The Tech You Love – The New York Times

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The Tech You Love – The New York Times

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Everything in life has trade-offs. You can eat that delicious ice cream, but at a cost to your waistline. In technology, the trade-offs can be dire. The cool and useful technology you love might accuse the wrong person of a crime or enable four companies to have vast influence over our lives.

But look, I’ve been writing a lot recently about the downsides to our (metaphorical) waistlines from technology, and I wanted to indulge in a little ice cream.

So I asked our On Tech readers to tell us about the technology that makes their life fabulous. About 100 of you had suggestions, from the universal to the obscure. One reader waxed poetic about the thermos, which is not what I had in mind but I WILL ALLOW IT. (A fancy Japanese travel mug is my favorite possession.)

Thanks to our On Tech editor Hanna Ingber for picking a selection of gems. They have been lightly edited. Wave hello at Hanna through your screen.

I am a 73-year-old woman living alone with chronic health issues. Ever since my first candy-bar phone, I have felt safer because help is just a phone number away, even on the most deserted road. The confidence and self-reliance my phone affords me cannot be overstated, but I think it makes my son who lives 850 miles from me feel better too. — Barbara Sloan, Conway, S.C.

My favorite tech invention: the thermos. You put in something hot and it stays hot; you put in something cold and it stays cold. But how does it know? — Tom Schroeder, San Diego

As an avid reader, I was sure nothing could surpass the feel of a paper book in my hands … until I experienced the ease of binge reading an entire series over the course of a weekend without leaving the house because I can purchase each new book instantaneously. — Jen V., Cedar Rapids, Iowa

I became a paraplegic 15 years ago. Ebay and Amazon have been instrumental in allowing me to be a fussy shopper without leaving my home. — Derek Porritt, Toronto

A little over a year ago I purchased a late model car that has blind-spot detection technology, and it’s great! It has saved me (several times) from being hit by drivers either trying to pass on the right or from cars traveling in my blind spot in a left hand lane that sped up when I put on the directional signal. — Steve Filipek, Hastings-on-Hudson, N.Y.

When traveling to places where I don’t speak the language and people don’t speak English I really appreciate having Google Images, because you can just show them a picture of what you want and hand signs will fix the rest! This would of course work with any search engine. — Zhuzhell Montano, Braunschweig, Germany

Here are three potential minefields that Microsoft might be wading into:

Is Microsoft buying a husk of an app? As my colleague Kevin Roose wrote in his latest column, part of TikTok’s success is its computer formula that shows people one video after another tailored to their tastes.

Microsoft is negotiating to buy the TikTok app in four countries, with its current owner, ByteDance, keeping the rest. Kevin asked whether Microsoft would get the keys to TikTok’s algorithm in a possible takeover. If not, Microsoft might be paying a ton of money without getting TikTok’s secret sauce.

Owning an online gathering place is a nightmare: Greg Bensinger, a member of The New York Times editorial board, asked whether Microsoft is prepared to take over TikTok and deal with dangerous PizzaGate conspiracies, bullying of children, misinformation about the coronavirus and many more horrors.

Because Microsoft mostly sells boring software to businesses, it has largely been left out of the recent questions about whether America’s tech giants are too big or bad. Does Microsoft see the constant hot water that Facebook is in and think, “Yes, please?”

The possibility of retaliation from (at least) one government: Imagine a year from now if Microsoft does something that annoys a U.S. government official. I can already see the tweet or a speech in Congress that says, “The U.S. government handed Microsoft a deal of a lifetime, and now it’s betraying us by [fill-in-the-blank grievance].”

In politics, good deeds — and pushing TikTok into Microsoft’s arms might count as a good deed — usually come with strings attached.

A fuzzy duckling runs (or wobbles) up and down a path.

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