editorials

Happy Birthday To You Who Won’t Read This

Happy Birthday To You Who Won’t Read This

Today is my wife's birthday. She isn't sentimental about birthdays or most holidays, so I won't get in trouble for not remembering to wish her a happy birthday before she ran out the door, rushing to get our son to pre-school on time. I'll probably get in trouble for how much I spent on her present. She asked for a spa day. A massage and a facial. I'll never understand why women like to get their faces poked at as a gift, but she doesn't understand why I sit in front of the television twiddling my thumbs for hours at a time.

Continue Reading

We Need To Talk

We Need To Talk

When I think of the communication breakdown that we're experiencing in our culture, my first instinct is to blame AOL. Yes, AOL, which for many of us was the first way we experienced the Internet. Or, more specifically, I blame Elwood Edwards, whose voice you would hear every time you logged onto AOL and discovered that "You've Got Mail." Was there any sweeter sound? It was so optimistic. A lilting tone with an upward lift at the end. A single spondaic stress with an iamb at the end. It was like the dinging sound of a slot machine when you win. Vegas casinos have long known that people will associate that ringing with winning in a Pavlovian sense, and will keep inserting money not just until they win, but until they hear the reassuring "ding." The same was true for AOL. We would log on multiple times, waiting as the page slowly filled in over our dial-up connections, until the end when Mr. Edwards would make his proud proclamation. Or not, at which point we'd feel dejected. Like we had failed, somehow.

Continue Reading

Why Apple’s all-SSD, Light Peak MacBook Pro makes sense

Why Apple’s all-SSD, Light Peak MacBook Pro makes sense

Apple's intentions for their flagship laptop range, the MacBook Pro, made headlines this week with a new set of rumors suggesting 2011's model would mark the transition to not only solid-state storage but Intel's Light Peak connectivity for high-speed data transfers. Whether this particular speculation turns out to be accurate or not, SSD - and abandoning optical drives - certainly seems the most likely route for Apple to take.

Continue Reading

In Search of Solder and a Sense of Achievement

In Search of Solder and a Sense of Achievement

Should all geeks have soldering iron burns on their hands if they want the title? Probably not; after all, another hallmark of the ideal geek is an affinity with code, making software do amazing things. They come in all shapes and sizes, then, but there's a special, envious place in my heart for those to whom resister colors are meaningful rather than decorative. I look at the sometimes-useful, sometimes-bizarre, invariably brilliant projects documented on MAKE; I look at modders and DIY tinkerers like jkkmobile, slotting HSPA modems where manufacturers never intended them to sit, and I wish I could be trusted with a soldering iron and screwdriver set to do the same.

Continue Reading

Black Friday Is Never Good For My Tech Addiction

Black Friday Is Never Good For My Tech Addiction

If you’ve been following my columns here on SlashGear, you know that I’m a bit of a tech addict. Whether it’s video games, set-top boxes, new televisions, or anything in-between, I’m typically ready and willing to buy it -- assuming of course, that it makes proper financial sense to acquire yet another gadget.

Continue Reading

Are Premium 3D Glasses Worth It?

Are Premium 3D Glasses Worth It?

I was going to review Harry Potter this weekend, but I realized that would be a pointless endeavor. I try to review films on the edge of good taste, to either save my readers from a horrible film, or recommend a surprisingly good one. Harry Potter is a no-brainer movie. If you have seen the first six movies, you must see this one. If you haven't seen them, you have about 15 hours of movie watching to do before Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part I will make any sense. So, instead of reviewing the obvious blockbuster hit, I decided to try an experiment.

Continue Reading

Why 2014 Will Not Be Like 1984

Why 2014 Will Not Be Like 1984

Or: Will Google's Open Model Overcome Apple's Closed Model?

There is an argument I’m hearing a lot lately that Apple is repeating the mistakes it made in the PC era again today with the iPhone. The argument – which I’ve heard from financial analysts, journalists, and my friend Marc on our walk home from synagogue – goes something like this:

In 1984 Apple ran an ad during the Super Bowl promising that 1984 would not be like [the totalitarian world of George Orwell’s novel] “1984.” Apple then launched the Macintosh, which had an enormous lead over the rest of the PC industry thanks to its graphical user interface. But Steve Jobs decided to keep the Mac a completely closed system while Bill Gates over at Microsoft invited all comers to build apps for MS-DOS. Thanks to the open nature of the PC platform, clone makers from Compaq to Gateway to Dell built more powerful hardware than Apple, Microsoft eventually built its own graphical user interface, and the Mac was relegated to 2% market share.

Continue Reading

Why my Nintendo Wii has been collecting dust

Why my Nintendo Wii has been collecting dust

Now, before I start talking about why my Wii has been collecting dust, let me just make this clear: I have been a fan of Nintendo products since the 1980s. And each new Nintendo console typically finds its way into my home on launch day. I also enjoy The Legend of Zelda and the Mario franchise.

But that doesn’t mean that I won’t criticize the Wii.

Continue Reading

Cut, Copy and Hate

Cut, Copy and Hate

Digital culture ran smack into politics this week when celebrity gossip site TMZ published what it claimed (uncontested by those involved) were screen shots of a Facebook conversation had by Willow Palin, the daughter of the controversial political figure Sarah Palin. I remember the days when a politician was stabbed in the back by a gruff, anonymous source who used a fake name and passed dossiers in a dark parking garage. Reporters would work for days to verify the claims just to make sure they were true. Now, all you have to do is press shift-cmd-4, and you can make a perfect copy that you can distribute to the entire world in an instant. It's still easy to fake information, but it's even easier to pass along the raw data.

Continue Reading

A Modest Travel Safety Proposal

A Modest Travel Safety Proposal

It is a sad day when I board a plane and all I see around me are potential terrorists. And I'm not just talking about the obvious terrorists, the disgruntled white Midwestern men. Remembering that most successful terrorists look just like us when they fly, it is impossible to feel safe and secure on an airplane. These potential enemies are all wearing underwear, in which they could smuggle explosive devices (or large sums of cash, if you live in Md). They all have shoes on, with thick soles that could easily hide weapons or bomb-making material. They bring with them luggage, certainly large enough to carry a mass destruction device. Everywhere I look, all I see is danger.

Continue Reading

Why my next HDTV will be a Vizio

Why my next HDTV will be a Vizio

Whenever I talk about HDTVs with other tech lovers, they typically point to Samsung LED-LCDs or Panasonic plasmas as the go-to televisions for the person looking for the best picture. And as an owner of a Panasonic plasma, I never protest. My 50-inch HDTV has been a treat to have in the house.

But when I get my hands on my next HDTV, I won’t be buying a Samsung LED or even a plasma to replace my beloved Panasonic. No, when I finally head to the store to get my hands on a new HDTV, I’m going to buy a Vizio set.

Continue Reading

The Social Tide Receding

The Social Tide Receding

There were a few instances that made me realize my social networking habits had gone too far, for too long. One of them went something like this. I would say to my wife something like: "Hey, my friend Gina is pregnant."

"Who's Gina?" My wife would ask.

Continue Reading