Bratman said.

Gregory Bratman is a graduate student at the Emmett Interdisciplinary Program in Environment and Resources at Stanford University and studies how urban living affects our psychology. Bratman et al. published a paper titled “Nature experience reduces rumination and subgenual prefrontal cortex activation”. You can read the abstract at PNAS (Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America), but here’s the really short version: Urbanization is linked to increased levels of mental illness like depression and urbanites can improve their moods by being exposed to natural environments.

Z Camera

The Z Camera is claimed to be the world’s smallest interchangeable lens Micro Four Thirds (MFT) 4K camera. Think of it as a Go Pro with a MFT image sensor and interchangeable lenses. Renamed E1, it’s on Kickstarter, and ends August 15, 2015. Looks good, but I can’t help but think Panasonic, Olympus, or Go Pro might simply purchase the company.

I Just Want Apple Music Off My Devices

via John Gruber. Jim Dalrymple:

As if all of that wasn’t enough, Apple Music gave me one more kick in the head. Over the weekend, I turned off Apple Music and it took large chunks of my purchased music with it. Sadly, many of the songs were added from CDs years ago that I no longer have access to. Looking at my old iTunes Match library, before Apple Music, I’m missing about 4,700 songs. At this point, I just don’t care anymore, I just want Apple Music off my devices.

I trusted my data to Apple and they failed. I also failed by not backing up my library before installing Apple Music. I will not make either of those mistakes again.

I’m going to listen to what’s left of my music library, and try to figure out all of the songs I have to buy again. I’ll also download Spotify and reactivate the account I cancelled with them a couple of weeks ago.

The latest way to listen to music is to have a computer (smartphone, tablet, laptop, desktop), a music app, and stream your music. Some streaming services have ads and you pay a monthly fee to get rid of them. Others limit some capabilities and you pay to restore them. When you listen to music this way you’re paying for the experience of listening to music, unlimited music yes, but you own nothing.

Like Dalrymple I have music ripped from CDs. Lots of them. When I first signed up for Apple’s Music Match service about a year ago, I thought it was a great idea. Then I found Google Play Music that did the same thing, for free. Google Play Music lets me stream my own music on my desktop, laptop, or smartphone. I seldom stream music I don’t own, because I like listening to the music I’ve collected over the years. Makes sense: we collect what we like. If for some reason I trusted Apple with all of my music — I never did, and I now know I should never — deleted those off of my drives thinking my music is safe with Apple, and then Apple wiped thousands of them (probably because of some dude’s programming error), I would be furious.

My trust in Apple continues to erode. (My 2009 MacBook Pro started acting erratically the moment I upgraded to OS X 10.10 Yosemite; despite many patches and fixes it still hangs whenever it wants. It is hot and the fans spin furiously; the only way to shut it up is to long press the power button. The cheaper and older white MacBook, white iMac, and Mac mini work just fine; I will not upgrade them to Yosemite though.) Another thing I won’t try: Apple Music.

Self-Driving Car Subscription

I don’t want to own a car.

Instead, I want a car subscription: 500 miles per month for $50, or unlimited miles for more. I want a self-driving electric car that shows up when I need it. It knows:

And add to that, I don’t

And all the bad drivers here in Silicon Valley won’t piss me off anymore. With a self-driving electric car at my beck and call, I can relax. Getting somewhere will be pleasant again.

The Electric Car

Geoff Ralston:

Gas stations are not massively profitable businesses. When 10% of the vehicles on the road are electric many of them will go out of business. This will immediately make driving a gasoline powered car more inconvenient. When that happens even more gasoline car owners will be convinced to switch and so on. Rapidly a tipping point will be reached, at which point finding a convenient gas station will be nearly impossible and owning a gasoline powered car will positively suck.

I haven’t thought about the gas station variable in my equation for an electric car future. I simply thought gas stations would add solar power roofs (or use gas to generate electricity) for electric chargers and/or replacement battery packs. But as gas stations focus more on electric car customers, driving a gas-powered car will become inconvenient.

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