When Technology Fails, Part 2: Fighting Back

A corollary to Murphy’s Law says that your fancy, expensive, shiny piece of technologyHow do you fix a wet cell phone? will choose to break when you need it most. Especially if it’s a piece of tech that you absolutely rely on. Luckily, there’s usually a simple trick that will fix things, at least enough to get you by. Yahoo! News has put together a list of 6 common problems and solutions, and we have a couple of comments to add:

1)Touchscreen phones that won’t work with gloves on:

Yahoo!’s Becky Worley recommends cutting a hole in your gloves or buying a fancy stylus. Fine solutions, if you don’t mind a hole in your gloves or a stylus that falls to the furthest reaches of your bag or pocket and passes through a magical gateway to an alternate dimension, never to be seen again. There’s a simpler way, though, two of them in fact. The first is to buy double-layer gloves with a Thinsulate layer, then strip one of the fingers (I do the thumb) of it’s outer layer. The black Thinsulate material is thin enough that it registers on touch-screen devices while still keeping your fingers relatively toasty. The other solutions is to just buy fingerless gloves with an optional mitten part -you know what I’m talking about- and pull a finger out whenever you need to use the phone. No cutting, no freezing, yes phone.

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The Verizon iPhone Revisited: Survey Says…Maybe

Well, while everyone is still in a frenzy over the announcement Tuesday that Verizon is finally getting the iPhone, we thought we’d take a look at the benefits of getting one.New Verizon iPhone 4 to be released Feb 10Prompted by Gizmodo taking the lead on questioning the wisdom of running out on February 10th to snatch up one of the Verizon iPhones, we decided to look into it a little further, and here’s what we found:

The biggest two drawbacks that have been circulating and percolating on the ‘net is that the iPhone 4 is already almost a year old, and will be old and dated by the time that Apple gives their routine annual announcement of a new, improved, super-sexy and desirable iPhone in early June, only 5 months after Verizon gets iPhones into customers’ hands. The other point of contention is the choice of the CDMA chipset, infamous in phone-tech circles for not allowing data and voice packets through at the same time. Put simply, you can’t call someone and check your email simultaneously. Both of these arguments sound valid, except they aren’t. Not completely, anyway.

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iPhone 4 for Verizon Wireless is here!

After years of speculation and rumors, Verizon Wireless(VZW) COO Lowel McAdams joined his CEO Dan Mead and Apple COO Tim Cook on stage at the Lincoln Center Tuesday morning to announce that the wait is finally over. The iPhone 4 for Verizon is real, and it will be falling into customers’s hands as early as Feb. 3rd for existing VZW (Feb. 10th for the rest of us).

Verizon finally has the iPhone 4The gathered captains of industry spoke at length about Verizon’s network upgrades and planned changes, but it was obvious everyone only cared about one thing: What is the Verizon iPhone 4 going to be like?

Well, for starters, and much to the disappointment of millions, the phone is based around the CDMA chip-set. The chip, which is being phased out by Verizon for the new LTE 4G standard, is notorious for not allowing data and voice to be used simultaneously. That means if you’re using your phone as a navigation device and a call comes through, you’re temporarily out of luck and either have to wing it until your call ends or pull over lest you drive off a cliff.

On the plus side, not only is the CDMA issue scheduled to be corrected later this spring, but the Verizon iPhone has built-in mobile wi-fi capability. That means you’ll be able to use the phone as a portable hot-spot for up to 5 devices, something AT&T is doing their hardest to prevent on their devices. You also get access to Verizon’s unlimited data plan. It’s slightly pricier than AT&Ts plan, but doesn’t cap data transfer at 2 gigabytes per month.

The last major news is that Verizon is still not releasing the white iPhone 4, and remains mum on the exact date that it will be available, saying only that it will come out “later this spring”. Lucky for you, I happen to know a great place that will take your plain, boring, black iPhone4 and turn it white. So until Apple get’s moving on that, stop by and we’ll give your new Verizon iPhone4 a makeover before any of your friends get one.

Mobile Technology Shines At CES

The Consumer Electronics Show, or CES for short, is a technology conference going on right now in Las Vegas, Nevada.  CES is an annual event where technology companies launch their products to generate buzz among consumers and the press as well as to feed the geek frenzy right after the holiday season.

It’s no surprise this year that mobile technology is taking center stage with phones, tablets, and other devices leading the pack in overall discussion.  Here is a quick roundup of some of the more interesting mobile tech stories:

No Verizon iPhone, Yet…

It may be on everybody’s technology wishlist this year but so far Verizon is mum on when they will be releasing Apple’s iPhone on their wireless network.  According to CNN.com the moment at which an announcement would likely have been made, Verizon’s keynote address, was void of any mention of the iPhone or Apple for that matter.  Even if the elusive question remained unanswered, Ivan Seidenberg, Verizon’s CEO, still gave an interesting talk on the future of mobile technology.

NEC's LT-W Cloud Communicator Tablet
NEC's LT-W Cloud Communicator Tablet

A Tablet Built for Your Commute

Maybe you’re past the Verizon/Apple/iPhone hoopla already.  If so, an interesting product launch out of the CES is a tablet that reads like a book and fits in your bag or large pocket quite easily.  NEC’s LT-W Cloud Communicator is an innovative Android device with a 7-inch screen which treats itself like the true digital equivalent to paper books.  As CNET notes this device will most likely revolutionize a person’s commute in the coming month.  Personally, I’m really happy that this device is out as will make the reading process less clunky when you’re on the train squeezed in between two people.

The Phone, Laptop, and PC in One Device

Motorola’s Atrix phone showcases the growing ability of smartphones to act as a laptop and vice-versa.  The Atrix might well be the first device that combines the capabilities of a smartphone and the laptop in one product.  The phone can run multiple operating systems and also be connected to a monitor to essentially become a standalone desktop computer.

Excited about the new offerings from this year’s Consumer Electronics Show?  Check CNET’s CES Guide and be sure to come back to this blog next week as we will provide more indepth looks at other exciting new technology products.

When Technology Fails

I always say, usually jokingly, that technology is great right up until the point when it isn’t. We, along with millions of others had the joy of experiencing this first hand two weeks ago on the 22nd of December when Skype experienced a series of prolonged down-times. We have been using Skype in the office for quite a while: it’s an amazing tool if used right, and saves us the trouble of running office to office with USB drives flailing wildly in our hands, and keeps us from scaring way customers by screaming down the hallways whenever we want to get a colleagues attention.

So we have come to rely on this piece of innovation, and it has served us incredibly well. Until that Wednesday. It was right before Christmas, and we were already on edge trying to push out a last minute Christmas newsletter, something that by it’s very nature requires a lot of file-sharing and goingWhat happens when an essential piece of tech goes down?back and forth on graphics, running things past multiple people, etc. In short, everything we normally use Skype for, except 10 times more so. Pandemonium ruled. We had gotten so reliant on that one piece of technology that it seemed we had forgotten how to function without it. I still wonder how a marketing department managed to get anything done before the invention of the Internet, and this confirmed my suspicion that either the field as a whole didn’t exist pre-1990 or else everyone on a project sat huddled together in one cubicle around a comically small table and passed scraps of paper back and forth. Luckily, despite some delays on their optimistic projections, the techs at Skype figured out what was going on in time for us to get our work done, but it was a close call.

So what’s the point here? Am I telling you to forgo valuable tools in order to safeguard against potential outages? Of course not. You could pry my Skype out of my cold, dead fingers. What I AM telling you is have a backup plan. Know what you’re going to do in case a piece of high-tech gadgetry you count on suddenly goes out. If you run a business, train your employees how to work in a world without email. If you’re a student, try hard and remember what a pen and notebook looks like. If you’ve given up your land-line and rely on Skype or a Cell phone, know your options, or at least carry some quarters on you at all times. And at the very least, have the number of a good computer repair shop on hand (or two!), so you can let us take care of the dirty work while you get on with business.