Archive for the ‘Technology’ Category

Taxi television fail

I am not a fan of the touch-screen televisions present in NYC taxis. They’ve been there for a couple of years now, and fortunately have an “off” button so you don’t have to listen to the incessant yammering of people trying to get you to watch their shows or buy their crap (I get enough of that if I turn on the tv in my own home, thankyouverymuch). However, occasionally I have had the misfortune to get into a taxi in which the off button does not work. Since the button is on a touchscreen, I don’t know if it’s that so many people have touched the off button area that it has become worn out, or because the software is crappy*.

But every so often I get into a taxi that has something this on the screen, and it makes me giggle a little.

*After seeing what’s onscreen in the photo, I have reason to suspect the latter.

Taxi TV fail

Taxi TV fail

The Apple Store—no longer trustworthy

We recently tried to get my sister’s 4th generation iPod fixed. There is a common problem amongst this generation of iPods and it’s that they stop playing music. You will see the batteries remain the same the playlists will function and the iPod even works on docking stations, it’s just that you can’t hear a thing out of the headphone jack.

When we went to the Apple store at Roosevelt field mall. The “genius” attending to us flat out told us that there is no way to open up the iPod as it is designed in a sealed manner. If this were truly the case then there should be a lawsuit against the company for creating a product that is essentially unfixable.

But later when we returned to more tech savvy means and Googled the issue, we found this video on Vimeo that shows not only that the iPod can be opened but that the issue can be fixed.

This was not the first month when Apple has let me down. The same store in Roosevelt Field told me that my streaming videos will no longer play as they used to. Not only that but while in the process of attempting a fix that I suggested to them, they even messed up my Garage Band.

But it gets better, I asked my friend who works at the Apple Store on 5th avenue as a “genius” to resolve the issue. He asked his colleagues and they could not resolve it either.

So while the fault not may be within the liars at the store—it may be with the brass at Apple who seems to have taken a more evil route upon the success of its brand.

Vulgar comments on hopstop

HopStop has become the MapQuest for those without a car, needing to get around the city. I use it all the time but had never checked their ratings of trains feature before today. And what do I notice but superbly stereotypical, nearly racist & vulgar statements in the comments section.

Luckily there’s a button that allows you to request removal of comments. But in one of the most diverse cities in the world, it’s difficult to imagine that this sort of idiocy still runs rampant.

An example of a comment for the F train is below:

out of 10
Yo Lamar is that you. Its Jerome whats happening my man? You gots your self a job at McDonalds that be real nice. I bets you be eating good. I is still smokin the rock man, tryin to gets clean but it aint easy. Yo you be ridin the F thats where I stay some nights. You got to show a brother some love and say what up. Can i get 5 dollar?
Fri, Aug 1, 2008, by Jerome Whitmen Request removal of this revie

Time Warner sez: no internets for you!

So, I live in a household of geeks. I admit it. I’m a systems architect (a term that pisses off my actual, like, building-type architect friends a whole bunch), my manfriend is a photo geek with a penchant for gaming, both online and off, and our roommate is a grumpy oldschool sysadmin who likes to wear bras on his head hack *nix variants. So when our internet service goes on the fritz, it is a MAJOR MELTDOWN ZOMG in our place. I mean, we might have to, I don’t know, leave the house and interact with humans!

Tonight our internet service, along with our cable, went out at the same time for about an hour. After a little while, I started jonesing, so I got on the phone with Time Warner and waded through their seemingly fucking endless maze of menu options that were lorded over by a voice-recognition-that-doesn’t-actually-recognize-voice-response system. After that, I spent probably 20 minutes on hold until a nice, pleasant Canadian man got on the phone, and told me that every single modem in New York City was currently not working, they were doing emergency maintenance to fix it, and that it would be up by 6 a.m. tomorrow.

Every single (Time Warner, obvs) modem in New York City!?!? How will people get their porn and illegal MP3s all night? Oh, the humanity!

Anyway, he ran a test on my cable box and credited me with a month of free Skinemax for my trouble. And about 3 minutes after I hung up, everything came back up.

I just hope it stays up long enough for me to

Cell Phones are Hell

Man_talking_on_cell_phone.jpgIt amazes me that, while cell phones have truly revolutionized the way we live, there are some glaring service issues that don’t seem to get any better! This was particularly frustrating to me this weekend, so I wanted to discuss. Below are my main gripes:

Living in the largest city in the country and one of the most densely populated metropolises in the world, one would think that cell reception would be optimal, at least from the major carriers here in the States. I formerly had Verizon, and I rarely found myself with less than 4 bars of service. It was quite nice. When my work gave me a Blackberry on Cingular (which has since merged with AT&T), I was shocked to learn that their service is seriously lacking in the New York area. And, the pocket of town where reception is the worst apparently has its epicenter in my apartment. To utilize that old cliche`, they can send a man to the moon, but I can’t order Chicken Loh Mein from my bedroom.

Surgery to Improve your Phone Life?

Waiting_for_iPhones_NYC.jpgBack in late June, people waited on endlessly long lines at AT&T and Apple Stores around the city (and country). At the time, it seemed to be the most ridiculous thing I had ever seen or heard. Then came today’s news…

A Denver newspaper is reporting that a local man actually went through surgery to “whittle” his thumb down to a size that makes his iPhone operation more manageable. Man, do I hope this is a hoax.

Thanks to Spencer from Metroblogging LA for the tip.

[photo courtesy Wikipedia]

NYC crawling toward becoming a Wi-Fi City

In the July/August issue of Fast Company magazine,, Talinn, Estonia is touted as an “Urban Innovator”. The 2007 list, compiled and reported by Andrew Park , writes that, in this city of 399,000 ” 58% of residents use the Internet, with the cheapest connection rates in Europe”. Furthermore, the entire city is wireless. According to Park, “Universal Net access is actually uaranteed by Parliament.”

In the same list, NYC is a “fast city”. With a much larger population than Talinn, “E-stonia”, we have a much bigger task here, but NYC is moving in the right direction. WiFi in Central Park has been upgraded, and will soon be available in other parks, such as Union Square. With subway and bus fares going up yet again, this gives us something niee to look forward to.

Keeping Cool on an Island of Cement

Air%20Conditioners.jpgAs the dog days of summer draw ever closer, air condition sales must be astronomical! Staying cool in the summer months is always a challenge, but The Consumerist has some really helpful hints.

Most important, size matters… At least as it pertains to AC. “Do I need 5k BTUs? Maybe I need 8k?” Here’s the answer. To get your necessary BTUs, take the total area of your room (length X width) and multiply that by 30. Add 2,000 to the answer, and that is your BTU number. But, Consumerist is sure to point out a number of important caveats.

• If the room is shaded, reduce the BTUs by 10%.
• If the room is very sunny, increase the BTUs by 10%.
• If you plan on placing the air conditioning unit in your kitchen, add 4,000 BTUs.
• If more than two people will regularly be in the room (e.g., an office), add 600 BTUs per person.

Be sure to stay cool this summer! And for some funny relevant pictures, check out Cool-Props.

[photo courtesy Thomas Hawk’s Digital Connection]

Google Maps Takes NY

streetviews.jpgOK, OK… So it isn’t NYC-specific, but Google has added an AWESOME feature to their already very helpful Google Maps program. Now, in addition to being able to view plain maps, satellite views, and even traffic patterns, the massive interactive giant has implemented a new feature that allows users to actually view street-level images!

Here is an example of the new feature, in the form of a “street view” of the intersection of 50th Street and 6th Avenue. This image was taken as if you were in the center of the intersection, facing east toward Radio City Music Hall. You will notice that you can easily zoom in (although the resulting image becomes blurry), and you have 360-degree pan ability. You can also click on the arrows on the street to go to another image further down the road.

It is pretty simple to use. Just go to Google Maps, and type in the destination you want to view. Once there, click the “Street View” button, and you will see some streets get a blue outline. Just drag the little yellow man into the area you want to view, and the rest should be intuitive. This is a limited roll-out, so not all areas are available… But much of Manhattan can be viewed, as well as a fair chunk of the major routes in the outer boroughs.

This launch appears to be in response to the impending launch of MSN Live’s powerful yet apparently cumbersome similar feature.

When a towncar just won’t do…

copter_plus.jpgWe’ve all been there… You’re running late for a flight, and you get stuck in gridlock, or in the Midtown tunnel on your way to the airport. You’re sweaty and angry, and you’re willing to pay almost anything for a less stressful solution! Now, there is…

I just got an email from Delta with lots of information on a new partnership they have with US Helicopter. You can now take a comfortable-looking Sikorsky S76 from either Midtown East or Downtown to JFK or Newark airports (I refuse to call it “Liberty.”) The flight seems incredibly short and hassle-free!

Starting at $159**/one-way when booked at, the eight-minute flight will spare you the 60- to 90-minute commute to JFK.

I took a look at the site, and weekday flights are in fact as low as $159. It is a lot of money, but I can say that when I travel for business, I take a car service and that can be up to $75, so the idea of doubling the price for an 8-minute trip does not seem that bad! In some cases, I would be willing to pay the difference myself to avoid the horrors of the commute.

One other huge benefit… Because USH screens passengers at the Heliport according to TSA standards, once you arrive at the airport, you can go directly to your gate without going through the often horrid security screening process!

If I have a flight at an off-hour, there is obviously no reason for this. But, if I have a flight on the Friday before X-mas at 7pm, I will definitely consider using this service!

Would you ever try this out?

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