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Wednesday, Dec. 17, 2014
HTC Re is a unique and fun point-and-shoot (12/17/14)
In the last few years, much of the emphasis has shifted away from inexpensive standalone point-and-shoot cameras, whether for still prints are videos. Yes, digital SLRs and high-end video cameras are out there for the serious enthusiast, but for many people their camera of choice for everyday snapshots is the one they always carry with them -- a smartphone...
Chef Watson, a kitchen experiment in progress (12/10/14)
Would you eat a dish based on a recipe that had been created by a computer? It may happen sooner than you think. I signed up for, and got, an invitation to the beta test of "Chef Watson with Bon Appétit," a culinary tool being developed by IBM with the support of Bon Appétit magazine...
Welcome back, podcasts! Wait...they never left (12/03/14)
There have been a flurry of recent reports stating that podcasts are back. Those of us who listen to podcasts weren't aware they'd gone away. A few years ago, there was a flurry of articles to the effect that podcasting was dead or dying. But podcasts continued to grow, and now the people who presided over the funeral have proclaimed a miraculous resurrection...
A coincidental night to remember (11/30/14)
It's amazing, sometimes, the way in which we connect and reconnect with people. I graduated from Oral Roberts University in 1984. Anyone who attended Christian college can tell you that it has its good points and its bad points. Sometimes, there's a numbing kind of conformity; I had a dorm director once say in a devotion that Christian college was one of the hardest places to be a Christian, because it was so easy to just drift along with the crowd and do all the right things for all the wrong reasons, or for no reason at all.. ...
'Netflix-style' service offers music lessons (11/27/14)
Koala Music Publications / LearnToPlayMusic.com has announced its plans for what it's calling a "Netflix-style" subscription service which would give aspiring musicians access to 10,000 lessons, e-books and instructional videos from the company's library, as well as other features like instructional games...
Brigadier survives a plunge, takes a knife (11/19/14)
Believe me, I know how many people in Bedford County break the screens of their smartphones. Josh Carney, who now works for the county's information technology department, used to have a part-time business repairing phone screens. I don't believe he does that anymore...
Take your wi-fi with you using mobile hotspot (11/12/14)
When I cover elections for the Times-Gazette, I take a company-owned laptop without any sort of built-in cellular data. So I normally take along a portable wi-fi hotspot, a little device that one of our other departments here at the paper uses for data on the go...
Stylus writes more function into Galaxy Note (11/05/14)
Some years back, before I ever had a smartphone, I had a Palm Pilot. Well, it actually was a Palm Zire, but at that particular moment in time the company's first model had become shorthand for any sort of personal digital assistant (PDA). I used it to keep my calendar and contacts, both functions that are now well-integrated into any smartphone, rendering PDAs obsolete...
Website polls may not reflect reality (11/02/14)
Every week or two, a plaintive cry can be heard in the Times-Gazette newsroom. "Does anybody have a good idea for a poll?" I'm the person who is responsible for posting polls to the front page of the T-G web site. (Sports editor Chris Siers posts polls to our sports page.) I try to mix things up a bit -- some fun topics, some more serious topics...
National Novel Writing Month, made easier (10/29/14)
I devoted a tech column to this topic in 2012, so I probably don't need to belabor it here, but I'll at least give it a mention: National Novel Writing Month starts Saturday. I pointed out in 2012 that "NaNoWriMo," as participants call it, is the type of ad hoc community that probably wouldn't have been possible, at least not on the same scale, in the days before the Internet. ...
Email tips make reading messages a little easier (10/22/14)
I was looking for an idea for the column this week when I got a meeting notice from a local not-for-profit. The meeting notice was just a sentence or two long, just the date, time and place where the group's board of directors would be meeting. But it was contained in a Microsoft Word (.doc) file attached to an email. The email itself just said "Thank you," with the sender's name...
Vigor, Alpha are new smartphone entries (10/15/14)
For something that you use as much as a phone, ergonomics can be important. The placement of a button can make something dramatically more or less usable. Most smartphones have a power button located on an edge. This button is used for turning the phone on and off, but more to the point it's used for waking the phone up whenever it goes into sleep mode. It may be the single most-pushed physical button on Android and Windows smartphones...
New iPhone 6 Plus is a big deal (10/08/14)
It was only a few weeks ago that I wrote in this space about the iPhone 6, which is a little larger than previous iPhone models, and the iPhone 6 Plus, which is considerably larger. The late Steve Jobs had declared that the original iPhone was the perfect size, but in the years since consumers have shown some support for larger screens, which allow you to do more in terms of web surfing and viewing content...
You wanted to punch me? For once, that's just great! (10/02/14)
I'm hoping to make it through this weekend without anyone telling me that they want to punch me. It will be the first time in several weeks. You see, last weekend I finished up a two-week run as a cast member in "Daddy's Dyin' ... Who's Got The Will?", a play by Del Shores, at the Fly Arts Center. I enjoy community theater, and I've been in a number of productions over the years. But this was different from any play I'd ever been in before...
Windows Phone doesn't deserve to be shoved aside (10/01/14)
MakeUseOf, a web site I follow, announced last week that it would no longer be actively covering the Windows Phone operating system. And my heart broke a little bit. I use Windows Phone -- I've reviewed many Android devices in these pages, and I can't wait to try out a new iOS device that should be arriving for a review by the end of the week, but my actual phone -- the one I get to keep, and the one I actually use to make and receive phone calls -- is an HTC Windows Phone 8X. ...
Options continue to expand for TV watchers (09/24/14)
"Cord-cutters" is the term for those who have decided not to pay for cable or satellite TV services, in favor of streaming all of their entertainment online (and, when applicable, using an antenna to pick up local TV channels). While there's still some programming you can't get online, there are plenty of options out there, through websites like Netflix, Hulu Plus and Amazon Instant Streaming, some for a monthly fee, some on a pay-per-view basis. ...
Apple discovers customers drive size of smartphones (09/17/14)
What's the right size for a smartphone? Steve Jobs was not a believer in "the customer is always right." He believed it was Apple's responsibility to follow its own research and design intuition and then to give the customer the perfectly-designed product that the customer didn't realize he or she wanted. That sounds arrogant, but Jobs' products, as created by legendary designer Jony Ive, tended to innovate in unexpected ways instead of responding to customer requests...
AT&T upgrades Shelbyville data coverage (09/10/14)
AT&T has announced that it's added two more Internet cell sites in Shelbyville to upgrade its 4G LTE data coverage, which began in April of this year. "This new investment is wonderful news, and wireless broadband access through the 4G LTE network will certainly help with future investments in Shelbyville," said State Sen. Jim Tracy in an AT&T news release. "The way we communicate is changing, so we must do all we can to encourage even more investment in new technology."...
Why I'm not on a plane this week (09/07/14)
My last foreign mission trip was in 2010. I had already decided, months before the trip, that I would take a break; mission trips to Africa are expensive, and while I'd gotten a lot of generous support from friends and family and fellow church members I felt like I didn't want to wear out my welcome...
Facebook helps you stay friends but cut irritating posts (09/03/14)
As more and more people post more and more content to Facebook, Facebook's algorithm plays more and more of a role in sifting through the posts and deciding which ones to show you. That can be a good or bad thing; it's bad if you miss posts you want to see in favor of posts that you really didn't care about as much...
The annoying side of Facebook sometimes pops up (08/20/14)
Part of the fun of using Facebook is in sharing things -- funny things, moving things, alarming things, and what have you. But there are some things that always annoy me when I see them in my timeline. Maybe you feel the same way about some of them, or maybe you have your own set of Facebook pet peeves. In any case, here's my list:...
End the mudslinging and start listening (08/14/14)
I am so thankful that our recent election has passed. There are times, looking at what political discourse has become in this country, that I fear for our future. Negative campaigning has always been with us, of course, going back to the days of Andrew Jackson, who was subject to personal attacks on his wife Rachel. Many of those whom we now consider great presidents were the subject of venomous attacks during their campaigns and their time in office...
High-tech motorcycle helmet has heads-up display (08/13/14)
Those of you with motorcycles -- and money to spend -- may be interested in a new product, the Skully AR-1 helmet. It's a high-tech motorcycle helmet with a heads-up display. In a corner of your visor, you see the wide-angle view from a rear-facing camera on back of the helmet, along with things like GPS directions and the name of the music track the helmet is currently playing...
The five-billion-dollar man (08/07/14)
Can one person make a difference? Gordy Klatt, a doctor from Tacoma, Washington, who died Sunday at the age of 71, might have had the answer to that question. Klatt was a surgeon, who operated on cancer patients. In 1985, in tribute to a young man who had died of cancer, Klatt decided to undertake a very personal fund-raiser. ...
Shop the next-to-latest for deals (08/05/14)
Your potato chips may be spying on you. Well, not really. But the great technology website The Verge (theverge.com) had a fascinating story about MIT researchers who have found a way to eavesdrop through sound-proof glass by focusing a camera on items such as a bag of potato chips or the surface of a glass of water. If you have a good enough camera, it can see the bag or the liquid vibrating, and those vibrations can then be interpreted and played back as sound...
Amazon Fire: A sleek and innovative smartphone (07/30/14)
When I first heard that Amazon was coming out with a phone, my reaction was ... why? What could Amazon offer that many other manufacturers weren't already offering? If the phone, as rumored, had features that drove you towards Amazon product listings, would that be annoying? Would anyone want such a phone who wasn't already a heavy Amazon shopper?...
Armed and ready: New Samsung Gear watches (07/23/14)
A while back, I reviewed the Samsung Galaxy Gear, a smartwatch from Samsung which works only with Samsung smartphones. It was a clever device, and a fun thing to have for a week and be able to show off, but I wasn't sure whether it would sell. Now, Samsung has its second wave of smartwatches on the market, and I recently, courtesy of AT&T, got to try out two of them: the Samsung Gear Fit and the Samsung Gear 2 Neo...
Photoshop moves into the cloud (07/16/14)
Adobe Photoshop used to be a software package you would pay a lot of money for -- hundreds of dollars, depending on the situation. Photoshop CS6, for example, had an MSRP of $699. But it was the gold standard for photo editing software, the kind of product so universal that the manufacturers probably worried about "Photoshop" becoming a generic term for photo editing...
Photography marches on, even at camp (07/09/14)
I spent last week in Grundy County, working as a volunteer with a missions program called Mountain T.O.P. Adults In Ministry (AIM). I used to be a board member for the parent organization, Mountain T.O.P., and the AIM program is near and dear to my heart...
I'm a chili fan, no matter what month it is (06/26/14)
Last summer, a week or two before the Tennessee State Chili Cookoff was held in Shelbyville, I needed a poll for the Times-Gazette website. (It's harder than you think to come up with poll questions.) I decided to do something to promote the chili cookoff, and came up with a question about whether chili was a cold-weather-only food or whether it could be eaten all year round. It was meant as a fun question, something to get people talking about the event...
The cap that powers your phone (06/25/14)
I can't say that I've ever had a ball cap with a USB port before. A few weeks back, a friend of mine asked for my mailing address so that a friend of his could send me a product to review. Tuesday morning, I got a box containing two hats from a company called Power Gear...
Do you know the way to San Jose? (06/18/14)
I went on a trip with the family to Fayetteville, N.C., this past weekend, and thought a lot about GPS. It's a topic we've covered here in the past, but not recently, and so I thought I'd revisit it. I was a passenger, not the driver, this past weekend. ...
Tabletop tablets whet the tech appetites of diners (06/11/14)
I haven't been to our local Chili's since the installation of tabletop tablets a few weeks back, but I'm told they're there. Dallas-based Ziosk is installing more than 45,000 of its tablets at 823 company-owned Chili's restaurants and is working towards equipping all of the franchisee-owned restaurants as well...
Smart TVs pull shows from Internet without cable (06/04/14)
I've done stories about Roku, Chromecast and other smart TV boxes before, but a conversation with one of my brothers over the weekend made me think it might be time to stop by and review the topic again, especially with the entry of a new competitor in the marketplace...
An entry-level LTE tablet (05/28/14)
A tablet needs Internet access to be worth having. Sure, there are always a few games or apps that will work without Internet access, but the way most people use their tablets depends on access to the net at least some of the time -- to surf the web, check your e-mail, download new apps, and download new content (movies, books, music and so on)...
Once futuristic, now everyday (05/21/14)
I don't know what made me think of the TV show "Search" the other day, but I did -- and it's of relevance here because it made me think about the amazing march of technology (and the way that technology was imagined, in advance, by popular culture)...
You need us ... every day of the week (05/18/14)
"Say, John, did you get that photo of my daughter and her school project?" "Sure did. I've already put it into the pipeline." "Hey, great. And I appreciate you letting me send you a photo of our club meeting last week." "No problem." "And tell the sports department that was a great shot of my nephew sliding into first base a few weeks ago. Someone sent me a link to the story online."...
Moto E offers decent smartphone power at lower price (05/14/14)
A few technology notes from here and there: A smartphone usually means a phone running an operating system like iOS, Android or Windows Phone, which has numerous third-party apps available for download, and usually a touch screen. Most phones that aren't smartphones are known in the industry as "feature phones" -- they may have a few built-in features, like a camera, e-mail or even a very basic web browser, but they aren't as versatile. And some people I meet are are just fine with that...
Galaxy GS5 phone is well worth the cost (05/07/14)
Samsung's Galaxy S5 smartphone has been criticized in some quarters for not introducing any bold new technological leaps -- which hardly seems fair. It's a great, worthy successor to what has been perhaps the only line of Android smartphones approaching the cache enjoyed by the iPhone. (The latest iPhone was also criticized for not re-inventing the wheel, come to think of it.)...
Aereo case could change television's future (04/30/14)
Although the Aereo case heard last week by the U.S. Supreme Court doesn't affect us directly in Bedford County -- Aereo is available right now only in a limited number of big cities -- the legal issues it raises could have a much bigger impact in the future...
Your online presence isn't always the real you (04/23/14)
I unfriended someone over the weekend on Facebook. This was someone who, in real life, I like and have always gotten along with. But, somehow, his online persona is different from the person I know in real life -- arrogant, and dismissive, and self-satisfied. After about the 10,000th occasion of me having to bite my tongue while reading one of his posts, I finally decided the simplest thing to do was just quietly unfriend him. I have no idea if he noticed...
You may not need that expensive computer upgrade (04/16/14)
The computer I ended up buying a few weeks ago, to replace a three-and-a-half year old computer I wrongly thought was dead, had pretty much the exact same memory and the same size hard drive as my old machine. The processor is probably snappier, and there are a few extra features, but the basic stats are much the same...
That 'beyond repair' computer may be fixable (04/02/14)
A couple of weeks ago, my home computer died. It had been giving me problems, off and on, for months. At first, the problem seemed to be the video card (actually, this machine didn't have a separate video card, so I guess I mean the video portion of the motherboard). ...
More on how to deal with Windows XP's death (03/26/14)
I probably received more feedback from last week's Windows XP column than any tech column in a while. There are obviously quite a few of you facing this problem. Microsoft is about to stop supporting Windows XP, which could leave it vulnerable to certain types of viruses and attacks. Some third-party anti-virus programs will continue to work, but without Microsoft making upgrades and patches to the basic operating system the risk of infection is greater...
Windows XP users face greater threats with no support (03/19/14)
On April 8, 2014, Microsoft will stop supporting the Windows XP operating system. Windows XP was one of the most popular and widely-used versions of Windows, and there are thought to still be quite a few machines running the system -- USA Today quoted a figure of 400 million...
Spring into training mode (03/12/14)
It's spring, and if "spring" means "spring training," you may be interested in the Zepp Baseball, Zepp Golf and Zepp Tennis devices, which help track your movements and improve your form. The Zepp Baseball unit attaches to the knob of a baseball bat. As you swing, it records your movements, and then connects with a smartphone or tablet app to show you statistics and a 3D graphic representation of your swing, so that you can take note and make improvements...
You can be a comedian, too, with the Internet (03/05/14)
It's an old saying. In some movie or TV show, one character will make a smart-aleck remark, and the target of that remark will groan, "Everybody's a comedian." But in the Internet age -- for better or worse -- everybody really is a comedian. Sunday night, when John Travolta mispronounced the name of Broadway diva -- and "Frozen" vocalist -- Idina Menzel as "Adela Dazeem" on the Oscar telecast, it took only minutes for someone to create a parody Twitter account, @AdelaDazeem...
Aqua Sound speakers give your music a light show (02/26/14)
Congratulations to Amanda Griggs, Judy Moore, and Don and Teri Locke, the winners of our System Mechanic giveaway. Thanks to all who entered -- I got some great suggestions for future tech columns. And thanks to Iolo (www.iolo.com) for providing copies of the software to give away. If you missed Steve Mallard's excellent guest column reviewing the software, you can still find it online...
G Flex throws a curve at smartphones (02/19/14)
I've reviewed several oversized smartphones, or "phablets," in this space, and when I'm out and about with them the reaction tends to be quite polarized. Some people think they're the greatest thing since sliced bread, because they make it easier to view web sites, videos, photos, documents and e-books, making your smartphone do double duty as a miniature tablet...
Science vs. faith? It's not necessarily either-or (02/06/14)
Bill Nye, one-time host of the children's TV show "Bill Nye, the Science Guy," held a public debate earlier this week with creationist Ken Ham, founder of a museum in Kentucky that is dedicated to creationism. I didn't watch it. For one thing, I tend to be suspicious of public debates like this one. ...
Don't write Facebook's obituary just yet (02/05/14)
Is Facebook headed for disaster? You may have seen the news story last month. Researchers at Princeton noted that the rise and fall of some previous online social networks has followed a pattern mathematically similar to an epidemic -- growing rapidly, then dying off. The researchers applied the same model to Facebook and predicted that it would lose 80 percent of its members between 2015 and 2017...
Tired of seeking parking places? This car does it (01/22/14)
I was at Kincaid Service Co. this week talking to Mark Kincaid for a story about TVs and the Super Bowl that will run later in the week, and Mark mentioned that he'd been to the annual Consumer Electronics Show the previous week in Las Vegas. I'd seen coverage of CES last week and was curious to hear Mark's thoughts. Some of the things that stood out for him:...
Weather or not; that is the question (01/19/14)
I made a blog post on this topic the other day at t-g.com, but I kept thinking of more things to say about it, so I'm going to expand on it here. If you've already read the blog post, I apologize for any repetition. From time to time, one of the big cable or satellite operators will get into a conflict with one of the big conglomerates that owns and operates cable channels. ...
A big, beautiful mid-price phone (01/08/14)
First, a correction. Last week, in a review of the Nokia Lumia 2520, I called it a full Windows 8.1 tablet. This is what, in highly-technical journalism terms, we call a "mistake." I was under the mistaken impression that the Windows RT operating system didn't have a desktop, only the live tile start menu, and since the Lumia allowed me to click through to the desktop, I mistakenly thought it was running Windows 8.1 -- a mistake that could have been easily avoided with a closer look at the specs I'd downloaded for the device.. ...
Windows 8 tablets show system's potential (12/31/13)
Microsoft is playing the long game, betting that its hybrid tablets running the full desktop version of the Windows 8 operating system will in the long run gain a foothold against iPads and Android tablets because of the versatility that comes from a full desktop operating system...
It's about money, not censorship (12/26/13)
The entertainment industry ... get ready for a shocking revelation here ... is all about money. I have to laugh a little at all of the various conspiracy theories surrounding the whole Phil Robertson "Duck Dynasty" controversy. But the truth of the matter is that for A&E Networks, announcing his suspension was a business decision. If they backtrack on that suspension, that, too, will be a business decision...
Pamper yourself with these electronic goodies (12/24/13)
Whether or not you get what you asked for tomorrow, you can always shop for yourself later on. If you get a tech toy, there's always the chance to pick up accessories -- cases and add-ons to improve your experience. Here are a few tech add-ons that I got to try out over the past week, courtesy of AT&T...
'Night Vale' creators turn podcast into novel (12/18/13)
Book publisher Harper Perennial announced this week that the creators of the very funny podcast "Welcome To Night Vale," Joseph Fink and Jeffrey Cranor, are going to write a novel based on the podcast. I've been a fan of "Welcome To Night Vale" since last spring, and I eagerly await the twice-monthly episodes, which are published on the first and the 15th. I look forward to the book -- but only if it doesn't detract from the podcast!...
When 'like' isn't really appropriate (12/11/13)
One of the most awkward things about Facebook's user interface is the question of what to do when someone posts a vaguely-negative status update. Perhaps you don't have much to say in the way of a comment, but you want to acknowledge that you've read the update, and so you get ready, almost by force of habit, to click the "Like" button...
Fly it right, or not at all (12/08/13)
We got a call, and later a visit, on Thursday from a gentleman upset at a fast food restaurant on Madison Street. More specifically, he was upset about its flag, which was in tatters -- not just a little frayed, but with several entire stripes having separated from the main body. He had gone so far as to leave a phone message with the restaurant's corporate offices and post a photo to Facebook...
NORAD Santa site gets a makeover (12/04/13)
I like to put in a mention this time each year of the NORAD Tracks Santa web site, noradsanta.org. Although most people think of going to this site on Christmas Eve, in order to track Santa's progress as he makes his deliveries, there are plenty of good reasons to visit throughout the month of December...
At last, Instagram comes to Windows Phone (11/27/13)
Although I've had the chance to review many fine Android phones for this column, my personal phone -- the one I don't have to send back after a week -- runs on the Windows Phone 8 operating system. I really like the way Windows Phone looks and operates, and my last phone ran Windows Phone 7.8...
Send money, not 'stuff' (11/17/13)
In 2003, I took my first-ever foreign mission trip, to Nicaragua. Our team of short-term missionaries was being led by Amanda Van Deman, a long-term missionary based in Managua and working for a group called Christ For The City International (CFCI). Amanda was warning us about the difficulties that can result from our enthusiasm and desire to help...
More options available for Moto X customization (11/13/13)
Last week, in my review of the Moto X smartphone, I said that the customization process by which you can choose various colors and startup messages was only available to AT&T customers. That was an accurate statement -- at least, it was accurate when I wrote it, and when that paper went to press. ...
Design your own smartphone: Moto X (11/05/13)
As you might expect, I really enjoy getting to try some of the new phones and other tech devices that the two largest mobile carriers send me. I get to keep the items only for a week or so, then have to ship them back. The trouble with reviewing the Moto X, a new phone from Google-owned Motorola Mobility, is that, by definition, a review model can't show off one of the phone's most unusual features: its customizability. ...
Software makes you pay for your own data (10/30/13)
A new and particularly-malicious piece of malware, Cryptolocker, holds the contents of your computer for ransom if you are infected with it. The program encrypts most of the documents on your hard drive and then demands payment. A countdown clock tells you how much time remains; if you don't pay by the deadline, the criminals delete the encryption code, meaning no one -- not even they -- can unlock your data...
One time I don't mind being slapped (10/24/13)
A few nights ago, some friends of mine had a serious discussion of how many times I ought to be slapped, and how hard. It's not that I did anything slap-worthy, you understand; the butler did it. I'm playing the part of Chives, a sharp-tongued butler, in the play "Doctor Jeckyll ... No Place To Hyde," a comedy by Pat Cook which will open Friday night in a dinner theater production at Mel's (the former Fifties and Fiddles) on Depot Street...
Nokia Lumia 1020 packs 41 megapixels in a smartphone camera (10/23/13)
Back in the days when point-and-shoot digital cameras were really taking off, my pastor at the time called me. He was thinking of buying a camera for his daughter and asked me for some general tips of what to look for. I told him about megapixels -- more megapixels means a higher resolution, which means you can blow the photo up to a larger size. ...
Your smartphone's branch office -- on your wrist (10/16/13)
I really, really wanted to write this week's column, a review of the Samsung Galaxy Gear, without mentioning Dick Tracy -- it seems like such a cliché, and Samsung itself is using it in TV ads for the product. But I'm a prisoner of my generation; every time I look at my wrist, that's what comes to mind...
Internet thieves pop up in unexpected places (10/09/13)
Technology brings good things -- convenience and power -- but also poses new and always-evolving threats. Making people aware of those threats is the purpose of National Cyber Security Awareness Month. Commissioner Bill Gibbons of Tennessee Department of Safety and Homeland Security urged citizens to become informed and protect themselves...
E-volving market offers new choices for good reading (10/02/13)
The e-book market is starting to heat up, and evolve. Scribd (scribd.com), an existing web site which provided online access to books and documents, is partnering with publishing giant HarperCollins to offer a Netflix-like subscription model for e-books. ...
Shaving dollars off the cost of razor blades (09/29/13)
I had used an electric shaver for many years. Electric shavers have improved a lot over the years, and some friends of mine have high-end models about which they rave. But to me there's nothing quite so close as a blade shave, and there's something about the ritual of it that I had missed ever since I gave it up...
Droid Ultra wakes up at your command (09/25/13)
In 2011, Google purchased the mobile phone division of Motorola, which had been spun off from the parent company earlier that year. At the time, there was much talk that Google was buying Motorola as much for its library of patents as for the company itself. The mobile phone patent wars have been intense, and if you have patents which you can accuse another company of violating you may be able to use that as leverage to keep them from doing the same thing to you...
New iPhone could make an imprint on society (09/18/13)
A fascinating article by Marcia Hoffman at the Wired magazine website reveals the possible legal consequences if the fingerprint authentication introduced on the new iPhone 5 becomes standard. The new phone, introduced by Apple last week and mentioned in last week's column, includes a fingerprint sensor, and you can use the touch of a finger instead of a password to unlock your phone or make purchases from the iTunes store. ...
Colorful, tasty cell phone changes (09/11/13)
At a big media event yesterday in California, Apple announced not just one but two new iPhones. It used to be that Apple had CIA-grade security for new product launches, but in this case the news tracked pretty well with what had been leaked ahead of time...
My mission trip's still on, just delayed (09/08/13)
A week or two ago, my wonderful co-workers here at the Times-Gazette held a luncheon to raise money for my upcoming trip to Sierra Leone. Sadie Fowler took a photo and put it in the paper. The trip wasn't scheduled until the first week of December, but not everyone read that far, and so I immediately started running into people who seemed surprised I was still in the country. Aren't you going on a trip some time soon?...
Musings on social media (09/04/13)
Throughout the 11 days of the Tennessee Walking Horse National Celebration, I used the web site Storify to track social media postings (mostly Twitter and Facebook), and curated them for a widget that appeared on the Times-Gazette web site. This was my third year to do this, and it's grown each year...
Just call it what it is: Racism (09/01/13)
We got a message last week through Facebook: "I'm writing the T-G to inform you that [name of organization] is planning to hold a demonstration in Shelbyville on [date] against Southern Demographic Displacement." Well, isn't that charming! Kind of retro, I think. ...
Death of an online presence isn't so easy (08/21/13)
As more and more of our lives tie in with the web, new questions are raised, including this one: What happens to our online presence after we pass away? The question came up this week when I told a friend of mine about Facebook's memorialization policy. ...
Just a-roamin' around the Web (08/18/13)
Here are some worthwhile thoughts I picked up on the web this week, followed by my comments on them. The first comes from Shayne Raynor, who posted an entry to the MinistryMatters.com blog about boycotts. He cites cases where either liberals or conservatives have boycotted a business because of its political views or other issues...
Don't ask me to fix your screen (08/14/13)
Twice in the past few weeks, I've been messaged on Facebook by people wanting me to fix broken glass on their telephones or tablets. The requests come from a case of mistaken identity. Josh Carney, no relation to me, does that and other types of technology repair work...
A more realistic view of the 50s (08/08/13)
This hardly qualifies as a book review, since the book in question was published a full 20 years ago. But I had to talk about how fascinated I was by David Halberstam's "The Fifties," which I picked up on sale for my e-reader a week ago and tore through over the next few days...
Pre-paid phone deals vary, so check fine print closely (08/07/13)
As I wrote here a couple of weeks ago, for some people, the norm is getting a new cell phone from their provider every couple of years, in return for signing a two-year service contract. But in an age of limited resources, some people are moving to pre-paid cell phone plans. ...
Google Chromecast brings web content to TV screens (07/31/13)
Google dropped a bomb on the technology world last week with the surprise introduction of a tech product costing just $35. Chromecast, a device that plugs into your TV and allows you to view various video services as well as web pages on the TV screen, sold out quickly, both online and at some big box retailers, and Google's web store now lists it as shipping in 3-4 weeks...
Shop around to find the best phone plan for you (07/24/13)
If you're on a traditional, contract-based mobile phone plan, you're used to getting a new phone every couple of years -- simple phones are "free," as long as you agree to a new two-year contract with the mobile provider, while more advanced smartphones are sold at much less than their official retail price...
Pay attention to web disclaimers (07/17/13)
Download.com, a division of the respected, CBS-owned technology site CNet, offers a variety of shareware and freeware programs for download. But, according to discussion last weekend on Leo Laporte's "This Week In Tech" podcast, the site has joined many others using download "wrappers" that install unwanted software on your machine unless you specifically tell them not to...
A reminder of my favorite story (07/11/13)
Monday was the 28th anniversary of my employment with the Times-Gazette. I'm sometimes asked what the favorite story is I've ever written, and there's one story that immediately comes to mind, from the very early days of my work here. Strangely enough, on Tuesday -- the day after my anniversary -- I got an e-mail from the director of photography for Time magazine asking me about that very story...
Caught in a weird web: Those sites that just don't work (07/10/13)
There's an old saying about people who live in glass houses, and as someone whose job description includes uploading and coordinating content for the Times-Gazette web site on a daily basis it may be a bad idea for me to complain about the design of other web sites. So let me preface my remarks by saying we always welcome your input on our own web site design, and if it's not a problem we can address locally we can certainly take it up with our webmasters in Missouri...
What a difference 20 years makes (07/03/13)
I spent last week at Camp Cumberland Pines just outside Altamont, participating in a short-term missions program called Mountain T.O.P. Adults In Ministry (AIM). I've been a part of this particular program for 20 years; my first such camp was in August 1993...
Summertime, and the livin' is high tech (06/25/13)
Technology has had an impact on just about every aspect of modern life -- even including backyard fun in the summer. Recently, Verizon Wireless let me try out several devices that can play a part in getting you outdoors without losing what you love about the indoors. All of these devices are available from Verizon and from other vendors as well...
Bandwidth hogs -- but not the kind you're expecting (06/19/13)
Here are a couple of tech-related news items I ran across while looking for something else: Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency and Verizon Wireless are teaming up to assist landowners with controlling the wild hog population. Wild hogs are a nuisance and cause environmental problems, say officials, but it's costly and time-consuming for wildlife officers to monitor manual traps...
'Abandoned' emails wide open for government searches (06/12/13)
The government's ability to track various phone calls and Internet activity has been in the news lately, but one aspect that hasn't been mentioned much, and which was recently brought to my attention by someone here at the newspaper, is a law passed in 1986 -- long before the general public got access to the Internet -- called the Electronic Communications Privacy Act, or ECPA...
A silver bullet and a man of steel (06/09/13)
It's not surprising that Superman leads our web site reader poll of superheroes, but it will be interesting to see whether that affection carries over to the movie "Man of Steel." Will people consider it an exciting update to a classic story, or will they be put off?...
Galaxy S4 a potential iPhone threat (06/05/13)
In the time that the two largest cell phone providers have been sending me items to review, they've never both sent me the same item at the same time. Until now. The Samsung Galaxy S3 was one of the first phones to truly challenge the iPhone line in the sort of unquantifiable "cool" factor, and all of the major U.S. carriers have high hopes for its successor, the Galaxy S4, which sold 10 million units in less than a month after it was introduced in late April...
Relay for Life starts tonight: Dont miss it! (05/31/13)
Several years ago, I had only a vague notion about the American Cancer Society Relay For Life. I think I'd stopped by one time, back when our local event was much, much smaller, and taken a photo of the survivor lap which traditionally opens the Relay. I didn't stick around...
Rebooted Flickr offers more for no money (05/29/13)
For two or three years, I had a "pro" account with the photo sharing site Flickr. I liked Flickr; it was a good way to host and share photos online, and paying for the pro account increased the number of photos you could host online as compared to the free account...
Remember the real meaning of Memorial Day (05/26/13)
Memorial Day is not, repeat, not, the beginning of the summer barbecue season, although we often treat it that way. It's a day to remember the sacrifices made on our behalf by brave men and women who died defending our liberty. According to the Veterans Administration web site, the idea for Memorial Day took shape in 1868, three years after the Civil War ended. ...
Tech customer satisfaction measured (05/22/13)
According to a new report released Tuesday by the American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI), Verizon Wireless had the highest customer satisfaction ratings for wireless telephone service, followed by Sprint and then AT&T and T-Mobile. Smaller companies had higher ratings, with the category for "all others" having a customer satisfaction rating of 78, well above any of the big four providers...
Giving...and receiving much more (05/16/13)
A few times in recent years, I had participated in the annual "Read Across America" day held in schools around the date of Dr. Seuss's birthday. I always had fun, being a ham actor with a fondness for Dr. Seuss, and so when United Way of Bedford County started its participation in the "Raise Your Hand Tennessee" program, I thought it sounded like fun, and -- being a former United Way board member -- I wanted to support it...
Aereo could change TV forever (05/15/13)
A TV service called Aereo is offered in New York City and Boston and will soon be offered in Atlanta. It doesn't sound like it's of any local interest -- but in fact, Aereo could have a big impact on the future of television, especially for any of you who watch over-the-air TV using an antenna...
John I. Carney
Loose Talk / Charge Complete
John I. Carney is city editor of the Times-Gazette.