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