Commentary

On Technology

By Phil Baker

Another look at Chevy Volt, Apple Watch

Here are updates on products I’ve reviewed before: the Chevy Volt and Apple Watch.

Pros and cons of new technology

We’ve seen some astounding developments in consumer technology since I began writing this column 12½ years ago, but also have had to put up with many of the issues that are associated with these advancements. As we near the final print edition of The Daily Transcript, I take a look at some of the important developments in consumer tech, both good and bad.

Two clever gadgets advance the Internet of Things

I’ve been trying out two products that perform completely different functions yet have many similar elements. They represent the new wave of products called the Internet of Things, devices that use a wireless connection to the cloud to provide services in the home.

Two outstanding printers for home-office use

Printers can produce a love-hate relationship. We love the utility they provide and their low cost. But we hate the high cost of ink cartridges, sometimes priced at more than the printer itself.

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.

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