The Daily Valet. - 1/31/24, Wednesday
Wednesday, January 31st Edition
By Cory Ohlendorf, Valet. Editor
I do not need another Apple product. I do NOT need another Apple product.
Today’s Big Story
Apple Vision Pro Is Here
The reviews are in for the company’s most buzz-worthy product in decades (and people are really buying it)
It kind of feels like the good ol’ days. When Apple would release a product and everyone was seemingly talking about. And if you saw someone out in public with it, there’d be some envious stares. Not that we’re going to see anyone walking around in the company’s new augmented reality headset. At least, I hope not. But this is clearly the most hyped product Apple has released in a while. And after a lot of chatter, it’s finally hitting stores on Friday.
Of course, it might be difficult to just walk into a store and buy one—even if you do have $3,500 in discretionary tech spending money. A source said to have knowledge of the situation told the Apple-centric news site MacRumors that the initial stock of 200,000 units has already sold-out during the pre-sale. Apparently, the headsets for “launch day home delivery” sold out within hours of pre-orders opening on January 19th, and the rest quickly followed. Though, some headsets may still be available in store … for the early birds.
What are reviewers saying? Those who got to spend some quality time with the device could finally break their silence Tuesday. On the whole, most walked away impressed with the Vision Pro’s strong displays, best-in-class passthrough and hand tracking, but many also wonder just how much use they can get out of a very expensive (and at-times too heavy) headset sporting a connected two-hour battery pack.
According to Gizmodo, the most consistent praise was directed to the hardware, at least in terms of how much power it packs and how capable its eye- and hand-tracking sensors are. “So far, most of the people who have tested the Vision Pro have called it one of the most advanced and consumer-ready all-in-one AR headsets released so far, though it’s brought down by a fair lack of apps or practical use cases.” Of course, these are early days, and reviewers from The Verge to CNET were hesitant to criticize too deeply as it’s clear that this is a device (and category) that will continue to evolve and get better with more third-party apps adding to its functionality. The first-gen device was likened to “an unfinished future.”
Many reviewers agree that the Vision Pro is the biggest technological leap in VR ever, with an audio/visual quality that reimagines what can be done in the digital world. The one consistent complaint? All that technology can weigh a device down. It’s 1.4 pounds (excluding the external battery pack), and some found that it caused headaches or neck strain. The Wall Street Journal’s Joanna Stern said she wore it for a full 24 hours (taking it off to sleep, of course). She described it as “big and heavy,” but it didn’t stop her from using it.
What’s exactly inside the Apple Vision Pro box? Mashable examines nine things that come with the headset.
Iran on High Alert
No one wants a war, but the risks are mounting as Biden readies retaliation
Both the U.S. and Iran say they don’t want an all-out war. But after months of attacks and spiraling tensions in the Middle East—culminating in the killing of three American soldiers in a drone strike by Tehran-backed militants—former officials and analysts from the West told NBC News that the two countries may be sleepwalking toward conflict.
According to the Guardian, Iran has told the U.S. via intermediaries that if it strikes Iranian soil directly, Tehran will itself hit back at American assets in the Middle East, which will no doubt pull the two sides into a direct battle. Amid fears of an American reprisal, the Iranian rial fell to its lowest point in 40 years against the dollar, even as Tehran reiterated that the strike was the work of independent “resistance groups.” That group, Kataib Hezbollah, announced late Tuesday that it suspended its military and security operations against U.S. forces. The group will continue defending its “people in Gaza through alternative means,” Hamidawi said in the statement, and advised “the brave fighters of the Hezbollah Brigades to adopt temporary passive defense.”
On Tuesday, Biden bluntly said “yes” when asked if he’d decided how to respond to the attack. But he provided no details, and added that the U.S. wants to avoid triggering a broader Middle East war. “That’s not what I’m looking for,” he said. National Security Council spokesman John Kirby raised the possibility that the U.S. will take a “tiered approach” with several actions over a period of time.
Israeli forces dressed as civilian women and medics killed three militants in a West Bank hospital.
Experimental Pain Drug Looks Promising
And it may offer an alternative to dangerous opioids for acute pain, study suggests
A pharmaceutical company has presented new data for an experimental drug that they say can reduce acute pain, raising the possibility of an alternative to addictive opioids. Vertex Pharmaceuticals of Boston says two studies showed that the new drug, VX-548, showed a "clinically meaningful reduction" in pain over a 48-hour period, compared to a placebo.
The company says the drug relieves moderate to severe pain by blocking pain signals before they can get to the brain. It works only on peripheral nerves—those outside the brain and the spinal cord—making it unlike opioids. Vertex described the drug as “safe and well tolerated” while avoiding any potential to lead to addiction.
CNN reports that the company said it will submit an application for approval to the FDA by mid-2024. If it’s successful, it will represent the first new class of acute pain medicine in more than two decades. Beginning in the 1990s with the increasingly widespread prescription of pharmaceutical opioids, overdoses from opioid abuse have skyrocketed since. According to the CDC, 220 people in America died each day from an opioid overdose in 2021, which they say is six times the number of opioid overdose deaths in 1999.
A fentanyl state of emergency was just declared in downtown Portland, Oregon.
Elmo Asked Us How We Were Doing
And the collective answer was, um, not too great …
My godson’s favorite Sesame Street character, Elmo, posted on X a simple question: “How is everyone doing?” That fuzzy red guy is just caring like that. But, you see, it was a cold Monday morning at the end of a very long January— a double whammy of devastation—and so the collective response was bleak, at best. Poor Elmo didn’t realize he’d just opened a can of worms.
Many made clear in the replies that they’re not doing so well, with some citing being laid off, feeling tired or noting they’re “depressed and broke.” The responses to Elmo's post (which has been seen an estimated 140 million-plus times) underscore a growing mental health crisis across the U.S. and a national spike in anxiety and depression, with young people driving a rise in mental health spending in recent years.
After the post took off, Sesame Street’s official account replied with links to mental health resources. As suicide has become a leading cause of death among people aged 10-14, Sesame Workshop has sought to address the mental health of children and their families in videos, podcasts and courses. Why did it blow up like this? One psychologist theorized our collective nostalgia was triggered: When Elmo pops back into the social-media feeds of adults facing burnout, inflation and a complex geopolitical situation, she said, “many may find it hard not to vent about how their lives have changed.”
“Wow! Elmo is glad he asked,” he followed up yesterday. “Elmo learned that it is important to ask a friend how they are doing.”
Find Something to Care About
Not caring about things doesn’t make you cool or mysterious. It makes you more boring.
Life can feel so full. Too full? Perhaps at times. And with so many demands on our time, it's easy to get carried along by the inertia and feel like time is passing by with little or nothing to show for it. It's no surprise that without direction, we retreat into what's comfortable and zone out a bit. But that results in a sort of listless guilt, doesn't it? You know that hazy feeling one gets after binging a show or realizing that the bulk of an afternoon was just spent playing video games? It's a remorseful feeling that you could (or should) be doing something else. Something ... meaningful?
t's not that relaxation and checking out for a bit doesn't have its benefits. But sometimes it happens more than we care to admit and becomes a habit that we didn't intend to cultivate. The best way to combat that listless guilt is to find something to care about—the act of giving a shit will suddenly bring a whole new perspective to your life.
Don’t wait for the perfect time.