Letters from the Lunar Outpost

In the world's broad field of battle, In the bivouac of Life, Be not like dumb, driven cattle! Be a hero in the strife.
- Longfellow, American Poet (1807-1882)


This is what I see when I see an iPhone.

This is what I see when I see an iPhone.

I really have hated Apple and all their iCrap devices ever since the iPod came out and my mom was so sweet to get me that pricey little device as the hottest Christmas gift of the year and I can remember I was so excited as I plugged the USB connecter from my brand new iPod into my PC and I began dragging and dropping my mp3s over from my PC and . . . what? What’s this? You mean to tell me I can’t drag and drop my mp3s over just as simple as you can with any other USB storage device that’s ever been made? You mean to tell me that I have to install that bloatware known as iTunes just to do something as simple as a file transfer? Eff you, you effing control freaks.

That was 2001.  Flash forward 16 years later and the tyrants at the Apple regime still make it just as ridiculously convoluted for me to get my wife’s pdf resume from my computer to her iPhone. All these years later and still the authoritarians at Apple won’t allow a simple drag and drop, so the next three options are iCloud and AirDrop – both a bunch of iCrap only available on iOS, and then there’s iTunes, I already swore I was not going to be forced into installing that garbage on my PC, the final solution was a third-party app (Documents 5, thanks Readdle Inc.!) which allowed my wife to get access to the pdf attachment from her browser-based email. Seriously, what a load of crap.

Forget about the fact that Apple outsources all their manufacturing to the cheapest slave labor factories in China and then slaps on their products the most over-inflated price tags imaginable. Far better to buy stock in the company than complain about that, but what I want to know is when will Apple stop ruling their design process with a money-grubbing iron fist that squeezes out the state-of-the-art technology their customers deserve?

How long are iPhones and iPads going to stick with that outdated single button beneath the screen when both Androids and Windows devices have a much more useful set of three permanent buttons? On Android phones, you have a permanent back button just to the right of the home button, on Windows Phones, you have a permanent back button just to the left, but for some reason, Apple is stuck on this lame idea that one button somehow makes things simpler. Because of this, the all-important back button could be in the upper-left of the screen or the lower-left or wherever the developer might want to put it. Listen Apple, pig-headedly sticking with one button beneath the screen does not make your phone any more functional or aesthetically pleasing. It just sucks.

And when will Apple give people the same ability to upgrade their device storage with the MicroSD slots that every other phone has had for over a dozen years now? I know Apple’s all about fleecing their fan base and forcing them to shell out the big bucks if they want more storage on their devices, but did they ever stop to consider that from a historical perspective, their phones and tablets look ridiculously behind the curve when it’s 2017 and they still don’t have something as basic as a MicroSD slot?

Just the same as I wouldn’t begrudge Yves Saint Laurent for finding a way to convince the masses their bags are “status symbols”, to the point where people are willing to pay way more than any bag should be worth because everyone else knows how much they paid for that YSL bag, I also won’t begrudge Apple for finding a way to convince their loyal fans to pay a premium price to make their own fashion statement. You have to hand it to Apple for managing that one, but when it comes to the capabilities and the technology of their devices, don’t ever let anyone tell you Apple isn’t squeezing it out.

Apple Squat

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One of the great new innovations we’re seeing spring forth from the Internet is global community funding, or the “kickstarting” of projects, where filmmakers, musicians, artists, and designers can post an idea before the world and the world can say back to them, “Hey, that’s sounds great! Here’s some money, now get to it and make it happen!”

In the words of Stephen Heleker, who raised $21,000 for his short film “Smoke”, it’s “the most democratic way art has ever been made.”

Since its launch in 2009, Kickstarter has enabled more than 4.6 million people to pledge over $738 million, funding more than 46,000 creative projects. The site is so ubiquitous to the world of community funding that I’m pretty sure Kickstarter will give the word “kickstarting” new meaning in much the same way Google sprung forth the verb “googling”.

What caught my eye today however, was a project funded outside of kickstarter, using pre-orders at their own website to fund production of a product they’re calling Tile, which will (hopefully) be shipping soon.

Tile has had 49,586 backers who have made preorders totaling $2.6 million. That’s a whole lot of people who want to make this product a reality and get their hands on it.

So what is this Tile thing? It’s a $20 GPS device not much larger than a postage stamp that works along with an iPhone app so you can keep track of all those important things you keep managing to lose.

Lost your keys? If you left them at the beach or at the park, pull up the app on your iPhone and it’ll give you a map to the exact spot where you lost your keys. If, like where most keys are usually lost, you lost your keys inside the house, the Tile has a little speaker that you can trigger from your phone so you can find your keys by sound. The app also has a little “You’re getting warmer” meter on screen so you can find your keys that way as well.


If you want to help keep your laptop from getting stolen, probably best not to do it like the girl in the photo above, but if you’re willing to open up your laptop and can find room to stick the Tile somewhere inside where a thief is unlikely to see it, you just bought yourself a nice little $20 LoJack for your laptop.

Of course, all of this hinges on you not actually losing your iPhone, but as most iPhone users know, there’s an app for that, too.

Right now, Tile is only being advertised for iPhone, although I’m pretty sure it’ll only be a matter of time until the app gets ported over to Android. Each Tile is said to last for a year before you’ll need to replace it.

It sounds like the perfect little device to help you find that remote or a wandering pet or track down a stolen bicycle, but you know what I think a lot of people are pre-ordering their Tiles for?

Tracking lovers and spouses.

You think your love is being untrue? Just a little suspicious, maybe? Slap one of these things under their car and right from your phone you’ll be able to see whether the car’s really in the company parking lot on nights they tell you they’re “working late”.

Wow. How many people are going to get busted by this thing?

Of course, Tile will be just as useful to parents of sneaky teens with drivers licenses, but I can only imagine when Tile gets released, just how many cheaters are going to be busted with evidence as incontrovertible as this:

Tile Map

No more need for spending big bucks on private detectives and you won’t have to know where the suspected “other” lives and try to stakeout their house, you’ve got your cheater nailed with a simple screenshot.

Just make sure you don’t end up looking like a lunatic if you bust in trying to catch them in the act and it turns out it’s just the ladies sharing a glass of wine or the boys playing poker.

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Breathalizer for iPhone

Breathalizer for iPhone

I don’t have a problem with drunk driving, I figured that one out quite a few years ago. My problem happens to be with drunk dialing. Drunken phone calls destroy lives. I should know, I’ve been a victim of my own drunk dialing more times than I should admit.

Most great inventions come from a necessity the inventor saw in their own life, only to realize that there were millions of people in need of the same product. I’m pretty sure that I’m not alone in having a need for this new invention.

The “Breathalizer Lock for iPhone” can spare you from the pain and heartache of drunken phone calls and confessions you never should have made. I only wish I would have invented it years ago.

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Cell Phone Vibrating in the Opposite Hand

Can someone explain this to me?

Yesterday, I’m sitting in a meeting with a client, I feel my iPhone begin to vibrate in my left-hand as it rests on top of the left pocket of my jeans, I’m listening to the client and nodding as I’m feeling the vibrations in my left hand, on, off, on, off and then I realize . . . the phone isn’t actually under my left-hand at all.

I casually move my right hand to check the other pocket and sure enough, I feel the shape of the phone in my right-hand pocket! With wallet between leg and phone, my right leg doesn’t feel a thing, but as I’m searching it out, I can now feel the phone vibrating in my right-hand as well, but the vibration is even more distinct in my left hand as I let it lay it in place on my empty left-hand pocket.

The whole time I manage to keep a straight face, but all the while, I’m marveling at the sensation of a phone in my right pocket vibrating in my left hand.

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Currently Listening To:

Team of Rivals
Doris Kearns Goodwin