Category Archives: technology

phone history

When I was a kid one could still dial 5 phone digits instead of 7. Well, and heck… for many people now it is 10 or sometimes 11 if you need the 1. And back in the day, in urban areas you could tell what part of town someone lived in from their phone number.

And phone books. “The white pages”–A big deal when I was a kid… useful to have, addresses too! But useless now. Who is in the phonebook?

We can move anywhere in the world (literally!) and keep our current US phone number. Just have to move it to a IP phone like ooma or magicjack or google voice and voila!

And there was a time period where people cared a lot about their phone number, especially the area code and/or exchange… keeping old cell phone numbers from their beloved home town. But I think for the most part most people are sorta over that idea circa 2015. Numbers are almost meaningless to people to the point that sometimes people don’t know their own number since it is just programmed into their contacts list.

Anyway, that’s the view from the Boston area 2015 where overlaid area codes, cell phones, and IP phones (and don’t forget texting, facetime and skype!) have made all of this a little bit crazy.


Acton’s phone exchange is 263. Why? Used to be COlonial-XXXX instead of 263-XXXX. CO=26
87 TR TRinity Framingham MA
56 JO JOrdan Hudson MA

Info from:


“The decision to assign 617 to Boston was somewhat unusual, since the North American Numbering Plan Administrator wanted to keep the number of “clicks” to a minimum for large cities given the rotary dialing technology of the time.[1] Area code 617 has 14 clicks, one of the most for an original area code assigned to a major city.”

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smartphones/devices mess with us, but it is fixable

Stop Googling. Let’s Talk.
This was an interesting article but is probably one of those cases where you can more or less skip the book and just stick to the article and TED talk (if there is one).

And this article suffers from a problem that many (myself included of course!) suffer from… jumping from point to point, or mashing several somewhat related points together. And supporting them with a mix of unrelated short term studies and personal anecdotes including references to studies or “research” but no actual references.

One with a reference:
“…a 40 percent decline in empathy among college students, with most of the decline taking place after 2000.”

“… 2014 study of children at a device-free outdoor camp. After five days without phones or tablets, these campers were able to read facial emotions and correctly identify the emotions of actors in videotaped scenes significantly better than a control group.”

“Studies of conversation both in the laboratory and in natural settings show that when two people are talking, the mere presence of a phone on a table between them or in the periphery of their vision changes both what they talk about and the degree of connection they feel. ”

So when she writes “In our hearts, we know this, and now research is catching up with our intuitions.” in some ways this article is nothing new… since the article itself is half anecdotes.

– family-time
– solitude
– self-talk
– conversation
– drastic decline in empathy since 2000
– uni-tasking vs multi-tasking
– choosing to NOT carry a phone
– “app generation” (again, where is the study?)
– “seven minute rule” (a thing?)
– “three person rule” (a thing?)
– study: even phones off in-view cause problems
– “technologies to which we are vulnerable” (a way of saying that tech is not neutral)

So I dunno… I doubt I will read the book. I read (or tried to read) one of her previous books in 1997 and I don’t remember thinking it was saying much that couldn’t have been put in a magazine article or TED talk. Could have been a good article, but maybe should have stayed that?

(Sherry Turkle is a professor in the program in Science, Technology and Society at M.I.T. and the author, most recently, of “Reclaiming Conversation: The Power of Talk in a Digital Age,” from which this essay is adapted.)

Windows 7 Commercial – Be Here Now

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Filed under person: Sherry Turkle, smartphones, technology

Patty McCord at Netflix — The Queen of the good good-byes and the future of work

This is an amazing story about the culture of Netflix and it’s clearly the future of (creative) work for better or worse. No set hours, unlimited time-off, etc. But “ruthless” (or simply more “real”/”honest”) in hiring/firing. Depends on your perspective! “A for effort” doesn’t count. (19 minute podcast from NPR’s Planet Money)

NETFLIX: “We’re a _team_, not a family” (Slide 23 of 124)

This reminds me of Byron Katie in “Loving What Is: Four Questions That Can Change Your Life” (BTW, I really recommend the audio cds.. really great!) where in Chapter 6 (pages 84-85) she talks about a boss firing an assistant because she wasn’t doing a good job even though they had been working together for many many years.

“People usually fire themselves when they realize what’s going on.”

IOW, it’s best to be clear and truthful about what is happening with the company — a person’s performance or the lack of a need for them (because of a change in technology or because the company has pivoted in some way)

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Filed under contrarian, evidence-based, future, talent vs skill, technology, uberification, work, work-life balance

2015: Android Tablet Remote Erase and How to get Amazon Instant Video to play on Android

Recently had a close call with a tablet being lost (misplaced!) and learned that it is pretty important to have enabled the feature allowing you to remotely contact the tablet to either LOCK (with a msg on how to contact you) or ERASE it via

The corollary is that if you FIND a lost tablet, with no identification info either taped to it or in the contacts app, then if it is unlocked, do the owner a favor and connect to a local wifi network so that the magic of the REMOTE LOCK feature can work, allowing the owner to contact you via the LOCK MESSAGE. (this isn’t as much of a problem with a lost phone due to wireless broadband. But in either case, charge it up if needed of course. Very cool.


OK, since I didn’t find a good guide to this in 2015, here’s the quick steps for Amazon Video circa 2015. I assume at some point Amazon will realize they are losing business by making this complicated. People don’t buy Kindle Fire tablets to avoid this issue do they? Is that what they are hoping? I’m not sure they could be since they DO allow it on iPads and iPhones. Maybe it is akin to the early days of Netflix when it was not available widely on Android. Who knows.

(BTW, my advice on a great tablet to buy in Jan 2015 is the slightly old Samsung Tab 3 8.0 for around $150 or Tab 4 8.0 for a little more. Plenty fast. Perfect size (ipad mini size). 7-inch tablets are too small in my opinion (my eyes!).

1. Install normal latest dolphin browser via google play store. (dolphin will allow you to use flash… some other browsers might not)
2a. Make sure flash is turned ON or ON DEMAND in dolphin menu… settings… advanced
2b. Make sure user agent is set to “desktop” in dolphin settings.
3. Install flash 11 in dolphin.
4. In dolphin login to and go to amazon website settings… under Digital Content… Amazon Instant Video Settings… set the default to FLASH instead of SILVERLIGHT (since silverlight is not installable on android)
5. Reload a page for a video. It should work now.

If flash isn’t installed yet, I think a popup will happen asking to install flash. It might also first ask you to modify a setting in android security settings to allow you to install things that don’t come from the google play store. It will let you do it for “just this one installation”. reload the amazon page and it will work.

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Filed under reviews, tablets, technology

The Wolf



If you build software for a living (or otherwise), go read these three posts.

  1. @rands: The Wolf
  2. @kellan: “Wolf” narrative considered harmful (also biologically unlikely)
  3. @codinghorror (from 2004): Commandos, Infantry and Police

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Filed under art, computers, contrarian, programming, software, technology, work

3 somewhat related posts…

“As a software engineer, I’ll deal with all the technical headaches, but I won’t tolerate it as a consumer. Technology seems to be failing us faster than it’s helping us.”

Blogging (rather than writing at silos) is making a comeback.

“The best you can do is stop feeding the flames and stop paying attention.
If you’re having a rough day on social media, try taking a break. A big break. Delete the Twitter app or bury it in an obscure folder. Don’t check it for 24 hours. Go longer if you can. The difference is bigger than you might assume. It’s eye-opening.”

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Filed under contrarian, social media, technology, thinking


ALQUIST: It was a crime to make robots.
HARRY DOMIN: No, Alquist, I don’t regret that even today.
ALQUIST: Not even today?
HARRY DOMIN: Not even today – the last day of civilization. Was it a crime to shatter the servitude of labor, the dreadful and humiliating labor that man had to undergo? Work was too hard. Life was too hard. And to overcome that –
ALQUIST: Was not what the two Rossums had in mind?
HARRY DOMIN: It’s what I had in mind.
ALQUIST: How well you succeeded! How well we all succeeded. For profit, for progress, we have destroyed mankind.


As heard here:

Transcript here:

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