As more cases of coronavirus, COVID-19, appear in yet more countries, people are starting to freak out about catching it. The problem doesn’t stop there, though. The corresponding punch in the gut to the tech industry will have far-reaching effects–beyond not being able to buy the latest version of your favorite device.
Besides bringing health protocols to a high alert status, the coronavirus is creating a secondary scare in the tech industry. Some companies have massive portions of their supply chain and production based in China, some in Wuhan, where the virus first began to spread. The tech industry is definitely taking a painful hit. The virus is affecting supply, production, delivery, and sales.
In turn, tech company stocks are starting to tank, at least temporarily. Apple, Amazon, Microsoft. Facebook, Google reportedly lost more than $230 billion in a day. Ouch, buddy. That’s gonna leave a mark.
The fear remains that this is only the beginning. With coronavirus having landed in at least 48 countries, the fear is not unfounded. As countries scramble to deal with containment, treatment, and educating their populace, Wall Street and other major stock markets are predicting a global economic slowdown.
As of this writing, the coronavirus is not yet an official pandemic, according to WHO. This may change. A lot is riding on getting the spread of the virus under control. Doctors and scientists frantically work on a way to treat or cure it. Meanwhile, news agencies, public health organizations such as the WHO and the CDC work to dispel rumors, replacing them with timely and practical information. The big takeaways: wash your hands often, cover your mouth when you cough, stay home if you’re sick.
Smartphone producers are bound to be the worst impacted, with production predicted to decline 12 percent this quarter compared to previous years, reaching a 5-year low. The Mobile World Congress cancelled their annual phone show in Barcelona due to the virus. The MWC is one of, if not the, the biggest phone show in the world.
Apple announced they will not meet their quarterly goals, due to the impact of the coronavirus, hitting the tech giant on a few levels. Factories have been closed, though some are already reopening. Apple isn’t only feeling the impact due to supply and production concerns, but also because their global sales goals include sales within China, and sales are down.
Predictions are similarly dismal for smartwatches, laptop PCs, and smart speakers. The DRAM and NAND flash markets will likely stay on top of things, as they have production largely automated.
Amazon has not yet voiced much about their own issues, but we know from the stock market that it can’t be pretty. Amazon also has an estimated half of its products coming out of China. Like the other big companies, they are poised to lose a lot and see their stock value stripped of its sheen.
Video game console manufacturing is another industry to watch. However, they seem fairly protected for now, with the bulk of their business taking place toward the end of the year. New product launches, the PS5 and Xbox Series X will launch closer to the winter holidays, which gives the science industry pros time to fight and contain the spread of COVID-19 before it causes too much chaos in the gaming industry.
We have yet to see where this will all end. COVID-19 is on the move, and it’s taking these tech giants–and our global economy–on a scary, roller coaster ride. Despite the stock market taking a nosedive and tech labor and supply streams being hard-hit, you’re still more likely to catch the flu than the coronavirus. While we watch for better news, cross your fingers and remember to wash your hands. This one’s coming in hot.
Not just for gaming: How virtual reality can save PTSD patients
(TECH NEWS) Thanks to its ability to simulate situations safely, virtual reality technologies are proving effective in therapy for PTSD patients.
Over the last year, a great many people have developed a new and sometimes dangerous relationship with a new emotional state, anxiety. I know that personally I’d never had a panic attack in my life until the middle of the pandemic. For many these emotions have taken the form of actual disorders. Actual mental influences which affect everyday life on a large scale. One of the most common forms of which is PTSD.
This disorder has many different aspects and can affect people in a number of different and debilitating ways. Finding treatments for PTSD patients and other anxiety disorders – especially treatments that don’t involve drugging people into oblivion has been difficult.
A lot of these disorders require exposure therapy. Putting people back into similar situations which caused the original trauma so that their brains can adjust to the situation and not get stuck in pain or panic loops. But how do you do that for things like battlefield trauma. You can’t just create situations with gunfire and dead bodies! Or can you?
This is where VR starts coming in. Thanks to the falling cost of VR headsets, noted by The Economist, psychologists are more capable of creating these real world situations that can actually help people adjust to their individual trauma.
One therapist went so far as to compare it to easy access opioids for therapy. This tool is so powerful that of the 20 veterans that they started with, 16 of them no longer qualify for the categories of PTSD. That’s a 75% success rate with an over-the-counter medicine. I can think of antihistamines and painkillers that aren’t that good.
I’ve grown up around PTSD patients. The majority of my family have been in the military. I was even looking at a career before I was denied service. I have enough friends that deal with PTSD issues that I have a list of things I remember not to invite certain people to so as not to trigger it. Any and every tool available that could help people adapt to their trauma is worthwhile.
Tired of email spam? This silly, petty solution might provide vindication
(TECH NEWS) If you struggle to keep your inbox clean thanks to a multitude of emails, the widget “You’ve Got Spam” could provide some petty catharsis.
We’re all spending a lot of time behind our computers and inside of our inboxes these days, so it makes sense that some people—not naming names—might be sick of seeing several unsolicited emails a day from marketers and other unsavory businesses.
While we can’t recommend a mature, adult solution that hasn’t already been beaten to death (looking at you, “inbox zero” crowd), we can recommend a childish one: Signing solicitors up for spam.
If you do decide to go the petty route, “You’ve Got Spam”—a free email widget from MSCHF—has you covered. Upon installing the widget, you can configure it to respond automatically to incoming cold-marketing emails with tons of subscriptions to spam sources, thus resulting in overwhelming the sender with a crowded inbox and cultivating a potentially misplaced sense of catharsis for yourself.
The widget itself is fairly simple: You only need to install it to Gmail from the MSCHF website. The rest is pretty self-explanatory. When you receive an email from a person from whom you can safely assume you’ll never be receiving favors ever again, you can open it and click the “You’ve Got Spam” icon to sign the sender up for spam lists galore.
See? Petty, but effective.
The developer page does fail to make the distinction between the promised “100” subscriptions and the “hundreds of spam subscriptions” discussed on Product Hunt. But one can assume that anyone who dares trespass on the sacred grounds of your squeaky-clean inbox will rue the day they did so regardless of the exact number of cat litter magazine subscriptions they receive.
Of course, actually using something like “You’ve Got Spam” is, realistically, a poor choice. It takes exactly as much effort to type, “We’ll pass – thanks!” as a response to anyone cold-emailing you, and you’re substantially less likely to piss off the actual human being on the other side by doing so. Services like this are heavy on the comedic shock value, but the empathy side tends to lack a discernible presence.
That said, if you absolutely must wreck someone’s day—and inbox—MSCHF’s “You’ve Got Spam” is a pretty ingenious way to do it.
Clubhouse finally made it to Android, but has its time passed?
(TECH NEWS) Social media felt the impact of Clubhouse, but the internet moves fast, and even though it is finally on Android, it’s time may be waning.
Clubhouse finally got an Android release, and while many people clamored for such a thing months ago, others argue that it’s too little, too late.
If you aren’t familiar with Clubhouse, it’s an audio-only “social platform” that encourages discussions through live chat rooms. Users can drop into various rooms and listen to people talk, request the option to chime in, and follow a variety of rooms (or “topics”) to stay engaged over time. Users can even create their own rooms that feature them as speakers.
Clubhouse also has a certain allure to it in that the app requires new users to put their names on a waitlist that creates an “invite-only” culture of exclusivity.
But while iPhone users have had access to Clubhouse since its inception, Android users have been not-so-patiently waiting for their own release—and, now that Clubhouse for Android is available, it may have outstayed its welcome.
Part of the problem is the launch itself. The Android Clubhouse app launched with limited functionality; Android users weren’t able to follow the topics they like, change their account information, and so on. This made the release feel underwhelming, further highlighting Clubhouse’s affinity for Apple users.
A more complicated problem is the prevalence of audio options in other social media services. Slack, for example, recently released their audio-only rooms, and services such as Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram have placed a spotlight on voice-only mediums of expression.
Initially, Clubhouse was the only app to incorporate audio as a strong central focus, but the ubiquitous fascination with voice-posting has expanded to comprise most major communication platforms. As such, Clubhouse’s sought-after exclusivity is no more—something that was also arguably damaged by expanding to Android.
It should be noted that interest in the app itself is decreasing, and not just on Android. Social Media Today reported that, in March of 2021, Clubhouse downloads were down 72 percent from February’s 9.6 million downloads. The publication also pointed out that difficulty finding rooms was a substantial issue that is unlikely to do anything but worsen with a surge of Android users, necessitating some back-end fixes from the owners.
As it sits, Clubhouse is still very much in use, and Android users are poised to reignite interest as iOS users stagnate. Whether or not that interest will persevere in the current social media ecosystem remains to be seen.
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