Editorial: Self-Driving Cars May Cost Freedom.
Travel: Foiler Flying Yacht.
Technology: IQbuds Boost.
Stationery: Cyberia Fountain Pen.
Gadgets and Gear: Light Phone 2.
Books and Writing: The Extraordinary Book of Hedgehog Puns.
Miscellaneous: Bandit9 Dark Side.

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EDITORIAL: Self-Driving Cars May Cost Freedom


[Illustration from the quoted article in The Economist. Details below]

Self-driving cars are becoming a reality. PD has previously commented on the benefits and downsides of this. London's "The Economist" has warned against another possible dark side of this technology -social control by authoritarian governments. It is envisaged that the driverless cars will drive car ownership down and with it take away the relative autonomy offered by today's cars. Every move will be recorded (PD acknowledges that with the vast camera network in cities this can already be done to a large extent, but this will be done in even greater detail). Worse, driverless cars will go whereever they are programmed, and so could potentially be used to restrict where certain people or groups of people may go. Imagine a government restricting you to only your immediate neighbourhood. As The Economist put it,

[Autonomous vehicles] will require other freedoms to be given up in return—especially the ability to drive your own vehicle anywhere. Choices about who can go where, when and how are inescapably political in nature.

Shades of 1984?

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TRAVEL: Foiler Flying Yacht

If the Borromeo & de Silva Monocoque Paddle Canoe featured last week is a little slow for you, you may prefer the Foiler Flying Yacht.


This craft uses hydrofoils to fly 1,5m above the water at 40 knots (for landlubbers, that is around 74km/hr, which is fast for a water craft). PD is sure that James Bond has his eye on this one.


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Hearing loss can be debilitating, particularly in social situations where there is background noise or multiple conversations going on simultaneously. For children with hearing impairment it can set back their education and therefore their future. The top of the range hearing aids are tiny and are technological marvels that can be tuned to each person's particular needs. Unlike older hearing aids which amplified all noise, today's hearing aids are sophisticated instruments that can discrimate between different types of noises, such as background music and speech, and boost essential sounds. They literally transform peoples lives. Unfortunately this comes at a cost, with the best units costing many thousands of dollars.

Nuheara did not have people with hearing loss in mind when it introduced its IQbuds, Bluetooth wireless earbuds. With built-in microphones, they were made for listening to media but also to be aware of things such as traffic. In noisy environments they block out background noise while boosting speech sounds. If you think that this is starting to sound like a bit of repetition from the first paragraph, people using IQbuds noticed this too and started to use them in lieu of hearing aids. The buds helped but lacked the complete personalinastion of modern hearing aids.


Inspired by this, Nuheara has now developed IQbuds Boost. Altering both the hardware and software, Nuheara has added a built-in hearing test like the one used by audiologists and adjusts the earbuds accordingly. Nuheara says that its hearing test and self-fit software, EarID, has been independently and clinically validated.



IMPORTANT DISCLAIMER: PD is providing this for your information from a layman point of view. PD is not a hearing loss professional and makes no claim to have any expertise in this field. Consult your health professional before using this product. Use the product only according to the instructions provided by the manufacturer. PD cannot be held liable for any consequence resulting from the use of this product.

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STATIONERY: Cyberia Fountain Pen

What happens when you get architects to design a fountain pen? You will end up with a sculpture like the Cyberia.


The pen is made from transluscent resin. It has a stainless steel nib which is available in a variety of widths.


It uses standard cartridges and also comes with an ink converter.


There is a stand as an add-on, so that you can proudly display it on your desk or in your gallery.


The pen is somewhat chunky rather than EDC, as the specs show.


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PD featured the original Light Phone, a minimalist phone for times when you were relaxing but wanted to maintain some contact with people. It offered voice calls. That is it - no messaging, no internet.


[Above: the original Light Phone]

Following the success of the Light Phone, the creators have deveopled the Light Phone 2.


This is a much improved and beautifully designed unit. It features 4G, WiFi and GPS. It has an E-Ink display and offers text messaging and a clock as well as voice calls. It has a USB-C connector. PD particularly likes that is has a QWERTY keyboard (no double or triple clicking on the number pad).


It is available in either black or white.


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BOOKS AND WRITING: The Extraordinary Book of Hedgehog Puns

Admit it. Hedgehogs are cute. Who can resist that face?


[Photograph: Gaudete]

The Hedgehog is native to Europe, Asia and Africa. Its name dates back to around 1450, when "heyghoge" was coined for the little animal that lived in hedgerows and had a snout that resembled that of a hog. They are covered in spines for protection and curl up into a ball when alarmed. Apart from being prickly, the spines are harmless, not carrying any poison. Hedgehogs have poor eyesight, so are greatly reliant on their hearing and sense of smell, however they can detect movement.

This story is about one particular hedgehog named Amelia.


Sophia Hsin, a photographer, has recorded the life of Amelia Hedgehog. Sadly, Amelia, named after the extraordinary pilot Amelia Earheart, passed away in 2017, however her memory lives on in this beautiful book of positive puns.




This book will make a wonderful gift for someone close to you. Order your copy at

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MISCELLANEOUS: Bandit9 Dark Side

Bandit9 is an interesting company in Saigon, Vietnam that produces avant-garde motorcycles in limited runs. Its pieces are true works of art. Its designs are inspired by science fiction and comics. Bandit9 is not hamstrung by marketing departments that insist on bland products. These are truly out there motorcycles. They are hand made and use high tech components such as LED lights. The company organises shipping all over the world, including customs matters.



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Important disclaimer: Remember that crowdfunding sites are not stores. You may decide to back this project and provide funds, however there is no guarantee that any project will be delivered - the rate of failure is about 10%. PD is in no way accountable for the success or otherwise of any project and writes in this column purely for entertainment purposes, and will in no way be held liable for any failure or money lost by anyone. It is a case of "buyer beware". It is a sad reflection on the era we live in that PD must resort to this type of disclaimer.

Note: Photographs and illustrations are from the relevant websites and are the copyright of the respective owners.

© 2018 Prowling Dog