They adorn the ends of Cat5 network patch cables and the flat satin cables that come

They adorn the ends of Cat5 network patch cables and the flat satin cables that come with all-in-one printers that we generally either toss in the scrap bin or throw away altogether. The blocky rectangular plugs, molded of clear plastic and holding gold-plated contacts, are known broadly as modular connectors. They and their socket counterparts have become ubiquitous components of the connected world over the last half-century or so, and unsurprisingly they had their start where so many other innovations began: from the need to manage the growth of the telephone network and reduce costs. Here’s how the modular connector got that way. For the first 80 years or so of the US telephone network, the Bell Company called all the shots. They owned absolutely every bit of equipment in the system – the wires on the poles, the switchgear in the central offices, microwave links, and even the phone sets in customer homes. They had complete control over every aspect of the delivery of their services, and used their monopoly to build an incredibly integrated and durable system. But with great power comes great responsibility, or in the case of a complex technological system prone to breakdown ...

If you plan to buy the amazing Google Pixel 3 smartphone, then you had better look

If you plan to buy the amazing Google Pixel 3 smartphone, then you had better look into protecting it. The screen and the glass back, which enables Qi wireless charging to work, are breakable, so it’s a smart move to safeguard them. We’ve been testing out the available options, and these are the best Pixel 3 cases you can buy. You may also be interested in preserving the display with one of the best Pixel 3 screen protectors. These are the top three cases we’ve been using most often with our Pixel 3 and they each have something unique to recommend them. We have a number of alternative options worth considering if these don’t tempt you. The official fabric case from Google is the one we’ve been using the most with our Pixel 3. Not surprisingly, it’s a perfect fit, with generous openings for easy access to the fingerprint sensor and USB-C port. In fact, there’s a gap above the USB-C port that makes it easy to swipe up from the bottom and use Android 9.0 Pie’s new navigation shortcuts. It doesn’t interfere with that stunning camera or the wireless charging either. The case features a plastic shell that’s slightly flexible, wrapped in a durable, gray fabric with soft, mint green pad...