Dear Omar

I mean, that’s what we heard… from other people. Not because we did it. (Ahem.)

Photo Illustration: Save As / Medium; Source: Getty Images

Welcome to Dear Omar, a weekly Debugger column from tech expert Omar L. Gallaga. If you have questions for Omar, send them to debugger@medium.com with the subject line “Dear Omar.”

There was a kind of boredom that happened during the pandemic shutdown in 2020 that we may never feel again. It felt like you couldn’t go anywhere or do anything that didn’t involve puttering around your home like a 70-year-old. Knitting was suddenly hot. Home improvement projects abounded. Gardening was suddenly something a lot of us began to dig as a new hobby. We became more comfortable with puns.

It…


DEAR OMAR

Ring doorbells see all, but know nothing

Photo Illustration: Save As/Medium; Source: Ring

Do you remember, way back about six or seven years ago, when Ring just made video doorbells?

This was after the small startup company competed on Shark Tank but before it was swallowed up Amazon, which made the now-ubiquitous doorbells the center of a universe; last time I checked, that universe now includes stand-alone security cameras, driveway lighting, car alarms, home and business security systems, smoke alarms, and mailbox sensors.

I was an early fan of Ring: It felt like a piece of hardware whose time had come. Riding on a wave of increasingly useful smart-home gadgets, the Ring doorbell…


Just Rankin’ Sh!t

Where do you see yourself by the end of this article?

Photo Illustration: Save As/Medium. Source: Getty Images.

6. “Why did you leave your previous employment?”

They couldn’t pay me enough to avoid having a nervous breakdown due to incompetent middle management, scheming co-workers, sexually harassing executives, all while making an unlivable wage that made treating said breakdown impossible. Also, just looking to explore new opportunities!

5. “What’s your worst quality?”

Not so much a question seeking actual worst qualities as much as it is a test to see if the applicant can spin the query into something self-aggrandizing like “I’m a workaholic” or “I’m too much of a perfectionist and way too detail-oriented to ever fucking chill for just one second.” …


Dear Omar

In its highly experimental 2021 edition, South by Southwest shows how Zoom conferences can be done

Photo: Franck Fife/Getty Images

Welcome to Dear Omar, a weekly Debugger column from tech expert Omar L. Gallaga. If you have questions for Omar, send them to debugger@medium.com with the subject line “Dear Omar.”

It must have been around July 2020 when I decided I was officially done with virtual conferences.

They were a noble effort, a way of cleaning up the mess Covid-19 was making, as it caused the cancellation of one major event after another, whether it was conferences about mobile phones or annual corporate tech summits or video game expos. …


Dear Omar

And what to do about it

Welcome to Dear Omar, a weekly Debugger column from tech expert Omar L. Gallaga. If you have questions for Omar, send them to debugger@medium.com with the subject line “Dear Omar.”

A little over 10 years ago, when I worked as an entertainment editor at a newspaper, I learned firsthand the feeling of futility that meetings can create. I was in a conference room with a yellow legal pad and pen with a few other staffers, ready for a meeting to begin to discuss our coverage of South by Southwest.

The meeting began, and after some initial small talk about our…


Just Rankin’ Sh!t

To number one — and beyond!

Characters from Toy Story.
Characters from Toy Story.
Photo Illustration: Save As/Medium; Source: Pixar via Disney+

6. “Toy Story That Time Forgot”, “Toy Story Toons”, and other shorts/specials

They’re always great, but the various Pixar shorts and half-hour TV specials from the Toy Story franchise are largely interchangeable and never quite as satisfying as the movies. These are good for occasional play but ultimately remain at the bottom of the toy box.

5. “Toy Story 4”

The fourth movie in a franchise like this doesn’t have any business being as solidly entertaining as this one does, but the addition of dynamic new characters (Tony Hale’s Forky, Keegan-Michael Key and Jordan Peele’s sublime Ducky and Bunny) and a tear-jerking send-off to Woody elevates a saggy middle and a creeping case of hijinks fatigue.

4. “Forky Asks a Question”


Dear Omar

Honey, Rakuten, and Capital One shopping could help you find a better price

A tip scale with one box on each scale. The box on the left of the scale is labeled “Amazon” and the box on the right is labeled “Honey.” The scale is tipped toward the Amazon box. Above the image is the “Dear Omar” column name.
A tip scale with one box on each scale. The box on the left of the scale is labeled “Amazon” and the box on the right is labeled “Honey.” The scale is tipped toward the Amazon box. Above the image is the “Dear Omar” column name.
Photo illustration: Save As/Medium. Sources: Getty Images, WikiCommons.

Welcome to Dear Omar, a weekly Debugger column from tech expert Omar L. Gallaga. If you have questions for Omar, send them to debugger@medium.com with the subject line “Dear Omar.”

My kids, who are 11 and 13, are too young to buy things online, so when it comes time to enter the credit card digits and place an order, they come to me, and I usually say, “No!” and on goes a cycle of parenting that will lead to decades of retail resentment on their part.

They’ve shopped at other online storefronts, but 99% of the time, it’s an Amazon…


Just Rankin’ Sh!t

One foot in reality, the other foot jammed deep in your saddened soul

Photo Illustration: Save As/Medium; Source: Endemol Shine UK via Netflix

9. ‘Be Right Back’ (Season 2, Episode 1)

Creating A.I. out of someone’s social media posts and writings is possible. Putting that A.I. into a convincingly humanlike body that isn’t just an uncanny valley disaster? Much less likely.

8. ‘Hang the DJ’ (S4, E4)

This surprisingly optimistic take on online dating depicts would-be lovers put through seemingly infinite sets of circumstances to determine their compatibility. But let’s be real — humans are just fine with smartphone-swiping their way into someone’s heart or bed.

7. ‘The Entire History of You’ (S1, E3)

Recording memories to video is an actual thing likely to happen in our lifetimes, but considering the storage and bandwidth currently required to do it at all — let alone record…


Dear Omar

He served in the Air Force. I write about video games.

Photo Illustration: Save As/Medium; Source: Microsoft

Welcome to Dear Omar, a weekly Debugger column from tech expert Omar L. Gallaga.

“You’re too low. Pull up.”

“Okay.”

My dad replies, “Up. Pull up.”

“I’m trying. It’s not pulling up,” I answer. I really am trying.

“Pull the yoke and increase the throttle. You don’t have enough power.”

“I’m trying to turn, but it’s going down.”

“You’re stalling. Pull up!”

“I CAN’T!”

“PULL UP!”

And that’s how I crashed my virtual Cessna 152 in Microsoft Flight Simulator. It’s probably a costly vehicle to crash in real life, but in the world of the 2020 version of Flight Simulator


Just Rankin’ Sh!t

They’re not all cheery, yo

Photo Illustration: Save As/Medium; Source: Getty Images

8. Maple Cheerios

You may not be able to blame Canada for this ill-conceived attempt to turn syrup into cereal — but that won’t stop us from trying!

7. Cheerios (original flavor)

You’d think these would taste better than you remember, but nope. They’re still like munching on crumbly chalk. Babies only like them because they are completely bland and flavorless. Go season some food, babies.

6. Chocolate Cheerios

Only a slight step up from the kinds of sugar-coated cereals you usually prefer to Cheerios. They won’t make you go cuckoo, but the low-key chocolate flavor hits a nice note.

5. Oat Crunch Cinnamon

This falls into the category of semi-Cheerios, in which General…

Omar L. Gallaga

Tech culture writer and podcaster, now freelancing in Texas. Bylines: Washington Post, WSJ, CNN, NPR, Texas Monthly. Here for all your wordy needs.

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