Afghanistan’s TV Phone Users Offer a Lesson

By Jeremy Wagstaff There’s something I notice amid all the dust, drudgery and danger of Kabul life: the cellphone TVs. No guard booth—and there are lots of them—is complete without a little cellphone sitting on its side, pumping out some surprisingly clear picture of a TV show. This evening at one hostelry the guard, AK-47 …

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Facebook’s Internet of Sharing

(This is a copy of my Loose Wire Sevice column, produced for newspapers and other print publications.) By Jeremy Wagstaff Get ready for a world where everything is shared. Readers of this column will already know that our notions of privacy have changed a lot in the past couple of years. That has made it …

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Death of a ‘Toughbook’

(update: after two days of nothing, the device is now booting again and Panasonic have offered to take a closer look at it and tell me what happened.) My faith in my Panasonic Toughbook took a bath today when a waitress poured coffee all over it (and me.) It’s that absurd thing that waiters do …

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What Price Tranquility?

It struck me, as I lay on a chaise longue at the Conrad Bali trying to filter out the drone of the jetskis, that hotels are selling a complicated product. My wife, for example, loves the clean, crisp white sheets and thick feather pillows of a king-size bed. Others go for the food, some for …

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The Inanities of the Visionary

I have a lot of respect for Doris Lessing but her recent remarks about the Internet reveal an ignorance and lack of understanding that is depressing and unbecoming of such a literary giant. Here’s what she said in her acceptance speech for the Nobel prize for literature: We never thought to ask how will our …

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Sleeping, Frothing, Typing and Sealing

 The Wall Street Journal’s holiday gift guide is out. My contributions, some of which would be familiar to regular readers: Sleeptracker Pro $179. A successor to the Sleeptracker which I wrote about a couple of years ago (Sandman’s Little Helpers, Jan 13, 2006), the Pro is a watch which monitors your sleep patterns — more …

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Let Your Fingers Do the Remembering

Maybe I’ve missed something, but why isn’t more work dedicated to understanding the link between passwords and memory? Given that we’re supposed to remember our passwords (as opposed to writing them down on Post-it notes and sticking them somewhere prominent) why don’t we look more closely at the process whereby we remember stuff — and …

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Dancing Queen and the End of Popular Music

The other night, as I lay sweating in my mum’s flat in boiling England in the early hours, a crowd of 20 somethings spilled out of a nearby club. The usual hubbub of indistinct chatter ensued as they prepared to disperse. Then the females (I assume; I couldn’t actually see anything) started singing something together, …

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Inside the Pocket of a Productivity Porn Star

Merlin Mann does a great blog on personal productivity at 43 Folders. After foodies watching and reading about food without actually cooking anything (food porn) and travel shows about places you’d never actually go or activities you’d never actually do (travel porn) this is productivity porn: an obsession with the detritus, in this case the …

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Catering to the Uncommitted Diner

Here’s an idea for restaurants. It’s hard for us walk-in customers to get a good sense of what the restaurant’s food is like and whether it’s worth staying. Silly, really, because the people best positioned to help on this are sitting all around us actually eating the stuff: the other customers. So why not encourage …

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