4.5.2009 New York Times Digest

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1. “Aging by Megabyte”

“Somewhere between the cellphone and BlackBerry, I stopped. I pay my bills by mail, not online. I listen to music on a CD, not an iPod. I e-mail, I don’t I.M. or friend people on Facebook or Twitter.”

2. “Small Company Offers Web-Based Competition for Microsoft Word”

“Zoho Writer is running close enough to Word to imagine that it and other online word processors will be able to do most everything that Word can do, and more.”

3. “Commoner Captures Princess, Blog Version”

“The tale of Meade and Ms. Althouse is a cross between the studiedness of a Victorian epistolary courtship – a modern-day Robert Browning googling his dear Elizabeth Barrett – and the wackiness of 21st-century life online.”

4. “The iPhone Gold Rush”

“In January, he released a free version of the game with fewer features, hoping to spark sales of the paid version. It worked: iShoot Lite has been downloaded more than 2 million times, and many people have upgraded to the paid version, which now costs $2.99. On its peak day – Jan. 11 – iShoot sold nearly 17,000 copies, which meant a $35,000 day’s take for Mr. Nicholas.”

5. “Comedy Is Hard, but Not for Him”

“Creating successful movies based on superheroes, science fiction and even computer-generated fantasy is nothing compared with the challenge of getting everybody to laugh at the same time.”

6. “An Auteur of Awkward Strikes Again”

“‘I hate malls, personally. So it seemed like that would be the natural place to drive a guy crazy.’”

7. “Help for Travelers @Twitter”

“As Twitter exchanges go, this one was pretty standard. A few quick, unadorned words back and forth – posts, so-called tweets, are limited to 140 characters – but to my mind it exemplified Twitter’s usefulness for travelers. Often, I find myself in a new city or country, unsure despite all my research of exactly what to do, see or eat next. But thanks to Twitter and the 424-and-counting readers who officially follow my updates, I can instantly poll the world for suggestions”

8. “In Praise of the American Short Story”

“Reading through their collected stories, you wonder if novels are even necessary. The imperial ambitions of a certain kind of swaggering, self-important American novel – to comprehend the totality of modern life, to limn the social, existential, sexual and political strivings of its citizens – start to seem misguided and buffoonish.”

9. “Iowa Decency”

“Like the state’s earlier landmark civil rights cases – striking down slavery in 1839, for example, and segregation in 1868 and 1873 – the ruling on gay marriage by Iowa’s Supreme Court is a refreshing message of fairness and common sense from the nation’s heartland.”

10. “Got Poetry?”

“The key to memorizing a poem painlessly is to do it incrementally, in tiny bits. I knock a couple of new lines into my head each morning before breakfast, hooking them onto what I’ve already got.”

11. “I Hate My iPhone”

“At breakfast, my colleague said she loved her iPhone. She insisted my typing would improve, but she clearly has more native index-finger skills than I do. I asked her if she thought the iPhone was ‘coy’ or ‘cold,’ and she looked at me blankly. As I spoke I felt like a chippy freak – one of those people too intransigently cranky even to like Barack Obama, or recycling, or the Internet. I thought of how clearly the iPhone suits the moment: Apple once again getting ahead of the game, offering something cuter and funner and more Appley than anyone else.”

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