Author's Archive

Our society’s view on commuting (and telecommuting) is still painfully warped

Telecommuting Policy

A Google employee peers down at an Android Wear smartwatch demo, and notices that — based on real-time traffic information — it would take him 55 minutes to get to work. “Commute’s not looking too bad!,” he exclaims, before swiping to the next card on the demo.

How severely damaged must our society’s state of mind be to make such a comment?

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Darren Murph

June 25th

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Free phones are a lie — is America getting over its smartphone subsidy addiction?

Smartphone Subsidies US

You’ve seen the advertisements, and you’ve seen them for years. New smartphones for nothing beyond a signature, with the latest and greatest running just $199.

It’s all a complete fabrication.

In a bid to lock customers into long-term contracts, America’s preeminent wireless carriers have had a history of subsidizing the phones that the masses want. What happens is a masking of the true price of a phone.

If you asked most folks what a new iPhone would set you back, you’d probably hear “around $200.” What you wouldn’t hear is the rest of that sentence: “…by committing to pay a wireless carrier hundreds or thousands of dollars over the next 24 months.”

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Darren Murph

May 22nd

Uncategorized

Free phones are a lie — is America getting over its smartphone subsidy addiction?

Smartphone Subsidies US

You’ve seen the advertisements, and you’ve seen them for years. New smartphones for nothing beyond a signature, with the latest and greatest running just $199.

It’s all a complete fabrication.

In a bid to lock customers into long-term contracts, America’s preeminent wireless carriers have had a history of subsidizing the phones that the masses want. What happens is a masking of the true price of a phone.

If you asked most folks what a new iPhone would set you back, you’d probably hear “around $200.” What you wouldn’t hear is the rest of that sentence: “…by committing to pay a wireless carrier hundreds or thousands of dollars over the next 24 months.”

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Darren Murph

May 22nd

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WARNING: Don’t waste your money on knockoff Lightning cables for the iPhone and iPad

Fake Lightning Cable Review

When Apple ushered in the Lightning cable with the iPhone 5, millions of folks groaned collectively. A new connector means new accessories and outdated doodads, but in this particular example, it also represented a serious shot against piracy. As it turns out, Apple detests knockoffs… even when it comes to cabling. So, with Lightning, the company included a chip inside of each plug that would be next to impossible to reverse engineer and ape. Moreover, Apple added yet another expense to reproducing the cable, which would no doubt cut into the profit margins for would-be knockoff artists.

Today, a three meter Lightning cable from Apple is priced at $20. Which, by all measures, is firmly in Monster Cable territory on the ripoff meter. Thankfully, quite a few “Apple certified” options do exist, including a smattering of $14 versions available across the web.

But, being the stubborn knucklehead that I am, I just couldn’t be bothered with paying such outrageous rates for a couple of spare cables.

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Darren Murph

May 19th

Apple

Review: Seagate Backup Plus Slim and Fast mobile hard drives

Seagate Backup Plus Slim Review

Fast. Fast and cheap. In a nutshell, that describes Seagate’s latest duo of mobile hard drives. In a world where SSDs are still (unfortunately) too pricey for most, mechanical hard drives are (mercifully) becoming increasingly affordable. The thought of carrying around 2TB of photos, videos, and love letters that you just can’t part with for under $120 would’ve been a pipe dream just a couple of years ago.

As the latest race to the bottom plays out, Seagate’s 2TB Backup Plus Slim is a compelling option. It strips away practically everything except a USB 3.0 connector, but fancies itself up on the software front.

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Darren Murph

May 16th

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Form meets Function: What Google’s Nest acquisition says about our technological future

Google Nest Acquisition
Nest. Outside of the hardcore tech following, and maybe one level beyond that, no one on Earth had heard of this company prior to January 2014. It matters not. Google just agreed to pay $3.2 billion in order to bring Nest Labs over to Mountain View, and for those paying attention, the general consensus is significantly more positive than when Google decided to spend around four times that tally to buy Motorola Mobility. As in, a company that everyone on Earth has heard of.

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Darren Murph

January 14th

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REVIEW: Ona Bags Lima and Presidio camera straps are a photographer’s dream

Ona Bags Lima Presidio Review
For those who’ve been following my reviews over the years, you’ll likely be well aware of how fond I am of Ona Bags. It’s a small, service-focused outfit that has expanded from building some of the world’s greatest camera bags to building some of the world’s greatest accessories, too. The outfit’s DSLR bags, backpacks, and shoulder bags are constructed from some of the most durable, stately materials found anywhere, and I’ve long since sworn by them. Sure, they’re more expensive than anything mass-produced with ho-hum threads, but put simply, Ona’s stuff is unequivocally worth it for those willing to splurge.

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Darren Murph

December 27th

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FEATURE — Email, Twitter and the always-on lifestyle: Today’s double-edged sword

Always-on Lifestyle

What happens when "Out Of Office" becomes meaningless?


Today, I made a choice. I made a choice to carve out a chunk of time to write this article, but I did so at the expense of communication. I very intentionally decided to cast my eyes in the other direction by ignoring a deluge of inbound inquiries, and to be honest, I’m still unsure as to whether it was the right decision. Five years ago, I might have suggested that those employed in the digital industry would understand where I was coming from, but today, I’m more inclined to believe that everyone in a developed country would get the gist. This is the era where personal time becomes a relic, silence is the new distraction, and 24/7 expectations bleed from petrol stations into every possible aspect of your life. Consider this: how many requests are you presently ignoring by taking the time to read these words?

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Darren Murph

December 2nd

Uncategorized

Automatic Link review: An elegant, data-driven way to track your rides

Automatic Link Review

Taking the sting out of not owning a self-driving car


Automatic’s Link is perhaps most impressive not due to what it can accomplish out of the box, but what it could do in the future.


OBD-II. At a glance, you’re probably assuming that this is a little-known member of the Wu-Tang Clan who somehow escaped the 36 Chambers. Close, but no cigar. What it actually is is a specification embedded into practically every gasoline-powered automobile built since 1996, and if you’ve ever bothered to look above your gas pedal, you’ll probably see a rectangular port just waiting to be loved. Traditionally, that port has been used by mechanics with custom diagnostic readers in order to better describe what that warning light on your dash was about. Today, it’s empowering you — the all-important motorist. While OBD-II devices (and accompanying apps) have been around for years, Automatic’s Link is different. It’s beautiful. It’s elegant. And, perhaps most importantly, it just works. From my perspective, the automobile is the next great mainstream frontier for technology to truly pervade. Comically long lead times — often reaching 7 years or longer — have prevented even high-end motorcars from embracing the newest of technologies, but tools like Automatic help to circumvent the issue. In a nutshell, the Link is a small, white nub that plugs into your car’s OBD-II port. It’s fairly useless without the accompanying app, which runs quietly in the background of your phone and speaks to the Link via Bluetooth. For now, the app is iOS-only, but a beta build is expected to hit next month for the Android faithful. What’s it do? Monitors your acceleration and braking to give you tips on better a more fuel-efficient driver, alerts people of your choosing should you end up in a crash, gives you instant information on any warning lights, and keeps a beautiful record of your trips without any effort on your part. To me, however, the real potential of the $99 Link has yet to be tapped. Head on past the break to hear why.

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Darren Murph

November 19th

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Apple 13-inch Retina MacBook Pro review (late 2013)

Apple 13-inch Retina MacBook Pro Review

The ideal laptop for the road warrior


If you’ve been clinging tightly to your 15-inch notebook, fearing that a move to a 13-inch Retina display wouldn’t sustain your workflows, I’m here to tell you that your fretting is in vain.


It happened: the MacBook Air has officially been trumped as my recommended road warrior machine. And, perhaps unsurprisingly, it’s another Apple product that’s doing the trumping. Released last month alongside the iPad Air and revised iPad mini with Retina display, the Haswell-infused 13-inch MacBook Pro with Retina display has been my sole computer for the past four weeks. For those who slept right through the announcement, here’s a bit of a refresher: it’s dramatically faster than last year’s model, it’s cheaper, and most impressive of all, it’s thinner. How thin? At its rear, the 13-inch MacBook Air measures 0.68-inches, whereas the new 13-inch rMBP measures 0.71-inches. (Save your effort reaching for the calculator — this new rig is just 0.03-inches thicker than the MBA’s thickest point.) To boot, Apple dropped the entry price for its smallest pro-grade machine to just $1,299, placing it just $200 north of the baseline 13-inch MacBook Air. For those who spend an embarrassing amount of time in airline seats, Town Cars, and/or questionable-designed hotel rooms, there’s a new champion in town. Read on for my take on Apple’s most fit-for-travel workhorse yet.

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Darren Murph

November 18th

Apple
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