How to wrap the cords on your MacBook’s MagSafe adapter…the right way!

how to wrap a macbook power adapter

And by “the right way”, I mean “as the designers intended”. And since they’re not HP designers, they’re more than likely to be right.

This has been floating around the internet for the past couple of days, and I’m surprised that even today, several years after Apple introduced this style of MacBook power adapter, many people still don’t know this trick for effectively wrapping the cords to easier transport. It’s simple:

  1. Extend the power adapter’s “ears”.
  2. Wrap the big cord around the adapter’s body so that it passes between the “ears”.
  3. Wrap the little cord around the “ears”, securing it in place with the built-in clip near the MagSafe plug.

…and that’s it!


Meanwhile, on my Windows machine…

vs 2013 screenshot

Click the screen shot to see it at full size.

…I’m taking an old friend (in new form) out for a test drive. More later.


Your Friday productivity killer: BuzzFeed’s videos on mobile tech (plus some bonus ones)

dirty cell phone

It’s 1:00 p.m. Eastern Standard Time on a Friday afternoon as I post this. Perhaps these videos will lull you out of your post-lunch coma, but they may also drag you spiralling down the YouTube hole. I take no responsibility for any lost productivity resulting from your viewing these videos on mobile tech. Enjoy!

13 Horrifying Facts About Your Cell Phone

And yet you’ll still use it often after watching this video.

30 Things You No Longer Need Because of Smartphones

If you don’t know what a “Walkman” is, here’s the Wikipedia entry.

I’ll Bet You Have These Photos On Your Phone

I’ve got about half of these on my phone.

The Unwritten Rules Of Texting

Worth knowing.

Expert Ways To Handle Wrong Number Texts

We’ve all done this at least once.

Bonus video 1: Things You Do Online That’d Be Creepy In Real Life

Somewhat related to mobile tech, and hey, it’s funny!

Bonus video 2: 6 Essential Mac Tips

While not related to mobile technology, this will be useful to a lot of Mac users out there.


A “Calvin and Hobbes” comic from 20 years ago turned out to be eerily prescient

calvin and hobbes 1993-12-10

Remember, this is from December 10, 1993, when mobile phones looked like this:


…and cutting-edge mobile computing looked like this:


and this:

ibm simon

…and the browser, which wasn’t even a year old, looked like this:

NCSA Mosaic


FCC: Phone calls on planes! DOT: Whoa there, cowboy. [Updated]

talking on a phone on a plane

Me, I’d be happy that I’m not in “cattle class”, but I feel the guy’s pain.

Spurred by the recent lifting of the ban on the use of light electronic devices on flights from gate to gate, the FCC (Federal Communications Commission) is now considering lifting the ban on in-flight calls. The ban was on concerns that phone calls made from airplanes, which travel up to 10 times the speed of land vehicles, would play havoc with ground-based cellular networks, especially with rapid switching from cell to cell. Recent advances now allow planes to carry their own “mini cellular towers”, obviating the technological reason for banning calls on flights.

fcc logo

The FCC are divided on the issue, but in a 3 to 2 vote they chose to seek public comment on a proposal to lift the ban. FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler seems to express different opinions on the matter, depending on who’s asking:

  • To assuage the concerns about spending a cross-country flight trapped next to a chatterbox, he’s aid “Nothing will be different on your flight tomorrow. We’re just seeking comments on the proposal.”
  • However, at a House hearing earlier today, he replied “strongly yes” when asked if he planned to lift the ban on in-flight calls. “This is the responsible thing to do. Where the rationale for the rule doesn’t exist, the rule shouldn’t exist.”
  • In written testimony submitted for a congressional hearing on the issue, he tried to tread the middle ground: “I understand the consternation caused by the thought of your onboard seatmate disturbing the flight making phone calls. I do not want the person in the seat next to me yapping at 35,000 feet any more than anyone else. But we are not the Federal Courtesy Commission.”
  • He reinforced his written statement that the FCC is not Emily Post when speaking at that congressional hearing “The FCC is the expert agency when it comes to technical communications issues. We are not the Federal Courtesy Commission. Our mandate from Congress is to oversee how networks function.”
  • In an editorial he wrote for USA Today, he says “it’s not me, it’s you“: “In a free market such decisions belong in the hands of the airlines and their consumers.”

FCC Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel was one of the 3 who voted for accepting public comments on lifting the ban, but she herself is against the proposal. She flies often, says she’s stuck in the dreaded middle seat near the rear of the plane, which would be made even worse by having to put up with a neighbour making calls. “This commission does not need to add to that burden,” she said.

dot logo

The FCC isn’t the only U.S. government department weighing in on the issue. The DOT (Department of Transportation), whose jurisdiction includes air travel, is also seeking public comment — but on whether allowing such calls is “fair to consumers”. DOT Secretary Anthony Foxx says “Over the past few weeks, we have heard of concerns raised by airlines, travelers, flight attendants, members of Congress and others who are all troubled over the idea of passengers talking on cell phones in flight –- and I am concerned about this possibility as well.”

There’s been bipartisan cooperation on the “anti-in-flight calls” side, with Senators Lamar Alexander (R – Tennessee) and Diane Feinstein (D – California) introducing a bill to ban in-flight mobile phone conversations. ““Keeping phone conversations private on commercial flights may not be enshrined in the constitution, but it is certainly enshrined in common sense,” wrote Alexander in a news release.

This should be an interesting intersection: a body charged with regulating communications devices, another charged with regulating air travel, both trying to rewrite the rules for mobile technology, where both their jurisdictions are being changed and disrupted.

guess where im calling from

Creative Commons photo by Sam Churchill. Click to see the original.

We’ve had in-flight-calling in North America before, if you recall those bulky, wired phones with credit card readers installed above the meal tray ion the seat in front of you. Those are the products of a different time, when some people thought it was a little odd to walk down the street while having a conversation on your mobile phone, and certainly before we watched movies, checked email, or played Candy Crush on them. The high prices for using those phones also kept calls on them quite short (many of the calls started with “Guess where I’m calling from!” and were followed by making arrangements to meet at the destination airport).

Outside North America, there are about two dozen airlines who have the necessary “mini cell tower” technology installed on their aircraft and allow their passengers to make in-flight calls. There are cultures where phone etiquette and rules about things like personal space are different, and in some cases, there are cultures where in-flight calls are probably a small annoyance compared to in-flight binge drinking.

There are also issues of the practicality of enforcing the ban on in-flight calls. Now that mobile phones are small computers are more than portable phones, but computers that just happen to let you make phone calls, allowing SMS messaging and the use of apps that use cellular data to access the internet but disallowing voice calls is legal hair-splitting. On the increasing number of flights that have wifi service, what’s the practical difference between holding a Skype voice chat on a laptop or tablet and a phone call?

The FCC is quite likely to lift the ban on in-flight calls. As Chairman Wheeler points out, their mandate is to regulate the functioning of networks, and not the behaviour of individuals using them. However, the DOT, as a body that regulates transportation, may be able to institute a ban on the use of voice communications technologies in flights if a threat to safety or the smooth functioning of a flight exists. Veda Shook, president of the Association of Flight Attendants International, makes such a case:

“As first responders in the aircraft cabin, flight attendants know that this reckless FCC proposal would have negative effects on aviation safety and security. In far too many operational scenarios, passengers making phone calls could extend beyond a mere nuisance, creating risks that are far too great. As the last line of defense in our nation’s aviation system, flight attendants understand the importance of maintaining a calm cabin environment, and passengers agree.”

In the likely case that the the ban on in-flight calls is lifted, it still doesn’t mean that you’ll be able to make a call on any U.S. flight. The airline would still have the final say on whether you can make a call, and even if they allowed them, they’d still have to install the “mini tower” technology.

american opinions on in-flight calls

Click the graph to see the source data.

In the end, the airlines will likely leave it to the passengers to vote with their dollars. If the data from a recent survey conducted by Quinnipiac University holds true for the market in general, passengers will vote 2 to 1 against in-flight voice calls. Delta Air Lines has already announced that they won’t allow in-flight voice calls, and Southwest’s CEO has said that he doesn’t favour a change in polciy, citing the Quinnipiac survey.


Fortinet’s Internet Security Census says Gen Y is big on BYOD and wearables, not so much on BYOD rules

breaking the law like a bossFortinet, a vendor of network security appliances and online threat management services, recently had the market research company Vision Critical survey 3,200 university graduate-level people aged 21 to 32 who owned their own smartphone, tablet, or laptop. If you’re unable to access the funny pictures at at the office, chances are it some piece of Fortinet software that’s stopping you. Chances are also that “Generation Y”, a.k.a. “The Millennials” — those born between 1980 and 2000, and who are the target of the survey — are going to try to find some way around that restriction.

Generation Y grew up never knowing a world without DOS or its descendants, and those born in the latter half of that generation likely never knew a time when it was unusual to have a computer in the house, never mind a networked one. Most of this generation are either entering the workforce or well into the start of their post-schooling working lives, and they’re the next generation of leaders, decision-makers, and department heads. It is these people that Fortinet wanted Vision Critical to interview about their attitudes and opinions on corporate policies, rules and regulations on mobile devices and their use in the workplace.

The key findings in Fortinet’s 19-page report on Gen Y are:

  • They believe that BYOD empowers workers. 45% of participants in the survey said that being able to bring their own devices to work lets them get their work done.
  • They’re ready to use wearable technology. 50% of participants agreed that when wearable technology becomes available and affordable, and came with the right apps, they’d use it at work.
  • They’ll break company mobile policies that get in their way. “Up to 51% of the sample” said that they would break rules and regulations that restricted the use of their own devices, cloud storage and services and wearable technologies for work. This represents an increase in defiance from a similar 2012 survey, where 42% said they’d go against such policies.
  • Their devices have been compromised. “High instances of sample respondents” say they’ve been cyberattacked.
  • Some of them were well-versed in security, other could stand to learn more. While a “hardcore” segment of the people surveyed — about 20 to 25% of the participants — knew about such things as APTs and DDoSs, a “worrying minority” — about 11% of them — claimed never to have heard of terms like “cybercrime”.

fortinet internet security census 2013

The report on Fortinet’s survey, Internet Security Census 2013, spans 19 pages, covers the findings above in greater detail, and is available for free in exchange for some contact information. To get a free PDF copy of the report, go to Fortinet’s Internet Security Census 2013 page.


Shopify lands $100 million in third round of venture funding, joins the $1B valuation “Unicorn Club”

There’s some big news from Shopify today: they’ve closed their third round of funding led by OMERS Ventures and Insight Venture Partners, securing $100 million in funding, The funding will be used to continue their trajectory towards becoming the way that retail sales are done, whether online, offline, or a mix of the two.

valued at one billion dollars

According to the Wall Street Journal:

People familiar with the deal said the company’s Series C valuation was “near $1 billion.” The company declined to comment on revenue but a representative said it had 80,000 active merchants using its software today.

The Globe and Mail reports:

Reaching the $1-billion level is extremely rare. Website TechCrunch recently determined that only 39 tech firms born since 2003 in the U.S., including Facebook and Twitter, have reached the $1-billion level, as valued by public or private markets, making them members of the so-called “Unicorn Club.”

Here are more reports about the deal:

Congratulations to Tobi, Daniel, Cody, Harley, et. al. on a job well done!