Up there

Another tragic week in which I have a hard time concentrating on toys, and for that I beg your pardon. We'll get to the fun stuff in a minute.

There's absolutely nothing I or any of the 298 people on board could have done to have kept that Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777 from being shot out of the sky. There's nothing anyone could have done, save for the half-dozen or so people who actually fired the missile. If they really were hoping to down another Ukrainian transport plane, that makes it acceptable? We should no more accept that excuse than we should any reason for firing rockets or guns anywhere for any reason. War zone or not. It's not OK.

Back in my newspaper days the AP moved pictures of bodies from all over the world every day. We didn't have too much choice but to see them, never mind that they would never in a million years get into our newspaper. But I also think it's important to be aware of the result of our actions. We can't and shouldn't just stick our collective head in the sand. This extremely graphic (consider yourselves warned) Vice News video from the Ukraine is telling. Bodies stripped of their clothing, so fierce was the force of the fall to Earth. Farmers — for whom just trying to live in a war zone can't be the easiest thing — having to deal with the dead raining down indiscriminately.

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It's odd how such helplessness breeds selfishness. I think — again — about all the flights I've taken. And all the flights I'll take in the future. My wife asks if I have anything coming up that will take me over that part of the world. (I don't.) I think about friends in this business who do have to fly over that part of the world. I briefly consider things and then tell my 7-year-old — again — that she's going to hear about another plane crash on the news, and that, no, she doesn't need to worry about me. And I use this space — again — for a bit of catharsis. It's probably not the right place to do so. But we're all friends here. And we've been here before.

And I worry that my sense of pacifism is naive — and perhaps it is. But this just isn't how humans should act.

Now for the real reason you're here ...

  • Turning a dumb thing into a teaching moment is another one of my favorite things about this job. Last week I found myself saying "Dammit, I hate seeing writers say 'Root your phone to get better performance and battery life.' As if root access alone actually does anything. They know better than that." Just a couple simple sentences and Jerry's set into motion. I didn't even know what he was going to write. But he wrote the hell out of it.
  • Funny story: Just hours after we publish my little piece on the Rachio Iro connected sprinkler system I'm replacing the rotting wooden box that covered my valves with a proper plastic valve cover. And I manage to break off the end of the line of pipes. While telling my wife to come look at the cool thing I'd just done.
  • No good deed goes unpunished.
  • Is a connected sprinkler controller a must-buy? Maybe not. But it's also very cool. And I see how it could be great for property managers with multiple systems to handle.
  • Dear AT&T: Nobody wants to use Powermat charging with the LG G3. Well, except maybe you and Powermat. Qi won. It's time to get with the program.
  • I love the idea of Amazon Unlimited — read all the books you can for $9.99 a month. But as TechCrunch and Gizmodo point out, the selection is limited and missing the top five publishers.
  • The Amazon Fire Phone ships this week. We ... shall ... see.
  • All these mock-ups of watch faces on the Moto 360 — but have any of them shown what they'll look like in their always-on, monochrome state?

OK. Back to our normal chipper selves this week, m'kay? Hope everybody has a good one.

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