It's Just a Shrunken iPad

Yesterday Apple introduced the new iPad Mini - and with their typical fanfare, repeatedly insisted that it's "not just a shrunken iPad."  Well, a bit of wisdom I've often found to be true is that whenever a product is hyped as "not just a" or "more than a," it's almost always just that thing.  There can be exceptions, like when a feature is hidden from obvious sight, or when a specific combination of features makes it a fundamentally new product - but usually, those things are self-evident and don't need to be hyped.  If you have to say it, that's usually because it's not true - and sorry, Apple, but the iPad Mini is just a shrunken down iPad!

Hey, Dish: Zero is not Ten!

I feel sorry for the Dish technician who is getting totally screwed by bad design in this satisfaction survey.  Check it out: you call a phone number to rate the technician on his service on a scale of 1 to 10.  But to rate him a 10, you have to press zero; if you press 1-0 (sometimes also known as "ten"), it will only register the 1.  That means that if you're trying to give him the best score possible, but don't pay attention to the special rules of the Dish universe, you'll inadvertently give him the worst score possible.  The poor guy!  To solve this problem, why not have the ratings go from 1 to 5?  Or even 1 to 9?  Or 1 to any number but 10?  And in the meantime, where can I find a survey for my (dis-)satisfaction about the design of this survey?

Simple Stuff: The joys of a 10-foot USB cable...

It's easy to obsess over the fast pace of quickly-improving gadgets, but sometimes it's the simple things that can provide a real benefit in usability.  Gizmodo editor Casey Chan recently penned a love letter to the life-changing freedom of a 10-foot USB cable.  As he put it: "It allows you to charge your phone while you dance around the room. It allows you to never worry about accidentally prying the outlet open because you have a lot more slack. You can do anything you want because the leash is longer. You have a lot more freedom. Trust me, it's 5 bucks. It's totally worth your money."  So, why doesn't everyone jump on the long-leash bandwagon?  Because these cables are a commodity; nobody makes money on them, nobody thinks they're the hot new thing, nobody cares - except the user.  Good thing Gizmodo (ahem, and Unpressable Buttons) are here to help!