Every­body just please stop say­ing “Inter­net of Things.”

January 3, 2016 January 3, 2016 tech by Scott No Comments

LG B450

You’ve prob­a­bly heard of the B450, the hottest new flip phone from LG. It sup­ports voice calls, text mes­sag­ing, and it can take pic­tures with up to 1.3 mil­lion pix­els. The mar­ket­ing lit­er­a­ture promi­nent­ly fea­tures stock pho­tos of elder­ly peo­ple smil­ing at each oth­er.

F need­ed a new dumb­phone so we brought one of these bad boys home today. I was dis­ap­point­ed to find that you can’t sync files to it over USB. It only shows up as a USB device if the SIM card is removed, but then you’re locked out of the phone. That’s crazy. (Hey, it’s 2015, isn’t it?)

Copy­ing con­tacts off the old dumb­phone was easy with Wammu, which can quick­ly save them in any of a half-dozen file for­mats. But get­ting them onto the new one was going to be prob­lem­at­ic. The man­u­al says noth­ing about con­tact sync­ing, nor are there any menu options for it. LG offers no desk­top soft­ware for it. There is even an offi­cial T-Mobile forum post claim­ing that con­tact sync is just not pos­si­ble.

Wrong they are! In an act of des­per­a­tion, I found that you can send it a vCard (VCF) file over Blue­tooth. The phone responds by ask­ing if you want to restore con­tacts from the file. What! Since this is an undoc­u­ment­ed fea­ture, I here­by com­mit it to the Inter­webs.

August 18, 2015 August 18, 2015 tech by Scott 1 Comment

I read a lot of tech jour­nal­ism. Not because I con­sume a lot of tech­nol­o­gy, but because I cre­ate it–this is my world, and I feel oblig­ed to know what’s going on. But most tech writ­ing is pret­ty bad.

So I was not very sur­prised that, since the announce­ment of the Apple Watch, every­one start­ed writ­ing about it as if the smart­watch itself was a new tech­nol­o­gy that will dis­rupt every­thing. Apple could release a new doorstop tomor­row and, though I’m sure it would be very nice and pack­aged in an attrac­tive box, it would be hailed as a rev­o­lu­tion­ary change in the his­to­ry of prop­ping doors.

What I did not expect is a flur­ry of sto­ries writ­ten as if the high-end wrist­watch itself has just been invent­ed. What are the rel­a­tive mer­its of this band or that? How do they get it to be so shiny? Look how dif­fi­cult it is to man­u­fac­ture a com­pli­cat­ed thing in such a small pack­age– I saw it myself in this flaw­less­ly-illu­mi­nat­ed indus­tri­al film!

Sor­ry, but these prob­lems were solved ele­gant­ly 100 years ago with gears, cre­ativ­i­ty, imag­i­na­tion, and mag­ni­fi­ca­tion. And for the record I’m no longer impressed by the for­mu­la of, “It’s like X, but with a com­put­er inside.”

April 12, 2015 April 12, 2015 tech by Scott No Comments

I laughed when Face­book bought Insta­gram for $77 mil­lion per employ­ee. Now I see they are buy­ing What­sApp for rough­ly $320 mil­lion per employ­ee (or $500 mil­lion per engi­neer).

When I see these num­bers I think two things: one, why did I pick hard­ware over soft­ware? And two, the next ten years will bring us more of the breath­less opti­mism, teenage mil­lion­aires, and world­wide finan­cial cat­a­stro­phe that defined the last tech bub­ble.

February 19, 2014 February 19, 2014 tech by Scott 1 Comment

Co.Design: “Killed By Dig­i­tal: Pho­tos Cap­ture The Last Days Of Film Pro­jec­tion


October 19, 2013 October 19, 2013 tech by Scott No Comments

Agi­lent is split­ting itself again, this time to sep­a­rate the fast-grow­ing (and, appar­ent­ly, out­ra­geous­ly prof­itable) life sci­ences busi­ness from the rest of their oper­a­tions.

They haven’t yet come up with a name for the new elec­tron­ic mea­sure­ment com­pa­ny, but I have a good sug­ges­tion: Hewlett-Packard.

September 25, 2013 September 25, 2013 tech by Scott No Comments

I always thought my MacBook’s Thun­der­bolt-to-Eth­er­net don­gle ran hot. Sup­pos­ed­ly this is typ­i­cal for Thun­der­bolt cables.

Thermographic photo of laptop

July 18, 2013 July 18, 2013 tech by Scott No Comments

With one unfor­tu­nate typo I acci­den­tal­ly delet­ed the last 2 weeks of e-mail. So if you’re wait­ing for me to get back to you, and I don’t… it looks like I have a good excuse for once!

November 23, 2008 November 23, 2008 tech by Scott 2 Comments