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All posts for the month November, 2011

I get into conversations about technology all the time, even when I’m not expecting to. But these days everyone has some sort of computer disguised as a mobile device. I’m a staunch advocate of full disclosure, so I’ll prefix this by saying I’m not getting compensated in any way to say anything pro or con about any company mentioned here. This was the conversation that broke out with someone who has no horses in the race as well. The person on the other end chose a Blackberry over Android and iOS.  The only alterations to the following screen shots is the removal of any names. The new Amazon Kindle Fire is out now and it’s getting pretty decent reviews. But when you talk frankly with people they tend to give their real opinion. Read on to see what the real reaction is and what everyone is too polite to say:

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I am signed up to receive several tech-related newsletters and promotions from various companies. About 3 or 4 of them are for well-known, technology-focused stores and it must be that time of year. Instead of the usual storage, laptop or video card upgrade specials, the emails have shifted to promoting those electronic do-dads such as RC cars and helicopters, laser pointers and laser parking assists, and other items that you’ve never heard of before seem pretty cool and kinda’ want for yourself. Even if you do not belong to one of the many sects of Christianity, the end of the year present-fest is hard to resist no matter what your religious affiliation or lack thereof.
Sure there’s always Thinkgeek, the year round e-shop that has those kitschy toys and popular sci-fi branded merchandise. (Will someone please get me that Doctor Who Desktop Dalek? I know I would never buy it for myself. And if you really love me there’s that Kiwi WiFi iPhone ODBII interface… but I digress.) But this time of year, everyone gets into the act. Most stores know the target price for the bulk of items range from about $20-$50 for presents since people have more friends than they do significant others or very loved family members and a majority of people can’t afford expensive gifts.

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I went to a development talk the other day and it was not what I was expecting. While it certainly was enlightening, it was enlightening in all the ways that have nothing to do with technology except that’s the context of the people involved. So, in any business you have people with attitudes that they are the master’s of their field. Whether or not they are masters isn’t the issue: it is how they approach others either wanting to learn from them or wanting to debate with them.

Generally they fall into 2 camps: those that will listen and discuss things intelligently and those that either talk down or refuse to talk to people they consider inferior. My problem is with the people that will not hear people out and make no attempt to actually communicate with people. This is commonly referred to as “people who talk at you, not to you.”

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With a world of buying choices at our fingertips for anything from eye liner to refrigerators it’s no wonder more and more web sites are adding user reviews and ratings systems to help guide people to the better products. But like all noble pursuits, there are those that “game the system” and use the very resource meant to help people in order to deceive them into parting with their hard earned money. This article is targeted at software developers that create fake favorable reviews and consumers who aren’t familiar with the ways to spot false reviews. Also, I include a message to online retailers/app stores, etc. that do not police their own reviews to strike down false reviews meant to help or hurt a product, and include techniques to ease the burden of self-policing. Note, this article is applicable to practically any site/store that allows reviews of any type of product.

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