Like most of my fellow Connecticutians, I have been wandering the Nutmeg State since Sunday in search of warmth, electricity, and an internet connection—in that order. I found warmth at a friend’s house thanks to his fireplace, and on Monday morning after checking in on my grandmother I headed to the mall, which never lost power. I, along with much of the greater Hartford area, was looking for free WiFi and a plug to charge my various devices.
I was out of luck.
The line out of the Starbucks was so long I didn’t even bother to stop for a chai latte, and instead I started walking up and down the aisles, stepping over teenagers without school and past their parents who were either sick of being stuck at home with them, or were trying to work. The children’s section was filled with adults, sprawled out around low, brightly colored tables with laptops and iPads (and sometimes both).
The first free outlet I found was outside the actual store in the mall. As I sat down on the floor in front of the pillar and outlet a mattress salesman emerged from his store to warn me that the outlet did not work—he’d been watching people sit down, plug-in, and then leave disappointed all morning. I should have known it was too good to be true. My laptop had some battery power left, however, and I was able to get onto the WiFi so I stayed put… until I realized that the hundreds of people who had the same idea I did were bogging down the connection. (more…)
Just a day after Apple revealed its iPhone 4s, co-founder Steve Jobs passed away. Whether you’re an Apple fanatic or not, if you’re under the age of 40, Jobs probably changed your world. Even if you carry a Zune, chances are you wouldn’t have an mp3 player at all without the iPod. What would all those Android phones be without the iPhone? And then, of course, there is the iPad… Without Steve Jobs we’d all still be reading news at our desktops, and we wouldn’t have an “app for that.” CNN reports:
“Steve Jobs is one of the great innovators in the history of modern capitalism,” New York Times columnist Joe Nocera said in August. “His intuition has been phenomenal over the years.”
Jobs’ death, while dreaded by Apple’s legions of fans, was not unexpected. He had battled cancer for years, took a medical leave from Apple in January and stepped down as chief executive in August because he could “no longer meet (his) duties and expectations.”
I’ve been watching as the uproar over Facebook’s changes infiltrates all the digital aspects of my life. #NewFacebook trended on Twitter, and my Facebook feed was filled with complaint-filled status updates. But even before Mark Zuckerberg held his most recent press conference, I was trying to figure out what was happening with small changes happening in the days before. (I’m still unsure about all these new groups–I liked it better when I just blocked people.) Still, I reserved comment–even when our former editorial assistant sent me a link about the new “Timeline” which is terrifying.
Facebook is, after all, a free tool that we have no obligation to use, but makes life more convenient in myriad ways. What right do we even have to complain? But then the #NewFacebook jumped from my digital life to my real life. On Saturday I was moving into a new house after many, many delays. My family mysteriously disappeared with a variety of excuses, while my friend, Melissa, and I continued to hunt through boxes in search of my utensils. Suddenly I heard banging on my door and horns honking outside. When I went to see what the hub-bub was about I found my friends and family bearing ice cream cake, food, gifts, and lots of booze.
This was all made possible by Facebook. (more…)
Anonymity on the web has its pros and its cons. If you’re a citizen living under a repressive regime, and looking to overthrow the government, anonymity is fundamental to your goal. If you’re a troll sitting in an American basement looking to trash your neighbor’s reputation, you probably don’t serve it. The New York Times is taking a new look at the consequences of online commenting in an article called “In Small Towns, Gossip Moves to the Web, and Turns Vicious” that focuses on Topix, a news aggregation site. The Times wrote:
A waitress, Pheobe Best, said that the site had provoked fights and caused divorces. The diner’s owner, Jim Deverell, called Topix a “cesspool of character assassination.” And hearing the conversation, Shane James, the cook, wandered out of the kitchen tense with anger. (more…)
Google kicked off the week with a couple of big news items. Daily Deal — a German Groupon-like company — says it is being bought by the search giant, which has been making in-roads into the American market with Google Offers. Googling isn’t confirming that purchase just yet, probably because it’s busy rolling out Google Wallet:
Google Wallet is an Android app that makes your phone your wallet. It stores virtual versions of your existing plastic cards on your phone. Simply tap your phone to pay and redeem offers using near field communication, or NFC.
This all seems like deja vu. For as long as rumors of Google Wallet have abounded, I’ve been skeptical. Surely there are early-adopters out there ready to put their financial info into this “lockable” wallet. I, however, keep having visions of lost phones dancing through my head. Even if it’s lockable, it’s probably still hackable (just ask Scarlett Johansson how secure her phone is). And what if I lose my phone while out at the mall — and I’ve obviously stopped carrying my regular wallet, otherwise what would be the point? I’d be without a phone to call anyone, and I’d be penniless.
For now wallet is only on Nexus S 4G by Google, so whether or not to go-walletless isn’t a decision this iPhone user has to make just yet. It does look like the Home Depot near my house accepts it, though, so maybe I’ll head over there and see if anyone else is taking up Google on this new payment option.
It’s hard to know what to think about the state of publishing. Every other day someone is declaring the book to be dead — and in between, there is someone rebutting the doomsday prophecies of the end of books. if you’re a new author trying to get into the book market, it’s downright anxiety inducing.
Over at The Guardian Lloyd Shepherd writes:
According to Nielsen BookScan, the publishing industry standard for book sales data, book sales are pretty healthy, with one significant proviso which I’ll come to. Ten years ago in 2001, 162m books were sold in Britain. Ten years later – a decade in which the internet bloomed, online gaming exploded, television channels proliferated, digital piracy rampaged and, latterly, recession gloomed – 229m books sold. So, a 42% increase in the number of books sold over the last 10 years. (more…)
During the 2008 presidential race, social media was the hot new tool. In a story called “TechPresident Takes a Web 2.0 Look at the 2008 Presidential Campaign” EContent studied the social effect. Now, as the country gears up for a new presidential campaign it seems that video games are getting in on the election game–in a slightly more sinister way.
A game called Tea Party Zombies Must Die is making headlines with violence and shock value. In 2008 we had a young, tech-savvy candidate pitted against one who could barely get his email, but this time around everyone is on the social media bandwagon. From Twitter to Facebook, it’s hard to imagine a presidential campaign (or any serious marketing effort) that doesn’t include a social arm.
While it’s hard to imagine something as silly (and strange) as a video game about zombified Sarah Palin will make much of a difference in the race, it will be interesting to see how digital technology plays into this election.