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Every gadget has a story. A new publication from Medium about consumer technology.

Digital Life

In Debugger. More on Medium.


Ring doorbells see all, but know nothing

Do you remember, way back about six or seven years ago, when Ring just made video doorbells?

This was after the small startup company competed on Shark Tank but before it was swallowed up Amazon, which made the now-ubiquitous doorbells the center of a universe; last time I checked, that universe now includes stand-alone security cameras, driveway lighting, car alarms, home and business security systems, smoke alarms, and mailbox sensors.

I was an early fan of Ring: It felt like a piece of hardware whose time had come. Riding on a wave of increasingly useful smart-home gadgets, the Ring doorbell…

Galaxy Buds Pro vs Jabra Elite 85t

True wireless earbuds have come a long way in a short amount of time. As someone who loudly rejected the mobile phone trend of jettisoning the 3.5mm headphone jack, I’ve come to appreciate and in many ways prefer Bluetooth wireless earbuds like the Jabra Elite 75t when comfort and all around performance are my top priorities. Some wireless earphones like the Sennheiser True Wireless 2 even satisfy perhaps the most important metric to an audiophile, sound fidelity. …

The gear you need for superior sound

Hands up: I have a headphone addiction.

I’m lucky (or perhaps unfortunate, given my condition) that I get sent lots of free pairs of headphones to review for my YouTube channel. This has given me an appreciation for a wide range of consumer cans.

Whether you’re really into the quality of sound or just want a decent pair of over-the-ears that block out the world around you, there are some truly superb options out there: from the ludicrously priced yet buttery-smooth AirPods Max to Sony’s incredible WH-1000xm4. We’re living in possibly the most exciting headphone era ever.

But I’ve always…

Long video calls and chronic digestive issues don’t mix

Senior woman waving hi to the Zoom call with a restrained expression.
Senior woman waving hi to the Zoom call with a restrained expression.

Sammy Nickalls, a writer based in Pennsylvania, often has to poop immediately before a Zoom call. “I always end up thinking to myself, ‘Oh God, do I have time to take care of this before the call?’ and ‘WHY DOES THIS KEEP HAPPENING?’”

Nickalls is experiencing what for most of us is a new phenomenon: the dreaded Zoom poop. As the pandemic forced more people to transition from an office setting to their new work-from-home life, crucial bathroom routines were suddenly upended. Folks who used to regularly poop at, say, 7:00 after a morning run but before their commute to…

How these online communities rallied together during the pandemic

When the pandemic lockdowns first started, most people started staying home on nights and weekends and even worked or studied from home. Quarantine didn’t do much for everyone’s mental health, but it did have a silver lining for some Twitch streamers: If everyone’s at home, there’s more time to watch (or play) games.

The past year has helped lead to a massive shift for some streamers who have managed to grow their audience and build up their community at the same time.

For people fortunate enough to start working from home, one of the most substantial differences was the lack…

And inspires others to do the same

“I do not respond to emails on weekends. If this is an emergency, please call my mobile. If you do not have my mobile number, then you do not have a weekend emergency.”

That was one professor’s bold out-of-office reply, and when it was discovered by the internet, it spurred a lively conversation about boundaries, office hours, and email practices. Stephana Cherak, a graduate student at the University of Calgary whose tweet sparked the discussion, later wrote a piece in the scientific publication Nature about the conversation in response to her viral tweet. …

Dear Omar

In its highly experimental 2021 edition, South by Southwest shows how Zoom conferences can be done

Welcome to Dear Omar, a weekly Debugger column from tech expert Omar L. Gallaga. If you have questions for Omar, send them to with the subject line “Dear Omar.”

It must have been around July 2020 when I decided I was officially done with virtual conferences.

They were a noble effort, a way of cleaning up the mess Covid-19 was making, as it caused the cancellation of one major event after another, whether it was conferences about mobile phones or annual corporate tech summits or video game expos. …

Follow my rules and thank me later

Welcome to my Social Media 101 seminar. Please grab any socially distant seat, and thank you all for wearing a mask. I know your time is valuable, which is why I’ve compressed my typically 18-hour, six-part course into this one session, and I’ve waived all fees.

My promise to you is that if you follow these core five rules, you’ll be a successful social media person. Not a “personality” or “influencer,” but someone who can exist and operate on these social platforms without enraging others.

If you haven’t pulled out your laptops or notebooks, now would be a good time…

My new dog, Kaya, is fast and energetic — and potentially very easy to lose

When we got our dog, Kaya, last year, I was ready for life with a puppy. I’d read the books and watched endless training videos. What I wasn’t prepared for was the endless assault of companies trying to sell me a million kinds of dog things.

From smart dog cameras with lasers to automated fetch toys, device makers have come up with a slew of gadgets for pet owners to splurge on — even though a stash of dumb toys would do the job just fine, as we’ve recently argued on Debugger.

And why getting rid of things is much harder than creating them

Sometimes, I feel like I’ve spent my whole career deleting things. I decommission old systems, remove redundant code, and turn off unsupported servers. Anyone who has worked in IT will know that making a new system is hard, but decommissioning the old one is even harder. Getting rid of old things is often called the most difficult challenge in software development.

The problem is that everything is connected. You never simply identify an old system and turn it off. You discover that new, critical systems depend on old, redundant ones. The strategic application you just rolled out will be making…

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