Archive for the ‘Technology’ Category

Morgellons: the confounding power of the Internet

Paul | May 17, 2011 in Media,Technology | Comments (3)

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Yesterday’s LA Times had an article on a Mayo Clinic study of Morgellons disease. Mayo researchers looked at 108 Morgellons patients over 7 years.  With one exception, who turned out to be suffering from pubic lice, none of the patients had any evidence of infestation by bugs or parasites.  The Mayo report concludes all of the patients were suffering from “delusional parasitosis,” a psychiatric illness in which patients erroneously believe that their skin is infested with parasites. In other words — it’s all in their heads.

That’s not the confounding part.  A Google search on Morgellons shows dozens of sites devoted to it, include a research foundation, support groups, and a page devoted to pictures of fibers purportedly produced by sufferers.  Even the Mayo Clinic site has a page on coping with the disease.   The sad part is even the study lead doubts the study will convince self-diagnosed patients that their disease “originates in their brains and not under their skin.” And the Internet provides a platform not just for reinforcement, but for them to lobby Congress and the CDC for cures.

Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds” reminds me that this kind of thing isn’t really new, but I have to think the Internet makes it much easier to start and harder to kill.  Disturbing.

subway envy

Paul | April 27, 2011 in Technology,Transportation,Travel | Comments (5)

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I should start by saying I love living in a city with viable public transportation.  Having the Red and Green lines within a short walk was a big selling point for our condo and the MBTA releasing GPS info has made riding the bus a much better experience (the “Catch The Bus” app rules).

That said, every time I ride a subway in Europe I get a mild inferiority complex.  THEIR subway systems are able to achieve feats beyond the MBTA’s dreams. Like running after bar close and telling you when the next train will arrive.

So it was with a certain schadenfruede that I approached a bank of still escalators in the Frankfurst Messe subway station.  “Great! Their escalators are always broken, too.”  Except the damn thing started up as we approached, took us up to the top, then stopped again after a suitable period.   Impressive, well thought out,  AND energy efficient.

Why can’t we do stuff like that?

today in bad customer experience

Paul | April 26, 2011 in Technology | Comments (0)

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MobileMe strikes again with this message, conveniently located several clicks down on the Apple support site:

MobileMe members may be unable to access their calendars at, in iCal, Outlook, or on their iOS devices. Normal service will be restored ASAP. We apologize for any inconvenience.

Translation: Calendar is down, hard.  The message you got on MobileMe was “unable to load your calendar” along with a button to send debug information to Apple.  Everywhere else it just timed out. Total outage time was around 8 hours, at least for me.

Truly unfortunate since I’m pretty much addicted to it (MobileMe, that is).

Today in creepy

Paul | February 26, 2011 in Media,Technology | Comments (0)

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The XKCD map of online communities is a thing of beauty

Paul | October 6, 2010 in Fun,Technology | Comments (0)

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hey, wait a second

Paul | May 30, 2010 in Gadgets,Technology | Comments (2)

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I just bought an AT&T 3G MicroCell.  It’s a simple device.  You plug it into the wall and your router, put it near a window, wait 90 minutes (yes an hour and a half), and voila! 5 bar cell phone connectivity throughout the condo.  All for the low, low price of $150.  There’s an alternate plan where you pay $50 for the device, then a mere $20 per month for “unlimited service.” In my version, cell calls come off my plan minutes.

All well and good.  Now I can sit at my desk and make and receive calls on my cell.  And send and receive text messages.  Very cool.  I was practically giddy.

But then I stopped and realized:  I just paid $150 to get cell reception in my house.  I live near Kendall Square, half a mile from the freaking AT&T building.  Why on earth am I *paying* to get cell reception?

AT&T 3G MicroCell

Steve Jobs weighs in.

Paul | April 29, 2010 in Technology | Comments (0)

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I wonder how I’d feel if I didn’t hate Flash.

I wanted to jot down some of our thoughts on Adobe’s Flash products so that customers and critics may better understand why we do not allow Flash on iPhones, iPods and iPads. Adobe has characterized our decision as being primarily business driven – they say we want to protect our App Store – but in reality it is based on technology issues. Adobe claims that we are a closed system, and that Flash is open, but in fact the opposite is true. Let me explain.

Nice analysis here:

It’s easy to poke holes in certain parts of Jobs’ arguments–for instance, he says that “iPhone, iPod and iPod users aren’t missing much video,” which will news to anyone who’s traveled around the Web on an Apple mobile device and found more giant empty blocks than video players. And lots of people–me included–would rather have the opportunity to choose for themselves whether to use Flash and Flash content on their mobile gadgets. (It’s possible to opt for a Flash-free PC or Mac; hardly anyone does.)