The Downside Of Screentime Exposed

I was the mean mom that limited computer time. My kids were allowed to play educational games on the computer for a limited amount of time each day. I did not allow them to have a gaming system until the youngest was 10. Time on it was also limited. I was also the mom that provided my kids with stupid phones, mostly for my convenience in being able to track their whereabouts as a working mom, until they were pretty well grown or could buy their own smart one.

I believed then and still do, that after seven hours a day sitting in the classroom and being tied to an ever-increasing amount of technology in the classroom, my kids needed to be outside, engaged in real time activities with their peers and interacting the rest of the family.

Turns out a few pretty smart guys agreed with my approach. Oddly they are the ones that gave us many of the screens I see toddlers grabbing for and manipulating when I am out and when I spend time with my young nieces and nephews.

According to Business Insider, both Bill Gates and Steve Jobs limited their children’s use of technology:

In 2007, Gates, the former CEO of Microsoft, implemented a cap on screen time when his daughter started developing an unhealthy attachment to a video game. He also didn’t let his kids get cell phones until they turned 14. (Today, the average age for a child getting their first phone is 10.)

 

Jobs, who was the CEO of Apple until his death in 2012, revealed in a 2011 New York Times interview that he prohibited his kids from using the newly-released iPad. “We limit how much technology our kids use at home,” Jobs told reporter Nick Bilton.

One has to wonder what they knew about the effects of the products they invented. An ever-growing body research shows that for children and teens, screen time has an addictive quality. It is being likened to cocaine and other drugs as far as the effects on young brains and rehabilitation programs have cropped up even though there is no formal diagnosis.

Some of the most startling findings have come from Jean Twenge, Ph.D. Dr. Twenge has been researching generational differences for several decades and has a data set that includes approximately 11 million adolescents across generations. The title of Dr. Twenge’s most recent book alone should parents of adolescents pause and parents of young children a warning:

In an excerpt from The Atlantic:

The advent of the smartphone and its cousin the tablet was followed quickly by hand-wringing about the deleterious effects of “screen time.” But the impact of these devices has not been fully appreciated, and goes far beyond the usual concerns about curtailed attention spans. The arrival of the smartphone has radically changed every aspect of teenagers’ lives, from the nature of their social interactions to their mental health. These changes have affected young people in every corner of the nation and in every type of household. The trends appear among teens poor and rich; of every ethnic background; in cities, suburbs, and small towns. Where there are cell towers, there are teens living their lives on their smartphone.

 

To those of us who fondly recall a more analog adolescence, this may seem foreign and troubling. The aim of generational study, however, is not to succumb to nostalgia for the way things used to be; it’s to understand how they are now. Some generational changes are positive, some are negative, and many are both. More comfortable in their bedrooms than in a car or at a party, today’s teens are physically safer than teens have ever been. They’re markedly less likely to get into a car accident and, having less of a taste for alcohol than their predecessors, are less susceptible to drinking’s attendant ills.

 

Psychologically, however, they are more vulnerable than Millennials were: Rates of teen depression and suicide have skyrocketed since 2011. It’s not an exaggeration to describe iGen as being on the brink of the worst mental-health crisis in decades. Much of this deterioration can be traced to their phones.

Other significant items in Dr. Twenge’s research findings regarding the i-Generation (also called Generation Z):

  • Nearly one in four teens does not have a driver’s license when they graduate from high school
  • The number of teens who get together with their friends nearly every day dropped by more than 40 percent from 2000 to 2015
  • 12th graders in 2015 were going out less than 8th graders did as recently as 2009
  • Only about 56% of high school seniors in 2015 went out on dates

One of the conclusions she draws is that childhood is lengthening and today’s 18-year-olds are more equivalent to the previous generation’s 15-year-olds. The other is that despite more time at home, they are no closer to their parents.

Perhaps the most definitive finding she cites is from The Monitoring the Future survey, funded by the National Institute on Drug Abuse. This study has asked 12th-graders more than 1,000 questions every year since 1975 and queried eighth- and 10th-graders since 1991.

 The results could not be clearer: Teens who spend more time than average on screen activities are more likely to be unhappy, and those who spend more time than average on nonscreen activities are more likely to be happy.

 

There’s not a single exception. All screen activities are linked to less happiness, and all nonscreen activities are linked to more happiness. Eighth-graders who spend 10 or more hours a week on social media are 56 percent more likely to say they’re unhappy than those who devote less time to social media. Admittedly, 10 hours a week is a lot. But those who spend six to nine hours a week on social media are still 47 percent more likely to say they are unhappy than those who use social media even less. The opposite is true of in-person interactions. Those who spend an above-average amount of time with their friends in person are 20 percent less likely to say they’re unhappy than those who hang out for a below-average amount of time.

Hopefully, continued understanding on the effects of screentime will lead to moderated approaches to technology in the classroom as well as a proliferation of “stupid” phones that are used just to make a phone call for pre-teens and adolescents. In either case, the mounting research and the parenting controls of some of tech’s top executives should provide clues to parents with young children that with technology, it is possible less is more. And I am awfully glad I was such a mean mom.

If you want to learn more, Dr. Twenge’s book is available on Amazon.

 

Mark Cuban Would Run as a Republican for President

In an interview with Fox News’ OBJECTified host and TMZ publisher Harvey Levin that aired last night, billionaire investor and Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban said he may run as a Republican against President Donald Trump in 2020.

Levin asked him if he’d run as a Democrat or a Republican, to which he answered “Republican.” He also noted that he is “fiercely independent.”

“Probably Republican,” he said. “Because I think there’s a place for somebody who is socially a centrist, but I’m very fiscally conservative, but I think there’s better ways now to make governments smaller.”

“Again using technology, government as a service can have a dramatic impact on how we live our lives,” he added. “If you don’t understand technology and you don’t understand the impact it has on jobs that technology is having and will continue to have, then you’re gonna run into some severe roadblocks.”

Cuban has been highly critical of President Trump. They have regular back-and-forth spats on Twitter. Earlier this year, Cuban told CNN to view President Trump’s tenure as “political chemotherapy.”

In the past, Cuban has taken both conservative positions and not-so conservative positions.

In 2014-2015, he communicated his discontent with net neutrality laws. In contrast, last fall he said paying higher taxes is the most patriotic thing a wealth person could do. Hmmmm. Conservatives will wonder how he will reconcile these contrasting issues if he touts fiscal conservatism.

Speaking of technology, Cuban has signed on to an interesting venture: the Mercury Protocol. Here’s more about it:

Modern communication is outdated. Centralized communication platforms built on private servers are only as secure as their weakest defense, user privacy is habitually violated as service providers sell behavioral data to advertisers, and content is restricted to a single platform.

The solution is the Mercury Protocol, an open-source project for communication platforms to utilize decentralized blockchain technology at minimal cost. Any communication platforms that integrate the Mercury Protocol will be able to exchange messages and content, increase user privacy through pseudonymity, leverage tokens to encourage user participation, and provide stronger network security than any private system that has a single point of failure.

 

This actually looks really interesting and forward-thinking.

Cuban is also noteworthy for his involvement with Shark Tank, which is a highly addictive show if you’ve watched it. Cuban and his fellow “sharks” are at times ruthless to aspiring entrepreneurs. Nevertheless, they help launch people to success.

It’ll be interesting to see if Mark Cuban is testing the waters or simply teasing the American public with this exclamation to run for president. Time will tell.

 

Leakers Take a Bite of the New Apple iPhone 8 Before Launch Date

Apple has been comprised yet again in the latest leak about the forthcoming  iOS operating system. This comes at an interesting time as Apple is set to launch the new iPhone 8 tomorrow.

The leak is being described as an “intentional act of sabotage” by Apple insiders:

“As best I’ve been able to ascertain, these builds were available to download by anyone, but they were obscured by long, unguessable URLs [web addresses],” wrote John Gruber, a blogger known for his coverage of Apple.

“Someone within Apple leaked the list of URLs to 9to5Mac and MacRumors. I’m nearly certain this wasn’t a mistake, but rather a deliberate malicious act by a rogue Apple employee.”

For those curious about the leak, here’s what was revealed about the new iOS operating system:

 

  • a reference to iPhone X, which acts as fresh evidence that Apple intends to unveil a high-end model alongside more modest updates to its handset line
  • images of a new Apple Watch and AirPod headphones
  • a set-up process for Face ID – an alternative to the Touch ID system fingerprint system – that says it can be used to unlock handsets and make online purchases from Apple, among other uses
  • the introduction of Animoji – animated emoji characters that mirror a user’s captured facial expressions

In a time where major entities and prominent individuals are proving to be vulnerable to attack through leaks, it’s important to secure digital means. How can Apple continue to make itself susceptible to these kinds of attacks? Perhaps it’s blowback? Perhaps those saboteurs (likely disgruntled former employees) think Apple isn’t too big to fail anymore?

Regardless, secure your systems. Simple as that. These frequent data breaches and leaks shouldn’t be occurring on this large scale in 2017.

The Future With Self-Driving Cars

A new article from Business Insider makes the case that as self-driving cars become more prevalent, traffic will actually increase.  The article seems to support tax surcharges or fees on driverless vehicles to discourage their use.

However, the argument that self-driving vehicles will increase traffic is fundamentally flawed, because it does not consider how transportation would be fundamentally changed by their prevalence.

First, let’s look at the arguments which support the premise that traffic would increase, before looking at ways in which self-driving cars will decrease traffic.

Arguments that self-driving cars will increase traffic:

  1. Traffic is somewhat self-regulating due to people’s natural desire not to be in it.  Thus, people stagger their commutes and work from home occasionally.  In addition, commute times tend to limit how far someone is willing to live from their place of work; or, more often, the radius from their home in which they’re willing to work.  Self-driving vehicles could change this dynamic.  If people could essentially have their car chauffeur them around town, then they could spend their time in the car doing other things: working, sleeping, reading, catching up on hobbies or “side hustles.”  That is, they wouldn’t mind being in traffic so much and therefore the incentive to avoid or lessen traffic decreases.
  2. Self-driving car services offered by the likes of Uber and Lyft could be so cheap (due to the lack of a human driver who needs to be paid), that people stop carpooling and instead opt for the privacy of one of these vehicles.
  3. Once self-driving cars become more advanced, people could send their self-driving cars to the store for them to be filled by clerks at retailers offering curb-side delivery.  You’d place an order at the grocery store, for example, and then send your car and the clerk would load it up; your car would then dutifully return home with your order.

Now, let’s look at the counter-arguments to see why self-driving cars might actually decrease traffic:

  1. The above arguments are consumer-driven.  But what hasn’t been considered is how companies would drive (ha!) the self-driving revolution.  For example, rather than a person sending their car to the grocery store (as in #3 above), the store itself could load up a self-driving van and have it make the rounds through the area, delivering orders according to the most efficient route.  In addition, many people tend to stop at the store on the way home from work.  What if homes were equipped with exterior-accessible storage refrigerators or containers which were accessible via a keypad which vendors could access to deposit orders during the day?  Deliveries could then be done during less-used road times (e.g. late morning, early afternoon).
  2. Part of the joy of owning a car is driving it and setting it up for driver comfort.  If cars become self-driving, would people really want to own one, when if you needed one you could just call one up at will to have it pick you up?  With these sorts of pooled vehicles, carpooling could be very efficient, using algorithms to match people, pickup locations, and destinations to determine the most optimal routes.
  3. Related to the above, vehicles themselves would likely change.  The self-driving vehicles of today look like regular cars, similar to how the first “horseless carriages” looked like carriages.  But, vehicles could be optimized for their role.   For example, “carpool” vehicles could offer private transport within the same vehicle by providing dividers between the occupants.
  4. Parents, schools, churches, and other organizations could use self-driving vehicles to ferry kids to and from locations.  Have a baseball game?  A van could come pick up you and the others from your area.  Businesses could also offer such a service as a perk for their employees to get groups of them to and from work.
  5. Long haul trucks could be equipped to be self-driving, cutting down on transport times and allowing more truck traffic during the late-night hours.
  6. Technological innovation could help optimize road traffic.  For instance, if highways had a self-driving lane, then self-driving vehicles could travel at much higher speeds and much closer together, allowing computers to manage the flow and communicate with other self-driving vehicles in their lane.

These are just some of the potentials in which self-driving vehicles could help us transport goods and people more efficiently.  The initial reaction to any disruptive technological innovation tends to be to try to tax it out of existence and fight it, but the technology tends to come anyway.  We should be looking at the ways in which transportation and our lives would be bettered once we are freed from having to drive everywhere ourselves.

 

Zuckerberg at Harvard: Successes Come From Having Freedom to Fail

Facebook’s founder/CEO and one-time Ivy League student Mark Zuckerberg delivered the 366th Harvard commencement speech at his alma mater today. Zuckerberg launched Facebook from his dorm room there in 2004, but later suspended his studies in 2005 to focus entirely on his company. Zuckerberg was also awarded an honorary degree from Harvard today.

Here’s the full text of his speech. His speech also coincides with a recent news story of black Harvard students holding their own graduation ceremony, though many have viewed it as self-segregation.

Here’s Harvard reasoning for selecting Zuckerberg as commencement speaker:

“Mark Zuckerberg’s leadership has profoundly altered the nature of social engagement worldwide. Few inventions in modern times can rival Facebook in its far-reaching impact on how people around the globe interact with one another,” said Harvard President Drew Faust in a university press release. “And few individuals can rival Mark Zuckerberg in his drive to change our world through the innovative use of technology, as well as his commitment to advance science, enhance education, and expand opportunity through the pursuit of philanthropy.”

His full speech, which was broadcasted live on Facebook, can be found here. His talk begins at the 1 hour, 38 minute mark:

Zuckerberg’s talk was prefaced by Harvard President Drew Faust, the 28th president of Harvard University and the Lincoln Professor of History in Harvard’s Faculty of Arts and Sciences.

“We must always be ready to be wrong,” said President Drew Faust. “We must work to ensure that universities do not become bubbles isolated from the concerns and discourse of the society that surrounds them.”

During his talk to new Harvard graduates, Zuckerberg stressed the importance of Harvard graduates finding purpose in their lives.

“I’m here to tell you finding your purpose isn’t enough,” he said. “Purpose is that feeling that you’re part of something bigger than yourself. Purpose is what creates true happiness.”

He cited the advent of automation causing distress and pain for many Americans, and how people feel disconnected in an ever-connected world.  The casual observer can tell that Zuckerberg’s travels across the country have had an insurmountable effect on him. He stressed how meeting with and empathizing with different people can inspire people to “create a renewed sense of purpose.”

“It’s not enough to have that purpose yourself,” he said. “You have to create that sense of purpose for others.”

He broke his talk down into three main points on how Harvard students could promote purpose through big meaningful projects, redefining equality, and building community.

Big meaningful projects:

Zuckerberg’s first point encouraged graduates to find purpose to create big meaningful projects. He cited the construction of the Hoover Dam and the Moon Landing as accomplishments to model purpose after.

“Now it’s our generation’s turn to do great things,” said Facebook’s CEO and founder. “Ideas don’t come out fully formed.”

Zuckerberg ragged on the film industry for getting innovation wrong, citing that ideas take time to germinate and grow–how the idea of a single “Eureka!” moment grossly mischaracterizes innovation in the modern day.

“It’s good to be idealistic, but be prepared to be misunderstood, ” he added.

The speech then turned a bit more political, especially along the lines of combating climate change. However, I appreciated the point he made about new innovations for cures for cancer needing to be discovered and funded to put an end to horrible diseases. I think everyone regardless of political beliefs can agree with this point–especially if private enterprise is the financial catalyst behind this innovation.

Zuckerberg said in order to “create progress,” people must “create purpose.

Redefining equality

The second point of Zuckerberg’s talk focused on the idea of redefining equality. At first, I thought he would go full social justice warrior here, but he said some rather enlightening things. The following quote of his stood out to me the most:

“Our culture of entrepreneurship is how to create so much progress,” Zuckerberg said. “The greatest successes come from having the freedom to fail.”

Having the freedom to fail…he sounds like a fan of free enterprise! (He very well should be, despite some of his associations with overly left-leaning political groups.)

The 33-year-old billionaire added that in order to be successful, you must have a good idea and get lucky. No mention of success being guaranteed or handed to you? How refreshing!

His next point, however, lost me.

“Every generation expands its generation of equality,” said Zuckerberg. “Now it’s time for our generation to define a new social contract.”

Citing FDR’s New Deal and other lefty social programs, Zuckerberg proposed that society start measuring progress not just by GDP, but by the role an individual plays in society. It seemed like he was sounding off on a political platform for a prospective 2020 run–hinting at support from universal basic income, affordable childcare, and expanded educational opportunities.

But then he got back on script when he uttered, “Freedom to pursue purpose shouldn’t be free.” He added that Millennials should not only donate to charity but also give time to help people pursue their purpose in life. (Good!) He said creating the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative will create more equal opportunities, which is far preferable to government-sanctioned equality.

Building community

Mark Zuckerberg’s third and final call-to-action for Harvard graduates is to build community–especially global connections.

He said it’s imperative to create “purpose for everyone…in the world” citing our more interconnected world.  Action “starts in local communities,” Zuckerberg added.

“You are graduating into a world that needs purpose.”

Zuckerberg ended his speech with a Jewish prayer–which was quite unexpected, though he has abandoned atheism in recent years.

I would say that Zuckerberg has mellowed and matured over the last decade. Indeed, his company hasn’t been without controversy as we know. But any casual observer can see that he’s been making an effort to have Facebook cater to all viewpoints, perspectives, and people.

Earlier in the year, Zuckerberg pledged to visit all 50 states to meet everyday Americans. Some say this challenge to meet new people is indicative of a launch for a 2020 bid for president. However, I think he’s genuinely interested in making Facebook work for all users here in the U.S. and across the globe:

My personal challenge for 2017 is to have visited and met people in every state in the US by the end of the year. I’ve spent significant time in many states already, so I’ll need to travel to about 30 states this year to complete this challenge.

In October 2016, Zuckerberg took it to Facebook Live to announce a newfound appreciation for hunting.

“Things taste better when you make them yourself,” he said. “And they taste doubly better when you’ve hunted the animal yourself.” In 2011, he apparently pledged to only eat meat he kills or harvests. Below is the full live broadcast:

And perhaps his most interesting undertaking was returning to religion after dabbling in atheism.

While there were some mention of social justice platitudes–climate change, undocumented immigrants, etc.–dominating his speech, Zuckerberg wasn’t hostile to conservatives. His speech contained some good points we can all take to heart–especially the part about forging real connections in a disconnected world and making great change locally. (The old adage goes, all politics is local.) And I especially appreciated the part about him saying success comes from having the freedom to fail. How many liberal Silicon Valley executives admit to this? In fact, he didn’t say the government should come in and fix problems–whether failures or not. He encouraged people in their communities to make change. These are good baby steps; now to get him to open his mind to other things…That may take some time.

Facebook is the leading social media platform out there, with 1.94 billion monthly users (as of March 2017) and 1.15 billion mobile daily active users (as of December 2016). Zuckerberg has played a role in our daily lives, however big or small, with giving us Facebook. Let’s hope more Silicon Valley leaders take a page from the Zuckerberg playbook and try to relate better with us.

Amazon Books Hopes Its Stores Don’t Go Route of Past Booksellers

Amazon Books is slated to open its first brick-and-mortar store in New York City on Thursday. This will be the seventh physical store in the United States, with other locations in San Diego, Seattle, Chicago, Massachusetts, and Portland. Other stores are slated to open in the following cities: San Jose, CA; Walnut Creek, CA; Paramus, NJ; Bellevue, WA; and another location in NYC.

The NYC store is centrally located in Columbus Circle. Like other stores, this Manhattan location will use millions of customer ratings and reviews to help guide customers with a unique, Amazon-esque shopping experience. Here’s more on the store concept:

The store — which sells mostly books and some electronics, like the Amazon Echo — doesn’t have traditional price tags, and with the exception of new releases, it stocks only books that have an average online rating of four stars or above.

If you look closely at the new store, you’ll see that it resembles Barnes & Noble’s layout. Unlike Barnes & Noble, however, each book for sale is accompanied by an Amazon review coupled with its average online rating and the number of times customers have reviewed the book. There’s another caveat for any prospective Amazon Books customer: you won’t see traditional price tags on items there. Visitors to Amazon Books will have to make their purchases using through an Amazon Prime account, notably through their smartphones. Non-Amazon Prime members will have the option to pay for purchases using credit or debit cards.

“We had an opportunity to create a new kind of store and create a different experience in a physical world. Our special sauce is knowing the reading habits and passions of a city through our Amazon.com data,” said Jennifer Cast, the vice president of Amazon Books, to Business Insider in March.

In February 2016, a mall executive speculated that Amazon may open 300-400 brick-and-mortar stores–although Amazon hasn’t confirmed these plans. Amazon isn’t only experimenting with book stores. It has also set its sights on a grocery store concept in Seattle, Washington.

Amazon is positioned to do well as a company going forward. However, will its book store concept go the way of Borders Books or Family Christian Stores? Or will it use its prowess to outlast past booksellers and use existing tools in place to thrive in an every-changing technological world?

Reading a book has evolved from the early days of Johannes Gutenberg revolutionizing the printing press to reading e-books on a Kindle or iPad. Some believe books are totally and utterly obsolete–as one NYC school trashed all of its books citing how “outdated” they were compared to new technology. How sad. Perhaps Amazon’s efforts will bring about a resurgence of brick-and-mortar book stores? Let’s hope so.

Apple Launches New Initiative To Better Humanize Their Services, Products

Fellow Apple users should check out the company’s new initiative “Today at Apple” if they haven’t already. This includes a whole host of free classes–ranging from photo and video to music, coding, art and design and more–at your nearby Apple store to become a more adept iPhone or Mac user. The planned initiative is said to go live this month in 271 domestically-based Apple stores and overall in 495 stores.

In a press release, the company’s Senior Vice President of Retail said the initiative is all about educating and inspiring the clientele they serve to produce a better Apple experience.

“At the heart of every Apple Store is the desire to educate and inspire the communities we serve,” said Angela Ahrendts, Apple’s senior vice president, Retail. “‘Today at Apple’ is one of the ways we’re evolving our experience to better serve local customers and entrepreneurs. We’re creating a modern-day town square, where everyone is welcome in a space where the best of Apple comes together to connect with one another, discover a new passion, or take their skill to the next level. We think it will be a fun and enlightening experience for everyone who joins.”
The free courses will be available to Apple users of all ages and skill levels. Moreover, the series will include a section dedicated to children called “Kids Hour“:
  • Kids Hour is designed to spark imagination and creativity through fun, hands-on projects. Sessions include coding with Sphero robots, Creating Music with GarageBand and Making Movies Together with iMovie.

The “Today at Apple” sessions will also include the following courses: Photo or Sketch Walks to capture moments using new techniques, coding via Swift Playgrounds, exploring new techniques and styles in Photo Lab,  Pro Series classes on Final Cut Pro X and Logic Pro, and a lecture called Perspectives and Performances that allows artists and musicians to share their talents live.

Apple is one of the most successful companies out there–often attracting a cult-like following. Their attempt to humanize their products and services, however, should be applauded. Apple realizes technology should be a friend and not a foe. More companies need to be attuned to customer needs and offer some skill building  in the process.

 

Sony Alpha: The Star Eater

If you follow me on Instagram you’ll notice it is both the one place I rarely engage in politics and also one of my hobbies has increasingly become astrophotography. I sit out in the quiet of the night and take pictures of the stars, nebulas, and planets. The picture above is one I took of the Orion nebula with a Canon 70D attached to my telescope. I’m just starting out and have a lot to learn. One thing I have learned already is that the Sony alpha series of cameras has been badly screwed up by Sony.

I have a Sony a7rii. I had a Canon 70D and once I got comfortable I realized that you date your cameras and marry your lenses. I already have an expensive Sony E-mount lens for an FS7 video camera so I figured I would move over to Sony for photography. I have not been disappointed except in astrophotography. But the disappointment leads to a greater concern with Sony.

Back before digital, photographers used film. Film had negative prints that were then used to render photographs. Fiddling with the negatives in various ways could enhance the picture in various ways. The digital equivalent is the RAW file. A RAW file captures all the information a digital camera sensor records and that file can be manipulated to pull out color from shadows or tone down exposure. The RAW should serve as a digital negative, giving you exactly what the camera sees.

Unfortunately, Sony has updated their popular alpha series of cameras. The result is that stars get eaten.

Sony, through a firmware update, placed an algorithm in its cameras that registers sharp, bright, small stars as hot pixels and tries to erase them. That would not be a problem if Sony just did this with a jpeg image file. But Sony has sought to do this in the RAW files, altering the RAW image itself, which is unusual in digital photography. The result is that many crisp photos of the night sky are now muddied and diminished. Sony’s algorithm confuses stars for hot pixels and erases them from the night sky.

This had just been a problem on long exposures on the “bulb” setting, but more recently Sony has carried the algorithm over to any exposure from 4 seconds and above on any setting. It may yield some great day time shots, but it renders the camera unusable at night.

That is unfortunate. I really love the a7rii. I hope they release an a9 version with sLog and I will gladly upgrade. But I cannot use my Sony camera at night for long exposures. The details I might otherwise capture are lost to an algorithm Sony told no one about and for which they provide no way to turn off. That is disappointing.