Cory Doctorow: General Purpose Computing Is Under Threat

It’s well known that I’m no Apple fan-boy. While I do admire the company for their design and marketing prowess, I’m uneasy about the extreme control they wield with respect to managing who runs what on iOS devices.

Not long ago I heard a lot of what makes me uneasy about Apple expressed in a more general manner. It was Cory Doctorow addressing 28C3 (Chaos Communications Conference) in December 2011. IT Conversations has the podcast.

There’s a video version, too.

Further to this CBC’s Spark Plus podcast interviewed Cory on the same topic. It’s a little different. He certainly illustrates his points well.

Of course the matter reaches well beyond Apple. They’re just the tip of the iceberg. I’m sure that we’ll be hearing more about this.

Powerless At FAT: What’s Wrong With This Picture?

Last week I had occasion to spend several days in Fresno CA. Their airport code is FAT. But FAT is not PHAT. In fact, it’s powerless.

Like many places in the country Fresno is busily enhancing their airport. The terminal from which I arrived and departed looks like a brand new building.

The terminal had all the traditional conveniences; public restrooms, a few places to eat & drink. Of course it had seating for all the waiting passengers. It has free, but very slow, internet access via wifi. What it lacked was sensible access to AC power for people using their personal electronics.

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Ensuring Productivity In My Home Office

I-Have-A-Bean-SingleMugDarkImageI’d like to pose a simple question. What’s the single most important piece of technology in my home office? Don’t dwell on it. What comes immediately to mind?

Those of you who have been paying attention for a while will know that the correct answer is the coffee machine. You may have a different opinion, but as the question was specifically about my home office, I assure you that this is definitely the case.

Like so many people coffee plays an important part in my day, illuminating the foggy crevices of morning, accelerating my migration into the productive portion of the day. I have been heard to refer to coffee as, “that marvelous brown fluid that gives rise to intelligence before noon-time.”

I am admittedly an addict. So be it.

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Affordable Cordless Mobility In The Home Office

Obi-Hai-S12-KX-TSC11-trio-300sqEarlier this week Bill left a comment asking for a recommendation about a phone and cordless headset combination. His requirements seem quite sensible and he expresses some frustration with his existing gear. His situation seems one that could be very common, so I thought it worth highlighting before trying to make some recommendations.

Here’s his comment in full:

Sorry for bringing back an old thread – but am hoping you might have some advice. I am a home office worker & spend a lot of time on the phone with colleagues & customers. I’m not using a speakerphone – but I am currently using a Plantronics S12 headset & Panasonic KX-TSC11 phone connected to an OBi110 for both POTS and VOIP capability. The audio quality is just “ok”, and the S12 creates an annoying hum when I raise the microphone volume.

I would like to upgrade to a better (binaural, over the head, no little buds sticking into my ear) headset, preferably DECT to enable me to stand and move about a bit while on calls (is DECT a safe bet for call quality & consistency?). Also it would be convenient to have a built-in answering machine if the quality is very good.

The *paramount* concern is that my voice quality sound loud & clear to callers. I would also like the devices to be wideband-capable (realizing this only affects VOIP).

Do you have any suggestions for a phone/headset combination for this scenario? Thanks very much in advance!

Bill’s existing gear bears examination. With just a few minutes of Googling I found that the Panasonic KX-TSC11 is a very basic analog phone. They’re available for around $45 and have only one analog POTS connection. Panasonic refers to it as an “Integrated Telephone System” which seems a bit puzzling to me. It’s a bit like calling a pen a “fully manual correspondence creation system.” It’s an entry-level analog phone.

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Mini-Me And The SSD

SanDisk-SSD & HP-5103A couple of weeks ago one of the daily deals emails from New Egg made an offer that I found I could not resist. I am weak, it’s true. The offer in question was a 120 GB SanDisk Ultra solid state disk (SSD) drive for a mere $120Most SSDs of that size are $180+.

The appeal of SSDs is rooted in the same kind of sensibility that had me building Asterisk appliances that boot from flash media. Flash offers an attractive combination of performance and reliability.

The trade-off presented by SSDs is very high cost-per-gigabyte of storage. This offer, which was basically $1/GB, seemed like a nice chance to try an SSD for the first time. I wasn’t really certain how I’d use it, but I ordered one anyway.

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The Belkin Conserve Valet: Dishonorably Discharged?

valet-charge-smartIn recent years the number of devices that we need to charge daily has constantly grown. Initially it was just our two cell phones. Since they each had unique power connectors each had its own AC adapter that lived near the appropriate night stand. Simple enough. Tidy even.

My Blackberry Bold 9700 was the first cell phone I used the featured the newly common micro-USB power connector. Shortly thereafter we added a Barnes & Noble Color Nook. Both of those devices require high-current chargers, where “high-current” means more than the 500 mA that is actually part of the USB standard.

That’s when things started getting more complicated. We may have achieved standardization of connectors, but still required dedicated chargers for some devices.

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