Archive for the 'Gadgets' Category

Last day to give a laptop & get a laptop (U.S. & Canada)

Monday, December 31st, 2007

OLPC A few hours left for those in North America to participate in the One Laptop Per Child program. $399 plus shipping pays for two of these special laptops: one for a child in a lesser developed nation and one for you.

While most of my research is about pointing out that simply offering access to devices will not get people connected effectively and efficiently, gaining access to digital media is an important first step in the process.

Here’s a review by a 12 year old (not part of the target audience though) and a video review by David Pogue. I would’ve offered my own review, but I didn’t order it in time to get my hands on it by today’s deadline.

Photo credit: mike3k on Flickr

Elephant seals!

Tuesday, January 9th, 2007

Elephant seal

Wow, I went on an amazing tour on Sunday to the Año Nuevo State Reserve on the coast. Elephant seals only come on land twice a year and for not too long so you can’t just go to the coast and expect to catch a glimpse of these amazing creatures. The weather was absolutely gorgeous adding to the experience.

I think the photos may convey it all best. I recommend the slideshow view for this, you can adjust timing (say, to 2s) on the top for a quicker move through the album.

I also have a video compilation up at YouTube. It starts out a bit slowly, but at .50 you can see a bit of male fighting then at 1:15 you have a male approaching a female and at 1:25 there’s some very cool movement by two males. Unfortunately, I couldn’t really capture the sounds they were making due to the wind.

You’ll notice a bit of sand throwing. They do this to keep cool. They don’t eat at all while on land so they have a ton of fat stored away, which works well when hundreds (if not thousands) of feet deep in cold water, but not so well on a sunny beach.

Blog clock

Monday, October 10th, 2005

This is cute, but I’m not convinced blog readers need even more reminders of how much time they’re spending away from what they were going to do when they sat down at their machines.

Chicagoland time

Lifehacker goodies

Wednesday, August 31st, 2005

[Also posted on CT.]

I’ve been very busy over at Lifehacker. A friend of mine says it’s like “quirky academic meets Martha Stewart”. I’m not sure how I feel about that, but it’s a reasonable description of what I’ve been up to. Here are some posts I put up in the past couple of days. I will have a roundup of all the free downloads later in the week. If you can’t wait, feel free to check out the site directly.

General tips

GMail/Flickr tips

Got any lifehacks?

Monday, August 29th, 2005

I am guest-blogging over at Lifehacker this week while regular editor Gina Trapani takes a breather. Lifehacker is part of Nick Denton‘s Gawker Media empire that has managed to make money out of blogging. (We’re not all in it for the $s, but it’s nice to know that some people who don’t necessarily have other main sources of income are able to pull it off.) CT readers are probably most familiar with Gawker’s Wonkette, but there are about a dozen Gawker sites at this point addressing all sorts of topics.

Lifehacker focuses on ways to make your life more productive. Many of the posts feature downloads (e.g. Firefox, Flickr), shortcuts and pointers to helpful Web sites. There is a whole category of advice pieces as well ranging from how to deal with various situations at work to ideas for getting things done more effectively.

If you have any lifehacking tips, please send them along to me this week by writing to

T-Mobile voicemail security flaw

Thursday, February 24th, 2005

Gizmodo reports on a security flaw with T-Mobile voicemail. It’s a bit of a nuisance to have to add a password to accessing voicemail from your own device, but may well be worth it regardless.

A propos T-Mobile security flaws, Blackberry must be quite frustrated that Jon Stewart kept referring to Paris Hilton’s hacked gadget as a “Blackberry” on The Daily Show the other night even though her gadget was a Sidekick II. Another reference to such a mix-up is on So who’s getting their news from whom?

Digital culture

Monday, October 25th, 2004

I just returned from a workshop held in Santa Clara, California by the Digital Cultural Institutions Project of the Social Science Research Council where I was a fellow this summer. I met some very interesting people working on important projects regarding digital culture (broadly defined) mosty focusing on how the particular ways in which content is presented and made available to users in digital form may influence the ways in which people are then able to use said content. It is clear from the presentations and discussion that we are facing some huge challenges when it comes to retaining the rights of users to interact with digital cultural projects the way we have been used to in the past (one case in point: Digital Rights Management).

There was one quite amusing component of the meetings. On Thursday, as part of introducing the fellows to each other, we went to San Francisco to check out The Zeum and the virtual arcade at the Metreon. I had never played virtual bowling before nor tried dance dance revolution. It turns out that both are really fun and make for a serious work-out.

The diePod

Wednesday, August 18th, 2004

I used to be an Apple fan (even own one of the original bondi blue iMacs) but my experience with the iPod has made me disgruntled with the company. I am among the unfortunate many (way too many!) whose iPod gave up service extremely quickly. The battery just died one day for no apparent reason. The iPod was still under warranty so I took it to an Apple store. It took some convincing for them to take a look without charging me the basic $50. Then, after several days, they confirmed that the battery had, in fact, died (brilliant!). Then, after another week or so, they let me know my new iPod was ready for pickup. Unfortunately, my new iPod gave up service soon after as well. By then I was past the warranty period (how convenient for Apple). This time I can|AMP|#8217;t even tell if it|AMP|#8217;s the battery. It just won|AMP|#8217;t recharge and won|AMP|#8217;t do anything. (It is almost as if there was something comforting about seeing something break in a physically visible manner so you have some idea behind the puzzle. I almost wish I had dropped the thing at some point so I would have something to blame.) I had not used it much, maybe about a dozen times before it gave up service. This whole experience has been quite frustrating, especially for a gadget that costs several hundred dollars.

I am now looking for diePod alternatives. Other companies have not done quite the same job in marketing their products so I am not sure what would be a good option. I am actually considering just getting a memory card for my Treo 600 (a positive review of which will follow at some point) and using that as my mp3 player.

Bottom line: to avoid frustrations, I highly recommend staying away from the iPod!1

1 Of course, in the grand scheme of things I realize this is not that big of a deal. But if one can avoid such annoyances then why not do so?