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.

Reunions in the Time of Facebook

Reunions in the Time of Facebook

One of my Facebook friends recently posted about her 20-year high school reunion. We went to the same high school, and she was a year ahead of me. I have perhaps a dozen other Facebook friends from my high school who were all in that same graduating class, but she was the only one who mentioned the reunion. This took me by surprise for a couple of reasons. First, I had forgotten that my own high school 20-year reunion will happen next year. For those readers who are now thinking about how old I am to be writing such a thing, trust me, you won’t feel so old when you get here.

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Will Google Glass Help Us Remember Too Well?

Will Google Glass Help Us Remember Too Well?

When Google sent BASE jumpers hurtling from a blimp as part of the first day Google I/O Keynote presentation, I was barely impressed. The jumpers were demonstrating the Project Glass wearable computer that Google is developing, and which I and just about all of my friends are lusting over. I had seen plenty of skydivers jumping with wearable cameras strapped to them. Then the Googlers landed, and another team started riding BMX bikes on the roof of the Moscone center, where the conference is being held. Yawn. Finally, climbers rappelled down the side of the building. Ho-hum. The point seemed to be that Google Glass was real, and that the glasses would not fall off your face as you fell onto San Francisco from a zeppelin. But then Google showed something that blew my mind.

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Quitting the Internet is Silly

Quitting the Internet is Silly

Paul Miller, a writer for the Web site The Verge, has famously quit the Internet. For a year. I say famously, because every writer from The Verge that I follow is completely obsessed with this topic. While this is a site that normally operates like a Band of Brothers and Sisters on social networks, the level of buzz that Miller's decision has garnered has been even more extreme. CNN covered this 'event' as news. Let me reiterate that I follow almost every writer from The Verge on Twitter, and I count quite a few of them as friends and the rest as respected colleagues. So I hope they'll take this gentle ribbing in stride. But I must say, quitting the Internet is silly.

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Friends Don’t Let Friends Look Ugly On Facebook

Friends Don’t Let Friends Look Ugly On Facebook

Since I joined Facebook, I have excised exactly 2 photos from my timeline at the request of my friends. The first was a photo of a friend who is now an up and coming actor. He's doing great work on the big screen, both here in the U.S. and in southeast Asia, and his popularity is starting to soar. We used to sing together in an a cappella group. Think "The Sing Off," but with more stubble and less talent. I posted a goofy looking picture of our old group, and I tagged all of us. Then I got an email from him asking me to remove his name.

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The Simplest Things Are Not The Cheapest

The Simplest Things Are Not The Cheapest

My parents bought my toddler a kid’s tablet as a Hanukkah gift. I had been checking out the VTech Innotab and Leap Frog Leapster tabs as options for him. They bought him the Innotab, with an accompanying, rugged digital camera built for kids. The Innotab is a tough little device, with rubber bumpers all around. It has a resistive touchscreen and a stylus that slots into the back. It comes with some basic programs, and you can download more apps from the company website. It's almost easy enough, but having used it for a few months with my son, I’ve come to realize a fascinating change in the state of technology. The more you pay for a product, the simpler it becomes.

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Keep the Discs in my Xbox and PlayStation

Keep the Discs in my Xbox and PlayStation

The prognostication on the next generation of consoles has begun. Like Federal elections, it probably began the minute the last generation hit the market. No sooner does the Playstation 3 hit the market than spectators start wondering about the PlayStation 4. Did they expect Sony or Microsoft to roll over and play dead? Well, in the case of Sega, this may have actually happened. But while I enjoy a good product rumor as much as the next tech junkie, I think that it is not only too early to start discussing the next generation of console, it might even be dangerous for us, the players.

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The Social Interview

The Social Interview

I should have known something was wrong when I sat down at the table. My interviewer was well dressed. She wore a neat pants suit and her hair was pulled back in a somewhat severe bun. But the questions she asked seemed out of place for the setting. She started by picking up my resume and asking about my college days.

“I see you went to Brandeis University. I had a friend who went there. Did you know Shana Liebowitz?”

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I Cheat at Foursquare

I Cheat at Foursquare

My name is Philip Berne, and I cheat at Foursquare. I’m unrepentant and I have no remorse for my behavior. I will not stop, even now that my secret is out. What are you going to do about it?

I check into places I have not been. Sometimes, those places are far away from where I’m sitting. Before I ever visited Good 2 Go Taco, I checked in there on Foursquare. I was more than 10 miles away at the time. I did it to needle my boss, who was mayor of the joint at the time. I was threatening to steal all of his mayorships from him, and I knew that Good 2 Go was his most prized mayoral possession.

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Sqoot and Skedaddle

Sqoot and Skedaddle

If there is a rule to being offensive, it’s this: you can say whatever you like, as long as it’s funny. That’s true on stage, on the Web, and in person. I’ve been friends with some truly offensive people. They have said horrible things to me, things that echo the bullies and tormentors of middle school days gone by. But my friends were also hilarious. I laughed along, often at my own expense, and I forgive them their trespasses.

Sqoot, a company promoting a coding marathon in Beantown called the Boston API Jam, came up with a doozy. In the invitation to the event, Sqoot lists some of the perks for attendees. Among these: Massages; a Live DJ; Gym Access; Top Shelf liquor; Women; free dark chocol . . . wait a minute, did they say women? Women are a perk? Yes, indeed.

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The Smell of Gaming

The Smell of Gaming

Walking my dog the other night, a breeze wafted in over the ploughed field next to my apartment building, and a scent in the air brought me back to my elementary school cafeteria. It wasn't the pizza. It wasn't the milk served in sealed plastic bags. It was just a general smell. The cleaning solutions. The plastic and linoleum. The scent of a few hundred kids rushing through in a couple hours. Something on the air caught my nose, and I was instantly transported back to a time I didn't realize I could remember. Such is the power of scent memory.

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