The order that began the dive down the rabbit hole

The secret to getting Amazon’s best customer service

There’s a classic tech industry joke. A jet is lost in dense fog and low on fuel. The pilot, desperate to get his bearings, winds up circling an IBM skyscraper. “Where am I?” he shouts to the white-shirted nerds inside. They grab calculators, computers and furiously get to work, finally providing what they consider the… Read More

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Kindle Fire HDX: The business person’s frenemy

When the Kindle Fire HDX was first released, I read reviews that raved how this Kindle finally added business-friendly features, enough to garner it the blessing of corporate IT departments. Apparently, none of the reviewers had actually tried to use those features. Sure, the HDX is beautiful and easily the most functional Kindle Fire yet…. Read More

password

It’s time to kill the password — before it kills us

It’s time to shoot the password. And multiple screens are the trigger. I had this epiphany when wrestling with one Rhapsody music service on two devices using three pieces of software. Firing up the Rhapsody Android smartphone app, I unexpectedly was prompted for my password. Okay, I figured, the app had been updated and needed… Read More

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Farewell, stack rank: Why this change is so big for Microsoft

[Editor's Note: Christopher Budd worked at Microsoft for more than 10 years, specializing in security response and communications.] Yesterday every current and former Microsoft employee felt the earth shift. Microsoft announced that the “stack rank” system for reviews — in which employees are rated and rewarded on a fixed curve — would be retired and… Read More

1997 as seen from 1965

When technology – and time – overtake research

For the past three decades, I have been a psychological test subject. Not in a creepy NSA-and-tin-foil-hat kind of way, but as part of a long-term study designed to understand how mental abilities change as people age. Yet as time affects cognition, technology is encroaching on the study itself. The Seattle Longitudinal Study is something… Read More

patch

Ten Years of Patch Tuesdays: Why It’s Time to Move On

Earlier this month, Microsoft marked the tenth anniversary of its regular “Patch Tuesday” release of security updates. There wasn’t a lot of fanfare, but there was reflection on how this new, regular process improved security for Microsoft customers and for security practices in the industry overall. Larry Seltzer and Andrew Storms both give a good… Read More

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Why Washington state’s Obamacare site doesn’t suck

My husband and I were browsing wahealthplanfinder.org this week, to see if any of these new options were better than our current self-employed health insurance plan, when we realized something. Unlike healthcare.gov, the federal health insurance marketplace that’s barely worked since its Oct. 1 launch, our state’s online insurance exchange doesn’t suck. In fact, wahealthplanfinder.org… Read More

emoticon

Commentary: Do we have an emoticon problem? :-/

So. Where do you come down on emoticons? They’re everywhere, these tiny typed expressions, and locally, reviews are mixed: “I rely so much on emoticons to convey my emotion,” wrote Lauren Hall-Stigerts. “Shakespeare didn’t need emoticons! We can suck it up too!” wrote Vanessa Fox. “I learned to write in the 20th century B.E. (before… Read More

legos

Lego love: The greatest engagement photos ever

This week my friends Marika Burkhart and Justin Jensen posted some of the best engagement pictures I’ve ever seen. And they’re not even in them. Seattle photographer Shelly Corbett took the photos of two tiny Lego Minifigures that Marika and Justin picked as their avatars, in geeky settings ranging from “The Lord of the Rings”… Read More

Amplify_Tablet

Tech happens: When tablets and schools don’t mix

Memo to Microsoft: When it comes to Surface tablets in the classroom, be careful what you wish for. Because you might be the next victim of education’s Curse of the Bright Shiny. Much has been made of the news that the Los Angeles Unified School District’s bold billion dollar bid to give every one of… Read More

Web browsing, two decades ago

The Web: a generation old, a link unexpected

On this twentieth anniversary of the first popular web browser, consider how its potential was viewed just one year after its birth. If only to realize that sometimes in tech the Law of Unintended Consequences can pay off in positive ways, too. In September 1993, the National Center for Supercomputing Applications released the beta of… Read More

Caught between casualness and formality, the serious coffee shop interview is tough not to notice. (Photo: Mónica Guzmán)

Awkward blend: Job interviews and coffee shops

Everything looked just as I expected inside the Uptown Espresso in Belltown. Then I noticed the dress. Deep red, form fitting and smart, it looked good on the young woman sitting ten feet in front of me. She who wore it with a cardigan, black shoes and — whoa wait is that pantyhose? Daring a… Read More

Google Chromecast

Google Chromecast: Welcome to the Post-Nerd Era

Don’t try to be smarter than a smart device. That’s the main lesson I learned from an otherwise flawless first Google Chromecast experience. Chromecast is Google’s new entry into a dizzying array of options to cut (or at least seriously fray) the cable television cord. And like many things Googley, it’s very different from most… Read More