TIME Web

This Is How Richard Scarry Would Draw Silicon Valley’s Most Infamous Stereotypes

There's the "Patent Troll," the "Thought Leader" and more

Author and illustrator Richard Scarry penned some of the most iconic children’s books of the past few decades, like the Busytown series about animals doing human jobs in a pretend town. More than 100 million of Scarry’s books were sold, and his work was turned into all sorts of television shows, movies and video games.

Now, artist Tony Ruth is honoring Scarry’s legacy with a series of scathing satirical illustrations showing how the legendary illustrator might pen Silicon Valley stereotypes. Ruth’s new series, “Businesstown,” features such Valley staples as the Patent Troll, the Digital Prophet, the Thought Leader and more.

Check out some of Ruth’s work in the gallery above. Be sure to visit his constantly-updating Twitter, Tumblr and Instagram pages for fresh updates.

TIME Software

It Might Finally Be Time to Say Goodbye to Internet Explorer

Internet Explorer
The logo of Microsoft Corp.'s Internet Explorer 9 is displayed on a computer monitor in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Tuesday, March 15, 2011. Bloomberg—Bloomberg via Getty Images

Microsoft has unveiled 'Spartan,' a new browser for Windows 10

You’ve had a good 20-year run, Internet Explorer. But your days are probably numbered.

News of your potential demise started as whispers late last year when reports emerged that Microsoft was working on a wholly new Internet browser. They gained momentum about a week later with a leak detailing some of this mystery browser’s features. And they finally solidified Wednesday when Microsoft made it all official, unveiling for the first time “Spartan,” which could become one of the company’s only browsers not called “Internet Explorer” in two decades.

Microsoft hasn’t started digging your grave just yet. For now, you’ll have to share hard drive space with your lean, more stylish cousin once Windows 10 arrives sometime this year. And there’s always the chance your makers might give Spartan an IE designation before that.

But that seems unlikely. The whole point here is that you’re boring, washed up, old news.

Sure, you’ve still got nearly 60% of the global market share for browsers. But that’s peanuts compared to the world-dominating numbers you put up before Apple’s Safari, Google’s Chrome and Mozilla’s Firefox started nipping at your heels. And because Windows Phone has flatlined, you’ve barely made a blip on mobile, where most people are using the web these days.

But the biggest problem you face, Internet Explorer, is that you carry 20 years of brand baggage—and it’s not good. You’ve developed a reputation, however unfair, as slow and unwieldy. We’re long past the point where a makeover and a bigger number alongside your name can turn you into the prettiest browser at the ball. If you weren’t packaged along with Windows—long your biggest and most controversial advantage—there’s no telling how far your figures might fall.

Microsoft needs something fresh, something new. It needs Spartan.

Besides marking a fresh start, what does Spartan do that you don’t? It’s leaner, faster, designed with mobile in mind. Close integration with Cortana, Microsoft’s voice-activated assistant, means it will bring users relevant information like flight delays without even having to visit an airline’s website. Spartan’s note-taking mode turns the web into a canvas, letting users scribble notes on live websites and send off them to colleagues or friends. Spartan could even be made available for non-Windows platforms like Android and iOS, helping it gain market share on mobile, which is clearly the future.

How much longer you’ll be around, IE, depends on Spartan’s success. Perhaps your new rival won’t be as good as Chrome or Firefox, and Microsoft will shy away from it. Maybe having two baked-in browser options will confuse Windows 10 users, and they’ll stick with you out of habit. Or maybe Microsoft will call Spartan “Internet Explorer 12″ after all. But if Microsoft does decide to pull the plug on you, IE, despair not: 20 long years of service qualifies you for a dignified retirement.

TIME Gadgets

Microsoft Just Unveiled a Futuristic Headset That Beams ‘Holograms’ Into Your Room

Microsoft HoloLens
Microsoft HoloLens Microsoft

The 'HoloLens' is being pitched towards creators and gamers

A new headset unveiled Wednesday at Microsoft’s Windows 10 event in Redmond, Wash., beams 3-D content right into your living room or office.

The device and its accompanying software, called the “HoloLens” and “Windows Holographic” respectively, look similar to virtual reality headsets already on the market. However, Microsoft’s device projects 3-D content into the physical world already around you rather than putting you in a different virtual world entirely. While Microsoft called the 3-D images “holograms,” they’re not viewable if you’re not wearing the headset.

The company pitched the HoloLens and Windows Holographic as tools to help investors, designers and scientists interface with their work in ways never before possible. The HoloLens can also power augmented reality gaming, which blends the virtual and physical worlds for a unique entertainment experience that’s not possible on standard gaming consoles or computers.

Microsoft says the HoloLens is a completely untethered unit, meaning you won’t have to hook it up to a PC or other device to power it. There’s no word yet on how much the device will cost, but the company did say it would be available around the same time as its new PC operating system, Windows 10. That software is expected to hit store shelves sometime this year.

TIME Software

Microsoft’s Next Version of Windows Will Be a Free Upgrade

Windows
A sign is seen on the wall outside of a Microsoft store in the Dadeland Mall. Joe Raedle—Getty Images

The company used to charge for major updates

Microsoft will give away its upcoming Windows 10 operating system for free to users upgrading from prior versions, the company announced Wednesday. Windows 7 and 8.1 users will be eligible for the free upgrade for up to a year after Windows 10 hits shelves.

The move marks a significant shift for Microsoft, which has traditionally charged customers for major updates. That practice has provided the company with a reliable revenue stream, but it also created a vicious cycle. Charging for upgrades meant users of older Windows software were less likely to upgrade to the newest versions of Windows. That made developers less willing to make apps for the latest versions of Windows—why bother writing code for an operating system with low adoption rates? That lack of apps then gave users yet another reason not to upgrade.

Microsoft’s decision to offer Windows 10 as a free upgrade also mimics its corporate rival Apple, which promised an end to paid operating system upgrades back in 2013.

Windows 10 brings several notable changes from Windows 8.1 (Microsoft skipped “Windows 9″), including the return of the Start menu, the integration of Microsoft’s Cortana voice-based assistant, and a new Internet browser codenamed “Spartan.”

It’s expected to hit store shelves sometime this year.

TIME CES2015

This Smart Thermostat Was Your Favorite Gadget From CES 2015

Honeywell Lyric
Lyric Honeywell

According to TIME's reader poll

Honeywell’s Lyric smart thermostat was TIME readers’ favorite gadget showcased at this year’s Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, , according to data from our reader poll conducted alongside predictive information platform First Insight.

Overall, poll respondents valued the Lyric $7 higher than its actual retail cost of $279, meaning they’re willing to pay more than Honeywell is charging for it. Sixty-one percent of respondents had a favorable view of the Lyric, which lets you monitor and control your home’s temperature from your smartphone, among other features. Men between the ages of 35 and 49 were especially big fans of the Lyric, valuing it at nearly $30 more than retail.

“Honeywell has a longer history of smart thermostat design along with security,” said one respondent.

Other interesting takeaways: More women than men (39% compared to 34%) responded positively to the $149 Withings Activité Pop, a colorful smartwatch with classic timepiece design. “It doesn’t look like the usual wearable gadgets that track fitness,” one female respondent said. “I love it for that—it’s fashionable.”

Male respondents, however, greatly preferred The Dash, a pair of wireless activity-tracking earbuds. Men valued the Dash $60 more on average than women, who were concerned about whether they would fit in their ears. That could signal Dash has an opening to do a female-oriented version with a smaller fit. It was older men in particular most interested in the Dash— younger men and women alike showed less interest in the product.

What were the flops? Socks! Poll respondents undervalued Sensoria’s Smart Socks by more than $100, with several comments questioning the need for activity-tracking socks that analyze your running stride. “This seems like something you would use on one or two runs, but once you get an idea of what your stride is like, you no longer need the data it provides,” said one respondent.

The TIME/First Insight poll ran from Jan. 9 to Jan. 12, receiving 1,361 responses. Respondents were presented with nine devices showcased at the Consumer Electronics Show and asked how much those items should cost, how they responded to each item, and to leave any additional comments about each item. The respondents were mostly male, early adopters, between the age of 18-34 and Apple users compared to female, late adopters, older consumers and Android or other smartphone users.

The total list of devices was as follows:

Read Next: 6 of the Coolest Smart Home Innovations at CES

TIME Advertising

This One Number Shows How Advertisers Are Wrong About Social Media

MySpace
The "Myspace" logo is seen on a tablet screen on December 4, 2012 in Paris. Lionel Bonaventure—AFP/Getty Images

MySpace still gets 50 million monthly active users

Companies like McDonalds, Apple, and Ford all have something in common: They make and sell physical stuff, be it Big Macs, computers or cars. So if you’re considering investing in one of those companies, the first thing you might look at is how much stuff it’s been selling recently — an easily-determined metric that’s a decent representation of a company’s success.

But social media companies like Facebook, Twitter or Snapchat don’t make their money by selling physical stuff. Instead, they make it by selling space to advertisers.

As with all advertisements, digital ad space is more valuable the more it gets seen. And one of the key metrics advertisers use to determine how much they’re willing to spend on a social media company’s ad space is Monthly Active Users, or MAUs.

MAUs are simple enough: Every time you log on to Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat and so on at least once a month, that platform gets one MAU.

That interest in MAUs has extended to Wall Street, where investors have come to view them as the be-all, end-all metric for judging a social media company’s potential to make money. MAUs are popular with investors and other market-watchers because they’re easy to calculate, digest and compare.

But a number emerged this week that should make us all question the MAU as the holy grail of social media metrics: 50 million. That’s the number of MAUs racked up last year by MySpace, a social media network you probably haven’t used since you signed up for Facebook. While MySpace used to be a reliable presence in ComScore’s annual list of the 50 most popular sites on the web, it hasn’t made an appearance there since 2012, when it ranked 46th.

Sure, MySpace’s 50 million figure doesn’t touch the numbers boasted by its onetime rivals: Facebook has 1.27 billion MAUs, Instagram 300 million, Twitter 284 million. But it’s still doubtful that figure is truly representative of MySpace’s shrunken userbase, even if the site still has a small but thriving community thanks to its efforts in music and video.

What explains MySpace’s probably oversized MAU count? CEO Tim Vanderhook gave us a clue in an interview with the Wall Street Journal published Wednesday: People are logging in to grab content for Throwback Thursday, a weekly social media ritual in which users post old photos of themselves with the hashtag #TBT.

“. . . We still see a lot of people coming back to access old photos,” Vanderhook told the Journal. “They may not visit every day, but they come back once a week or once a month.”

So even though some people are coming back to MySpace only weekly or monthly, that still counts as a MAU for the site. But is that the kind of user that’s truly valuable to advertisers, and, by extension, investors? If people are just treating MySpace like a nostalgia storage service, they’re not stopping to smell the roses — or pay attention to the ads.

MAUs have come under fire from other angles recently, too. Instagram last month announced it hit 300 million MAUs, 16 million more than Twitter. That generated headlines in the tech press—and on TIME.com—along the lines of “Instagram Beats Twitter.” But the backlash wasn’t far behind, with several observers arguing that Instagram and Twitter are too different to compare solely on MAUs.

Here’s Will Oremus in Slate, summing up the counter-narrative:

Instagram is indeed larger than Twitter if you look solely at monthly active users, of whom Twitter has 284 million at last count. MAUs, as they’re called, are one useful metric of a social network’s size. But they aren’t the only one. Others might include the amount of time users spend on the network, the amount of content they post, and the number of people who see that content. Look at those, and it quickly becomes impossible to say whether Instagram or Twitter is larger.

So what could replace the MAU? Ev Williams, former Chairman and CEO of Twitter and now CEO at publishing site Medium, is among those championing Time On Site, which does exactly what it sounds like. The advantage, Williams says, is that it’s a better representation of the kinds of content that users are actually finding valuable. And from an advertiser’s perspective, the more time a user spends on a site, the more likely it is they’ll interact with ad content.

“We pay more attention to time spent reading than number of visitors at Medium because, in a world of infinite content — where there are a million shiny attention-grabbing objects a touch away and notifications coming in constantly — it’s meaningful when someone is actually spending time,” wrote Williams in the wake of Instagram’s 300 million MAU announcement.

“After all, for a currency to be valuable, it has to be scarce. And while the amount of attention people are willing to give to media and the Internet in general has skyrocketed — largely due to having a screen and connection with them everywhere — it eventually is finite.”

TIME Innovation

Check Out This Gorgeous Throwback iMac Concept

It's weird and beautiful, but it isn't real

Remember Apple’s original, boxy desktop computers like the Apple II series? What if Apple designed a modern iMac taking design cues from those old machines and fusing them with the slim aluminum unibody of modern day iMacs?

That’s exactly what the designers at Curved Labs had in mind when making this throwback iMac concept. Their design puts a present-day face on the Apple computers of yore, while ripping out a bunch of mass out of the back.

While it’s not a real product, the Curved team says their concept iMac would have all the fixings of a modern desktop, like an 11.6-inch touchscreen, 128GB of solid state storage, an SD card slot, camera and microphone.

TIME How-To

How to Save Your Voicemails Forever

Voicemail
Oli Kellett—Getty Images

It's not as easy as it should be, but here's a quick primer

I’d bet good money that most voicemails never get played. Instead, they just sit there serving as extra “missed call” notifications, letting you know to call or text back whoever bothered to leave you the message in the first place.

But every once in a while, you get a really special voicemail. Maybe your partner called you early in the morning, knowing you were asleep, to leave a Happy Birthday recording for when you awoke. Or maybe a beloved family member recently passed away, and you have a voicemail from them that might’ve seemed pretty pointless at the time but now carries extra significance.

In those cases, you might like to save that voicemail somewhere other than your phone for safekeeping or sharing.

Most phones don’t make that as easy as it ought to be. Apple’s iPhone will back up voicemails to your computer along with everything else, but they’re stored in a funky file format that’s not easily played by most software. Most Android phones, meanwhile, store your voicemails on off-site servers.

So what should you do if you’ve got a voicemail that’s really worth saving? The solution involves some free software and an affordable purchase, but it’s doable. Here’s how:

1. Download Audacity, a free audio recording program for Windows and Mac.

2. After opening Audacity, navigate to Preferences -> Recording, then check “software playthrough.”

3. Use a male-to-male headphone cable (that is, one with connectors at both ends) to connect your phone to your computer’s “Line In” jack. That cable shouldn’t run you more than a few bucks. Note that some computers, particularly Macs, only have one audio port that serves as both input and output.

4. On Audacity’s main control panel, make sure “Line In” or “Built-In Input” is selected in the drop-down menu for the recording source, marked by a microphone icon. The source you pick should match the port you’re using to connect your iPhone or Android to your computer.

5. Hit “Record” on Audacity. Then, on your phone, play the voicemail you’d like to record. When your message is done, stop recording. If you want to get really fancy, you can use Audacity to chop off any dead air at the start or end of your recording.

6. Navigate to File -> Export Audio and save your voicemail on your computer as an .MP3. You should now be able to open the recorded voicemail in software like iTunes or Windows Media Player.

7. For extra security, back up your newly recorded voicemails to a storage service like Dropbox or Google Drive, both of which offer free space.

Read next: How to Stop Accidentally Closing Your Browser All the Time

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