Category: Tech

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I Got to Giggle About Gaggles

Sometimes I can only laugh at the strangeness of Internet domain trading and squatting. In August 2015, I registered, for two years, the dot net, org, and xyz extensions for gaggles. The com was taken. I grabbed gaggles to create an email address for people to contact me to support my then-in-progress exposé about Google. With the sound geese make in mind, I sniped at the search entity’s new parent company and domain.

Last month, I let all three expire. I own too many domains that are too costly to keep for the value they give: None. Had been mine, though, I would hold them all. More renewals are passing by, or have gone. Meanwhile, I got to giggle about gaggles, because someone else snatched up the dot net and would like me to buy it back. Eh, seriously? 

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Seriously, Verizon?

I should have known better. Once burned is supposed to be twice as wary. Right? Disgruntled by pricing and other policies, in autumn 2015, I took my family from Verizon Wireless to T-Mobile, which cut our monthly bill by more than one-third. But in May of this year we made the trek back in part because data speed is so much faster from my apartment than it is with Magenta. Better Red than dead, eh? Wrong. Oh, dumbass me. Un-carrier’s aggressive pricing, and Verizon’s first-ever quarterly loss of post-paid subscribers, compelled the nation’s largest carrier to respond—by, starting in February, to offer comparable unlimited plan that for my family of five lines would cost just $20 more a month while delivering superior, speedy service. But what Red gave, it now takes away. I regret the decision.

Today’s unlimited cellular service plan changes suck some of the most important value from all that extra bandwidth. What good is having something you can’t use? Henceforth, Verizon will offer two consumer options—one (Go Unlimited) that throttles streaming video to 480p on smartphones and costlier option Beyond Unlimited that reduces quality to 720p. Go is essentially priced the same as the older unlimited plan, and it takes away even more: Tethering (e.g. Mobile Hotspot) is capped at 600kbps. There’s no 4G LTE for you, baby! 

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Why Are There So Many Failed Login Attempts Against My Blog?

This website is nothing special. I write about things that interest me, but with others in mind—particularly about topics journalism and technology. There is nothing of value to steal here. The site doesn’t generate enough traffic to warrant planting malware, and there is no advertising; I never intend there to be. This blog should be a low-value hacker target, particularly since I use unique passwords everywhere; compromise here won’t open my other accounts. I suppose a criminal could break in with the intention of dropping a payload, such as keylogger, on my one computer. But, honestly, I am a low-value target, too. I ain’t wealthy, nor do I work for a company with massive assets to steal. So, why, then are there so many failed login attempts by presumed hackers?

I pose the question to anyone with more security expertise than me. Your response could help other people, too. 

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Five Rants from 2006

What a strange delight. I spent a large chunk of the weekend restoring posts to this website from July to early-September 2006. They represent a period of loss—originally spanning from June of that year to March 2007. Ten years ago, accidental deletion of a Movable Type backup file coupled with migration from ExpressionEngine to WordPress purged more than six months of posts. It was a devastating realization then; I had been a prolific personal blogger while working as an analyst (for Jupiter Research) and not being bound to the crazy, erratic, unpredictable schedule of news reporting. Meaning: I had more time most evenings to write.

Four days ago, I discovered that the Internet Archive’s Wayback Machine had captured my first website, at, starting in December 1996. I later looked at, which went live as my personal blogsite in 2002. Back then, I called the site “The Writer’s Life”. Wayback Machine snapshots from July, August, and September 2006 allowed me to restore a small portion of the lost content, which still is incomplete for those months—while there is nothing from autumn of that year through spring of the next. The blank space likely will never be filled. 

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Remembering My First Website

This afternoon, I looked over’s Wayback Machine for the first time ever and was delighted to find cached copies (e.g. snapshots) of my first, personal website at, which I registered in August 1995. Foolishly, when needing some extra money, I accepted a $3K offer to sell my first domain in May 2004. I have lots more to say about that decision—in the future. For now, let’s look at the past.

At the time of the site’s snapshot, Dec. 27, 1996, my family prepared to leave my hometown of Caribou, Maine—where we had been for about 18 months—and return to the Washington, D.C. area. There I would take the editor’s position at Government Computer News responsible for the newly created State and Local section. 

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Europe’s Anti-Google Ruling Stifles Competition

Today the European Union gave Apple a great gift to celebrate iPhone’s 10th anniversary (on June 29th): The ridiculous, record $2.7 billion fine, and associated sanctions, against Google that once again demonstrates the EU’s small-minded oversight that wrongly regulates evolving technologies in a big world. The adverse antitrust ruling finds that the online titan favored its own online shopping services (and paying customers) over rivals.

In February 2010, with the EU Competition Commission’s preliminary investigation starting, I rightly called “Google a dangerous monopoly“. Seven years later, the competitive landscape has dramatically changed, and rapidly evolves. The Commission’s action is too much, too late, and in the short-term can only benefit rivals like Apple that will dominate online activities and commerce as what we knew as traditional web search becomes something else. 

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Google Pixel XL First Impressions

Next week, iPhone is 10 years old; sales started on June 29, 2007. Please see my post about that day—”The iPhone Moment“—and another on the tenth anniversary of the device’s unveiling, “The iPhone Metaphor“, from January of this year. Strangely, I celebrate by abandonment. Twelve days ago, my family switched to Verizon from T-Mobile, and in process I gave up iPhone 7 Plus.

Appropriately perhaps, as I write this sentence, Talk Talk’s “Living in Another World” streams from Tidal. Yeah, that’s me, with respect to iPhone 7 Minus—what I started calling the thing after learning that Apple makes two models, one of which in part is incompatible with Verizon and other CDMA carriers. You want model A1661 and not A1784. Rather than get another Minus, I chose to try something else: Google Pixel XL, which overall user experience is as good and in many respects so much superior. 

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Amazon Across America

My first reaction to Amazon buying Whole Foods is “Huh?” Few brands could be any more different. The online retailer is all about giving customers the most for the least amount spent, while the grocer is the pricey purview of the alt-organic lifestyle elite. No moment is better metaphor for Whole Foods’ clientele than the exchange I heard between a thirtysomething couple standing at the deli holding chicken luncheon meat. “Is it free range?” the women asked her husband. It had to be, or she wouldn’t buy. They argued. I silently chuckled: luncheon meat—not a bird! It’s all pressed meat, Honey. You do know that?

But from another perspective, and one transcending retail store presence, are other considerations, like brand affinity and buyer demographics. For the first, Amazon may be all about value, but in an increasingly middle-class and well-to-do demographic kind of way, particularly among city dwellers. Despite sharing similar cut-throat margin, expansive business philosophies with Walmart, Amazon doesn’t carry the same stigma among the socially conscious “better-thans”. For the second, who do you think plunks down 99 bucks a year for Prime membership or can’t wait for two-day free delivery or is too busy to go to the store to buy groceries? Without hard numbers to back the supposition, I’d bet there is lots of existing and potential regular shopper overlap among these customers and those who walk Whole Foods’ aisles. 

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Say, What Is That Suspicious White Van?

The photo’s composition isn’t great, but I was rushed to capture anything at all. I spotted this Apple Maps vehicle on the loose today. The poke-it-to-the-fruit-logo-company opportunities are so many, I barely can get any out. For starters, the vehicle clearly was lost, turning down a street that dead ends at a pedestrian bridge. If you’ve ever been misdirected using Apple Maps, imagine the dude driving around with the camera car in similar state. Maybe he’s the blame for your SUV plowing into that lake last month.

Of course, I would see this thing on the day when news orgs everywhere are reporting that Apple CEO Tim Cook confirms the company is working on a self-driving car. Yeah, well not this vehicle. Zoom in on the Featured Image and see the bewildered guy in cap who just barely executed a three-point turn without taking out a swath of local walkers (my wife and I among them) and in process making news headlines across the globe. Lucky for him, the LGBT protests against President Trump were a day earlier. Blinded by bright rainbows, he could have plowed into anything, or anyone!