Domain Names

•April 21, 2011 • Comments Off on Domain Names

When you think you have a hot idea, one of the first things that you do in todays internet connected society is try to get a domain name for it. The keyword here being try.

Just about every possible reasonable combination of words that could apply to that great idea of yours is either in use, or more often than not, squatted on by some person or company who will sell it to you for anything from a few hundred bucks to millions.

Yeah, give me a second while I whip out my credit card… I have plenty of zeros left on it. Granted those zeros don’t actually have a number in front of them, but maybe the processor won’t notice that little detail.  :/

While I don’t have anything against people making a buck, the fact that this particular practice is allowed has turned the whole domain name registration process into one big, highly ridiculous, circus.

Not that the registrars themselves mind it… some of the less reputable ones even flirt with the rules a bit to even take part. But even the honest ones are happily making tons of money for themselves off this ecosystem. Sadly, without most of them on board for any potential solution, there’s no way the problem will every be fixed.

Google Android Froyo

•February 27, 2011 • Comments Off on Google Android Froyo

Now that Google has released their “Gingerbread” version of Android, Samsung and AT&T have finally gotten it together enough to allow me to finally update my phone to Froyo.

The Samsung Kies software is absolutely terrible, but sadly it’s the only way to update the phone. Unlike every other phone manufacturer and cell carrier combo out there who are doing over the air updates which is a capability that if built in, these people are in the dark ages.

After a huge struggle I finally got it to see my phone so I could do the update. But now I’m wrestling with the Better 3/4ths phone which is refusing to allow the install at all.

Perhaps the reason why they are making these things so small these days is because they want you to throw them across the room in frustration so you have to buy a new one.

75 Degrees and Sunny

•February 6, 2011 • Comments Off on 75 Degrees and Sunny

We had beautiful weather here yesterday and it looks like we are on tap for another one like it today.

I’d be lying if I said that I missed all of the bad weather back east, but in a way, I do miss the snow just a little bit. If we can truly say that we can feast our eyes on things, then I guess snow would be my comfort food.

Granted, I don’t miss it quite enough yet to venture out on a three-ish hour drive over to Lake Tahoe in order to see it; however coming from New England certainly makes it feel very odd to go through an entire winter without seeing so much as a flake and no freeze to really speak of.

At least it keeps the palm trees happy and several of our fruit trees are beginning to bud. And that means it won’t be long now until I’m walking through a snow of dogwood, cherry and apple blossoms. Which is especially fun due to the lack of bitter biting cold gusts to go along with it.

Hello Sweet Sweet Sleep, I Missed You

•January 8, 2011 • 1 Comment
Our Alarm Clock - showing Mele's birthday

Image by japi14 via Flickr

I happened to be reading yet another seemingly ubiquitous commentary on the Kindle Vs. iPad as an ereader about a week ago and someone mentioned how the lack of the bright back-lit LCD screen on the Kindle was better for them because it didn’t disrupt their sleep patterns. That lead me to search for more information about LCD screens and what their effect is on ones sleep.

The bright blue glare of an LCD screen closely mimics the light spectrum of the noonday sun. I already knew that the color temperature of the sun at noon is bluish from my photography experience, but it never occurred to me to draw a comparison of the color temperature of the sun with what my monitor was blasting me with as I worked on my computer late into the night.

Now the issue was being couched in terms of ones natural biological response; as far as my body was concerned, working on my computer at night was essentially the same thing as looking out a window midday and as a result my body was basically saying “Hey there buddy, no need to be sleepy right now, it’s only noon!”.

One solution to this dilemma would obviously be for me to not use my computer at night, but unfortunately that flies in the face of what I do… photosensitive or not, I have to use my computer at night.

Another solution came in the form of a free utility that someone was kind enough to link to called F.lux which is cross platform and works on Linux, Apple OSX and Microsoft Windows. What F.lux does is automatically adjust the color temperature of your screen depending on the time of day. From the normal bright blue during the day to a softer reddish tint at night.

The screen seemed really weird the first night I had it running after installing it. However, from my experience in color calibrating my system for editing photos, I know that after awhile you get used to such color shifts even though it may seem “off” at first.

I also still stayed up a bit late that night, but I attributed that more to habit and the fact that even jet lag takes a day or two to clear ones system. As I can attest from flying hundreds of thousands of miles.

Perhaps I was just rationalizing out of desperation. To say my sleep pattern was in utter disarray is an understatement of magnanimous proportion. I’ve lost count of how many “flip days*” I’ve forced myself to suffer through recently only to revert back within a day or three. And to have a trick that used to work so predictably suddenly just lose all of its oomph is especially rough.

[*What I call a flip day is when I pull an all nighter in an attempt to reset my sleep schedule… or in my case, it would be more accurate to call it an all day-er.]

Regardless of my reasoning though, instead of just saying “yuck” and removing it, I decided to give F.lux a chance by using it for a week or two. That’s because I thought that was how long it would take for it to even start making a dent, if it was ever going to make any kind difference at all. Which although the theory made sense, I was still a little skeptical about. Boy was I ever Dubya Arr Ohh Enn Gee… wrong.

The following night I actually felt legitimately tired for the first time in months and went to bed about 2 hours earlier. That’s also the first time in years my schedule shifted towards normal without an outright flip day reset.

On the third night, I was actually falling asleep in front of my computer by midnight. A-freaking-four-letter-word-mazing!

I can’t remember the last time I felt tired like that, let alone while still actually in front of the computer. I always thought that my lack of tiredness had to do with continuously finding more shiny buttons to click on and keep my interest, but at last light dawns on Marblehead!

Anyways… fast foreward to almost a week later and I actually crawled into bed last night some time between 10:30-11: 00 and woke up refreshed at 7:30 this morning (sans alarm clock!).

Obviously having F.lux running on my system means that editing photographs at night is no longer an option unless I turn it off first, otherwise I won’t achieve accurate colors. But I haven’t been doing a lot of photo editing at night anyways and what I’ve gained far outweighs such an inconvenience. Besides, from what I heard from one commenter who turned it off just to see the difference, they got instant insomnia and that’s a bridge that I don’t ever want to cross lest I find myself stranded on it again.

That’s not to say the jury isn’t still out on whether this is the fix to my sleep trouble, but I have reason to be cautiously optimistic (*knocks on wood*). Besides, at least I can rest easy, and I mean that literally, until something proves otherwise.

Swype is swell

•December 3, 2010 • 2 Comments
Image representing Swype as depicted in CrunchBase

Image via CrunchBase

Swype is a new kind of keyboard for typing on mobile devices that more and more commonly lack a physical keyboard these days. I’m just starting to use it for the first time myself but I’m quickly getting the hang of it and I’m already writing this post as fast as I would be if I were doing the old two finger dance across a regular “keyboard” on my phone. (Yes, I’m writing this post on my phone and no, they don’t offer medication for that.)

Typing is the wrong word to use to describe what you do with Swype though, because the word “typing” brings up visions of one smacking away on a bunch of keys. Whereas with Swype you, well… swipe…duh.

The basic idea is that instead of wasting extra time by lifting your fingers off of the keyboard once for each letter you only need to do so once for each word.

It’s actually quite cool; just look at these people react to seeing it in action for the first time. Once you get used to it, especially how to make corrections when you’re off a little bit too much, (which is a little more often in the very beginning), I can see how easy it would be to go incredibly fast!

The real trick, I’ve found, is to put a little extra faith in Swype’s ability to do the right thing. If that sounds at all familiar, that’s because that is the same advice that was generally floating around for people using the iPhone with it’s auto-correction feature. With Swype, even if you miss a key or two and even if you miss them a wee bit wildly, Swype does an incredible job of figuring out what you meant. In my case it’s even did the right thing even though my brain, in a fit of panicky confusion over what I was telling it to do, had my finger twirling on the wrong side of the keyboard altogether. In other words, you can be more than a little off and most of the time that’s still perfectly OK. It may even be preferable to allow your accuracy to be a bit more lax in the interest of speed.

At the same time though, even if you’re much too wildly off or enter something that is a bit ambiguous, there’s still hope because Swype will then pop-up a box that 9 times out of 10 will have the word you were trying for ready to go on what I prefer to call, the short list; well because it’s a list and it’s short.

To enter words even faster, you can also skip using the short list at the very moment when it comes up so you can maintain both the timing and flow of your writing. Then when you are done Swyping, you can go back to any words that are wrong and double tap them to bring up the short list for that word again.

Not pausing while writing does wonders for your speed because making decisions while keeping the language you are trying to express in your head will slow you down a lot. Also, most of the time, when the short list pops up with the word that it merely “thinks” you’re trying to write it’s actually the correct one that it will use as the default anyway, so pausing your writing to select it wastes time unnecessarily.

Swype definitely has the makings of being the future of input technology and my hat is off to the developers, not just for the idea itself, but for what I can only describe as a near flawless execution. In fact, I’d be speechless if it weren’t for the fact that Swype is so damned fun to use that I just want to keep on typing… er…. I mean Swyping!

My First Post From My Cheap Upgrade

•November 13, 2010 • Comments Off on My First Post From My Cheap Upgrade
captivate birthday phone ya

Image by gavinrobinson via Flickr

Technology moves on at an incredible pace and there’s no better place to see that than by glancing at the current mobile handset market.

By all measures, my iPhone 3G is about as ancient as a rock compared to the devices that are on todays market and yet it’s only a mere 2.5 years old. Which is one of the (many) reasons that I’ve been planning on upgrading for quite some time now.

Well, the time of having Apple and the iPhone in my life (not to mention the worst program ever made… a.k.a. iTunes) officially ended on Thursday because a nice little box was delivered to my door containing a top of the line Android cell phone. It’s known by various names depending on what cell carrier you choose, but its manufactured model name is the Samsung Galaxy S.

The Non-contract list price is $579 and if you want it unlocked it runs for about $659, but with the carrier subsidy discount, most people pay $199 for it.

So why did I call it a cheap upgrade? Because, I’m not most people and it turns out that I inherited my mother’s ability to seek out and pounce on a crazy deal.

Instead of paying $579.00 or even $199.00 I shelled out all of a whopping $19.99 for this beauty.

Oh, and did I mention the free 2-day shipping?

Internet shopping FTW!!!

Windows 7

•September 20, 2010 • 1 Comment
Bsod

Image via Wikipedia

[Here’s one of the drafts I mentioned that I found laying around, this one only needed minor dusting]

So I replaced the old Pentium 4 PC that I had been borrowing with a new, screaming, Intel I7 system… ok, maybe not screaming because I didn’t load it to the gills, and while it is I7 it’s low on the scale of Intel’s offerings, but it’s definately modern tech and at least somewhat future-proofed.

As usual, unless I wanted to build my own system from scratch, I had to pay the Microsoft Tax. Which means that it came with Windows 7.

Normally, being strong-armed into paying Microsoft for Windows by the OEM is something I’d be railing against, but this time around I actually wanted a copy because I have to support it anyway and am I’m not stupid enough to pay retail for it. So this time they’ll get a pass, but only just barely.

Continue reading ‘Windows 7’