Tag Archives: Internet

Episode 125: The only Glasshole left


We pour one out for Google Glass, which is no longer being sold.

Google claims it is graduating from the explorer program and getting a new team and all that. But is it really? In theory the plan sounds great. Tony Fadell, the creator of Nest and the iPod, is bringing Glass under his team. If anyone can rescue it, perhaps he and his team can.

Jeremy is going to keep using Google Glass in the classroom, but now he won’t be able to get a replacement if something happens to it.  We discuss what went wrong with Google Glass, how it could have been more successful and if products like Oculus Rift and HoloLens are better routes to go with head-mounted technology.

We also discuss the big net neutrality news. We did not expect to see the FCC come out so strongly in favor of net neutrality.

And we also have a quick update on my wifi problems (that may be better now). We provide some quick tips for how you can improve your wifi performance.

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Episode 121: HBO Go without a cable subscription (above board this time)


HBO Go will finally be available without a cable subscription.

This is huge news for cord cutters.  HBO is one of the big reasons that many people keep cable. But how much will it cost? I don’t think it will be cheap.

We also discuss the merits of CBS also offering a streaming service now as well. CBS is free, after all. So will people pay to be able to stream it as well on different devices?

We also discuss how streaming a la carte could work. We then discuss if this could be the catalyst for sports leagues getting rid of blackout restrictions?

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Episode 56: Live tweeting a war

We discuss the merits of live-tweeting a war.

Who exactly is the IDF’s target audience with their tweets? Unlike pre-Internet, pre-social media propaganda efforts, everyone in the world can read what you’re tweeting.

We then discuss how Fair Use is a defense, not a right. And because oft his, you often need money to prove your Fair Use claim. This discuss started off by discussing the watershed Republican copyright memo that was later retracted after we presume Hollywood applied some pressure.

Oh, we also discuss the iPad Mini and Microsoft Surface.

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Escaping the Internet is easier said than done

Paul Miller is trying to avoid the Internet for a year; that’s easier said than done:

The other day, while searching out the Knicks / Heat game with a casual internet user, we happened across a dingy bar he’d never visited before. The so-dive-it’s-cool scene is still active in NY, but this wasn’t that sort of place. There was one retired patron at the bar, some video slots in a corner, a few ancient flat-screens along the ceiling, and a smell of death. We asked if they were planning on showing the game.

“Yeah, are you showing the game?” said the patron, happy for some action.

“Oh, I forgot that was tonight,” said the middle-aged bartender. “Let me see if I can get it to work.” He tossed his towel over his shoulder and disappeared into a back room.

I tried to figure out what he meant by “get it to work,” until I realized what was on two of the TV screens. A Windows desktop. I pointed this out to my companion.

“If he moves that cursor, we’re going to have to leave,” I said.

“Why’s that?”

“I think he’s going to stream it.”

Avoiding the Internet is really difficult to do. It’s how I watch most of my TV shows, movies and sports games. Miller is going without the Internet to find a better place of mindfulness. He has found, however, that escaping the Internet is easier said than done.

A lesson in connectedness from solidarity

While I personally wouldn’t give up the Internet for a year (nor could I do my work or research), I am very intrigued by what Paul Miller is doing over at The Verge. He is trying his best to go a year without the Internet, and his dispatches from an Internetless world are a must read for any of us who study why people use the Internet or are just interested in why people use technology.

Ultimately, and clearly, I think that technology, computers and the Internet strongly benefit humanity. I would put the Internet right up there with the printing press for great technological advancements in human history. Still, we are in a weird period where we don’t know quite how to use this new technology; our social mores on mobile technology haven”t been written.

In many ways, we over these new technologies. We rely on them as a crutch, especially as one to excuse ourselves from interaction with human beings who are in the same room with us. Many people fear social occasions — parties, happy hours, conferences — and thus retreat into something that lets others know that we’re busy.

Many of us have become dependent on our phones like they are drugs. We feel phantom vibrations in our pockets where we think we have gotten a new message, email or push notifications. But we haven’t. We just don’t know what it is like to live in a world without that constant buzzing anymore, and when we don’t get that buzzing, our brains fake it for us.

We’re addicts. And for what?

Miller doesn’t even care a phone with him all the time, and the phone that he does own is really old and doesn’t support all those fancy things that buzz our pockets and keep us tethered to the online world at all times. Still, he feels the phantom buzzes:

You know when you think you feel your phone buzz, so you have to pull it out just to make sure? Most of the time it didn’t buzz, but it’ll bug you in the back of you mind, so you have to check. If you don’t, that phantom reminder will haunt you for hours. A phone alert, once sprung, is as physically tangible as the point of a gun in your back, or a chunk of Command-C’d text not pasted, still circulating in the veins of your hand. The only solution to this itch is to scratch it. And this fruitless scratching describes my entire week.

I kept on sensing text messages and phone calls, when there wasn’t even a phone on my person. I’d tell myself this, and yet I’d still pat around to be completely sure. At times my hand would even make it into my empty pocket before I recognized what was happening.

I find that utterly alarming, and I think it has nothing to do with Miller’s character. We are becoming addicted to technology, our phones in particular. Technology is here to help us, not enslave us, but when we go too long without or phones, we become restless, shaky, deprived.

What are we missing? Surely something important has happened since we last checked out phones.

To me, Miller’s year-long sabbatical from the Internet might help inform us on better ways to be connected. How do you do great work if you’re always being interrupted? I recently turned off push notifications and even pull noticiations for email on my phone. I am only bothered by email on my phone when I open up the Sparrow app.

If I don’t have time to actually process email, respond to it and make sure that it is all taken care of, I don’t view it. Merely viewing my email for the sake of viewing it makes me less productive. If I don’t have the time to act on my email, I have no business looking at it.

Unfortunately, I have to keep Outlook open constantly while I’m at work. Much to my dismay, the social mores of my workplace are that email can be used as an instant communication device. I’m expected to respond to urgent requests as they come in. Perhaps, I can begin to change this behavior, allowing myself and fellow workers to only check email a few times a day.

Ultimately, I use technology to get more done — to make my life better. When I feel phantom buzzing in my pocket and check my phone to find nothing has been sent to me, I’m not being more productive. I’m being a shaking, delusional addict. Where are my messages? Something must have happened in my world!

I’m becoming addicted to the dopemine hit of being noticied that something is happening, no matter how banal that thing is. I have to fight this. I cannot become addicted to banalities and trivialities, less my life become consumed by them, and I no longer create anything of substance.

I have a few times left my phone at relatives houses while visiting, and every time it’s a relief. During these brief respites, no one can call, text or harass me on the go. All communication has to be deliberate. I’m not anti-social, but constantly being bombarded with messages makes me less productive, and when I’m not productive, I’m not happy.

I’m hear to build things. To analyze things. To see life in its intricate details.

I cannot do that when I’m constantly being bombarded by texts, emails, phone calls and even push notifications about comments on a social network. I’ve been rolling back my notifications. I only want notifications on truly important information.

My phone works for me, not the other way around. This is why I’m so enthralled by what Miller is doing. What will he discover in this year?

Will he able to accomplish something that being hyperconnected is stealing from him? Like him, I’m working on a novel. But the thralls of the online world often keep me from working on it.

Will Miller actually finish his novel this year?

Going without the Internet for a year is certainly extreme, but we must find better ways of balancing technology with our lives. We’re here for the living. I doubt anyone on their deathbed says that they wish they checked more push notifications.

We’re learning how to make sense of this new technology, and this too shall pass. I imagine that much of the same issues arose when people started driving cars. Heck, there weren’t even traffic lights until 1920.

I’m sure the telephone overwhelmed some people at first. All of this will pass, and we’ll figure out ways to make this new technology work for us.

Five years ago the first modern smartphone — the iPhone — hadn’t even been released. Almost no one had 3G data. We’re learning, we’re adapting.

Some people will remain addicted. That’s life. But for the rest of us, we’ll figure out better ways to use this new technology.

Every time we’re bored, we don’t need to be staring face down in ours phones, poking at nothing. That’s the ultimate patheticness of it. We’re often just swiping around our screens, looking at older checked email. We’re not even experiencing anything new.

Who would have thought a man would need to seek solidarity from social technology in order to find connectedness? In the end, Miller will learn what works best for him.

We’ll evolve. We’ll advance. Enjoy the ride.

The night the Internet went down

My Internet is down. Now I know what it feels like to be Paul Miller. What an animal.

While I hope not to find out what it is like to go an entire year without the Internet, I am lamenting my lack of Internet right now. My wife and I were planning on streaming a movie to our Apple TV. Without Internet, our collection of movies and TVs shows that we purchased and are storing in the cloud are inaccessible. Worthless.

This is one of the issues with relying on the cloud for storage. I have good (by U.S. standards) DOCSIS 3.0 cable Internet at up 50 mbps. Speed I have plenty of.

But what good is all that speed if it’s not reliable?

I recently switched to RCN, so I don’t know how reliable it will be. This is the first outage I’ve encountered, but in my years if using Comcast, I can’t recall an outage this big (it’s not just me or my building that’s being affected but rather the entire area). The weather has been completely fine for weeks.

Yes, utilities go down, but Internet still seems to go down a lot more than electricity, water and gas. Why is this?

Interestingly, I can’t recall my cell phones Internet connection ever going down. I can remember the network being saturated and virtually unusable, but it was still a live connection. Is there something about our Internet grid that makes our local Internet ISPs unreliable?

Recently the Internet at my work went down for most of the day. Some cable had accidentally been cut. I can’t say that I ever recall the same happening with electricity. When electricity goes down there is usually an easy-to-spot reason, and a cable being sliced in half is usually not it. Most of the time when Internet goes down, it just doesn’t seem to make any sense.

The Internet is becoming a critical utility in many people’s lives, but it’s reliability is not treated like a utility. We are given reliability that is worse than Cable TV, which is hardly a serious utility.

My wife needs to do research this weekend for law school finals. She’ll have to go to a coffee shop to get work done, which is probably a bonus in some ways. Hopefully, the coffee shops in the area are using a different ISP.

On a less serious note, without the Internet this post is not being backed up to Dropbox (I should probably hook up a USB drive right about now). Godspeed if my machine crashes before the Internet comes back and all of you people miss this fantastic post). Alas, I guess I’ll have to spend the night not enjoying the Internet, and watch a movie that I have on hand.

It looks like I shouldn’t be in too big of a rush to put all of my movies, TV shows and songs in the cloud.

Paul Miller is leaving the Internet for a year

I can only assume he is trying to become the King of the Hipsters by doing this:

At midnight tonight I will leave the internet. I’m abandoning one of my “top 5” technological innovations of all time for a little peace and quiet. If I can survive the separation, I’m going to do this for a year. Yeah, I’m serious. I’m not leaving The Verge, and I’m not becoming a hermit, I just won’t use the internet in my personal or work life, and won’t ask anyone to use it for me.

Depending on your perspective, you might be completely shocked that I’d even attempt such a thing, or you might be completely unimpressed. For me personally, the decision felt like a big, crazy idea at first, and now it’s started to seem a perfectly natural evolution of my life with technology.

I feel like I’ve only examined the internet up close. It’s been personal and pervasive in my life for over a decade, and I spend on average 12+ hours a day directly at an internet-connected terminal (laptop, iPad, Xbox), not to mention all the ambient internet my smartphone keeps me aware of.

My guess is that Miller may not make it a full year, but he may learn to live without the Internet for certain tasks. This reminds me of a more severe version of No Impact Man (he gave up electricity, washing machines, the elevator, eating out, non-local food, but he kept a solar-powered computer so he could update his website).

No Impact Man showed how we could live without certain modern conveniences and end up living a healthier, more fulfilling life (his wife’s health improved dramatically). Perhaps Miller will find a more healthy way to use computers.

The Internet is one of humanity’s biggest inventions. I think going without the Internet for a technology reporter/editor is ultimately silly, but I do agree that many of us — myself included — find ourselves wasting our lives away on the Internet.

Maybe Miller will discover ways to become less connected so that when he is connected, he really has a purpose.

Perhaps not the best omen, but Miller had no luck finding a really basic Nokia phone in New York City. He spent more than three hours and had no luck, but with just a few minutes on Ebay he was able to find exactly what he was looking for.

I hope Miller uses this time for sociologically research. I’m very interested in hearing how people without the Internet go about their lives. So much news, information and even government services are now online. What is it like for those without the Internet?

Why don’t some adults use the Internet?

Amy Gahran has a nice breakdown as to why 1 in 5 U.S. adults don’t use the Internet.

The usual reasons are cited: age and lack of income, but there are some surprising findings. U.S. home broadband pentration dropped by four percentage points from 2010 to 2011. The recession clearly is affecting people’s abilities to get online, which may serve to deepen the recession.

Not being able to get online means that these people — often unemployed — will find it harder to find jobs and get government services. So much is done online now. When I was laid off at my last job, all of my job search was conducted online. I couldn’t imagine conducting a job search in 2012 without Internet and a computer at home.

People with disabilities are also less likely to go online and have home Internet. This tells me that too many websites are not accessible. Indeed, computers themselves still need to become more accessible.

Some nuggets from Amy’s post about those who aren’t using the Internet:

Mostly they’re older — 59% of U.S. seniors don’t go online. Also, nearly 60% of U.S. adults who never completed high school don’t use the Internet. And they’re mostly poor — nearly 40% of people with an annual household income under $30,000 don’t go online. (Pew notes that people with an annual household income under $20,000 are especially unlikely to use the Internet.)

People with disabilities also are more likely to not use the Internet. One- quarter of U.S. adults live with a disability that interferes with activities of daily life — and only 54% of these people are Internet users, Pew found.

Source: CNN.



The Internet has allowed much more creativity to blossom than it has snuffed out

Mathew Ingram says that Stop Online Piracy Act cannot coexist with the open Internet that we have today. Ingram does not that, yes, the Internet causes a lot of copyright infringment, and that’s not good for content producers. But the Internet has allowed much more creativity to blossom than it has snuffed out:

The Internet by its nature is — among other things — a giant copyright-infringement machine. Because anyone can grab whatever content they wish and change it, mash it up with other content and instantly republish, it’s hugely frightening and threatening for many media companies and content owners. For industries whose entire value proposition depends on their control over the flow of information, this kind of chaotic environment is the worst thing they could possibly imagine, which is why they continually push for legislative solutions such as the Digital Millennium Copyright Act and now the even more draconian versions of SOPA and E-PARASITE.

But the important point being made by Burnham, the EFF and other opponents of these proposed laws is that the benefits that we associate with the Internet — the massive explosion of individual creativity, the thousands of content-related and media startups and services, the “democracy of distribution” that Om has written about that allows anyone to become a publisher, the real-time information flows that have helped create revolutions across the Arab world, and so on — wouldn’t be possible without the downsides that content industries are so afraid of. The two go hand-in-hand. They are the yin and yang of the web.



The future of journalism is linked to technology. Tell newspaper columnists this.

The future of journalism is inextricably linked with technology. There is no way around that. And journalists who don’t get that are actively holding journalism back.

Washington Post columnist Robert J. Samuelson wrote a piece about Steve Jobs and technology that was so off base and so out of touch, one would almost have too assume that it’s satire. Maybe he is auditioning for The Onion:

Before reading this, you should know the following: I do not own an iPad, an iPhone, an iPod or a Mac. I abandoned my typewriter only recently. In short, I have not enlisted in the digital revolution and have kept my involvement to a desktop computer, e-mail and the Internet…

By history’s measure, Jobs’s achievements are tiny. Transforming the music industry is not the same as transforming society. There are many technological advances that had a far larger impact on society: antibiotics, air travel, air conditioning and television. By contrast, many of Apple’s products are gadgets, as commentators have noted. Their ultimate social impact may be less than Facebook’s.

The work that Steve Jobs did on personal computers, smartphones, tablets and general usability for technology far outweighs some of the “big” examples that Samuelson exposes. The television? Honestly, that’s nothing compared to computers.

Many tech savvy people of my generation are forgoing traditional televisions because Internet-connected devices are so much deeper and more powerful than a TV. Standalone TV is a blimp in history that will be replaced by Internet video (all video will eventually go over IP, and this transition is already underway).

Steve Jobs and his works are big because they brought computing to the masses. The Internet and personal computing — PCs, smartphones, tablets, etc. — are some of the biggest advances in human history.

Steve Jobs worked to take technology and make it usable for non-technologists. He helped democratize technology. That is huge.

For a journalist to not understand technology, when technology is disrupting journalism so greatly and allowing for journalism to do things that it could never do before, is somewhat mind blowing. Samuelson is not some Podunk journalist. He works for one of the best news organizations in America.

I expect more.

We become journalists because we’re addicted to learning and reading. We simply have to know more about our world around us. Samuelson, a good political reporter, would be a better journalist if he was more curious about technology.

Hat tip to Daring Fireball.