Weekend read: How Phones Go Cross-Eyed at Airports

Wired has an interesting piece on what goes on inside your mobile phone when you switch it back on after a flight. If you think about it at all, you think that it’s just sometimes a pain waiting for it to find a carrier. But according to Wired, it’s a street fight:

The average mobile phone is programmed to search out the five closest antenna signals. When you’re driving in your car this system lets you switch from antenna to antenna — usually without losing your connection. But in an airport, things can go haywire, especially as you’re switching from the powerful outdoor “macro” antennas that you’ve connected to on the tarmac to the smaller indoor devices that AT&T has tucked all over the airport.

For travelers, that means that the moments after you walk inside an airport are where you’re most likely to have a dropped call.

Why Your Phone Freaks Out When You Get Off a Plane – Robert McMillan, Wired (22 July 2014)

The full piece has a little interview with someone whose job it is to see that your phone wins the fight.

Inside Amazon – no exposé, just riveting detail

There is an element of this article that is for the productivity heart in you that wonders how true all these stories of absurdly pressured working conditions are.

But mostly it’s for the tinkerer in you who wonders how Amazon works. Wired Magazine goes inside:

The first thing I saw when I walked into Amazon’s Phoenix warehouse was a man riding on a giant tricycle. Behind him, yellow plastic tubs the size of office recycling bins whizzed by on a conveyor belt. On the wall above, six massive words called out to the 1,500 workers who pass through metal detectors each day as they enter this million-square-foot cavern of consumerism: “work hard. have fun. make history.”

Tricycle aside, the “fun” quotient was hard to spot. But I couldn’t help but register a certain historical significance to the operation humming inside this enormous building erected in the industrial flats of Phoenix. The Amazon warehouse–known in company jargon as a “fulfillment center,” or FC–is a uniquely 21st-century creation, a vast, networked, intelligent engine for sating consumer desire. The FC is the anchor of Amazon’s physical operations, the brick and mortar behind the virtual button you tap on your phone to summon a watch or a shirt or a garden hose or Cards Against Humanity or just about anything else to your doorstep.

A Rare Peek Inside Amazon’s Massive Wish-Fulfilling Machine – Marcus Wohlsen, Wired (16 June 2014)

Via The Loop