Fake Lightning Cable Review

Warning: Don’t waste your money on knockoff iPhone Lightning cables

By on May 19, 2014 at 3:36 PM.

Warning: Don’t waste your money on knockoff iPhone Lightning cables

When Apple ushered in the Lightning cable with the iPhone 5, millions of folks groaned collectively. A new connector means new accessories and outdated doodads, but in this particular example, it also represented a serious shot against piracy. As it turns out, Apple detests knockoffs… even when it comes to cabling. So, with Lightning, the company included a chip inside of each plug that would be next to impossible to reverse engineer and ape. Moreover, Apple added yet another expense to reproducing the cable, which would no doubt cut into the profit margins for would-be knockoff artists.

Today, a three meter Lightning cable from Apple is priced at $20. Which, by all measures, is firmly in Monster Cable territory on the ripoff meter. Thankfully, quite a few “Apple certified” options do exist, including a smattering of $14 versions available across the web.

But, being the stubborn knucklehead that I am, I just couldn’t be bothered with paying such outrageous rates for a couple of spare cables. More →

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Review
Seagate Backup Plus Slim Review

Review: Seagate Backup Plus Slim and Fast mobile hard drives

By on May 16, 2014 at 3:45 PM.

Review: Seagate Backup Plus Slim and Fast mobile hard drives

Fast. Fast and cheap. In a nutshell, that describes Seagate’s latest duo of mobile hard drives. In a world where SSDs are still (unfortunately) too pricey for most, mechanical hard drives are (mercifully) becoming increasingly affordable. The thought of carrying around 2TB of photos, videos, and love letters that you just can’t part with for under $120 would’ve been a pipe dream just a couple of years ago.

As the latest race to the bottom plays out, Seagate’s 2TB Backup Plus Slim is a compelling option. It strips away practically everything except a USB 3.0 connector, but fancies itself up on the software front. More →

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“Facebook has made it impossible to see a connected friend 10 years later and feel as if any time has passed.”
— Darren Murph
Featured
Facebook High School Reunion

Facebook killed my high school reunion

By on May 16, 2014 at 12:01 PM.

Facebook killed my high school reunion

In a way, the high school reunion is as unashamedly American as apple pie and Chevrolet. Go on — ask your parents if they had one. I’d wager that the majority of them would say that they did, and in fact, they probably retain quite a few memories. Someone was shockingly large; someone was stunningly beautiful; someone had completely fallen off of the wagon. The high school reunion’s primary allure was the possibility — nay, the probability — of a few shockers, coupled with the underlying desire to show up and impress the folks who ragged on you with devilish persistence back in the day. Seeing anyone, let alone someone you once spent a great deal of time with, after a decade of absence is sure to be an interesting occasion.

Unfortunately for this generation, such a spectacle is nearly impossible to still find. More →

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“I don’t trust mechanical hard drives, and you shouldn't either.”
Review
LaCie Rugged Thunderbolt SSD Review

LaCie Rugged Thunderbolt SSD review: Finicky mechanical HDDs are dead to me

By on April 28, 2014 at 4:10 PM.

LaCie Rugged Thunderbolt SSD review: Finicky mechanical HDDs are dead to me

First, a story. I loathe mechanical hard drives. They’re painfully slow, annoyingly finicky, and prone to failure — the consumer ones, anyway. Toss one in a cheap USB 3.0 enclosure, however, and you’ve got a bona fide recipe for disaster. I’m sure I could find millions who’d comment that their [insert external HDD here] is still humming fine after a few years, but my wife and I have blown through six failures in the past four years. Brand, capacity, bus — it matters not. These things just aren’t designed for being used in a coach airline seat, thrown around at will, and generally having their key attribute (read: mobility) being taken advantage of.

More →

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Opinions
Amazon Prime Pantry

Amazon’s latest announcement will change our lives more than you know

By on April 24, 2014 at 2:35 PM.

Amazon’s latest announcement will change our lives more than you know

I know, I know. You already know the answer. But my reaction to Amazon’s Prime Pantry introduction — which allows its Prime members to have up to 45 pounds of home goods shipped directly to their doorstep within four days for a $6 fee — has more to do with the industry at large. As someone who resides in a rural location, being able to shop online is a huge boon. Pets.com and eBay were but infants in the online universe, and it was already obvious that the holy grail of online shipping would be the day that your groceries arrived to your doorstep, precisely as ordered, without anything being spoiled.

We aren’t there yet on a grand scale, but we’re getting tantalizingly close. More →

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SignEasy iOS 7 Update Download

SignEasy’s iPhone app redesigned for iOS 7, including offline editing and faster signing

By on April 2, 2014 at 12:09 PM.

SignEasy’s iPhone app redesigned for iOS 7, including offline editing and faster signing

SignEasy has long since been one of my go-to apps for iOS and Android, and it’s getting quite a bit better today for users of the former platform. The app has been totally retooled for iOS 7, and a number of the niggles that plagued earlier versions have been addressed in this build. More →

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Opinions
Facebook Oculus VR Acquisition

Facebook is growing up: With Oculus buy, a social network prepares for its next act

By on March 27, 2014 at 1:31 PM.

Facebook is growing up: With Oculus buy, a social network prepares for its next act

Social networks aren’t always going to be en vogue. Facebook may have a billion users today, but what happens when that growth stalls? What happens when it turns negative? If it’s no longer the only source of revenue, the answers to those questions matter much less — hence, the purchase of Oculus VR. Lately, Facebook’s been buying (and trying to buy) companies that don’t exactly mesh with what it is. You could look at it two ways: It’s either getting into businesses that it has no concept of how to handle (see: Cisco’s purchase of Flip Video), or either it’s brilliantly diversifying its portfolio.

More →

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Apple CarPlay

As smartphones control cars, your ecosystem decision carries even more weight

By on March 4, 2014 at 12:15 PM.

As smartphones control cars, your ecosystem decision carries even more weight

Think buying all news apps is a pain? Try buying a new car. For years, the switching costs involved in changing from one handset to another was little more than an hour’s wait — you know, for that painfully slow contact transfer procedure to finish up over Bluetooth. Phones made calls, sent texts, and if you were lucky, treated users to a game of Snake. Today, things are far different. More →

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Automatic Link IFTTT Recipes

Automatic Link gains new functionality via support for IFTTT triggers

By on February 26, 2014 at 5:00 PM.

Automatic Link gains new functionality via support for IFTTT triggers

Two of my favorite pieces of tech aren’t only getting better today, they’re integrating with one another. Automatic’s Link, which plugs into a vehicle’s OBD-II port in order to track rides and send other useful tidbits to one’s phone, now works with IFTTT. The latter is a free service that enables one thing (in this case, a notification from Link) to trigger another. More →

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Opinions
How to Succeed

Advice on making it: Be interesting or good – preferably both

By on February 25, 2014 at 2:05 PM.

Advice on making it: Be interesting or good – preferably both

My adoration of technology just barely trumps my love for sport, which explains why I’ve tuned into hundreds of radio shows concerning the latter over the years. One of my favorite hosts, a gentleman at ESPN named Colin Cowherd, routinely uses a particular line to describe the success (or lack thereof) of athletes. Paraphrasing here, but it goes something like this: “You need to be interesting or good — preferably both.”

It’s a simple line, but the truths that sit behind it are immensely powerful. And, as it turns out, they apply particularly well to technology outfits. More →

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Opinions
Internet Service Quality

In the age of content creation, why don’t upload speeds match download?

By on February 6, 2014 at 11:10 AM.

In the age of content creation, why don’t upload speeds match download?

For a brief period of time, the Internet at large served the consuming masses. For those who can recall the day the mainstream public discovered YouTube, you’ll fully grok this concept. Janitors, executives, students, engineers, hippies, and baby boomers all sat down to watch video after video (after video). In a way, this defined the consumption era. The public began yearning for home-based Internet services, not satisfied with having to report to work, a local library, or a coffee shop in order to catch up on the latest news and converse over AIM. The thirst for knowledge shaped the business models surrounding Internet service providers, but those days are long gone. Unfortunately for us, the ISPs haven’t yet realized it.

A decade ago, the average Internet user logged on in order to be quenched. They desired to consume news. To read articles. To watch multimedia. There were exceptions, of course, but the vast majority of those breaking into the Internet scene were doing so in order to swallow up content produced by professionals. Pros produce, the masses consume.

Because of that, asymmetry became an accepted Internet delivery method, but as the technology continues to empower mere mortals to produce richer and more engrossing content, I’m left to wonder: when will the upstream get the respect it deserves? More →

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Opinions
Dangers of Twitter Facebook

Precarious permanence: Cementing your legacy 140 characters at a time

By on February 4, 2014 at 12:20 PM.

Precarious permanence: Cementing your legacy 140 characters at a time

It pains me greatly to acknowledge it, but blurting out whatever comes to mind on Twitter, Facebook or any number of social channels is a terrible idea. You already knew that, of course, but I’m talking about something more serious. Pecking out a furious tweet with a couple of typos is fairly embarrassing, but lately I’ve become fixated on the long-term consequences that are yet to be fully realized. It’s a notion I haven’t been able to shake since Justine Sacco was hastily fired from her job in December of 2013, and I’m not entirely certain that the world at large paused long enough to digest what that sequence of events truly described.

For those who were off preparing for the holidays, here’s a synopsis: Sacco fired off an admittedly less-than-glamourous tweet before boarding a long flight that was devoid of Wi-Fi. Hours before, she was relatively unknown from a celebrity standpoint. As she was passing through customs at her destination, it became clear that she no longer had a job.

Over the past few weeks, I’ve come to realize that her undoing wasn’t necessarily what she said, but where she said it. More →

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Review
Optrix PhotoX waterproof iPhone case

Optrix PhotoX waterproof case review: It’s light, it’s tough, and it works

By on January 22, 2014 at 1:15 PM.

Optrix PhotoX waterproof case review: It’s light, it’s tough, and it works

Last summer, I wrapped my iPhone 5 in a waterproof case built by Optrix. This past week, I did the same for an iPhone 5s, and I’m convinced that it’s the best lightweight, reasonably affordable waterproof iPhone case on the market. The new kid on the block is the Optrix PhotoX. It’ll fit all variants of the iPhone 5 line (including the new iPhone 5c and 5s), and for $100, it creates the cheapest, most accessible underwater shooting rig for any beach holiday… assuming you already own an iPhone, of course. To keep this brief, I’ll hit the pros and cons below. More →

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