Technology, Cognition, Games 2009-07-20 08:46

Neurofeedback, something I’ve been interested in for a long time, is making its way into the mainstream in the form of videogames:

Cell Phone Taxes

Technology, Economics 2009-07-14 01:29

If you buy a $199 iPhone in California, you might notice that the tax is $56.91, which implies a 28.6% sales tax rate. California sales tax should be between 7% and 9% (depending on the city), so what gives?

Cell phone carriers typically subsidize the retail cost of a phone in exchange for locking you into a one or two year contract. AT&T pays Apple a few hundred dollars for every iPhone sold. State law requires sales tax be paid on the non-contract, retail price of the phone, which means your $56.91 in tax is actually against an estimated $700 cost of the phone.

Somewhat related: cell phone service fee taxes are linked to the area code of the phone, regardless of where you currently live. This means you’re paying taxes to whatever city you lived in when you bought the phone.


Technology 2009-06-23 05:33

Rockbox is open-source firmware for mp3 players - basically, a new operating system for your iPod, but one that can play superior open source media formats like ogg and flac.

Die, Flash, Die

Technology, Internet 2009-05-18 11:00

I’ve never liked Flash. And yet, I can’t deny that it’s been an enabling technology for a new type of artform - Homestar Runner being one excellent example. That’s aside from all the media its enabled, like Beatport and Youtube.

But I don’t like the technology. The good news is that standards-based, browser-friendly technologies like SVG and the canvas tag may be getting good enough to replace Flash. Rahaeljs is one example.

Clockwork Fetish

Technology, Life 2009-05-17 12:36

Goodbye, Vehicle Ownership

Technology, Life 2009-05-03 10:57

I’ve owned a car my entire adult life. My parents purchased a car for me the moment I got my learner’s permit, at 15. It represented the same thing to me that it does to teenagers the world over: mobility, opportunity, a chance to pilot my own destiny. In short, freedom.

I’ve been through five cars (AMC Concord, Fiat Spyder, Mercury Mystique, Ford Mustang, Saturn VUE). Each one was one of those tools that, like my laptop or cell phone today, I reach for with such habit in my everyday life that it starts to feel like a part of me.

But this time I’ll be letting go of my vehicle, and not replacing it with another.
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Think Evil

Technology, Silly 2009-04-07 02:38

Not enough Lucifer in your Linux? Try Ubuntu Satanic Edition.

Databases and Gay Marriage

Technology, Politics, Silly 2009-04-01 08:24

Cultural norms inform schema design - or is it the other way around? For example, on the subject of gay marriage:

“To be blunt, the systems aren’t set up to handle it. The paper forms have a space for the husband’s name and a space for the wife’s name. Married people carefully enter their details in block capitals and post the forms off to depressed paper-pushers who then type that information into software front-ends whose forms are laid out and named in precisely the same fashion. And then they hit “submit” and the information is filed away electronically in databases which simply keel over or belch integrity errors when presented with something so profound as a man and another man who love each other enough to want to file joint tax returns.”

Real-Life Steampunk

Technology, History 2009-02-14 04:44

Some real-life steampunk technology: a wristwatch which shows Google Maps-style navigation, made in the 1920s.

Authentication Fob

Technology, Economics 2008-12-09 01:10

World of Warcraft two-factor authentication fob. For $6.50, you can make your WoW account more secure than your bank account. Another demonstration of how true free market industries (e.g., video games) put heavily-regulated industries (e.g., banking) to shame every time.