When a young relative gave me a robot vacuum last Christmas, I got excited. Sure, it wasn’t a Roomba, only a $140 knockoff. But it jump-started my vacuum adventure.
The “LeFant 300 M” robot did a great job, but I had to babysit it. It would go back and forth, practically on the same path, on a faux Persian rug from Home Depot, though it did better on wall-to-wall carpet. After awhile, I got bored and left the room. That’s when disaster struck. It made a beeline for the strings that pull up the blinds. After having a good chew, it burned itself out. I could still start it up, but after a few seconds it would stop and bleat wildly. I gave up on it, turning to a heavy Kenmore upright.
A few weeks ago, a cordless, stick vacuum came in for review. Unlike my Dyson V7 stick — which conked out on me after a few years — the “ROIDXI X30 Pro” comes with a “HEPA” filter, and a patented antimicrobial agent. It doubles as a mop with its own magnetic water tank. I can go around the room from rug to floor to carpet, almost noiselessly. It’s not available yet, but a similar model, the ROIDMI Cordless Stick NEX 20, is $449 on Amazon.
The parent company, Xiaomi, also makes robot vacuums. In addition, it has 10% of the global smartphone market. Last week, speaking of its latest phone, the “Mi 10 Ultra,” Forbes Magazine said: “Apple iPhone and Samsung Galaxy Beaten by Another Radical New Smartphone.”
Falling in Love Through Tech
Falling in love in the tech age is quicker. But today’s tech may be too fast.
Bob Schwabach and I were the opposite of quick. We met on the phone when I was pitching a tech product for a public relations agency in California. We wrote snail mail letters to each other for two years. After a couple more years, he sent me a book he’d written; it had his email address inside. That accelerated everything, launching our great tech adventure and eventual marriage.
Email is great. Back then, it was somewhat new. As our courtship heated up, we began emailing each other several times a day. But we didn’t forget the old tech. Bob’s landline phone bill cost more than his apartment rent.
Many people these days send more text messages than email. But a young couple I read about ditched it entirely. They were tired of being misinterpreted. They also discovered the joy of having lots to catch up on when they met in person or talked on the phone.
Another disgruntled texter I read about had a phone that automatically added three dots to the end of every message. His contacts thought he was giving them the stink eye. Writing his boss “I’ll think about it…” sounded presumptuous. The guy’s relationships didn’t heal until he got a new phone.
The rule for text messaging should be the same as Bob Schwabach’s rule for journalism: “Keep it light, tight and trite.”
The Blockchain Revisited
The experts are divided: Is the so-called “blockchain” the best thing since sliced bread or is it a dud? An article in TheCorrespondent.com is a real eye-opener.
For those of you who just tuned in to this topic, the blockchain is like a giant Excel spreadsheet used to keep track of data. It was built to handle Bitcoin, which lets you transfer money without using a bank. Unlike a regular spreadsheet, no one’s in charge of it. You can view it or add to it, but you can’t edit it. It cuts out the middleman, saves money and is more secure. But it’s still in its infancy.
According to Bloomberg, the blockchain is a $700 million industry. “Wow,” you might be thinking. Think again. Americans spend $9 billion just on Halloween. Out of 86,000 blockchain projects, 92% of them were abandoned by the end of 2017. On the other hand, IBM and Microsoft, among others, have whole blockchain divisions.
Some of the activity recorded on the blockchain is shadowy. For example, drug dealers have used it to sell drugs as a mail-order business, banking on the blockchain’s anonymity. But their identities are linked to a number, and if that number can be linked to names, it’s game over.
Here are some additional features:
● It’s great for improving food safety. Walmart uses it to track 25 products, including pork sold in Chinese outlets and mangoes sold in the U.S.
● A service called “Santander One Pay FX” lets customers make same-day or next-day international payments using the blockchain.
● There’s less possibility of illegal downloads, especially in the entertainment industry: MGM is using it for global streaming.
● It can prevent hackers from disrupting payments between individuals, in apps such as Venmo.
● It makes an end run around government corruption. I’ll never forget the guy who wanted to sell a condo in Argentina back in 2014. If he hadn’t used the blockchain, the government would probably have confiscated his entire profit.
● Foodtimeline.org tells you the history of food. Who knew that popcorn was eaten as early as 3500 B.C.? Or that cheesecake was enjoyed in the first century?
● WaiverSign.com. Need a waiver for your business? Maybe you teach yoga in the park; you need a waiver in case someone’s downward dog lands on a real dog. You can do it digitally with this app. There’s a free trial at WaiverSign.com, then it’s $10 a month.