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  • Alexa Looks for a New Job

    Deep-pocketed Amazon is making cuts to the digital assistant after losing up to $5 billion a year in a largely successful effort to boost usage. Is a move to another division of the e-commerce juggernaut in the offing?

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  • Error 451 indicates the page you are looking for has been censored

    The Internet Engineering Steering Group has approved code 451 to indicate a censored page. The number is inspired in Ray Bradbury’s novel Fahrenheit 451 in which firemen burned any book they found. The uses are more than metaphorical: you may appeal to the courts if you come across Error 451.

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  • The New Year

    “There is a tree with twelve branches, with thirty apples in each branch, and each apple has a white half and a black half.” The Armenians of the pre-Christian era represented with this simple riddle the tree of life. It was the year. The chromatic duality was a metaphor for day and night, but also,… Read More »The New Year

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  • Why acoustics matter, even outside a concert hall

    We live in the era of noise. So much so, that we no longer hear the TVs idling on as we talk, and we can’t pin down what’s so annoying about a perfectly mute office (it gets worse when a colleague opens a pack of chips), yet love the layered sounds that concur at Grand… Read More »Why acoustics matter, even outside a concert hall

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  • Limited Internet for Free: Would you take Facebook’s offer?

    Facebook is offering in India a free service of Internet, with access to a limited number of websites including its own. It has found resistance, prompting company founder Mark Zuckerberg to lobby hard for it, comparing it to libraries and hospitals. Critics oppose it because it challenges net neutrality, the principle that Internet service providers… Read More »Limited Internet for Free: Would you take Facebook’s offer?

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  • “Hello, is this planet Earth?”

    An International Space Station astronaut had problems to communicate with his family on Earth ahead of Christmas, only because he misdialed. He asked the question we use as our title, and the person at the other end of the line, who probably didn’t know she was getting a call from extraterrestrial space, merely answered: “Wrong… Read More »“Hello, is this planet Earth?”

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  • May he come: It doesn’t matter how

    Santa comes from far away, from the time he was Greek and his name was St. Nicholas, and lived in a city that ended up in Turkey, until he reached Europe at the time of Christianization of Germanic tribes, which much later would bequeath the trees decorated with garlands, as well as the plump and… Read More »May he come: It doesn’t matter how

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  • A phone call to your brother in North Korea, or the parable of Lilliput

    North Korea is shut to the outside world. No Internet or phone lines connect its ordinary citizens to the outside world. They don’t know how people live outside, how are their houses, how they dress or what they eat. Unauthorized contacts can earn you harsh prison sentences, or worse. That’s why one secret phone call… Read More »A phone call to your brother in North Korea, or the parable of Lilliput

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  • Grey Lady Learns New Language

    I just tested The New York Times virtual reality app. In a refreshing change, the test was more about expression than technology. The experience says more about the future of virtual reality than any technical review. The app uses Google Cardboard, which the Times sent to my doorstep free of charge for being an online… Read More »Grey Lady Learns New Language

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  • The growing popularity of slow photography

    After attaining glory, Cartier Bresson abandoned photography for finding it too mechanical. Yet cellphones have turned all of us into amateurs. And very often, as we can see in social media, virtuous ones: it goes on to prove that quality is a function of quantity. Yet it’s true that mechanization has sped things up unnaturally.… Read More »The growing popularity of slow photography

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