Proudly Announcing My New Home

In times of change, when routine parts of your life are removed, critical parts that helped to define your identity, it’s easy to get unsettled. When your all-consuming macro focus suddenly widens to reveal infinite paths of opportunity ahead, it’s easy to get disoriented. These times are valuable times, and in these times it’s important to not ponder what’s behind, but rather what’s right here — the skills, the knowledge, the values, the friendships, and the passions that have driven you to your current heights. It’s these things that will keep you on sure-footing as you climb toward opportunities ahead.

Over the past few weeks I’ve done a lot of thinking along these lines, not only re-evaluating the skills and opportunities that earned me the incredible privilege of your audience, but pondering how it is that I can and should best apply those going forward. (I’ve also, I confess, spent a bit of time playing the videogames I’ve missed over the past few years. There’s been no shortage of tinkering in the garage, too, but we’ll save those details for another post.) I’ve been lucky enough to speak with, and listen to, a number of very talented individuals across a variety of industries — tech journalism, auto journalism, media relations, entrepreneurship, and product development to name a few — in a sort of quest to help identify which of those paths of opportunity will take me where I want to go.

And where do I want to go? A place where I have the freedom to investigate and dive deep into those topics that interest me most. A place where I can engage in compelling conversations with people creating amazing products and technologies. More importantly, a place where I can continue to have an open and transparent dialog with readers and followers. A place where I can continue to earn your trust and respect and work with those who have earned mine.

And so it’s with no shortage of pride, but I confess a little bit of nervousness, that I tell you I’m joining the CNET team. CNET is a place run and fueled by many talented people who I know and trust and respect, and I’m honored to now be able to count myself among them. I, too, had some concerns and doubts after the unfortunate happenings of CES 2013, but after lengthy conversations with numerous folks at many levels I’m confident that the dynamics that culminated in what went down in January have been altered. I’m confident that this is a place where I can freely say what should be said without fear of displeasing a corporate overlord. Without that confidence I wouldn’t have signed on.

I want you to be confident, too. As always, I believe that transparency and open dialog are the most important parts of building confidence. That’s part of what I’ll continue to bring to the table at CNET. While my primary role will be creating great feature content, a very important part of my job will be fostering open discussions with you the readers. I promise to neither rake muck nor bury my head in the sand, just to shoot straight and tell it like it is. Both sides of the story. As ever, if you have concerns or doubts, I want to hear them.

While the tech and auto news scenes are heavily saturated, there are still plenty of compelling untold stories just waiting behind the curtain. When the pace of the news cycle is this intense, few writers have the luxury or patience to dig deeper, to not only answer what a given thing is but why it is. What factors contributed to its design, to its performance, to its features, and to its cost? And then, after the reviews are posted and the industry moves along in its never-ending obsession over what’s coming next, how does what’s here now actually fit into your life? Each new product and technological advancement has a story. I’ll be working to comprehensively, and respectfully, tell those stories

I’ll be focusing on the worlds of both consumer technology and transportation, gadgets and cars, those two areas I’m personally most passionate about. I’ll also be contributing to show coverage and, yes, doing some liveblogs at big events, too. You’ll be seeing a fair bit of me soon enough, and I can’t wait to get started. It’s an incredible opportunity, and for that I am very thankful.


The Weekly Tech Overload: Trapped in the Hyperloop

Happy Friday, dear readers. Let’s get right to it. This ultimately was a slow week on the tech news front, but it got off with a bit of a bang thanks to the long-awaited revelation of Elon Musk’s Hyperloop. It’s a conceptual means of high-speed, low-cost transportation that harkens back to many concepts of the ’50s and ’60s. Namely: a train able to go very fast thanks to a near-vacuum enclosure. Air resistance and imperfect tracks are the biggest limiting factors to train speed, and Musk’s concept of a windowless, aluminum enclosure kills both birds in one, dual-barreled shot.

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The Weekly Tech Overload: Lavabit goes offline — for the greater good?

Hello again, folks, and happy Friday. Apologies for the lack of updates this week, but it’s been a busy one. Let’s take a look at the week in tech news and dig right in to what I consider to be the biggest story: the discontinuation of the Lavabit service. In a heart-wrenching open letter to the service’s users, founder Ladar Levison writes about making an impossible decision: “to become implicit in crimes against the American people or walk away from nearly ten years of hard work by shutting down Lavabit.” He’s made the noble and tragic choice to take the latter path.

As noted by Xeni Jardin in her post on the subject at Boing Boing, the secure email service recently gained notoriety thanks to its use by Edward Snowden. Lavabit actually dates back to 2004, offering an alternative to advertising-driven and, presumably, easily cracked Gmail accounts. I confess to thinking little of the need for the service at the time, but recent developments have certainly caused me to reconsider my former “Well if you’re not doing anything wrong…” stance regarding online privacy. Jennifer Granick over at Stanford’s Center for Internet and Society has a brief run-down of the implications. It’s well worth a read.

The service now appears dead, though perhaps existing in a state of suspended animation is a better way to put it. Levison seems to have no interest in handing over the keys to the US Government, but that he’s asking for donations to the Lavabit Legal Defense Fund shows a bit of hope for re-awakening at some point down the road. Now would be a lovely time for a molten carbonite joke and mix in an obscure Han Solo reference, but I’m sorry to say that levity doesn’t quite feel appropriate for this particular story.

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The Weekly Tech Overload: Moto’s Most Important Launch

Moto X

Welcome, dear readers, to the Weekly Tech Overload, in which I boil down the last seven days of tech news for easy consumption on a lazy Friday afternoon. Whether you’re too busy to follow the blogosphere churn or still can’t bring yourself to rebuild your Google Reader sources elsewhere, here’s your opportunity to get caught up on what you’ve missed.

We’ll start with the biggest product unveiling of the week by far: the Moto X. Dubbed the anti-iPhone by Roger Cheng at CNET this is, if you fan away the hype, a pretty typical Android smartphone. It has a 4.7-inch AMOLED display that gets by at 720p while pictures come in through a 10 megapixel rear camera or two megapixel front-facer. Inside there’s a rather complex suite of CPUs and GPUs powering the whole thing that Moto has thoughtfully branded as eight cores worth of “contextual computing processors” and “natural language processors,” as explained at Ars.

PR-speak aside, what you have is a pair of dual-core Snapdragon S4 processors running at 1.7GHz and an Adreno 320 GPU, plus a pair of other custom chips for doing fancy things like hopping into Google Now whenever you say “Okay Google Now” — even when the phone’s display is off. I confess I’ve long-since tired of saying “Okay Glass, take a picture,” far preferring to just reach up and hit the damned shutter button, and I think X users will quickly find themselves forgetting their own predefined command. That’s not the only gimmick. Moto also announced a set of NFC tokens you can clip onto your clothes to unlock the phone without a pass code. These won’t ship until sometime in the future, but it doesn’t really matter when because no one will buy them.

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