Efforts to understand, improve, or do less harm to the world around me.


Sunday, January 30, 2011

Money and friends

Unfortunately interconnected, who we spend time with can be financially unpleasant.  Although this advice may seem obvious, when you're close to someone you frequently don't see a clear way out of the forest when financial issues start to pop up.

Friday, January 21, 2011

iPhone 4.2.1 vs. Android 2.2

Following up on my "The Future is actually going to be Linux" article, I can safely and easily say that at least in one aspect, yes:

Customization: absolutely outstanding.  Makes the iPhone look like a complete and total joke:
  • Tons and tons of great widgets and the terrific Zeam interface.  Awesome.
  • Ringtones of whatever you want.  If you already own the MP3, you don't have to buy anything else.
  • Change the amount of data you want to cache in Google Maps
  • Multiple different mapping programs that will cache huge data sets (Mapdroid, Locus)

More software that so far much better with tons more features:
  • Multiple broad-format audio players including WinAmp, DoubleTwist, and the awesome network-audio capable 2Player
  • Calendar: Jorte
  • TodoList: Astrid
  • Browser: Firefox
  • eBook, text file reader: CoolReader
  • Barcode tool: Barcode Scanner
  • Navigation: My Tracks
  • Remote Desktop: Remote RDP Lite
  • Mail client: K-9 Mail

Other strong points in Android's favor:
  • Dramatically better selection of freeware applications, including some great GPL'd software that Apple legally will not allow (Weight Chart, KeePass, AppsOrganizer, and many more)
  • A torrent client, file manager, and capability to open many different file types with a variety of available programs
  • Adobe Flash support and a great game selection via the Kongregate client
  • Super-simple WiFi, Cell Phone, and GPS on/off switch via Elixer
  • Better keyboard and "landscape" interface (that doesn't occasionally work as with the iPhone)
  • Multitasking via "Perfect Task Switcher"
  • SSH, SFTP, and Samba client (all tested and work great) and an FTP server (SwiFTP)
  • Open standard encryption tool (APG)
  • Figure out what the device is doing what with OSMonitor
  • Built in voice-to-text is way more accurate on Android than the free Dragon Dictation
  • Almost all Google's services seem way better on the Android, although this isn't fair to say since Google could conceivably cripple their iPhone offerings.
  • Usually much higher resolution pictures and video, as well as the ability to usually just swap out a tiny SD card to double the amount of space on your device.

So far the only places that iPhone comes out on top is ease of use and generally smoother, easier to use hardware.  Battery life seems to be a bit better, but the yawning difference between these two devices very much shocks me.  Essentially, Android is an actual computer while the iPhone is just a gadget.

The press constantly seems to be talking about issues in Android's future: patent issues and the fragmentation of the Android OS.  For me, Android is so far ahead, it would take a very long time to lose its standing on the points listed above to Apple.

Apple goes the way of American car makers

Part of the reason many people prefer Toyota is the prevalence of very generic, easy to replace components that don't require taking it to the dealer.  Now Apple has decided its going to do what American car makers do with vendor-only toolsets.  Taking it one step further, Apple won't let you even buy these unique tools.

You might have blown $500 or more on an Apple device, but don't pretend you actually own it.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

How school gets it wrong.

An excellent look at how the traditional model of school has some problems.  Whether they can be fixed is a big question, but more importantly is informing students of the contrasts they will experience when they leave school.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Customize your fail

When Widows crashes, its known as the "Blue Screen Of Death" or BSOD.  Now, a program is available to customize the colors of this formerly blue-only screen.

This reminds me a bit of how they paint the slums bright colors in Rio to cover up the fact that they are in fact slums.  When programming effort is spent on painting over the blue screen of death, you might hear a distant funeral bell ringing.

Now, you might be thinking: oh wait, this can't be a BSOD if its not blue.  You would be wrong.  A black or beige screen can still do the job.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Outstanding Obama speech

Likely the speech he will be remembered for at the memorial for the deaths of those killed in Arizona.  Heartfelt, uniting, and uplifting.

State mental health

An excellent article on the dismal state of mental health resources.

If you have a friend with mental illness, getting resources from the state will usually make the problem much worse, not better.  For those that I've talked to (especially in the South), these places are essentially prisons.  Even psychologists who have a legal requirement to notify the authorities if a patient threatens to harm themself or others strongly hesitate to do so, knowing it will make the problem worse.

Tragically, paranoid schizophrenia is a completely treatable illness.  However, if a loved one is suffering mental illness, seek private assistance.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

NYT: "Single, Female, Mormon, Alone"

An excellent and personal story about an outsider.

Sunday, January 09, 2011

Do not put members of congress in "crosshairs"

An article on the the increasingly violent rhetoric of many right-wing leaders including Presidential hopefuls may be inciting people to violence.

Saturday, January 08, 2011

Apple vs. GPL

In what may be the greatest blow to my interest in anything Apple, my favorite open source program has been denied a place in the new apps store.  This shortly after the same application denied entry into the iPhone's app store.  This is a real failure for Apple, who started with an open operating system and has progressively become more and more closed and restrictive.  Given the wide variety of open-licensed software that won't be ported to the iPhone, this is unfortunate for Apple and its users.

Meanwhile, plenty of GPL'd and other open source software is available for Android, whose OS is based on openly licensed Linux software.

Wednesday, January 05, 2011

Never going to drink Ozarka again

I used to be a regular customer for their big bottles, and Aquafina on occasion.  Apart from Nestle, it seems filtering tap water is the only way to go.  Full report here.

Tuesday, January 04, 2011

Firefox #1 in Europe

Finally the Internet Explorer dominance is coming to an end.