Author Archives: Philip Berne

By day, Philip Berne works for a major mobile technology manufacturer. At night, he dons his Batman cape and cowl, pours himself a dram, and sits in a dark room contemplating the intersection of culture and technology. His opinions were originally his own, but have since been digitally enhanced by George Lucas.

Hey, TSA, Stop Looking At My Bum

Hey, TSA, Stop Looking At My Bum

The so-called Body Scanner that the TSA is itching to install in airports is among the sleaziest infringements on our right to privacy that I've ever seen from a government agency. It represents the limits of privacy I'm willing to give up in return for my security. I don't have anything to hide and I'm willing to allow that the government should have some intrusive snooping abilities as part of its job to security the general populace. Want to listen for keywords on my phone conversations? Fine. Want to take pictures of me from outer space? Go right ahead. Search my bags. Swab my clothes. Let your dogs and your machines sniff me to your heart's content.

"Excuse me sir, but I'm going to have to see you naked."

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Paul Carr Should Die

Paul Carr Should Die

Paul Carr over at TechCrunch has written one of the all-time most boneheaded articles I've ever read. He's arguing in favor of death. His own death and yours. Carr takes on so-called gerontologists, which is basically a term for scientists who study aging, some with the goal of living forever (or at least a really long time). Carr argues the other side. While a gerontologist might believe humans should live for a thousand years, Carr thinks we need to die some time around 80.

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Stop the Killing

Stop the Killing

Soon, Microsoft will launch an iPad killer. I know this because Steve Ballmer made some comments about how Microsoft doesn't like to see rival Apple stealing the show with their tablet, and the Microsoft CEO claims the company will have an answer to Apple's product soon. So, CNN emblazons its home page with a declaration that an iPad killer from Microsoft is on the way.

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5 Gadgets That Changed My World, Part 1

5 Gadgets That Changed My World, Part 1

In the spirit of fellow SlashGear columnist Michael Gartenberg, who recently published his own list of "5 Gadgets That Changed The World For Me," I decided to tackle my own version of this list. While Michael's list tended towards gadgets that made a huge impact the gadget world as a whole, these are five gadgets that were not so universally important, but had a significant impact on the way I was shaped as a person, and not just as a gadget fiend.

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My Favorite Dentist

My Favorite Dentist

On the night my son was born, I was a couple hundred miles away, hurtling north on the New Jersey turnpike trying to get home in time. I had my mother next to me, but my wife was alone in Morristown, NJ, where we lived. She wasn't due for another three weeks, and I had been in my hometown of Columbia, Md, for a dental appointment.

Aren't there dentists in New Jersey? I'm sure there are, and probably even good ones. But for most of my life, since I was a very young child, I've had the same dentist: my father. He's actually a very good dentist, and besides our familial relationship, if I were any normal patient I'd probably want to keep him even after I moved away.

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The New Dark Ages

The New Dark Ages

Sometimes I wonder if we're not entering a dark ages. With modern technology and storage techniques, I always assumed that our culture, our artwork, our philosophy would never disappear. It might go out of fashion, but future generations will always be able to turn on Ferris Bueller and say to themselves, "Okay, that's the 1980s. Now where's my Pearl Jam record? I want to experience the Nineties." Recently, I haven't been so sure.

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Avoiding the Social

Avoiding the Social

The range of people I know who have completely ignored Facebook sometimes astonishes me almost as much as its explosive growth. Some of the most important people in my life are social networking luddites, with little to no presence whatsoever on Facebook, MySpace, Twitter, or any photo sharing sites. But even though they aren't present, they are impossible to ignore. I'm still friends with plenty of people they know, so their social web is still intact, but there's a chunk missing from the middle where they would usually hold it all together.

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Cheating is Institutional

Cheating is Institutional

When I was a High School teacher, I pulled a stunt that went against every gut instinct I had, though I wasn't sure why. I gave my students a quiz, set up a hidden camera, and left the room. It was an Apple iSight camera. Back then, it looked like a tiny telescope from the future.

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