I’m an Apple convert!

2005/11/25 at 07:26

I got a 4GB iPod Nano earlier this week (thanks, Uncle Jim!), and I have to say, I understand the success of iPods/iTunes: Apple simply got a lot right. Just as with their computers, Apple took advantage of being able to control the entire experience: music management with iTunes, the seamlessly integrated iTunes Music Store, and of course the iPod hardware and software.
I’m a big geek, so I’m not fazed by occasional complexities and difficulties of hardware and software, but I can see the Apple appeal: it just works with fewer problems. I guess that’s worth the higher price point for many people.

Have it your way

2005/09/26 at 09:51

As a card-carrying geek, Firefox is my as my browser of choice, and I use it to access my personal email via Google’s Gmail. I really like Gmail, but there is one little issue that was bugging me: a lack of a ‘delete’ button. A couple of the most commonly used actions get their own buttons in Gmail, but others, including Delete, are relegated to a dropdown. To delete a message, I had to either check it on the list page or view it, and then select ‘Delete’ from the actions dropdown.
The other day I thought: I have Greasemonkey installed on Firefox. I wonder if anyone has created a user script to solve this problem. Sure enough, it took me about a minute to find and install a Greasemonkey user script to insert a Delete button into Gmail!

Gadget heaven!

2005/08/12 at 11:35

I really want a remote controlled lawnmower! I can picture myself sitting on the deck and sipping a cold margarita while I mow. Unfortunately, it’s still a little out of my price range.
rc_lawnmower.jpg

10-year anniversary

2005/05/16 at 07:52

I just remembered that this year is my 10-year anniversary on the web. Unbelievable. In 1995, I was working at Logos Corporation in New Jersey. I remember when we got dial-up internet access for the office and someone at the office started showing us web sites on Mosaic. A contractor working for the company then started developing an interface for our company’s application to allow users to submit documents for translation via the web. Pretty cutting edge stuff at the time.
As soon as Windows 95 was released, Katie and I bought our first Windows home PC (We’d had a Macintosh SE since 1986 or so), and we got dial-up Internet access at home. We lived in the sticks in New Jersey, and at first, the only ISP that had local dial-up numbers was Compuserve. Shortly thereafter, a local ISP started offering local dial-up numbers and we switched to them. I used ‘tippiedog‘ as my login for that account, and I’ve been using it as an online identifier ever since.

We finally cut our phone line!

2005/04/25 at 13:41

A couple of months ago, I did some research and polling of my fellow geeks, and decided that it was finally time to move to broadband telephone service for our home. With AT&T providing our local, toll and long distance service, our monthly phone bills were $80-100.
I signed up for a VoIP account with Vonage–unlimited calling for $25/month. Vonage promptly sent me a LinkSys router, assigned me a temporary telephone number, set up my 911 emergency service, and started the process of having our existing home telephone number moved from AT&T to Vonage.
Well, after dragging their feet for two months, AT&T finally came through a few days ago on the number transfer. When I got home from work that day, I went outside and took the very satisfying action of unplugging our house from the telephone grid. Then I went back in, plugged the router into the phone jack in the study, and voila, it was done.
Katie is our primary telephone user (as in 99%! I hate talking on the telephone), and I was concerned that she would be displeased with some unforeseen differences in our service, but so far, she hasn’t detected any changes at all.
We’re saving a lot of money and we no longer have to have uncomfortable conversations about the amount of time/money Katie spends on long-distance calls with her mother. I call that a win-win situation!

News flash: government no better than industry

2005/04/14 at 13:18

Ed Felten has an informative blog post about the U.S. government’s proposed radio-enabled passports. After a short discussion of some of the potential problems with this technology, and why the government didn’t go with a technology that reads passport info only on contact, Ed concludes:

It seems that the decision to use contactless technology was made without fully understanding its consequences, relying on technical assurances from people who had products to sell. Now that the problems with that decision have become obvious, it’s late in the process and would be expensive and embarrassing to back out. In short, this looks like another flawed technology procurement program.

Sensible choices

2005/04/11 at 14:54

Paul Rademacher created an application that combines real estate listings from Craigs List with Google Maps. It’s really cool.
But Dan Hartung points out one cool feature of Paul’s application that any real estate site could benefit from: overlapping price ranges. On most real estate sites, the value ranges on the dropdown are discrete prices ranges, e.g., $50-100K, $100K-150K, $150K-$200K. In Paul’s application, however, the ranges overlap: $50K-$150K, $100K-$200K, etc.
I remember when we were house hunting a couple of years ago, our price range was right at one of the price borders for one of the real estate sites. It was a real hassle to have to check out two complete price ranges. Paul’s solution would have helped us.

“Mystery Meat” navigation lives!

2004/11/19 at 13:30

Somehow I ended up at the web site for some movie that’s supposed to be released in 2006, and the geometric shapes at the bottom of the page caught my eye: mystery meat navigation! I know it’s still around, but I hadn’t thought about the term ‘mystery meat navigation’ in several years.
mysterymeat.jpg

Organs for sale

2004/08/21 at 23:14

OK, so Google AdSense context-sensitive ads are not always perfect:
organs.gif
I sure hope those refer to two different types of organs.

Blogging is post-modern journalism

2004/08/09 at 15:40

I was just reading a blog post about how threatened ‘credentialed’ journalists feel about bloggers–in particular, since bloggers were given passes to the Democratic National Convention.

Some of the people who commented on this post postulated that ‘objectivity’ is the heart of the matter. Traditional journalists offer ‘objectivity’ and criticize bloggers for their subjectivity.

But in a post-modern world, objectivity is a questionable concept. Bloggers appeal to us precisely BECAUSE they are subjective and admit it. We suspect traditional journalists because they claim objectivity, but we know that true objectivity is not possible. At least we have a good idea what biases a particular blogger offers.