Commentary

On Technology

By Phil Baker

Android for your car: A work in progress

The auto industry has strived to build technology into its cars to manage navigation, the phone and entertainment. Most in-car systems in use now are designed in-house or by large original equipment manufacturer suppliers to the industry, such as Denso.

A cellphone signal booster that really works

I’ve been trying out a product that’s designed to improve cell service, both data and voice, in the home. It’s called the Cel-Fi Duo Signal Booster from Nextivity, a San Diego-based technology company.

The merits of cellphones as travel cameras

I consider myself to be a good photographer, although sometimes I become more focused on the equipment than the results. Before vacations I obsess about which camera to take along. Should it be my prized Leica digital rangefinder, a pocket-sized Canon or Sony, or something in between, such as a Leica D-Lux 109, slightly larger than a compact camera?

Don’t leave home with only an Amex card

American Express positions their card as the one never to leave home without, and that they are wherever you are around the world. But on a recent trip, they let me down just when I needed them the most.

TSA is failing us

Homeland Security personnel ran a test a few weeks ago to determine how effective the screening is at U.S. airports. The results were dismal. The Transportation Security Administration failed to detect fake guns, bomb parts, and explosives in 67 out of the 70 attempts, failing 95 percent of the time.

The Apple Watch bubble

Two months ago we were bombarded with news of the introduction of the Apple Watch. Everywhere we turned, another article, blog, preview or TV personality was talking about the product. And with it came the usual exaggerations — from Apple about how the watch is life-changing and from the analysts and writers, prognosticating about the collapse of the Swiss watch industry and the decimation of other smartwatches.

Gadgets for Father’s Day

With Father’s Day approaching, here’s my list of some recommended gifts.

Chromebook’s success in education

I recently attended an open house for my 10-year-old grandson at his public school in Marin County. On every desk in his fifth-grade classroom was a Samsung Chromebook.

MacBook 12” notebook: A fine traveling companion

Apple’s latest MacBook — introduced the same day as the Apple Watch, but with much less fanfare — is the lightest and thinnest MacBook ever. It weighs just 2 pounds and is a half-inch thick at the rear, tapering to an almost knife-thin 1/8-inch in the front.

Biting the hand that feeds you

Webroot is a large, privately held Colorado-based company that makes cloud-based software for consumers, businesses and enterprises that address Internet threats.

Innovations in building and funding hardware tech

Hardware technology products have undergone a renaissance, with scores of new companies developing products ranging from drones to connected devices to gadgets of all kinds. It’s a big turnaround from the past 20 years or so, where investors took pains to avoid hardware investments, preferring to focus on software.

Luggage that can tell you where it is

The Travel Goods Show, a yearly industry trade show, was held in March. It’s a showcase for new travel products and is notable for some interesting and even wacky gadgets. Over the years I’ve seen inflatable mattresses that claim to make a coach class seat as comfortable as a business class seat, fold-up blankets with anti-germ coatings, back-of-the-seat organizers, and luggage with a built-in table and chair.

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