Numlock News: October 7, 2019 • Space Batteries, Candy Crush, Netflix

By Walt Hickey

Welcome back!


The Samsung Galaxy Fold is an exciting new mobile device with a foldable screen, though that innovation has caused engineering difficulties that have already led to a sizeable delay in product rollout. Samsung estimated that a person would fold a phone 200,000 times over a five-year period, 100 folds per day for five years. CNET put it to the test on a robotic folding device, and the device got to just 119,380 folds over the course of 14 hours before giving out. Sure, I was going to criticize it, but then I thought about how long it would take me to do 119,390 sit-ups and, based on the results of the Presidential Physical Fitness Test taken in my literal athletic prime, gonna cede this one to the Fold, great phone I’m really proud of you.

Christine Fisher, Engadget

Battery Swap

The International Space Station is in the shop, getting a battery upgrade that will keep the station operational through the end of its projected life. It will take five spacewalks to complete, but astronauts are installing six new lithium-ion batteries to replace the 12 ten-year-old batteries that currently power the laboratory. The new batteries weighed 400 pounds on earth, and are each about half the size of a refrigerator. The amount of human labor needed to install the batteries — they’re installed beyond the reach of the station’s robotic arm — means that there will be that first all-female spacewalk later this month.

Marcia Dunn, The Associated Press


The fee at an American ATM machine has hit an average $4.72 for a machine that is not owned by your bank, the highest ever measured by Bankrate since it began collecting data in 1998, back when it cost an average of $1.97 to obtain cash from an out-of-network ATM. The average surcharge charged by machine owners is $3.09. When banks have a fee for using an ATM outside of the network, the average fee is $1.63. This is bad news for literally every American who is not me; when I left college to move to a city where my bank didn’t have locations, the financial institution made the foolhardy decision to cover all ATM fees in the New York metro indefinitely. I also hate this bank with a passion, and if I could I would literally go out of my way to conduct all my banking at strip club ATMs if it meant my awful bank would have to eat that fee.

Jennifer A. Kingston, Axios


Joker made $93.5 million domestically this past weekend, a new October record beating last year’s record from Venom. The movie also crushed it overseas, making $140.5 million in 70 markets, none of which were China where it doesn’t have a release date yet. Men made up 62 percent of the audience, and for an R-rated film the 8 percent of ticket buyers aged 13 to 17 is fairly impressive. Fully 65 percent of the audience was aged 18 to 34.

Pamela McClintock, The Hollywood Reporter


Disney announced that they will ban advertisements from Netflix from appearing on its television networks. The networks have historically been loathe to advertise for one another — you’d never see an ad for Law & Order: SVU during an NFL on CBS game — and now that appears it will extend to Disney’s new streaming adversary. Netflix spent $1.8 billion globally on advertising last year, 38 percent of which was on television, according to outside estimates. Another 18 percent was on outdoor, 17 percent in magazines, 14 percent newspaper and just 10 percent digital. While not exactly chump change, Disney isn’t forgoing an inordinate amount of money here: according to iSpot, Netflix spent $99.2 million on U.S. television ads, 13 percent on Disney entertainment networks.

Alexandra Bruell and Suzanne Vranica, The Wall Street Journal

College Libraries

While colleges throw fortunes at ramping up their library offerings to include the latest in education technology and electronic book access, overwhelmingly kids still prefer physical texts. A 2015 survey found 92 percent of college students preferred paper books to electronic versions. New evidence leads researchers to believe that physical books are better at conveying information than digital formats, and a 2016 survey of Webster University students found that just 18 percent of students accessed ebooks with any degree of frequency while 42 percent never used them at all. And sure, 3-D printers are cool and VR headsets are neat, but a Duke University survey found that students were mainly interested in solid Wi-Fi.

Alia Wong, The Atlantic


There are 164 million adults in the U.S. who play video games, but that’s a wide net given the variety of the game industry. When I think about video games, I mostly think about a bunch of teenagers wiping the floor with me in Overwatch when I’m a month behind on the metagame, but the average age of a U.S. gamer is 33 years old, and there’s a lot more to the medium than consoles. For instance, not only do 270 million people play Candy Crush every day, there are in fact 9.2 million people in the world who spend more than three hours every day playing Candy Crush. Setting aside that breathtaking statistic, while they won’t “make you smarter” there’s evidence that video games can aid in learning certain types of tasks, like teaching a second language, visual attention, retention of information, math, and tracking multiple dynamic objects in a field.

Kendall Powell, Knowable Magazine

Air Medicine

U.S. flights are required to carry five medications in the air — two doses of epinephrine (one for allergies, one for cardiac arrest), atrophine for slow heart rate, dextrose for low blood sugar, and lidocaine for irregular heart rhythms — or at least they were until January 2016, when 50 airlines were granted four-year exemptions from the federal requirement to have all five drugs in the medical kit. The penalties used to be huge: Frontier flew 11 planes without epinephrine or atrophine on 800 trips, and the FAA threatened them with a $474,000 fine. In-flight emergencies are rare, but do happen: one study estimated one in every 604 flights has some kind of medical emergency, and there are 260 to 1,420 in-flight medical events (vastly gastrointestinal problems, fainting and near fainting) per day worldwide.

Roni Caryn Rabin, The New York Times

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Previous 2019 Sunday special editions: Concussion Snake Oil ·  Skyglow ·  Juul ·  Chris Ingraham ·  Invasive Species ·  The Rat Spill ·  The Sterling Affairs ·  Snakebites ·  Bees ·  Deep Fakes ·  Artificial Intelligence ·  Marijuana ·  Mussels ·

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