Where’s My LED Bulb Mesh Network?

On the heels of the news this week that GE will wind down manufacturing CFL bulbs for the American market and focus on LEDs, I had a thought. LED bulbs replace a typical incandescent lamp (drawing 60W) with a low-power (around 10–12W, from the few I looked at) light source that often contains a microprocessor controller and wireless hardware. The more advanced models connect to an existing WiFi network to allow controlling their brightness and color from smartphone apps. Why don’t we take this as an opportunity to build mesh networking into homes bit by bit as old incandescent and …

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Protocol Relative URLs (and why not to use them)

Back in October 2010 (that long?!) I noticed a commit to Paul Irish’s (awesome) HTML5 Boilerplate project on GitHub that piqued my curiosity. I hadn’t really noticed the trick of linking to a resource in a protocol-independent manner before. So I drafted this post and then promptly forgot about publishing it. It’s still cool five years later—but not quite as cool, for reasons I’ll explain in a sec. For the longest time, I thought links had to have a protocol specified, no matter what. I thought that was why Google Analytics used a kind of ugly detection hack to check …

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Tempera Painting Over LightWord: Theme Switch

Since 2009, the venerable LightWord theme has provided this site’s look and feel. However, LightWord’s developer sold it to a third party years ago after losing interest in maintaining it, and the last update was pushed to WordPress Trac nearly 4 years ago, on January 11, 2012. WordPress has come a long, long way in that time—and LightWord already lacked support for a few of the newest WordPress features back in 2012. While setting up a new site this week for a college friend, and helping her choose a theme, I realized just how much I’ve been missing out . …

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It’s not a cap, but it is Comcapstic

Comcast, what are you on about? Apparently using more than 300 GB of broadband at home in a month is too much. Comcast is expanding the markets in which it’s “trialling” a 300 GB soft-cap past which users will be charged $10 per 50 GB of usage. And it’s telling customer service not to call it a “data cap”. Well, technically, it’s “not a cap”. The customer service training materials originally leaked via Reddit aren’t lying when they say, “We do not limit a customer’s use of the Internet in any way at or above 300 GB.” But there’s a …

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RIP Ingress 2012–2015

Well, Ingress, you’ve had a good run. At launch, in November 2012, you motivated me to start putting money aside for a new phone that could run heavy games like you. Throughout 2013 and much of 2014, you got me out and about, wherever I was, whomever I was with. You connected me with new people when I went to California for the summer, and brought my friend group closer together at college by getting us to roam campus together for hours late at night. But, Niantic, you’re losing your way. Cheating is still widespread. Your lackadaisical response to reports …

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Windows 10 and Microsoft’s Bullying

There’s been a lot of buzz around the internet lately about the tactics Microsoft is using to get users to update to Windows 10. For much of the summer, it’s been “automatic downloads” this and “automatic installation” that. But Windows 10 is better than Windows 7 or Windows 8(.1), isn’t it? True, I’ve heard plenty of testimonials from people who’ve gotten the new OS and love it. It has a completely rebuilt browser, Microsoft Edge, that allegedly blows Internet Explorer out of the water (not that Microsoft is above scaring novice computer users when they try to switch to Chrome …

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Blast from the Past: Offline Foursquare

This is a revamp of a post originally drafted in June 2011. The Foursquare universe has changed a lot since then, as have smartphones in general, but it was worth partially rewriting as a window into how things used to be. For a number of months after getting my first Android phone (), I spent a lot of time thinking about ways to check in on Foursquare without an internet connection. At the time, I used the phone on Wi-Fi only, for Internet things. I didn’t start on a service plan, because I had with a lot of accumulated airtime …

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Getting back in the blogging game

My poor WordPress site didn’t get much attention during college. I used it to cross-post a few things for my Digital Journalism course back in 2011, and banged out a post or two in the interim—but there really isn’t much here that wasn’t around in 2010! It’s time to change that. Frankly, I haven’t wanted to do much in the way of long-form writing online because my writing energy was sapped by essays and papers. Twitter and Facebook have seen orders of magnitude more use than this server I actually pay for, in the last four years. It’s just been …

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Force Dropbox on Mac OS X to Respect Your Disk Space

Dropbox is one of those tools without which it’s probably no longer possible for me to live. It just syncs files between my computers, and it makes those same files accessible through any Web browser. It’s not like my love for it is . The Problem But it so happens that over the last year or so, I’ve increasingly run into a pretty major issue: Dropbox on my MacBook Pro will happily fill its .dropbox.cache folder with gigabytes upon gigabytes of files, sometimes filling 50+GB of disk space before finally the system chokes up and apps start crashing because, as …

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Did Virgin Mobile USA cut an anti-Android deal with Apple?

All right, so the big news is, Virgin Mobile USA will soon carry the Apple iPhone 4S. Which is to say, my pre-paid, Sprint-owned cellular telephone carrier may have cut a deal with Apple to make all their Android devices suddenly look unattractive. Why do I think that? Oh, no reason, just the plan prices. As my long-time Web contact Zoli Erdos asked of Virgin Mobile’s Twitter customer service account, and got an interesting (but not entirely clear) answer: Wait, “Auto top-up” just means letting them charge for monthly service automatically. I let them do that for my Motorola Triumph. …

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