Friday, August 5, 2011

Best Quote I've Heard All Week

Men socialize by insulting each other, but they don't really mean it.

Women socialize by complimenting each other, and they don't really mean it either.

Truer words have rarely been spoken.

Friday, July 15, 2011

The (alliterative) Capture Camera Clip System

In addition to the lens cap holder, I backed another project on Peter Dering's very smart Capture Camera Clip System. It gets funded later today at 2:22 pm EDT. Hopefully I will receive my copy by the time I go on vacation!

Capture is now the #2 on the all-time Kickstarter list. Makes me want to invent something!

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Apple Makes Life Easy

I've been using Apple products for a long time. In fact, 2011 marks the start of my third decade in my relationship with the company, which began with the introduction of a pair of Mac Quadra 950's to my daily work environment in 1991.

I love Apple's products because they are so well made, reliable, and yes, I'll unashamedly admit, stylish. I also love them because they are a great value. While they may seem expensive to initially purchase, the damn things last for years and years with minor upkeep. Just a couple years ago we just retired our home server, a 1999 Blue and White G3 350 MHz tower, not because it was broken, but because the CPU was not supported by the latest MacOS X release. We replaced it with an MDD G4 tower (kindly sent to my by my brother and sister-in-law), which should give us a couple more years of service.

Today, I could get a Mac mini with a server-class OS for cheap when the G4 (a PowerPC CPU) no longer is viable for our needs. I would expect this $800 or so purchase to last us at least 6 years, probably longer. That works out to about 36 cents per day, or less than it takes to run a light bulb every day for the same amount of time. That's a bargain in my book, especially since it makes life so easy, and requires less maintenance than something like a dishwasher, which lasts about the same amount of time. And the Mac would be far more useful. You want to talk about "being green" with your electronics? This is hard to beat.

But the real reason I love Apple stuff is because of Apple's philosophy, which to me is: The computing device itself is not the objective. What one wants to do with a computing device is the critical focus. Or to put it another way: The tool should not be an obstruction to, or distraction from, the goal of the user.

In my opinion, this is a realization that Microsoft has only come to in the last few years, and that the Linux community has only paid small attention. I do see signs of progress, however, but both have a long way to go to match Apple. Google "gets it" with Android, but Android seems to suffer from the same problem that plagues both Microsoft and Linux: A fractured and diverse set of hardware that needs accommodation and user attention. While I love Linux and find Windows 7 to be acceptable, I'm not interested in making sure all the dependencies are up to date and that I have paid attention to Patch Tuesdays. That's kind of like checking to make sure that my refrigerator's coolant is up to pressure every week. No thanks, I have a life to get back to.

And now on to what prompted this long post:

A recent conversation with a neighbor prompted me to decide to re-read all of Isaac Asimov's classic Foundation series this summer, but this time in the order that the Gentle Doctor recommended. So far, I have read (for the umpteenth time, and my favorite) I, Robot, and have just started The Caves of Steel. But this time, I am reading them on my iPhone and iPad rather than in book form.

I downloaded The Caves of Steel on my iPad, but didn't start reading it for a day. When I did start it, I read the first chapter on my iPhone. It took me a minute to realize what had occurred: I was reading a book on my iPhone that I had downloaded on my iPad. That right there was awesome! And I didn't even have to do any extra work such as run a sychronization, re-buy, or re-download anything! My devices made life easy for me.

And when I placed a bookmark on my iPhone, and then later picked up my iPad to continue reading, the iPad opened up The Caves of Steel to my iPhone's bookmark, as if I was still using my phone.

It's amazing to think of all the engineering and
-- not to mention the
processes -- that went into making these seemingly simple things occur.

And that's what I mean when I say that "Apple Makes Life Easy."

Monday, June 6, 2011

Help an Inventor

I thought this was pretty cool: A lens cap holder that connects to your camera's strap. It falls under the category of "Why didn't I think of that?"

I don't have a problem of losing lens caps myself, but I understand others do. My standard operating procedure is to put my lens cap in my pocket as soon as I remove it from the lens, which is a dusty and linty place.

With all the corners and crevices that make up the inner surface of a lens cap, a lens cap is a veritable dirt magnet. Invariably this dirt and lint ends up on the lens. Like I said, I don't lose lens caps, but the front element or protective filter gets coated with pocket debris through transference in short order. I need a better solution.

Yes, I know there are little thing-a-ma-jigs that tether the lens cap to the lens barrel, but having a lens cap swinging around on a string isn't a good solution, either. I take photos with the camera at all different angles, and pushing or pulling the cap out of the shot all the time would drive me bonkers. Having the cap in a secure and out-of-the-way place is a big plus for me.

The inventor, Mark Stevenson, is using to finance his idea. He needs $3900 to get the molds made to start production. Pledge just $15 to his cause and, if he reaches his goal, he will send you one of the production pieces in exchange for your help. You can pledge less, or more (and get several holders in return).

If you like this, help a Mark out with what appears to be a good idea. I have my pledge in! Do you?

Click here to go to the Kickstarter project!

Update, (June 10): Good news! Mark more than doubled his pledge goal, and as of this writing, he has $9904 pledged. Kickstarter says he will be funded on June 21. Hooray!

Monday, May 30, 2011

iPhone troubles

Don't be afraid of messing with your phone. The legendary WKRP's "Phone Cops" need not be feared.

As of late, I have been noticing that my iPhone 3GS has been having a really short battery life. I would charge it overnight, put it in my pocket in the morning, and by 6 PM would be down to about 20%.

I know that rechargables lose life over time, and my phone will be two years old come July, but this seemed a little extreme. I would hardly use the phone during the day, if at all, and experience significant battery drain. Something else was going on.

I tried deleting apps that I had recently installed, thinking that they were sucking the battery dry, particularly the Denon and Peanut apps. No change in battery life.

And then, a few days ago, I accidentally dropped my phone. HARD. It fell from the kitchen counter to the hardwood floor, a distance of about three feet. I cursed, because I treat my expensive stuff like it is expensive, which it is. Unlike people I know that think nothing of dropping their phones or iPods in the toilet and complaining that they don't work any more. "Apple builds sh*t!", they would claim. But that's a subject for another blog post.

After the drop, the display would say "No Service". I couldn't make calls, and couldn't get texts, though I could access WiFi without problem. BlueTooth worked as well. I basically had an iPod Touch, but with a really short battery life. Now, to be honest, this wasn't the first time I had dropped my iPhone, but the drops were "gentle", as from the seat of a sofa to a carpeted floor. Not good for it to be sure, but nothing I would think to be fatal, either.

After the hard drop, battery life dropped faster than ever. I tried resetting the phone in software as found on several websites. No joy to be found there, either.

After perusing the net about this problem, I grew some cojones and decided to try opening up my phone, thinking that I had broken the cell antenna in the drop. Replacing the antenna/dock module seemed to be a routine remedy for this situation. A friend had an iPhone with a broken display that he offered to me for parts. Very kind of him. (Thanks, Robbie!)

I'd never opened a cell phone before, but I found it's not hard to do. On the 3GS, it involves removing just two miniscule screws (using a Phillips #00 screwdriver, available at your local Sears or big-box retail hardware store) and a suction cup, similar to one of those to hang chotchkes on glass windows. The rest is mostly undoing snap-together connections. But be warned, these components are extremely tiny and hard to work with even if you have slim fingers. I followed the instructions at, which is a great resource for a lot of electronic woes.

My problem turned out to be that connector #7 had come loose (the connectors inside the iPhone are marked with orange numbered labels), most likely completely becoming separated in the last drop incident. It had probably begun to to work loose (causing rapid battery drain) in earlier drops, and the drop to the kitchen floor finished it off.

Five minutes of futzing to reconnect the wire, and battery life is back to normal!

EDIT June 10. 2011: It's been quite some time since (almost 2 weeks) since I opened my iPhone and checked the antenna lead. So far, my phone feels new again, at least as far as battery life goes.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Technology: Massive Fail or Just a Screwup?

I went to the dentist this morning. The tech, who I have been seeing for years, and who I thought was familiar with my history, asked me:

"Have you been taking your anti-biotics?"

I replied, "I didn't know I was supposed to be taking anti-biotics."

She: "Our records show that you have an artificial heart valve."

Me: "Unless you put one in at my last appointment or aliens abducted me and implanted one, I don't remember ever having heart surgery. I think I might remember that."

I thought it was amusing this morning. Now I am not so amused. Has my health care record been corrupted, either accidentally or intentionally? How in the hell do you find out?

Will this mis-information propagate to an extent to some point in the future where I might be denied coverage due to erroneous information, or be mis-diagnosed?

I can imagine a future scenario in a hospital: "Hey, his records indicate that this guy has an artificial heart valve. It might be failing. Let's replace it with a new one."

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Photojournalists killed in Libya

War is stupid and useless. Especially when it takes the lives of non-combatants working to tell the tale to the outside world.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Laughable news!

Supermarket tabloid Weekly World News today posted about an upcoming shutdown of Facebook:

Like the young whippersnappers say, "As if! Duh!"

Let's face(book) it: There is no logical reason right now that Zuckerberg would shut down Facebook.

Normally, I wouldn't post much - if anything - about Facebook here. Though I have an account there, I rarely check it, and I have misgivings about FB's privacy policies, anyway.

I found out about this link through my daily checking of one of my favorite sites, I find it funny that a rumor-clarifying site had the news of the hoax so early in the news cycle.