Category Archives: Gadgeteering

Personal tech, or Things That Go Beep.

Phone troubles? Call now!

I tried to email Verizon through the wireless website about a problem with my LG POS. I selected my topic from the drop down menu…

Topic: Phones and Accessories
Subtopic: Phone is Not Working [sic creative capitalization]

…and was presented with this:

While there’s little I can tolerate less than bad customer service—perhaps the most valuable business tool there is and the easiest to way to get and maintain customer loyalty—I find the meta-irony of these instructions endlessly amusing.

Thank you, Verizon, the aloof, elusive hipster of wireless communication.

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Resigns of the Times

We’re used to typos. We’re also used to typos our phones make for us. But real life persists, and we mustn’t blithely assume that just because we don’t want to hear it means it’s not the truth.

Sometimes our brothers really are fucking dudes in the supply closet.

[Thanks, LAA]

The Unhappy Mediator, Sewing the Seeds of Innovation

A few months back I wrote a story for O, The Oprah Magazine about a designer in Long Beach, California with a bright idea to make a public sculpture that’s also a solar generator. His name is Darren Saravis and he calls his invention the SolarFlora.

I liked the idea enough to pitch it to O. O liked it enough to run the story. And someone liked the story enough to call Darren and invite him to give a TED talk at a local SoCal event. Well, the circle was completed when I got an email from Darren asking if I’d work with him to write his speech. He was having trouble putting his thoughts into words and hoped I could help. A big fan of both Darren and TED, I was more than happy to collaborate. We went back and forth for a few days and here’s what we came up with. Darren was nervous about the talk, but I think he pulled it off swimmingly.

Old Testament, New Media

It’s important for observant jews to adapt to the evolution of modern technology. But remember, you can’t block God. He’ll totally know.

Semicolon? More Like Semi-Awesome.

I love it when I see two of my favorite things put together. In this case: proper punctuation and going out for Japanese.

For more on how to use the semicolon, please see the Oatmeal’s summary lesson.

For another pleasing paring, watch the okonomiyaki robot in action. Okonomiyaki, a type of Japanese omelette-pancake, roughly translates to “your favorites, grilled.” Try not to drool; he might short circuit.

I love the taste of egg and innovation.

Buy One Now

Whether or not you speak Spanish, you’ll understand the simple elegance of the product being presented in the video above. It’s a truly transcendent technology. Transplendent, even.

 

[Thanks, Kate.]

I Can Hear You Sucking

an open letter

 

Dear everyone else on the subway,

Your headphones suck. So does your taste in music, but that’s not the point. The point is that I shouldn’t know you listen to crap because I am a stranger. But I do know, because your headphones are garbage and in order for you to hear music at your desired audio strength, you have to crank your volume so goddam high that I can hear it on the other side of the goddam train car. Sometimes I can even hear your blasted techno mariachi over my own music.

It’s really bad for your hearing, you know, to listen to your music that loud all the time. Nor is it any good for society — like there isn’t enough grumbling animosity without your subjecting a closely contained cadre of commuters to your autotuned Top-40 and nü metal rubbish.

Here are a few ways you can help make this city a less miserable place to be at rush hour — and maybe save yourself some hearing loss and cred-damage in the process:

Tip 1: Press play and hold the speaker openings of your earbuds together. What you hear emanating from between them is roughly what I hear sitting across the car from you — and it’s why I keep glaring at you.
Tip 2: Steve Jobs isn’t god. Don’t use iPhone headphones. They’re better now? Sure. But still terrible. Upgrade that shit. Stat.
Tip 3: A little isolation goes a long way. You won’t need to turn up your jams so high if you can more effectively cut out background noise. Go for earbuds with some rubberiness to ’em that go a bit into the ear. If you’re really resistant to a new pair, or are a total cheapskate, try something like acoustibuds, which slip over the speaker heads and guide soundwaves more directly into your ear — so you can turn it down, for pete’s sake — and block them from escaping into the earholes of innocent bystanders.
Tip 4: Everyone on this train is judging you by your music. Just keep that in mind. Especially on the L.