By Harry McCracken | What Harry McCracken is writing--and reading--on the web

Here's why Peyton Manning embarrassed everyone with his Budweiser marketing

At this point in American history — saturated with brands as we are, savvy about all the advertising tricks — there is no product placement that can surprise us as a nation.

Except, maybe, when Peyton Manning takes a bow for leading his team to a Super Bowl win — at 39 years old, ancient in football …

Peyton Manning

Old-school reply to advertiser’s threat

Meg Whitman’s lieutenant was ‘disappointed’ with what I’d written. Here is my considered response

Meg Whitman

Why Verizon’s Free Go90 Net Neutrality Argument Is Weak

Word that Verizon was exempting its own Go90 video service from data caps for Verizon users understandably raised immediate red flags among net neutrality advocates.

After all, Verizon is essentially saying you can use our data service for free while all other video services count against your data …


Tips on Reducing Cable and Phone Bills From Ethically Ambiguous Experts

BRENTWOOD, Tenn. — Cable companies and mobile phone service providers now offer so many deals, options, add-ons and doodads that the sheer number of potential pricing plans can boggle the mind. Chances are, you’re paying too much. Chances are, most everyone is.

So here in an office devoid of much …

Time Warner

The Worst Super Bowl Ad of All Time

Photo illustration by Slate. Screenshots via Apple. In 1984, Apple changed the Super Bowl forever. The computer manufacturer enlivened a dismal game …


The True Story of Donald Trump’s First Campaign Speech—in 1987

Age 41, he stepped out of a helicopter in New Hampshire and delivered a rousing message of total American failure. Sound familiar?

HAMPTON, N.H. — The shiny black French-made helicopter landed at the grassy airfield in southern New Hampshire on the morning of October 22, 1987. Out stepped Donald …

New Hampshire Primary

Microsoft, Nokia, and the burning platform: a final look at the failed Windows Phone alliance


When Microsoft acquired Nokia’s Devices and Services division in late 2013 and began integrating the storied Lumia brand into its offerings, it was hailed by Microsoft’s then-CEO Steve Ballmer as “a bold step into the future — a win-win for employees, shareholders, and consumers of both …


Who Killed the Sheridans?

It was still dark, a half-hour until sunrise, when the fire trucks and police vehicles came wailing down country roads in central New Jersey and stopped in front of 49 Meadow Run Drive in Skillman, north of Princeton. The two-story, four-bedroom house sat on a one-acre lot in a 1970s-era …


Twitter Steps Up Efforts to Thwart Terrorists’ Tweets

For years, Twitter has positioned itself as a “global town square” that is open to discourse from all. And for years, extremist groups like the Islamic State have taken advantage of that stance, using Twitter as a place to spread their messages.

Twitter on Friday made clear that it is now stepping …

Social Media

The Apple Watch got me hooked on mechanical watches

I’m Marco Arment: a programmer, writer, podcaster, geek, and coffee enthusiast.

I never thought I’d be a watch person. (Or that I’d wear blue …

Marco Arment

Deal Shows Investors Are Willing to Make a Blind Bet on Uber

A deal about to close on Wall Street illustrates just how much some investors are willing to give up to gain a piece of the hottest start-up.

Wealthy clients of Morgan Stanley are piling into a special fund that gives them a chance to bet on Uber, people briefed on the transaction said. The fund, …


‘Error 53’ fury mounts as Apple software update threatens to kill your iPhone 6

Thousands of iPhone 6 users claim they have been left holding almost worthless phones because Apple’s latest operating system permanently disables the handset if it detects that a repair has been carried out by a non-Apple technician.

Relatively few people outside the tech world are aware of the …


Super Bowl 50 Further Divides San Francisco

SAN FRANCISCO — Golden “50s” cover this city. They glow from the waterfront’s Ferry Building, hang from streetlights and cover 20 stories on downtown skyscrapers — all promoting the weeklong party that is the 50th Super Bowl, to be played on Sunday.

But these festive trappings cannot mask the …

Super Bowl

This Simpsons Search Engine Will Help You Relive Every Moment of the Show

It pairs any Simpsons quote with its matching still

The Simpsons fans got an exciting surprise with the launch of a search engine called Frinkiac that matches any of the show’s quotes with the corresponding still from the long-running animated series.

Created by Paul Kehre, Sean Schulte, and Allie …

Search Engines

Nintendo Just Revealed Fresh Details About its Smartphone App

But we're still waiting on a firm March date

Nintendo just sharpened the focus slightly on plans for its first smartphone app, which was supposed to launch late last year, but delayed last October until March 2016.

The company just confirmed March is still on for Miitomo, a social interactivity app …


USB-C cables are playing Russian Roulette with your laptop

Over the past year or so, one of the biggest tech stories has been about one of the smallest things: a USB plug. Specifically, the new USB Type-C plug and port, which promises to become the single thing that we can use to connect all our devices, from monitors to phones to computers to whatever we …


The feds are killing off Clearview, the new highway sign font

Unless you're a typography buff, you might not have noticed the new font that's been popping up on highway signs over the past decade. It's called Clearview and it's been around since 2004. For much of its life, researchers (including its designer, Meeker & Associates) believed the font could …


Tim Cook holds company-wide Town Hall, talks iPhone dependence, benefits, pipeline & India

In the days following Apple’s record Q1 earnings announcements, Apple CEO Tim Cook and other top Apple executives held a Town Hall meeting at the Infinite Loop headquarters in Cupertino to reveal new announcements and take attendee questions.

Multiple sources in attendance at the event said that …


Are You the Writer Theranos Is Looking for to Tell Great Stories About Theranos?

Do you have a “strong knowledge of Microsoft Word?” Can you demonstrate “a high level of initiative and ability to function superbly?”

If so, check out this open “writer” job on the website of Theranos, the scandal-ridden biotechnology startup that may or may not have hidden its blood-testing …


Why Google’s Artificial Intelligence Boss Is Taking Over the Search Empire

As it ballooned, Google’s research group has nabbed a shocking number of computing’s biggest brains. Geoffrey Hinton. Peter Norvig. Ray Kurzweil. Titans of the field. And it held onto its homegrown talent younger minds, like Jeff Dean, a fabled technician.

All of them worked the tech and research …


The Story Of Mark Zuckerberg's, As Told By The Harvard Crimson In 2004

Profiling an Internet phenomenon and its quirky creator, a few months into its existence.

Facebook turned 12 today. It's been part of everyday life for long enough that an infinite number of articles have been published about its phenomenal success and the vision of its inventor and CEO, Mark …

Mark Zuckerberg

How far can the iPad fall?

The iPad is big in my house. I use one (Pro), my wife uses one (Air 2), my son uses one (Mini 2). Suffice it to say that we see the appeal. But at …


The Lost History Of The U.S. Nuclear Program, As Told By Its Business Cards

What's in a Rolodex? In this case, just about everything you could need to build a bomb.

Hy-Test Safety Shoes. Brainpower USA. General Astrometals (a subsidiary of the Anaconda Company). Halliburton. The companies that helped build America's nuclear program range from the banal to the obscure to the …

Speed of Sound

Playboy Puts On (Some) Clothes for Newly Redesigned Issue

What is Playboy without naked women? It sounds a little bit like Car and Driver magazine without cars or drivers, and for readers who want only to gawk at the most intimate of female parts, it is just that. For everyone else, the makeover is subtler than you might expect. And frankly, the starkest …

Ernest Hemingway

Out of a Rare Super Bowl I Recording, a Clash With the N.F.L. Unspools

MANTEO, N.C. — Troy Haupt is a 47-year-old nurse anesthetist here in North Carolina’s Outer Banks. He has a secret to reveal about Super Bowl I: He owns the only known recording of its broadcast.

CBS and NBC, which televised the game, did not preserve any tapes. But the copy that Haupt owns — of a …

Super Bowl

Apple’s App Problem

Following up on Walt Mossberg’s column regarding the quality of Apple’s first-party apps, Jim Dalrymple writes:

I understand that Apple has a lot of …

Apple News

On the Late Bob Elliott, and Remembering the Longest, Deepest Laughter of My Life

I have never laughed harder than I did on the night of June 2, 1984, and I doubt I ever will.

I don't recall exactly how it happened in those …

Al Franken

Salesforce CEO Slams 'The World's Dumbest Idea': Maximizing Shareholder Value

Jack Welch has called it “the dumbest idea in the world.”

Vinci Group Chairman and CEO Xavier Huillard has called it “totally idiotic.”

Alibaba CEO Jack Ma has said that “customers are number one; employees are number two and shareholders are number three.”

Paul Polman, CEO of Unilever [UN], has …


Struggling GoPro Falls 10% On Earnings Miss; Announces New CFO

Sales of action camera maker GoPro fell short of Wall Street expectations on Wednesday, with the company reporting a loss of 8 cents per share, whereas analysts were predicting an average of 0 cents.

Fourth quarter revenue also fell short, coming in at $437 million, but investors had been …