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.

Time to Upgrade My Parents

Time to Upgrade My Parents

Mom . . . Dad . . . we need to talk. And by "we," I mean I'm going to talk, and you're just going to agree with everything I say and follow my advice forevermore. And by "talk" I mean I'm going to write a public column on SlashGear, and hopefully you won't really read it, because you've always taken my sardonic humor as just a little too mean. Anyway, I love you both, but it's time to have a technology intervention. I'm going to keep this simple and easy. But if something doesn't change, I just don't know if I can provide the kind of technology support you need anymore.

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A Negative Correlation Between Fun and Facebook

A Negative Correlation Between Fun and Facebook

I have a friend who is not on Facebook, and never has been. One friend. Let's call him Marley, like the puppy (don't spoil the ending, I'm still reading). He didn't leave Facebook. He's never been a member. He knows about it. All of his friends are on Facebook. Marley's wife is on Facebook, and she's my friend there (and in real life). Marley's brother is on Facebook, where he also promotes a band and local tour dates. But Marley flatly refuses to join.

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How Much Is A Twitter Follower Worth?

How Much Is A Twitter Follower Worth?

A technology Web site, PhoneDog.com, and one of its former chief editors, Noah Kravitz, are embroiled in a legal battle that could have fascinating repercussions for social networks. Kravitz is suing PhoneDog over contractual issues, but it's the counter-suit that really has my attention. PhoneDog is suing Kravitz over the use of his Twitter handle. They claim that he improperly kept the Twitter name after he left the company, and that he owes them damages of $2.50 for each Twitter follower he took with him, for each month he held them after he left. At 17,000 followers when he left, and 8 months since then, that starts damages at $370,000. So, that's not even the full value PhoneDog puts on the Twitter account, but rather the value that Kravitz took with him when he left. PhoneDog essentially believes a key Twitter account is worth half a million dollars per year.

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How We Can Get Along, Even Though You’re Wrong

How We Can Get Along, Even Though You’re Wrong

It's hard to imagine how we can all get along. Whether in the tech world, in the political arena, in love, and in the clash of different cultures. It's hard, because you are so wrong. You are so very wrong. I know what I'm talking about. I used your device for years, and now I switched, because I'm smarter than you are. I was one of the first to use it. I told everyone. I've been telling people all along. I told you. I told my mother. She didn't listen, and now look what she's stuck with. You didn't listen, because you just don't get it.

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To Snark, or Not to Snark

To Snark, or Not to Snark

I used to be the kind of guy who would yell at customer service representatives on the phone. I would call up my bank, or my airline, and scream at the person on the other end as if it were his fault that I had accidentally paid my electric bill too early, thus insuring the account had insufficient funds for the next 4 visits to Starbucks. I don't think I ever ended one of those conversations without threatening to never, ever do business with that company again. I'm sure Delta was quaking in their boots thinking about losing the $389 in ticket sales I generate for them once a year. But somehow, they survived.

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Rick Perry and the Pork Chop Twitter Block

Rick Perry and the Pork Chop Twitter Block

Down here in Texas, we invented the State Fair. That may not technically be true, but everything you know and love to hate about state fairs, we invented. The Corny Dog came from Texas (and yes, you've been spelling it wrong all this time). Put a stick in a hotdog, dip it in batter and fry it, and you're halfway to Dallas. Fried butter? Suck it, Iowa. We've had fried butter in Texas for years. And fried beer. And deep fried frito pie, which is fritos topped with chili and cheese, somehow dipped in batter and deep fried into a mound of goodness. Take a whiff. Ahhhh . . . wait, don't smell the air. We're at Air Quality Level Orange down here, so maybe you should just look at the pretty pictures.

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Is Anything Really Necessary?

Is Anything Really Necessary?

Necessary. It's like a dirty word. A curse, or at least it was at my house. Activities were defined on a scale of how "necessary" they were. Snagging a couple Tagalongs before dinner. Is that necessary? Want to drive 20 miles to visit my girlfriend on a school night. Is it necessary to see her before the weekend? Waiting in line at midnight for the new Sonic the Hedgehog game (it was the 90s, after all). Definitely unnecessary. It is with those voices in my head that I read Mike Perlman's column about whether tablet computers are ". . . Really Necessary." Necessary? I consider myself an expert on battling the subject.

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The Subjectivity of Natural Scrolling

The Subjectivity of Natural Scrolling

Apple released its new OS X Lion for Mac computers recently, and there was one controversial change that had the technorati chatting nonstop. In the new Lion OS, Apple changed the direction of scrolling. I use a MacBook Pro (among other machines, I'm OS agnostic). On my MacBook, I scroll by placing two fingers on the trackpad and moving them up or down. On the old system, moving my fingers down meant the object on the screen moved up. My fingers are controlling the scroll bars. Moving down means I am pulling the scroll bars down, revealing more of the page below what is visible. So, the object moves upwards. On the new system, moving my fingers down meant the object on screen moves down. My fingers are now controlling the object. If I want the object to move up, and reveal more of what is beneath, I move my fingers up, and content rises on screen.

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Climbing the Mount Everest of Twitter

Climbing the Mount Everest of Twitter

A tech journalist friend of mine, Noah Kravitz, recently retweeted a message from a kid in Ireland, and I found it interesting. He said:

“@noahkravitz Hi Noah, Im trying an experiment to see if someone who isnt famous at all can get 1m followers. Can you help?” - @elsparkio

Something about this idea caught my attention. I think it was the post-structuralist nature of the endeavor. At its heart, post-modernism, and perhaps all nascent art forms, is all about finding the boundaries that you did not know existed, and then crossing them. If you look at a piece of art work and ask yourself “Is that art?” it’s probably post-modernist.

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Revisiting My Anti-Tech Resolutions

Revisiting My Anti-Tech Resolutions

I’m going to start by congratulating myself. I have stuck with some of my original Anti-Tech Resolutions longer than I have ever stuck with a resolution in the past. Before I get specific about my progress with each of my original goals, I’ll say that the first thing I learned about keeping a resolution is that it is much easier to vow NOT to do something than it is to promise yourself you WILL do something. Maybe that’s a lesson I will take into any resolutions I make of a non-technical nature. Instead of vowing to lose weight, I will vow to not drink sugary soda. Instead of vowing to go to the gym, I will vow to not go to the gym.

I can already see the flaws in my plan.

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Not Enough Devices? Here’s Why You Need More

Not Enough Devices? Here’s Why You Need More

I love a good smartphone. I work for Samsung, and I carry a Galaxy S II that I’ve been "testing" for an extended period of time. I use just about every feature on it. I listen to music. I navigate. I talk and text. I take pictures and video. I’ve even read books on it. I’m not pushing my product, I can hardly name a smartphone on the market that cannot do these things. But I just read Jon Pilon’s column on TheNextWeb.com about consolidating all of your gadgets. You know, because most people want to carry around only one gadget, instead of a half dozen. Right?

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Can the Internet and Nostalgia Get Along?

Can the Internet and Nostalgia Get Along?

Emily Price has an interesting piece on TechnoBuffalo about whether the Internet is killing our memory. In fact, she’s really talking about nostalgia, not recall memory in general, but it’s a fascinating topic worth some exploration. The real question is whether the existence of things in digital form or physical form is more pleasing to our recollection, and I do not think there is an easy answer. Undoubtedly, there are things that feel better in the hand than on the screen, and there are ways of storing valuable memories digitally that are more reliable than their physical versions. But I also wonder if this transition, from physical to digital memory, won’t also teach us that there are certain memories we should simply give up for good.

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