Should you be afraid of the cameras in your robot vacuum?

Robot vacuum cleaner products are by far the largest category of consumer robots. They roll around on floors, hoovering up dust and dirt so we don’t have to, all while avoiding obstacles.

The industry leader, iRobot, has been cleaning up the robot vacuum market for two decades. Over this time, the company has steadily gained fans and a sterling reputation, including around security and privacy.

And then, something shocking happened. Someone posted on Facebook a picture of a woman sitting on the toilet in her home bathroom — a picture taken by a Roomba.

And the world responded: “Wait, what?!”

We’re quickly moving into a world of ubiquitous AI and computer vision. And these technologies need to be trained with real-world data. Locking that down, especially when these technologies involve hundreds or thousands of people around the world, is extremely difficult and likely to result in errors, leaks and hacks. 

Here's what you need to know about how much your robot vacuum really sucks

Are Apple’s upcoming AR glasses already obsolete?

Augmented reality companies are working on the holy grail of AR: socially acceptable glasses that show high-resolution digital objects tethered to and interactive with actual objects and spaces in the real world. 

The augmented reality people want to... augment reality!

But the generative AI revolution, led by OpenAI's ChatGPT, has changed demand. Instead of wanting to augment reality, the bigger demand that has emerged is the desire to augment the self through AI.

We still want AR. But even more than that, we want wearable AI appliances, so that are own brains can be augmented by the AI collective brain. 

Read all about it in my latest Computerworld column.

Just had a MagSafe Moment

I'm staying at a pricey Airbnb in a fashionable district of Mexico City, working at the dining room table. Directly in front of me is a glass vase with a green ribbon around the top. The window is open and the blind mostly closed. 

A sudden gust of wind pushed the blind, knocked over the vase, which started rolling toward the left edge of the cabinet. I shot out of my chair and lunged for the vase, in the process kicking my MacBook Pro cable with so much force it not only came out on the MacBook end, but the power brick end as well, ending up in a pile against the far wall. 

My MacBook is actually perched somewhat precariously on a cardboard box, and could have been easily knocked off without MagSafe. 

Well, I caught the vase as it was halfway to the floor. And my MacBook Pro didn't even move. Thank you, Apple, for listening to the people and bringing back the MagSafe feature!

Remote work isn't killing cities. But it could save them!

One of the many complaints about remote work is that it's killing cities. Without all those suburban residents enduring soul-crushing commutes into the city every day to work in soul-crushing offices, cities are impoverished because empty office spaces neither bring in tax revenue nor support city businesses during the day. 

Except they've got it backwards. By converting empty office space to housing for remote workers, they could massively increase tax revenue and business activity. 

Here's my case for why remote work is the solution to the decline of cities.

Check out my favorite new barbeque joint in Oaxaca

This magnificent, spacious, friendly spot does it all: Las Barbacoas de Mexico slow-cook meat underground, they ferment underground, they grill, roast and bake. Super delicious place that you should not miss if you visit Oaxaca! (Full disclosure: It's owned by the Ruiz siblings, including Chef Alex Ruiz, who are friends. It's still fricken great.) 

The most important piece of Oaxacan camping gear: A copper still for making mezcal

Amira and I attended Portozuelo's first-ever Camping Under the Moon event with Chef Alex Ruiz and guest Chef Rodrigo Martinez. Alex brought in a young mezcal maker to set up a coal-fired still and distill mezcal on the spot. (First, he sealed the parts of the still with corn flour.) He infused it with lavender and rosemary, and it was delicious. We drank it all night and then had more for breakfast. This is, after all, Oaxaca

Ayote en miel in El Salvador

Another treat from Reina’s kitchen: ayote en miel. It’s squash slow cooked with water,   panela, cinnamon and cloves. 

Amazon Sidewalk is actually amazing. I can't wait to see what startups do with it.

Amazon just opened up a free, nationwide, low-power, wide-area network called Sidewalk. It's optimized for IoT devices. It’s great at securely and privately sending small quantities of data impressively long distances. It reaches 90% of the US population. 

Some devices can connect as far away as several miles. 

Here's a piece I wrote for Computerworld tell you everything you need to know about Amazon Sidewalk

I love going to San Salvador's 'Pupusa Mountain'

A mountain near El Salvador's capital, called Los Planes de Renderos is famous for eco parks, cool temperatures and, above all, top-shelf pupusa joints. Lining the roadways one can find dozens or possibly hundreds of pupusa restaurants, dives, street vendors and others. I call it "Pupusa Mountain." 

Our current favorite is called Pupusaria Elisa. It directly faces another place called Pupusaria Isabel. (A few other restaurants sit in the same facility.) As you can see, Elisa is packed and Isabel is empty. We always find it like this. Last night, all tables were taken at Elisa, and all tables were available at Isabel. Quality counts, I guess. 

Check out this crazy fruit called an icaco

Ever heard of an icaco, or (in English), coco plum or paradise plum? It's a tropical fruit that grows on trees as close as 30 feet from the ocean. The closer to the water, the sweeter the fruit. 

The tree is native to the tropical parts of the Americas, especially the Caribbean. 

People eat them raw, cooked or made into jam. 

The seed of the icaco is 21% oil, and some people burn them for light.

Home-made pupusas!!

You can buy great pupusas in El Salvador -- great curtido (cabbage-based vinegar-flavored stuff) and sauce are harder to come by. But home-made is the best.