December 14th, 2012
03:34 PM ET

Mapping showdown: Apple vs Google

All iPhone owners, rejoice: No longer do you have to put up with Apple's widely criticized Maps app. Google Maps is back, and it's much better than before.

And the irony is, we have Apple to thank for it.


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Filed under: Gadgets • General • Personal musings • Technology
December 4th, 2012
05:01 PM ET

Was The Daily's downfall the paywall?

The Daily was one of the first apps I downloaded after I finally purchased an iPad.

I got the free trial and read every page of the first issue. But when it came time to cough up for a subscription... well, let's just say no thanks.

Don't get me wrong, I loved the idea. But I'll confess I didn't read it every day. And after a while, I forgot I even had the app.

Obviously I wasn't the only one unwilling to pay for The Daily's content. A few months ago, the editor-in-chief reported 100,000 subscribers as he denied rumors of The Daily's demise.

Compare that to The Wall Street Journal Digital Network, which counts more than 1.3 million paid subscribers.

Now if you were hoping to read The Daily before its final issue on December 15, you may be out of luck. The app has already been removed from the iTunes store.

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Filed under: Personal musings • Technology
September 25th, 2012
04:47 PM ET

Tempted by inflight electronics

It's the summer of 2006. I'm playing multiplayer Grand Theft Auto with a friend on the PlayStation Portable via Wi-Fi. And we're 38,000 feet over the South China Sea.

I know there's a ban on wireless devices in the middle of a flight. I know I shouldn't be doing it.

But there I am, speeding through the streets of Liberty City, chasing a friend who's sitting four rows behind me, when my car hits a barrier and explodes.

The plane shakes a little. FULL POST

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Filed under: Gadgets • General • Personal musings • Technology
July 25th, 2012
07:30 AM ET

Sally Ride: Trailblazer


The first American woman in space has passed away at the age of 61. Sally Ride broke barriers and inspired people to reach for the stars.

And in death, Ride may have become a role model for another reason. The obituary posted on her organization's website noted Ride's partner of 27 years, Tam O’Shaughnessy. It's believed to be the first public acknowledgment of their same-sex relationship.

A 2009 article on the same site described Ride and O'Shaughnessy as "good friends" and "co-authors." But it also reveals some of their romantic story. They met at age 12 through tennis. O'Shaughnessy went on to play professionally. And through the years, they stayed in touch.

Ride's sister, Bear, tells the website Buzzfeed that the relationship was never hidden. She says most people also did not know about Sally Ride's pancreatic cancer because she was a "very private person."

Some will argue that Ride's orientation is unimportant, that she should be remembered solely for her scientific and educational accomplishments. To that I say, name one openly gay astronaut.

Sally Ride was a trailblazer for women into the final frontier. Let's not limit her now.

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Filed under: Personal musings • Space
July 17th, 2012
10:36 AM ET

Open letter to Marissa Mayer

Getty Images

Dear Marissa Mayer:

First off - congrats on a double dose of incredible life-changing news!

I know you're incredibly busy adjusting to life after Google, cranking up your new CEO gig at Yahoo!, and finalizing your go-bag for the birth of your son in October. But please consider a few thoughts from a well-intended geek mom and journalist.


May 29th, 2012
03:58 PM ET

Diamond Jubilee: UK puts weather before Windsors

I remember the Queen’s Golden Jubilee ten years ago. When the commemorative flypast took place, I was festering in a box room on an ex-council estate in East London. I think I was hungover.

Actually, I was 22 years old. I know I was hungover.

Three miles west of my less-than-regal living quarters, more than a million individuals had mobbed The Mall and the wider environs of Buckingham Palace. Many were armed with union flags, others just with cameras, hoping for a fleeting glimpse of the boyishly handsome Prince William. There was, by all accounts, a party atmosphere – aided I’m sure by the fact that the Great British elements had opted not to rain on this particular parade.

But more than the event itself, I recall an outpouring of surprise from the press and the public alike that the occasion had not been a washout in the wider sense. The Windsors were perceived to have a popularity problem.  Papers such as "The Guardian" decreed that they were out of touch with the populace, and the populace would be out of sight come the Jubilee.


May 17th, 2012
11:00 AM ET

Is Facebook a must-buy for journalism?

Now that Facebook is friends with Wall Street, this journalist is giving her timeline a rethink.

I rejoiced when it launched Facebook Pages, as this was a chance to build a professional presence on the network separate from my personal feed.

I was also riveted by the work of Wael Ghonim, the Egyptian Internet activist and Google executive who devised the "We are all Khalid Said" Facebook page after a businessman who died in police custody last year. The page helped spark the revolution that toppled Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak.

And I was thrilled when Facebook hired a dedicated journalist-program manager to build ways for reporters to be more socially savvy.

But now Facebook will answer to its shareholders as a publicly traded company. To keep Wall Street happy, it will have to make more money - quarter after quarter.

Journalists have to face up to the fact that we - along with some 800 million Facebook users worldwide - are the product being sold.


May 10th, 2012
04:01 PM ET

Instagram: My addiction and affliction

Nicol Nicolson's Instagram page

I made an exhibition of myself on CNN last night.

My dear friend and colleague Ramy Inocencio was proficiently analyzing Toyota’s latest earnings when, 35 seconds into his hit, a pair of arms rose up over his left shoulder. They belonged to me. And they proceeded to run the gamut of soccer-style celebrations: the fist pump, the airplane, the Saturday Night Fever 45° point…  The spectacle lasted 15 seconds but, watching it back, it’s an agonizingly long 15 seconds. And the thing is, as shamelessly scene-stealing as this episode appeared to be, it wasn’t my fault. It was Instagram’s.

While the wider world obsesses over the imminent opportunity to purchase shares in Facebook, I am instead obsessing over Facebook’s latest purchase. Don’t get me wrong. I was "gramin" long before Mark Zuckerberg got his prosperous paws on the photo-sharing site. But as with any addiction, Instagram crept up on me, posing as a harmless hobby before eventually enveloping me in its allure.


March 6th, 2012
02:29 PM ET

Know Your Oreo

The News Stream team is fond of sweet treats; we often have a stash of chocolate sitting by our desk. So imagine our joy when we realised it was the humble Oreo cookie's 100th birthday, and we had a valid excuse to buy some packets.

It's a fairly simple recipe – two part chocolate biscuit, one part cream filling – but the Oreo has become the world's top-selling cookie, sold in more than 100 countries.

But here's the piece Oreo trivia you really want to hear:

50% of all Oreo eaters pull apart their cookies before consuming them, and women are more likely to twist them open than men.  FULL POST

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Filed under: General • Personal musings
U.S. Troop Deployments: Digging into the data
November 17th, 2011
02:35 PM ET

U.S. Troop Deployments: Digging into the data

When U.S. President Barack Obama addressed Australian troops at a naval base in Darwin after promising to deploy 2,500 U.S. marines to northern Australia over the next several years, it got us thinking: which other surprising locations are American soldiers sent to?

So I found some statistics from the U.S. Department of Defense from December 2010, got hold of a couple of highlighter pens, and got to work.


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Filed under: Data • General • Personal musings
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