Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Why we didn't get iPhones

Why did we choose Android over iPhone?

The primary reason: iPhone is only available from AT&T. We have been a customers of T-Mobile for years and years and consequently we have a very sweet plan. We didn't want to pay through the nose for an AT&T contract just to get iPhones. Simple as that.

But, speaking only for myself, even if I could have gotten an iPhone from my current carrier, I'd still buy the Android because I resent Apple's control-freak philosophy about their "closed" systems.

I look at it this way: We here in Memphis gave Steve Jobs a liver, and he gave us the iPhone. We aren't telling him what he can or can't do with his liver. Why should we let him tell us what we can do with our phones?

By the way, Steve, if you ever have a problem with that liver, it isn't our fault. You're just holding it wrong!

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Our home was invaded by Androids

Not to be confused with Droid, which is a specific model of smart phone made by Motorola and apparently favored by a meth-addled geeks whose skin tends to fall off revealing surgical titanium robotic appliances where their hands ought to be.

No, not Droid. Android.

Android is the basic software at the core of a growing number of phones made by many manufacturers and carried by all the major carriers. These days, Android phones are outselling iPhones -- to the likely annoyance of Steve Jobs.

The Android phones that invaded our home last week are part of the Galaxy S family, made by Samsung and sold by T-Mobile under the name Vibrant. And they are vibrant, because their screens use a technology that makes the colors knock your eyes out. They are marketed as entertainment phones: 5 megapixel photography, 720p high definition video, stereo Bluetooth streaming, and  games galore (Sims 3 included). They can be hooked directly to your flat screen television. The phone includes a built-in copy of the complete movie Avatar. (No, not 3D.)

All well and good. But it also turns out that the Android is a Social Networking Command Center, as I discovered with an hour of turning the thing on. The phone somehow found out that I had Facebook and Twitter accounts. Next thing I knew, all my Facebook friends and all the people I follow on Twitter had been sucked into my address book (with photos and birthdays), and my Facebook and Twitter feeds were scrolling down my home screen in vivid color, at DSL speeds.

If I am looking at so-and-so's page in the address book, one click gives me her latest Facebook/Twitter updates. Another click shows me any pictures she has posted on her wall. And of course I can post my comments on her page, directly from the phone.

If you are addicted to social networking, this phone is to die for. (But please don't do it while driving your car.)

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Quick bitz

State Backing Films Says Cannibal Is Deal-Breaker, NY Times:
The easy money is not quite so easy any more. Among the states that began underwriting film and television production with heavy subsidies over the past half-decade — 44 states had some sort of incentives by last year, 28 of them involving tax credits — at least a handful are giving new scrutiny to a question that was politely overlooked in the early excitement: What kind of films are taxpayers paying for? [more]

Secret Confessions of a Social Network Rejecter, by Andrew G. Rosen, Social Times:
You’d be hard-pressed to find a 30-year-old American who is not connected on at least one social network. While on vacation a few weeks ago, I came across that man. A dinosaur among men. Below is a brief Q&A on why a seemingly “normal” person would choose to turn their back on a digital revolution that is being embraced by the masses. I anticipate a healthy debate in the comments section below. [more]

Gulf Oil Spill: What Obama Is Overlooking, by Dan Froomkin, The Huffington Post (via
As a result, some marine scientists worry that Obama is basing his conclusions on what's visible, and doesn't really get, even now, just how bad things really are in the Gulf.

Heightening that concern is Obama's new conviction, first expressed Monday afternoon after touring a staging facility in Alabama, that "in the end, I am confident that we're going to be able to leave the Gulf Coast in better shape than it was before."

That is a "ridiculous statement, and worrying," said Susan Shaw, the director of the Marine Environmental Research Institute. "Obviously he has no idea of the consequences, or doesn't want to." [more]

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Two bitz

For better or for worse, companies spend millions to try and put a human face on. But let us face the truth: It's all a pretense. Corporations have no humanity. They are machines, driven by profits and guided by cost-benefit analyses.

Can You Look Her in the iPad? by Nick Harding, The Independent/UK (via
Although many technology firms have strict codes of conduct for suppliers, these incidents should have set alarm bells ringing for ethical consumers. Instead of concern however, Apple devotees still queued overnight last month to be the first iPad owners before being whooped to the tills by enthusiastic sales staff. No one in this consumer carnival mentioned overworked, poisoned Chinese factory drones.

Rig Survivors: BP Ordered Shortcut on Day of Blast, by Scott Bronstein and Wayne Drash, CNN (via
The BP official wanted workers to replace heavy mud, used to keep the well's pressure down, with lighter seawater to help speed a process that was costing an estimated $750,000 a day and was already running five weeks late, rig survivors told CNN. BP won the argument, said Doug Brown, the rig's chief mechanic. "He basically said, 'Well, this is how it's gonna be.' "

Monday, June 7, 2010

Apple misses the boat

I took Novella to the Apple store yesterday to get a demo of iPad. I was thinking of it as a possible replacement for the notebook she now hunches over, squinting at her email and doing some Googling.

The first thing the store rep tells us: "This isn't a replacement for a PC. You still have to have a PC in order to use the iPad. So don't get rid of that notebook."

That's not a problem in this household, with no less than four working PCs. But I think Apple missed the boat. As a recent article at Gizmodo points out:
Yet when 300,000 people turned on their iPad for the first time last month, their first experience wasn't magical or revolutionary. It was depressingly retro. That little slice of the future was unusable out of the box because it's just as slavishly umbilicated to a desktop computer by the same white cable as the nearly decade-old iPod.

iPad should have been the netbook-killer. But it's just an overpriced, oversized iPod Touch.

Further reading:

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Password security

Just about everything I'd say, and then some, is in this very good article about password security: How I'd Hack Your Weak Passwords.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Millions continue to leave themselves vulnerable
Even though over 80% of email users are aware of the existence of bots, tens of millions respond to spam in ways that could leave them vulnerable to a malware infection, according to a Messaging Anti-Abuse Working Group (MAAWG) survey.

In the survey, half of users said they had opened spam, clicked on a link in spam, opened a spam attachment, replied or forwarded it – activities that leave consumers susceptible to fraud, phishing, identity theft and infection. While most consumers said they were aware of the existence of bots, only one-third believed they were vulnerable to an infection.