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


Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Google puts out new Facebook competition

When I tried to think of something that would effectively compete with Facebook, I actually thought of something very similar to what Google just introduced.  Fine-grained controls for specific groups.  For example, you really don't want to start a fight with your crazy sister about a particular image of your kid eating sweets.  Your coworkers really don't need to know you went on a date last Thursday or that your dad has the flu.

Unfortunately, Google has a terrible reputation for privacy so launching their service with that emphasis is borderline silly.

Also fun: look up "google privacy" on Google's search engine and then Bing's.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Learning a language with mind maps

If you can filter through the rather tedious and overt commercial for an only tacitly related software, there's a great and simple way to learn a new language.  Using a mind map, students can connect words with concepts in general topic clouds rather than just drawing up random flash cards or lists of word associations.

Although I think there's great value in actually drawing out a map by hand, there are also software tools that are great for this, such as Xmind (video introduction) available for Windows, Mac, and Linux.

(Note that the video lists its speaker as "Tony Buzan, inventor of MindMaps", which is totally untrue.)

Monday, June 20, 2011

1st world problems

After yesterday's rant about my iPhone, a friend pointed me to a collection of 1st world problems.  After some humility, I found my favorite: The Middle East riots over their lack of freedom, Vancouver riots over a hockey game.

On a related note, America gets compared to other first world nations.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

I hate my iPhone

After the recent frustration with this bewilderingly stupid device, I came up with a list of things I hate about my iPhone:
  • Requires entry of a valid credit card before using the phone
  • Extension cable is not an acceptable accessory
  • When downloading updates, the device cannot go into an off state or it will quit downloading them.  You have to keep messing with the phone.  This would be fine when its not plugged in to save power, but when it is?  Annoying as hell.
  • On 2 occasions now has deleted all my settings, folders, and organization
  • On 2 occasions, I've used the iTunes program manager to organize things and it just drops my changes and reverts to the original.
  • Poor battery life is manageable by turning off Wifi but its 4 button presses before I can get to a wifi management screen.  It doesn't sound like much until you're doing it 3 times a day and wonder "why isn't this on the home screen?"
  • Voice memos tool that comes with the device is unresponsive until about 10 seconds after the program actually comes up
  • Device usage must be reset every month to keep track of data use.  It doesn't do this automatically.  The AT&T app you can download to handle this in the iPhone's place is not easy to use, probably because they have a financial incentive to let you go over your minutes.
  • iTunes is bloated, difficult to use, and doesn't back up my device correctly.
  • On a Mac, if you don't have iPhoto installed, it won't copy over your pictures.
  • When using the App Store and surf through categories of programs, every time you download a program, you must start over at the beginning of that category and can't keep surfing through that section.
  • I "authorized" a second computer to manage my music and now when I connect it to the first computer, it insists on deleting all the present music before I can manage my library.  Ugh!
  • Much prefer my Android music player to the iPod program included on my phone.
  • Can't connect my iPhone via BlueTooth to my computer and transfer files or sync the devices.
  • No system for backing up iPhone programs or settings outside of the iTunes software.  If iTunes doesn't work or messes it up for some reason, you're screwed.
  • If an application update causes problems, there's no way to go back to the previous version.  This isn't easy on Android, but can be done.
Anticipating the question: "Why don't you stop complaining and get another phone?" I'm working on it.

The bible and evolution

Having a great deal of familiarity with the evolution vs. intelligent design argument, it was refreshing to see some new points about why evolution isn't in contrast to biblical ideals and where intelligent design isn't solving problems.

Beware iOS 4.3

  • More than half my applications, including stuff I paid for, including settings
  • When I was able to restore some of those apps, it dumped all the categories I'd set up
  • Lost a text message I got during the process of updating
After frustrations with accessories, lack of media support, lack of openness by Apple, and continuous problems with iTunes of one kind or another, I won't be buying iAnything.

Loud fans in your computer

Lifehacker finally addresses this consistently annoying problem.  Very happy to see it.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Amon Tobin stage show

In the early 80s, Pink Floyd was legendary for the creativity and beauty of their Wall album's stage show.  It combined animation, stage craft, metaphor, and more.  For when it was made, that was completely unheard of and nothing I've seen since has really matched what I heard about that stage show.  It looks like this could take the crown.  Here's a bit more, including some background.

For me, Out From Out Where by Amon Tobin is one of my all time favorite electronic music albums so here's hoping they make a bigger tour out of this.

Mac: Download Youtube videos

So with a lot of Youtube videos lately getting dropped or copyright or other reasons, its necessary to download them to your computer to have access to them.  While there are many for Windows, there are none for for Mac that I could find, but there is a very simple workaround in Safari.