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Fun Size for for 8/4/23: Flip phones make a comeback

Brin-ging in the big guns 

Google cofounder and past president Sergey Brin just couldn’t stay away–he’s been spotted in the Mountain View offices several days a week. Word is that Brin’s returned to work along with the researchers who are building Google’s AI model, Gemini, according to reports in the Wall Street Journal and FastCompany.

Right to read, safe for now 

A federal judge has come to the rescue of Arkansas librarians and booksellers by temporarily blocking a law that would allow criminal charges against them for providing “harmful” material to minors, the Associated Press reports. State library director Nate Coulter said the judge’s decision recognized the law as censorship, a violation of the Constitution and wrongly maligning librarians, adding, “This order is stout as horseradish.” Long may it hold.

Bard is still in beta, people! 

Google suggests using Google to fact-check Bard, its experimental chatbot. Google's UK boss Debbie Weinstein said Bard was "not really the place that you go to search for specific information,” according to the BBC. It can be helpful in “creating new ideas,” she says, rather like brainstorming. “Yes, and…let me just Google that.”


Let’s see how many text abbreviations you know. Some, like LOL and TTYL, have been around so long, they could show up in the OED one of these days. SlickText has a cheat sheet of 100+ commonly used text acronyms and jargon. Know them all? You GOAT, you.

No peach pie! 

Oh, the sacrifices tech reporters make: In her latest videoWall Street Journals’ Joanne Stern visits a Maryland Hardee’s drive-thru 30 times. She’s testing the ability of its new AI chatbot to handle her order despite barking dogs, crying babies and goofy requests, all while trying to upsell her a $1.59 peach pie.

Fun with filters 

Sure, your smartphone takes great photos, but your pix could be works of art with the help of some photo-to-painting apps. has assembled a palette of free apps that allow you to channel your inner Picasso. All work with iOS and most with Android.

On the flip side 

Flip phones are having a momentsays The Verge. A new generation of phones halfway between a smart watch and a full-sized phone, these sweet little foldables include a screen on the front cover. Motorola and Oppo already have their versions, while Samsung’s palm-sized Galaxy-Z Flip 5 debuted last week at Galaxy Unpacked.

X marked the spot 

Apparently believing it was easier to apologize than ask permission, the company known as X Corp. (née Twitter) riled San Francisco authorities by placing a giant metal X on top of its SF headquarters without city permits. But the illuminated X was just a flash in the pan–less than a week after its installation, it has come down, AP reports.

Aging in places 

This New York Times’ dramatic interactive data visualization shows how the world’s population will age by 2050. By then, people over 65 will comprise nearly 40% of the population in parts of Europe and East Asia. As a result, benefits that wealthier countries take for granted, like pensions and retirement ages (see France), will require overhauls to be sustainable, experts say.

Turning the tables 

In the U.S., Chinese restaurant lunch specials dish up a lot of food for around $10. But on the other side of the world, minimal meals are catching on with urban office workers, reports NPR’s Goats and Soda. A trending social media hashtag in China is “#whitepeoplefood,” as diners poke fun at their sparse, cold lunches of salads, sandwiches and carrot sticks.