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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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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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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Guest Post: 5 Creative Uses for QR Codes

This guest post was written by Claire from WhoIsHostingThis.com, where you can compare the top host user ratings and hosting for blogs. QR codes can look a little mysterious unless you present them in the right way. Lots of businesses are placing QR codes on goods these days, but it’s unlikely that the average consumer will take the trouble to scan them unless they feel like there’s some benefit or interesting angle to make it worthwhile. Here are five ways to make your QR codes stand out. 1. Incorporate a picture in the code itself There’s a certain amount of…

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Why I Will Not Use Seesmic, Ever

Update (06/01): Seesmic eventually killed the green bar overlay. They announced a time-frame (by the middle of June) for closing Ping.fm, and also confirmed that the new Ping service will have a free service level. I commend this outcome, . Update (03/03): This post garnered a response from a Seesmic employee, Yama, in the comments. From “figure out the best pricing model”, I gather that pricing remains undecided, so I maintain my hope for a HootSuite-like freemium model. I’m also glad to hear that the green bar will be reviewed for possible improvements. Thank you, Yama; if I have more…

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Leaky Websites

This is my second blog post assignment for my Journalism course. As with the first, reposted here because “why not”. The New York Times‘ “Bits” blog published an article last Tuesday that really opened my eyes. The Center for Internet and Society at Stanford Law School released data on what information is passed between certain popular websites. Long story short, logging in (or even trying and failing to log in) to a site can pass information about you to third parties. That information can be as innocuous (but still trackable) as a “unique identifier” generated by the site or as…

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Google Books and the Book Industry

I wrote this for my Journalism class at college, but figured I might as well share it here too. The New York Times ran a story Monday about a new lawsuit filed against HathiTrust, a partnership of universities and research libraries that maintains a digital book collection on its website. Plaintiffs in the suit include three major authors’ groups: the Authors Guild, the Australian Society of Authors, and the Québec Union of Writers. Eight individual authors are also party to the filing, among them Pat Cummings, Roxana Robinson, and T.J. Stiles. The objections raised in the suit center around the…

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Hello Android: LG Optimus V Review

I’ve been using NET10 as my cellular carrier for nearly two years. I got their most basic phone (the LG 300G) at a Wal-Mart in Colorado Springs, CO, in June 2009 and have been paying $15/month ever since for 150–200 minutes (10¢ each, or 5¢ per text message). I got tired of that phone’s slowness and tiny keypad rather quickly, as I tired of NET10’s baseline service. I got a number and access to the network, but that was all. They also gave me a number that was prone to receiving calls from collection agencies and spam text messages. (Finding…

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