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Could Somewear Be Creating The Ultimate Sat-Comms Tool?

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A group of former Silicon Valley tech developers are trying to create the ultimate satellite communication device. The Somewear Global Hot Spot, which launched on Kickstarter earlier this month, connects to an iPhone or Android phone via Bluetooth, turning it into a two-way satellite communication tool.

By way of the Iridium satellite network, the Global Hot Spot has a host of features for staying connected in the backcountry, all in a thin, three-inch disk. Through an app, users will be able to send messages to regular phone numbers and email addresses, which means texting with friends, family, and even rescuers. Users will also be able to connect to the Somewear servers, which use your device’s GPS coordinates to offer location-specific weather updates. Of course, the Global Hot Spot also has an SOS button that sends a geotagged rescue call to the nearest search and rescue operation and the ability to drop automatic GPS pins at predetermined intervals, so folks can track you from home without you having to remember to send them a message.

somewear
(Courtesy Somewear)

We have yet to try the Global Hot Spot for ourselves, but on paper the device seems to fill a fundamental gap in the satellite communications market. It’s not doing anything other tools don’t already do; it’s just doing it in a lighter, more user-friendly way. For years, customers had two choices aside from a satellite phone: the Spot Gen 3—which is small and light but limited to one-way communication—and the Garmin InReach, which has two-way messaging and the ability to connect to a phone but in a bigger, heavier package. Both have SOS functions. There’s also the GoTenna Mesh, which works on radio frequencies, rather than satellites. The Mesh requires you to be within a few miles of other Mesh users to send a message, rendering it useless if you’re in a remote place far from other Mesh users trying to send a message to someone miles away.

The Somewear fits between the Spot and the InReach. It’s roughly the same size as the Spot but lighter, weighing in at three ounces, and it has all the functionality of the InReach. “Outdoor technology products have always been designed to be rugged, and user experience often takes a back seat,” says James Kubik, president and co-founder of Somewear. “We’ve done a ton of user research and found that with InReach and Spot, this leads to people giving up and leaving these devices at home, where they’re not helping anyone stay safe.” At $450, the Global Hot Spot will be more expensive than both the InReach and the Spot. Month-to-month satellite subscriptions will cost $15 (20 messages per month), $25 (75 messages per month), or $50 (unlimited messages). For comparison, the Spot Gen 3 basic service plan costs $20 per month with unlimited messages (users can upgrade to two-minute pin tracking), while Garmin’s monthly plans cost $15, $35, $65, and $100 and range from ten messages per month with a charge per GPS pin to unlimited messages and GPS pins.

Big-mountain snowboarder Jeremy Jones has spent the past winter testing the new Hot Spot. He and Kubik met at a movie premier in California, and Kubik pulled Jones aside to show him a prototype. “I was immediately like, ‘Yes! I need this device every day,’” Jones says. He began beta testing, and almost immediately the Global Hot Spot became his go-to satellite comms device because of how lightweight it is relative to its functionality.

“It’s like my first-aid kit,” Jones says. “It’s not something I’m looking to use all the time.” The Somewear device is light enough for Jones to shove in the bottom of his pack but allows him the two-way communication he needs to talk to rescuers or just let his wife know he’s safe.

With 15 days left in its Kickstarter campaign, Somewear Labs has accrued nearly double its $50,000 funding goal—an indication, at the very least, that there is a market for this kind of lightweight, user-friendly satellite safety device. (The Somewear is available for presale at a $150 discount, with 10 percent off the first six months of a subscription.) Will it live up to the hype? We’ll be able to tell in a few months, when we get to put one to the test.

Pre-order now

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skorgu
12 hours ago
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Ctrl-F "battery" 0 results.

Sounds potentially great but I have Several Questions.
mokelly
1 day ago
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Ice breaker question

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Ice-breaker question I came up with a few years ago that I call the “off-diagonal” question: Tell me about something you love doing that you’re terrible at. And tell me about something you really do not like doing that you’re great at.

That is from Mike Kim on Twitter.

The post Ice breaker question appeared first on Marginal REVOLUTION.

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skorgu
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Closing the racial wealth gap: debunking 10 common myths

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A report called What We Get Wrong About Closing the Racial Wealth Gap was released this month by a group of economists and researchers from Samuel DuBois Cook Center on Social Equity at Duke University and the Insight Center for Community Economic Development. They report that the racial wealth gap in the United States is “large and shows no signs of closing”; this holds true at all levels in the wealth spectrum:

The white household living near the poverty line typically has about $18,000 in wealth, while black households in similar economic straits typically have a median wealth near zero. This means, in turn, that many black families have a negative net worth.

The 99th percentile black family is worth a mere $1,574,000 while the 99th percentile white family is worth over 12 million dollars. This means over 870,000 white families have a net worth above 12 million dollars, while, out of the 20 million black families in America, fewer than 380,000 are even worth a single million dollars. By comparison, over 13 million of the total 85 million white families are millionaires or better.

The authors then address ten common myths about the racial wealth gap, many of which are just straight-up racist — if only blacks just worked harder, saved more, learned more about financial literacy, etc. — particularly the one about black family disorganization:

The increasing rate of single parent households is often invoked to explain growing inequality, and the prevalence of black single motherhood is often seen as a driver of racial wealth inequities. These explanations tend to confuse consequence and cause and are largely driven by claims that if blacks change their behavior, they would see marked increases in wealth accumulation. This is a dangerous narrative that is steeped in racist stereotypes.

Single motherhood is a reflection of inequality, not a cause. White women still have considerably more wealth than black women, regardless whether or not they are raising children. In fact, single white women with kids have the same amount of wealth as single black women without kids. Recent research also reveals that the median single-parent white family has more than twice the wealth of the median black or Latino family with two parents. These data show that economic benefits that are typically associated with marriage will not close the racial wealth gap (Traub et al. 2017). Having the “ideal” family type does not enable black households to substantially reduce the racial gulf in wealth.

And overall, the authors conclude that the wealth gap is structural in nature, cannot be solved through the individual actions of blacks, and can only be solved through “a major redistributive effort or another major public policy intervention to build black American wealth”.

These myths support a point of view that identifies dysfunctional black behaviors as the basic cause of persistent racial inequality, including the black-white wealth disparity, in the United States. We systematically demonstrate here that a narrative that places the onus of the racial wealth gap on black defectiveness is false in all of its permutations.

We challenge the conventional set of claims that are made about the racial wealth gap in the United States. We contend that the cause of the gap must be found in the structural characteristics of the American economy, heavily infused at every point with both an inheritance of racism and the ongoing authority of white supremacy.

Gosh, it’s almost like if one group of people owned another group of people for hundreds of years — like the wealth of the group was literally the bodies, minds, and souls of the members of the other group — and then systematically and economically discriminated against them for another 100+ years, it’s nearly impossible for them to catch up. (via @eveewing)

Tags: economics   racism   USA
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skorgu
1 day ago
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jhamill
3 days ago
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California
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1 public comment
cjheinz
3 days ago
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#tweeted

Flickr acquired by professional photo hosting service SmugMug

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Flickr has been bought by professional photo hosting service SmugMug for an undisclosed price, according to a report from USA Today . The fate of Flickr has been up in the air as part of the ongoing decline of Yahoo, which was bought by Verizon last year $4.5 billion dollars and combined with AOL into Oath.

Yahoo itself had bought Flickr back in 2005 for $35 million, but never really seemed to know what to do with the service up until the end, even as it tried various redesigns and new services to revive Flickr, it never succeeded in mounting a comeback against more modern alternatives like Instagram. “Flickr has survived through thick-and-thin and is core to the entire fabric of the Internet,” SmugMug CEO Don MacAskill told USA Today.

SmugMug isn’t doing away with that legacy; the company intends to keep Flickr as a standalone community and give it more resources and attention than Oath did. But technology-wise, this acquisition might be a tall order for SmugMug, which isn’t nearly as big as the photo service it now owns.

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skorgu
1 day ago
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Interesting. Maybe someone will care about it again?
satadru
2 days ago
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Anybody have a good way of downloading all of your flickr photos for import into google photos?
New York, NY
fxer
1 day ago
I've got nothing to base it on personally, but the HN comment thread expressed a lot of optimism about the new owners. I mean under Oath it was just gonna die anyway.
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Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal - Geometry

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Click here to go see the bonus panel!

Hovertext:
You can also just use an infinite quantity of compasses as on-off switches.

New comic!
Today's News:

4/5ths of BAHFest tickets are gone! Get'em while they're extant.

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skorgu
3 days ago
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The value of a statistical human life under Stalin

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We examine the value of a statistical life (VSL) in interwar Soviet Union. Our approach requires to address the preferences of Stalin. We model these on the basis of the policy of statistical repression, which was an integral part of the Great Terror. We use regional variation in the victims generated by this policy to structurally estimate the value that Stalin would have been willing to accept for a reduction in citizens’ fatality risk. Our estimate of this value is $43,151, roughly 6% of the VSL estimate in 1940’s US and 29% of the VSL estimate in modern India.

That is from a new paper by Paul Castañeda Dower, Andrei Markevich, and Shlomo Weber.  For the pointer I thank the excellent Kevin Lewis.

The post The value of a statistical human life under Stalin appeared first on Marginal REVOLUTION.

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skorgu
5 days ago
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