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It’s a widget-player…and a clock radio…and a digital picture frame. But where is it going now?


Product designers and engineers everywhere are trying to re-envision how the commonplace things that we use everyday can be updated for a digitally-connected world. Alarm Clocks, Radios, Picture Frames, Coffee Makers — you name an existing small appliance — and somebody, somewhere is trying to stick a Wi-Fi card into it.

Chumby Industries has developed a gadget that does all of the above (except for making coffee, sadly) — the eponymously-named “Chumby” — and is also open source, allowing enthusiasts to customize its workings. And now, the company seems to be making a move to concentrate on the software side of things, licensing the platform to a wide variety of consumer electronics manufacturers.

Clearly, über-connected, totally-hackable devices like the Chumby are catnip to tech junkies like me…but will the technology “have legs” when rolled out to a mass market in items like digital picture frames and set top boxes for televisions?

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Gina Trapani’s new blog is a “must read” for people who use technology to improve their lives.

Former Lifehacker guru, author, and former Brooklynite Gina Trapani is back in action with her new blog, Smarterware.

The quote she uses in the footer of her new site tells me that this is probably a less-corporate, more heartfelt venture :

“Be true to your work and your work will be true to you.” —Charles Pratt

Best of luck to you, Gina!

How nations choose to cooperate to fight the spread of organized crime (or, in many cases, choose not to) can tell us a lot about our priorities as citizens of our respective countries — and as members of the larger world.


“When Ludmila first succeeded in escaping, she was handed back to her pimp by the duty sergeant, who happened to be a client of the brothel. In response, she was beaten senseless by her “owner”. The second time she got away, she handed herself in to a police station in another part of town. As is habitual, she was charged with being an illegal immigrant and thrown into a detention center for several months as her deportation order was processed.

When she finally arrived back in Chisinau, destitute and traumatized for life, Ludmila could not return to her home, partly for reasons of shame but above all for fear of being found by her traffickers. Hers is an everyday story of life in Moldova, Ukraine, Russia, Egypt, and Israel.

The day after I had spoken to Ludmila, her case worker called. “I forgot to mention,” she said, “Ludmila is now HIV-positive.” Unsurprisingly, combination therapy is not readily available in a country such as Moldova.”1

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  1. Glenny, M. (2008). McMafia: a journey through the global criminal underworld. pp. 109-110. New York: Knopf Books. []