Casual chat over some tea talking about cool tech news and discussing life updates!
Hi, 👋 folks!
Welcome to the 6th edition of my monthly newsletter — Boba Train.
The drink of choice today is, again, not actually a Boba! Instead, it’s Starbucks’ Paradise Drink refresher beverage.
For this edition, I have made some changes to the format to make it easier to read. I would appreciate any feedback that you have.
With that said, let’s get started.
Quote of the Month
You’ll never change your life until you change something you do daily. The secret to your success is found in your daily routine.
What Am I Thinking About?
Palm Scanning Technology
Both a great feat of engineering and a privacy nightmare, Amazon’s new palm-scanning payment technology is coming to all 500+ Whole Foods locations.
This is how it works:
- The customer hovers their palms above a device similar to a credit card reader
- The reader device identifies the individual’s unique palm signature (privacy nightmare!)
- Amazon uses the signature to look up the customer’s account and finds their preferred payment method details (credit card information)
- The customer is charged for the purchase
When the migration away from physical cash started, we went to our mobile phone’s contactless payments through NFC, then to our smartwatches, and now without any device at all. To me, that looks like a natural progression.
But, this is a privacy nightmare. By using this technology we will be giving our biometric signature — something that is deep and personal — to a company that has been found out countless times to have employed questionable practices when it comes to using user’s audio and video data.
Take a moment to really think about the kind of access you are giving Amazon:
- Alexa devices in your bedrooms
- Ring security cameras inside and outside your home
- Biometrics information to uniquely identify you
That’s scary! If I were you, I would stay far away from this technology, no matter how convenient it is.
Yet Another Data Leak
Toyota Japan exposed millions of vehicles’ location data for a decade. Let that sink in.
What was leaked?
- User’s registered email addresses
- Vehicle-unique chassis and navigation terminal numbers
- Location of vehicles and what time they were there
- Inside footage of the car
Two privacy nightmare stories in the same newsletter — that’s when you know something needs to change.
We give away our life’s most private information too easily to companies nowadays. Without giving it a minute’s thought, we give companies access to live video and audio feeds from our bedrooms, vehicles, and even bathrooms (people put Alexa devices to listen to music in their bathrooms!).
If you are not careful, it’s only a matter of time before your deepest and darkest secrets will spill out in some corner of the internet.
Chicken Made From Cultivated Cells
How can we have a Boba Train newsletter without an update from the alternative meat world out there?
For the first time, US regulators approved the sale of chicken made from animal cells, allowing 2 California companies to offer “lab-grown” meat to the nation’s restaurant tables and eventually, supermarket shelves.
I have talked in length about the moral, ethical, and environmental issues of killing animals, especially in factory farms.
That’s what motivated me to lead a vegan lifestyle for about a year, before transitioning to a pescatarian one in the last few months.
So, for me, this is great news! But, we are still decades away from mainstream adoption. Here’s a scary stat for you:
The best lab facility for cultivated meat can produce up to 50,000 pounds of meat every year. Currently, the US produces about 50 Billion pounds of chicken every year.
That’s why we are a few decades away.
Yet, it’s promising.
What Am I Reading?
After a slow April and May, starting June I was back to reading consistently.
Most of my reading comes from the following sources:
I learned a great deal about the relationship between processed foods and brain health from this NYT post. Staying on the topic of health, here’s another brilliant piece on the Mediterranean diet, and one on gut microbiome.
Switching gears, I really enjoyed coming across this super helpful iPhone productivity post on Medium.
On the matter of the recent Supreme Court decision on “Equal Protection”, this opinion piece on NTY, was very informative and educational.
Finally, on to books, I finally finished Seneca’s “Letters from a Stoic” and started reading a new book (that I am flying through!)
📕 Letters from a Stoic by Seneca — ⭐⭐ (2/5)
Even after trying really hard to like it, I just couldn’t. The book was very dry, slow-paced, and difficult to comprehend.
On the other hand, I started reading Incognito: The Secret Lives of the Brain by David Eagleman, and have been blown away. It is one of the most fascinating books that I have come across.
Stay tuned for my review on this in the next Boba Train edition.
What Am I Listening?
Podcast-wise, it’s been a slow couple of weeks.
Surprisingly, the only good listens were during my road trip to the Blue Mountains.
If you like to learn about Alien Civilizations and Habitable Worlds, you might like this episode from Lex Fridman Podcast.
There’s also a good one from Cal Newport called “The Deep Life Stack”.
What Am I Recommending?
Recently, I have found myself playing 4K/8K scenic relaxation videos in the background, whenever I am doing something that does not require 100% of my focus.
A few cool ones I came across — The Himalayas 4K, Faroe Islands 4K, Animal Safari 4K — all of them from a YouTube channel called Scenic Relaxation.
I also spent a lot of time watching privacy videos. A few channels I highly recommend you check out:
With the amount of data companies collect, it’s important to understand how your digital life is being exploited, and what can you do to protect against it.
When it comes to reading, I will recommend all the NYT articles I mentioned above, as well as the book: Incognito: The Secret Lives of the Brain by David Eagleman.
What Am I Writing?
Most of what I wrote the last few weeks, talked about my recent trip to Banff and Jasper, as well as some travel hacks and credit cards. I will list all of them below. Feel free to pick whatever you think you’ll enjoy reading.
Banff & Jasper roadtrip
Alright, folks, that’s the end to yet another month of enjoying and learning.
If you enjoyed reading and got some good recommendations, please check out the previous editions. I will link them below for your convenience.
See y’all again in a month. Cheers!
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