All Technologizer posts by Harry McCracken

Harry McCracken is the editor of Technologizer, which he founded in 2008. He's written about technology for Slate, Family Circle, USA Today, and other publications, and has appeared on the BBC, ABC, CBS, CNN, Fox News, MSNBC, NBC, the History Channel, and many other media outlets. He was also the editor in chief of PCWorld for four years. Follow him on Twitter as @harrymccracken.

Starting a New Chapter

By Harry McCracken  |  Posted at 8:23 am on Thursday, March 1, 2012


Back on February 9th, I announced that I had a cool new job, as an editor at large for TIME. I’ll be writing about personal technology for the publication in both its online and print incarnations. And Technologizer is coming along with me: Starting later today, it will become part of

When we flip the switch, heading to will take you to the new version that’s part of You’ll also find Technologizer posts, and scads more stuff, at’s all-encompassing tech section, Techland.

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Technologizer’s Greatest Hits, 2008-2012

By Harry McCracken  |  Posted at 11:53 am on Wednesday, February 29, 2012

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Whenever people ask me what the topic of Technologizer is–which they do all the time–I have a stock answer which happens to be true. This site is about the intersection between the tech-related stuff that I’m interested in, and the tech-related stuff that a critical mass of other people are interested in. You see, I’m not very good at covering topics I don’t care about–but I do like people to read what I’ve written.

My interests are eclectic enough that Technologizer has tended to be eclectic. And when other folks started writing for the site, it sometimes got eclectic in ways that surprised even me. One of the great pleasures of blogging here is that so many of you have gotten what we do here, even in cases when the subject matter has gotten a tad peculiar.

Now that Technologizer is about to end its life as a stand-alone site and become part of,  I wanted to look back at some of our most popular stories to date. Here’s a month-by-month accounting of the most-read items we’ve published, by unique visitors. (Unless otherwise specified, I wrote all of these.)

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Ah, But I Was So Much Older Then, I’m Younger Than That Now

By Harry McCracken  |  Posted at 9:43 pm on Wednesday, February 22, 2012


[FURTHER UPDATE: As commenter Jdoors explains, I can see the video I uploaded when I'm logged into YouTube. But I'm the only one who can see it--for everybody else, it's blocked.]

[UPDATE: The original video, with Dylan soundtrack, is still playing for me here at home in Daly City, California. But Network World's Paul McNamara, commenters, and others are saying that it's blocked for them. Sounds like the geolocation technology that YouTube uses has decided that Daly City isn't in the U.S. Or something like that.]

Back in October, shortly after Steve Jobs passed away, I uploaded a wonderful video to YouTube. It was called “To Steven Jobs on his thirtieth birthday,” and was a film created by Jobs’ Apple coworkers in 1985 to show at his birthday party. (Craig Elliott, who worked at Apple when it was made and shown, was the generous soul who shared it with me.)

I’d never seen the video or many of the Jobs images it included, and thought they deserved to be more widely known. Now they are: The YouTube version has been viewed almost 240.000 times.

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Free at 3pm PT on Sunday? Tune into This Week at Tech, where I’ll be guesting with Leo Laporte, live from the TWiT Brickhouse. (If you’re not available then, you can catch up afterwards.)

Posted by Harry at 3:04 pm

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Checking In

By Harry McCracken  |  Posted at 3:29 pm on Thursday, February 16, 2012

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My apologies for the lull in activity here since I announced my new gig as an editor at large for TIME. Before too long, Technologizer will reemerge as a blog hosted by In the meantime, I’m doing most of my blogging on TIME’s Techland. Here are a few items you may have missed:

See you over there, I hope–and I promise to drop in here as well before the transition is complete.

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The Offbeat World of Atari

By Harry McCracken  |  Posted at 12:18 am on Monday, February 13, 2012


For a forty-year-old company that remains synonymous with video games, Atari has experimented with an awful lot of other businesses. In its early years, it made pinball machines, jukeboxes, video phones, digital photo booths, music-visualization boxes for your hi-fi, and more. Benj Edwards, who knows more about this stuff than anyone, has compiled a look at Atari Oddities–including the aforementioned and others, and some strange games, too. (If you remember Puppy Pong, I’m impressed.)


Visit Atari Oddities slideshow.


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Over at, I did my darndest to do something that seems to be nearly impossible: Define “PC” in a way that makes sense for 2012 and beyond. (The comments are interesting: A couple of folks apparently believe that anything that isn’t a powerful desktop computer is not a PC.)

Posted by Harry at 9:47 am


It’s TIME for a New Adventure

By Harry McCracken  |  Posted at 2:10 pm on Thursday, February 9, 2012


Three and a half years ago, I quit a cool job and started Technologizer. It’s been the best gig I’ve ever had. So far.

As a sideline, starting in September of 2010, I’ve been writing for and TIME magazine. That too has been huge fun, and an honor. Over the past few decades, TIME has influenced my editorial brain as much as any publication. Just as important, I’ve been impressed by its current incarnation online, in print, on tablets, and elsewhere.

I’m pleased to announce that my relationship with TIME is about to become way more than a sideline: I’ve agreed to join its staff as an editor at large.


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Is Kodak Smartly Exiting a Dying Business?

By Harry McCracken  |  Posted at 10:40 am on Thursday, February 9, 2012


Kodak Instamatic

I’m part of the problem: I never owned a Kodak digital camera. In fact, I’m not sure if I ever owned a Kodak camera–not counting disposable ones–period.

Still, my instinct upon hearing that Kodak is going to stop making digital cameras (along with video cameras and digital picture frames) was to take the loss personally. Kodak says it wants to license its legendary name to other manufacturers–as Polaroid, Sylvania, and other companies do–but it’s not going to be the same.

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AllThingsD’s John Paczkowski, usually not a spreader of wild rumor, says that Apple will announce the iPad 3 in the first week of March and release it shortly thereafter:

As for the next-generation iPad itself, sources say it will be pretty much what we’ve been led to expect by the innumerable reports leading up to its release: A device similar in form factor to the iPad 2, but running a much faster chip, sporting an improved graphics processing unit, and featuring a 2048×1536 Retina Display — or something close to it.

Posted by Harry at 10:00 am

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Path: We’re Sorry and We Have a Fix

By Harry McCracken  |  Posted at 12:58 pm on Wednesday, February 8, 2012

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Dave Morin, the cofounder and CEO of Path, has blogged an apology and an update concerning the discovery that the company’s social networking app was uploading users’ address books without permission:

We believe you should have control when it comes to sharing your personal information. We also believe that actions speak louder than words. So, as a clear signal of our commitment to your privacy, we’ve deleted the entire collection of user uploaded contact information from our servers. Your trust matters to us and we want you to feel completely in control of your information on Path.

In Path 2.0.6, released to the App Store today, you are prompted to opt in or out of sharing your phone’s contacts with our servers in order to find your friends and family on Path. If you accept and later decide you would like to revoke this access, please send an email to and we will promptly see to it that your contact information are removed.


In the interest of complete transparency we want to clarify that the use of this information is limited to improving the quality of friend suggestions when you use the ‘Add Friends’ feature and to notify you when one of your contacts joins Path––nothing else. We always transmit this and any other information you share on Path to our servers over an encrypted connection. It is also stored securely on our servers using industry standard firewall technology.

We believe you should have control when it comes to sharing your personal information. We also believe that actions speak louder than words. So, as a clear signal of our commitment to your privacy, we’ve deleted the entire collection of user uploaded contact information from our servers. Your trust matters to us and we want you to feel completely in control of your information on Path.

We hope this update clears up any confusion. You can find Path 2.0.6 in the App Store here:

Good. (Seems to me, though, that most of the “confusion” here was on the part of Path, not the people who were displeased…)


So When Does Amazon Prime Instant Video Take on Nextflix Directly?

By Harry McCracken  |  Posted at 10:58 am on Wednesday, February 8, 2012


Amazon Letter

Good news for Amazon Prime members: has signed a deal with Viacom that gives its Amazon Prime Instant Video service access to a lot more stuff–from Jersey Shore to Dora the Explorer. It now offers more than 15,000 streaming videos to Prime members at no additional charge.

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Path Plays Fast and Loose With Privacy

By Harry McCracken  |  Posted at 2:27 pm on Tuesday, February 7, 2012


Path, the excellent mobile social network for iPhone and Android, has a self-inflicted problem on its hands. Developer Arun Thampi noticed that the iPhone version of Path’s app uploaded his address book–unencrypted, in its entirety, without permission–to the company’s servers. He wrote about it, and an interesting conversation is going on in his comments, including responses from Path cofounder Dave Morin.

It turns out that Path has already made the uploads opt-in for the Android app, and has submitted an iOS update that does the same to Apple’s App Store. Little by little, Morin is addressing the company’s actions–it uses the address-book info to find your friends on Path–and expressing regret for grabbing personal information off phone without permission. But he hasn’t explained himself to the satisfaction of all of Thampi’s commenters, and the Path Blog doesn’t yet cover the kerfuffle. It’s not clear that Path thinks this a particularly big deal.

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The Case Against Thin

By Harry McCracken  |  Posted at 11:15 am on Tuesday, February 7, 2012



Over at the Atlantic, Robert Wright is being sacrilegious. He says he’s unhappy with the trend–seen in phones, laptops, and other products–to make gadgets as thin as possible:

Remember when Jobs first unveiled the Macbook Air? I do, because I had long been a fan of the small, lightweight computers that had until then been available only on the Windows platform. Jobs brought the machine onstage in a manila envelope, because the thing he wanted to wow the audience with was its thinness.

I thought: Who cares how thin it is? Thickness isn’t the dimension that really matters when you have to fit a computer into a tiny backpack or use it in a coach seat on an airplane. And, anyway, more important than any spatial dimension is weight. Sure, to the extent that thinner means lighter, thinness is good, but if you make thinness an end in itself, you start compromising functionality.

Bob has several specific beefs with whisper-thin gizmos. He points out that all things being equal, a thin case leaves less room for the battery, thereby leading to shorter battery life. He says that overly svelte devices are harder to hold and easier to drop. With laptops, he says, engineering for thinness leads to compromises in keyboard quality.

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Seth Weintraub of 9to5Google reports that Google is working on smart eyeglasses with a built-in heads up display that knows where you are and shows relevant Google info:

The heads up display (HUD) is only for one eye and on the side. It is not transparent nor does it have dual 3D configurations, as previously speculated.

One really cool bit: The navigation system currently used is a head tilting-to scroll and click. We are told it is very quick to learn and once the user is adept at navigation, it becomes second nature and almost indistinguishable to outside users.

Google isn’t the only company working on this idea–for instance when I visited NTT Docomo in Tokyo last fall, I tried out a similar prototype which that company had designed in collaboration with Olympus. But I wonder who’ll be the first to ship something that actually works and is useful?

Posted by Harry at 1:38 pm

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Whatever Happened to Radios?

By Harry McCracken  |  Posted at 9:06 am on Monday, February 6, 2012


Everyone knows that certain technology products are endangered species. Film cameras, for instance. Turntables. Payphones. Odds are pretty good that you haven’t used any of them recently. If you’re young enough, you might never have used them.

I never thought of pocket-sized AM/FM radios–the sort with built-in radios and telescoping antennae–as falling into this category of obviously-doomed products. I assumed that any store that sold electronic gadgets of any sort still stocked them.

But last week, my mother, who I’ve been visiting in Boston, asked for one. And boy, was I surprised by how tough it was to find one for sale locally.

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