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After Steve Jobs: What We Can Learn From The Nest Thermostat. The central question about Apple these days is what it will become without Steve Jobs’s passionate conviction and daily direction in the design of the company’s products and services.

After Steve Jobs: What We Can Learn From The Nest Thermostat

Tuesday night, at an invitation-only party in Palo Alto, I got a peek at the answer. The Silicon Valley startup Nest launched its product--nay, company--at the new and trendy Reposado restaurant. Never has there been so much fanfare about the introduction of a thermostat. What does this nascent company have to do with Steve Jobs? Led by a former client of mine, tech wunderkind and former iPod/iPhone leader Tony Fadell, and his partner, Matt Rogers, Nest is an ambitious venture composed of former Apple employees, as well as a mix of very strong leadership from other origins. The promise of Nest seems to be that it will bring simplicity and control to home automation, starting with an attack on the outdated thermostat. And here’s the amazing thing: The Nest product, marketing, and launch are all fantastic. Wanted: Terra, Incase's Playful But Stylish New Collection Of Carrying Cases.

Incase has designed bag collections for bona fide hipster brands like A.P.C. and the Ace Hotel.

Wanted: Terra, Incase's Playful But Stylish New Collection Of Carrying Cases

Now, it’s releasing the Terra collection, a casual five-piece line fashioned out of black-and-oatmeal canvas tweed with red accents. Terra is slightly more playful than Incase’s other offerings, with oversized zippers and pulls inspired by trends in outerwear. Although not overtly tech-y, it still has all of the functionality and tech protection one would expect: The backpack has multiple internal organizer pockets and a padded notebook compartment (lined with a red polka-dotted print) that can fit a 15-inch MacBook Pro. Likewise, the tote features an extra-wide opening for loading a 13-inch laptop, a padded interior with compartments, and an exterior zippered pocket for stashing keys or an iPhone.

Also available: 11-, 13-, and 15-inch sleeves. Simple Genius: A Lamp That Emulates The Cycle Of The Sun. Used to be, our daily rhythms were determined by the sun: We arose at sunrise and went to bed at sunset.

Simple Genius: A Lamp That Emulates The Cycle Of The Sun

But now that we spend the vast majority of our days inside--by some estimates, as much of 90% of our time--we’re exposed to little sunlight, throwing our natural cycles off balance. LivingLight tries to reintroduce that sense of balance by emulating the rise and fall of the sun. Designer Feija Klinkhamer tells Co.Design that the lamp is equipped with something called “dynamic lighting,” which ushers the look and feel of natural daylight indoors. This happens two ways. Thu, 10/27/2011.

Why Microsoft's Vision Of The Future Is Dead On Arrival. This just in: In the future, everything will be lushly luxurious, gleamingly clean, and digitally magical.

Why Microsoft's Vision Of The Future Is Dead On Arrival

Yup, it’s another corporate "the future of . . . " video, this time courtesy of Microsoft Office. This dazzlingly mounted production will spin your head with its vision of "the future of productivity"--the most salient feature of which is that, apparently, nobody uses Microsoft Office anymore. Sounds like a dream: Sorry if that’s harsh, but I’m with John Gruber: These spit-polished masterpieces of magical thinking are the tech-elite version of LOLcat videos. They make you feel warm and fuzzy for a minute or two and…that’s about it. I’m going to get a bit more meta: I’m actually fine with corporations pouring scads of money into producing futurist concept videos (sidebar: I’m available!) This is the world that 99% of the users of Microsoft Office actually inhabit now, and it won’t be any different in a decade. Futuristic interfaces are supposed to solve problems and make life easier. Infographic Of The Day: China's Checkbook Diplomacy.

We hear incessantly about the rise of China.

Infographic Of The Day: China's Checkbook Diplomacy

So much so that it’s all a bit too abstract: What does it mean that China’s has become a global force? And more importantly, how have they actually accomplished that? The quick answer? Through business dealings rather than military alliances, and a superb infographic from the Heritage Foundation offers a rarely seen snapshot of that.