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  • Writer's pictureAlan Martin

Eight months' worth of weekly tech columns

Back in July, I was approached by an old friend to write a weekly tech column for his New Zealand startup site, theBit.

David was half of the duo who interviewed me for my job at Dennis Publishing which, aside from being the best job I've ever had, literally changed my life. That may sound like hyperbole, but it's true: there's simply no way I'd be sustainably freelance without the connections and portfolio that came from that opportunity.

So I was delighted to work with him again, especially as he actively encouraged my slightly unorthadox writing style in the early days of Alphr when the site was still finding its editorial feet (before having them stamped on by its future owners... but I somewhat bitterly digress).

While I'm still chipping in news stories for the site, for now I've written my last column, so I thought I'd catalogue them all here for posterity.

Coming up with an idea each week would always take more time than the actual writing, and I'd sometimes spend entire mornings digging around the internet for topical inspiration, worrying that I'd never come up with anything. Each time, I'd eventually finish, file, breathe a sigh of relief and then repeat the cycle all over again.

So here they are, all 28 columns, covering the full gamut of silly to serious and flippant to thoughtful. Some were syndicated to, so to mix things up a bit I've included those versions (with suitably frothy comments sections) where available.

If you like what you see and want a columnist to write regular opinion pieces for your site - well, you know how to reach me.

When Yahoo almost saved the world from Facebook - Yahoo once wanted to buy Facebook, and it's hard to imagine it ending in anything other than failure, given the company's history of ruining good brands.

Is my cryptocurrency investment really just gambling under a more professional name? - I compare my modest wins in political betting founded on knowing my stuff with my (comparitive) runaway success in crypto based on pig ignorance.

Tragedy bring out the worst of Twitter (or: you say it best when you tweet nothing at all) - An angry piece about the partisan unkindness of Twitter when faced with tragedy.

I’ve never had a VR injury, but I do have one embarrassing tech tale - You want to hear about the time I ended up nearly naked in Tooting lake for my job, right? Of course you do.

Apple’s vision of wireless-charging convenience sounds awful - In which I moan about the enormous environmental cost of making things a tiny bit more convenient.

If you're over 30, it's safer not to use emoji - A piece on the ambiguity of emoji, and how people of a certain age should just stay out (myself very much included).

Is Twitch streaming a dream career? Not for me - A look at the utterly miserable lifestyle that always-on video game streamers seem to endure.

AR-gh: Why nobody should welcome back AR glasses - I learned about the dangers of AR headsets by interviewing, of all people, a magician. Here's a recap.

Smart glasses won’t be ubiquitous until they carry an Apple logo - On a related note, here's my theory that only Apple's unique ability to normalise stupid looking things (hello AirPods) can make smart glasses mainstream.

Samsung wants to make foldables mainstream, but can a folding phone beat my apathy? - I get the point of folding phones, but I can't imagine ever actually buying one.

The Joe Rogan controversy and how Spotify may regret moving beyond music - All about Spotify and what economists call the 'sunk cost fallacy'.

If you want to change Spotify policy, first sell 120 million albums - On Adele's very minor victory over Spotify and the strange relationship modern musicians have with their art in the age of streaming.

Sorry Xiaomi: 4K smartphones are still utterly pointless - On tech's occasional persistence of chasing 'magic beans' innovations for innovation's sake.

Ron’s Gone Wrong can’t decide whether big tech is a problem or solution - In which I overthink an entertaining family-friendly movie.

Facial recognition ad tech flunks the creepiness test, but someone will make it work - It's not the companies bragging about facial recognition tech you need to worry about - it's the ones that can afford to experiment on the downlow.

What’s with all the weird tech collaborations in 2021? - In which I roast some truly ugly (and expensive) tech special editions.

Microsoft’s $100b purchase of Activision looks like crazy money - Questioning the wisdom of spending 17 times more than Disney spent on Lucasfilm on the creators of Call of Duty.

Companies: stop trying to normalise mid-game snacking, please - It's just a recipe for greasy control pads, right?

Facebook is too big to tame or kill - On Facebook's continuing scandals and the strange legislative place it finds itself in.

I’m starting to hate true wireless earbuds - This is probably one of those rare occasions where my headline actually negates the need for a summary.

Why Apple should care about silly superstitions - My theory that releasing an iPhone 13 was an unnessesary risk, given peoples' superstitions around the number. Doesn't look to have hurt Apple, as it turned out, but I wasn't to know that at the time!

The iPhone 13 may be a dull update, but boring will prove to be brilliant - Still on the iPhone 13: why anybody predicting failure based on a lack of innovation hasn't been paying attention to Apple's history.

5 ways Amazon Astro is better than a real butler (and 5 ways it’s far worse) - A listacle based on Amazon's mad little Wall-E wannabe.

Why we should all rely a little less on Googling - A reliance on Google gives us a false sense of our own knowledge, researchers say, and that's just the beginning of the problems of a search addiction.

Sorry, small-handed folk – it doesn’t look like mini phones are coming back - How the world fell out of love with small phones, and even Apple can't turn it around.

The Samsung Galaxy S21 FE is still coming, but is late really better than never? - How one phone's ridiculous delays killed its chances of making a splash. Sometimes 'never' is better than 'late'.

Samsung to throw everything at the wall with Galaxy Unpacked, but will anything stick? - Another slightly dated piece given 'yes, it did stick thankyouverymuch.'

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Note: This post originally appeared on The Inquirer, which heartbreakingly closed in December 2019, losing a huge amount of my best work in the process. Given it's all been scrubbed from the internet


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