Posts by Virginia Heffernan, Yahoo News

  • The paper chase

    Virginia Heffernan at Yahoo News9 mths ago

    People get near-erotically excited about chargers, stopwatches, calendars, phone cases. No object in digital life seems too humble to be overdesigned, overhyped, and made cuter, smarter, more revolutionary. No object, that is, except the printer.

    Don't pretend you don’t need one. I’ve tried that. Every time I swear them off like landlines or cable—claim I’m done forever with paper jams and the notorious ink racket—there’s a tax waiver to print, a ticket, a W-2 form, a school permission slip.

    "Please print this for your records" is mostly a nonsense sentence. (“Records”?) Except when it isn’t, and you’re expected to have a signed, inky, foldable, paper-cut-giving copy of something.

    So this week, I intended, once and for all, to find a home printer that works to print oh say a one-page document in black and white. Given all we can do with a Pop Tart-sized device in the digital realm—start wars, sink ships—it seemed a modest enough ambition. But I should have aimed much, much lower.

    Read More

  • Device 6, the mind-blowing mobile game that's much more than flinging birds and cutting ropes

    Virginia Heffernan at Yahoo News9 mths ago

    When gamer evangelists insist that video games can be as absorbing as novels and movies, they’re usually talking about console fare like “L.A. Noire,” “BioShock” or “Assassin’s Creed.” These narrative games are indeed captivating. Even a reluctant gamer can lose days to them.

    But that heady experience is rare on a mobile device. Mobile games feature about as much story as a cigarette. You play them nervously and in urgent drags. The biggest story in mobile games right now is a metastory: a national thriller about how the diabolical English developer King snatched hundreds of millions of innocent brains with its infernal hit, “Candy Crush Saga.”

    (Ugh. Let’s never speak of that game again.)

    But now there’s a popular game app that features a chic, cerebral, refined story. Device 6 is a multisensory mystery game that sticks to the ribs.

    The best thing about Device 6 may be that it’s exactly just not too hard . Victory is elusive, but in reach. After five hours of play, I am just over halfway through.

    Read More

  • T-Mobile's foreign policy

    Virginia Heffernan at Yahoo News9 mths ago

    “Mom!!! Uncle Mike is calling from Greece !!!!” I remember hysterically shrieking to my mother in the garden in 1983 as though, as the clock ticked on that Athens-to-New Hampshire call, we were all out of oxygen in “Gravity.”

    The same terror can be found in digital times around the dread International Roaming Charges . The last time I was in Canada I called Verizon about getting some email on my phone and was treated to a chilling disquisition on how International Roaming Charges could land me in Chapter 11 and mandatory Debtors Anonymous before the day was out unless I bought my way out of purgatory with set of incomprehensible packages.

    I ended up thanking Verizon profusely for looking out for me, as I gratefully paid hefty protection against those International Roaming Charges . The word for this ancient con game — extortion — never crossed my mind.

    Extortion still didn’t cross my mind, in fact, until I read David Pogue’s article in the New York Times about T-Mobile turning cell-world reformer.

    Read More