Category Archives: Geek Stuff

My Prediction

I have had a vision. In around 5 years time (the time it will take for everyone’s computer to slow to a crawl) everyone will have an iPad(like) device. This is my reasoning:

First of all, everyone knows that there are many complaints with the device. I am not going to rehash those here. They have been covered ad nauseam, and if you really would like to find them, search any gadget blog for a list of gripes.

The epiphany that I had was this: the iPad is for content consumption, while traditional computers are for content creation. You have heard the first part before. It is no secret that the iPad has a great form factor (like that of a magazine) for reading, browsing the web and watching movies/videos. The latter just occured to me. The things that I will not be able to use the iPad for that I use regularly: Photoshop, and Lightroom 2. To a lesser degree: Garageband, iMovie, Logic, Final Cut etc. Most people have no idea how to use these programs.

Within the tech community, photoshop skills are essential like a sidearm in the old West. Most people, however, use the jpegs straight from their camera, and think editing video requires godlike powers (just try showing an edited video to your mom, she will think you belong in Hollywood).

As I work in my computer dealer, people often tell me about how they have 250GB of RAM on their computer back home. They don’t know the difference between an iPhone and an iPod Touch. As soon as people start seeing them around, and watch people browse the web, read magazines and books, and use whatever apps are made specifically for it, it will become an object of desire. It already is. I have been walking around the school with a Barnes & Noble Nook e-reader for the past month, and have been asked literally 3 times a day if it is the iPad.

When people go to buy a computer, they will ask the prices (as they always do) and when they find out that the sexy slab-of-glass one is $500, they will buy it. Kids will sync it with their parent’s computers, even if they are away at college (yes, this is risky, but people do this. They don’t backup, they sync their iPods with friends they met in South America on study abroad, etc). There will be one computer in the home that can be used for content creation like Word docs (primarily, with some using the attachable keyboard with the iPad), photos, etc.

What about those people who do program, edit movies and music, blog heavily, design? They will have one too. Instead of heaving their MacBook Pros around on trips, to school, the plane, they will use their ____ (not necessarily an iPad) except for when they need to produce content.

Picture a Dell laptop. Why, are we so stuck on the idea that this is what a computer looks like? Browsers, applications and interfaces have all been molding and changing to become more ergonomic, why not explore a little? I absolutely love the way an iPhone is used. Why am a still using a computer that operates like a big Blackberry?

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6 MARINES KILLED BY FRIENDLY HARRIER AIRSTRIKE

Afghan Map– 6 United States Marines were killed today in what officials are calling a “small oversight” in reading radar. Apparently the soldier who called in the airstrike mistakenly placed the cursor above the green dots indicating his teammates’ location rather than away from them.

One of the Marines fighting with the fallen soldiers speculates: “We wouldn’t have had a problem if this was a Team Deathmatch or even Domination, but this is Hardcore Team Deathmatch, and here, well, friendly-fire counts.”

Reports from those familiar with the incident say that the harrier airstrike was actually not a direct result of a 7-kill spree, but was apparently acquired through a care package received by virtue of only a 4-kill streak. This was likely the reason that the mistake occurred. The young Marine, known only as MaDSKillZ500, was called a “noob” by his teammates in response to the mistake. In his defense, he promptly replied in a high-pitched voice, muffled due to improper microphone placement, “Ya’ll are a bunch of f***ing f**s. My ratio is positive and I don’t give a f*** what you say.

Although the men promptly respawned, some had to wait more than 10 seconds; valuable time which could have been spent setting up a sentry gun near the entrance of one of the various bunkers in the area. Level 70 fighter, Zanderbot, of the [(.)(.)] clan thought the event “small in comparison” to the other things he has seen in the past.

“I remember the days before the javelin glitch was patched. I’m just glad that we were able to get 7500 points before the enemy did. We had a great victory in the face of tragedy.”

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A How-To Guide for the Good of Peoplekind

3250_1166037391141_1234097888_465653_6799890_nHaving spent many an hour immersed in Facebook’s flickering glow, I feel that I have become an authority on the nuances of the network. As someone who dabbles in obsessive compulsivity and making up words I feel inclined to set those of you straight who have wandered from proper usage of this Internet tool.

In no particular order:

1. “What’s on your mind?” is the question now asked by the status update text box. If I were to come up to you and ask you what you were thinking and you said “is having a bad day” I just might slap you. Sadly, the option to slap people was removed while FB was still in beta, and changed to “poke” which although mildly entertaining, does not inflict physical harm, thereby not encouraging proper use of the status update.

2. The teaser. Today we have a variety of ways to communicate. Many are limited to a certain amount of characters i.e. SMS, Twitter, etc. However, having a limited amount of characters is not an excuse for only saying “I am still sad, but feeling better” when you could say “I am sad that my dog died, but feeling better.” Now, I am not one for public declarations of personal moments, but if you are, at least do us the courtesy of not having to ask “What happened?” in order to adequately console you.

Feel free to distribute this guide as needed. I am sure that many of you feel the same pain as I.

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Area-51

fgsg1aAs a kid I loved a good conspiracy theory. In about 5th grade I was sitting in my backyard with one of my best friends, when we spotted a blinking light in the sky. This friend did quite well in school, and read books for fun. At that age, this is enough of a resume to pretty much get any other kid to believe whatever you say. As we were staring at this blinking object in the sky, my friend told me that it was speaking through morse code. Any kid who has wanted to be a spy (every young boy) knows what morse code is, so I thought that might be feasible. He slowly began to translate what the supposed alien craft was saying: “I… want… YOU!” which erupted in screaming and running into the house, at which point we probably grabbed nerf guns and pocket knives with which to defend ourselves. We both knew deep down it was probably just an airplane but we wanted to believe.

With the declassification of the projects developed at Area-51, those who were involved are finally allowed to talk about what really went on there. For those who don’t know, Area-51 is the code name for an area approximately 100 miles outside of Las Vegas in the Nevada desert. The airspace above it has been restricted since the 60’s, and there are signs warning of punishment upon trespass all around. For decades conspiracy theorists have speculated what the facility was for. Some believe that all matters regarding alien life forms are handled there,  including actual spacecraft and alien corpses salvaged from a crash near Roswell in the 1940’s. roswelldailyrecordjuly81947

There have been massive amounts of reports filed through the years claiming sightings of unidentified flying objects, or UFOs. The speculation has even spread to Hollywood, with Will Smith visiting the facility in the movie “Independence Day” and good old Indy Jones making an escape from a storage warehouse on site, and countless others.

I don’t think that anything can ever kill the rumors and speculation, but with the official declassification of the projects hosted there, we get to hear a little more about what has gone on.

On May 24, 1963, Collins flew out of Area 51’s restricted airspace in a top-secret spy plane code-named OXCART, built by Lockheed Aircraft Corporation. He was flying over Utah when the aircraft pitched, flipped and headed toward a crash. He ejected into a field of weeds.

Almost 46 years later, in late fall of 2008, sitting in a coffee shop in the San Fernando Valley, Collins remembers that day with the kind of clarity the threat of a national security breach evokes: “Three guys came driving toward me in a pickup. I saw they had the aircraft canopy in the back. They offered to take me to my plane.” Until that moment, no civilian without a top-secret security clearance had ever laid eyes on the airplane Collins was flying. “I told them not to go near the aircraft. I said it had a nuclear weapon on-board.” The story fit right into the Cold War backdrop of the day, as many atomic tests took place in Nevada. Spooked, the men drove Collins to the local highway patrol. The CIA disguised the accident as involving a generic Air Force plane, the F-105, which is how the event is still listed in official records.

As for the guys who picked him up, they were tracked down and told to sign national security nondisclosures. As part of Collins’ own debriefing, the CIA asked the decorated pilot to take truth serum. “They wanted to see if there was anything I’d forgotten about the events leading up to the crash.” Los Angeles Times

oxcart_aircraft_on_the_ramp_at_groom_lake_area_51_in_1964_there_are_ten_aircraft_in_the_photo__the_first_eight_are_oxcart_machines__and_the_last_two_are_air_force_yf-12asWith the government opening up about these top-secret programs, there is no-doubt going to be claims that there is more information still being covered up by the Government. This is likely, since we have proof that for the past 40 years the Government has actively lied about what has been going on there.

Although I don’t follow the lore now, I find it extremely interesting, and still hope that it is true. I would like to end with my own personal UFO story that is completely, 100% true.

One late night when driving back to Orem from Sandy, I was coming down the final stretch of I-15. By final stretch, I mean the long, straight part just before it turns and goes into Orem, just past American Fork and near Pleasant Grove. I looked out over Utah Lake and saw some lights in the air moving slightly. They were moving enough that I estimated that it was a small passenger plane like a Cessna, about to land at the Utah county airport just south. Aviation fascinates me so as I cruised down the empty freeway in the middle of the night, I kept an eye on the craft. Suddenly the lights changed direction, and at a speed much faster than before, went across the freeway, and at very low altitude into a field. Literally shaken, I looked over my shoulder trying to see it, as only seconds after it crossed my path I passed the point in which it traversed the freeway.

Saying something is a UFO does not imply that it is an alien spacecraft. Only that is is flying, and unidentifiable. That day, I saw a UFO. I don’t know what it was, or what it was doing. But I saw something, and have yet to be able to come up with a reasonable explanation.

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iPhone 3.0 Wrap-Up

Image courtesy Gizmodo

Image courtesy Gizmodo

Apple has announced their iPhone 3.0 software. Their last major update brought downloadable applications to the phone, and their aim with this next release is to bring more features that people want. So what are some things that they have added?

Well first off, Cut, Copy and Paste. Using a double tap you can select text to cut or copy, and double tap later to paste. Simple enough implementation. You can even shake to undo, neat.

Complete device search, or spotlight, and landscape typing are also included, as well as sending and receiving MMS messages. Spotlight is a utility that allows you to search your entire device, including music files and applications. A couple of the other things they are adding include, stereo bluetooth support, notes syncing, shake to shuffle, anti-phishing, auto-fill and YouTube accounts. You can now forward SMS messages as well. I know a lot of people will be happy with these updates alone.

Apple has opened up more options for charging for apps. Devs can now choose to sell subscriptions to their content, or even levels for games in a buffet type manner. The new options for different business models is great for developers, but not as great for users. Basically it enables the devs to squeeze a little bit more money out of app store patrons. I think this is a good thing, however, as it will continue to add more apps to the store, and possibly ones with increased functionality.

The iPhone will be enabled with P2P access that is automatic and simple. With peer to peer access easier, apps will be able to transfer information quickly and easily, broadening the functionality of the phone. We will see how open Apple is with this, but potentially it could be used to transfer photos etc.

SDK

Accessory makers will be able to develop applications to use specifically with their accessory, which means that your next Bose speaker dock may have the equalizer controls within an iPhone app, rather than not having them at all. They are even allowing more niche applications like a blood pressure monitor that could be plugged directly into the iPhone to record it and utilize it the information. Also people with diabetes will be able to monitor their glucose levels directly on the phone, with their insulin meter talking directly to their phone via bluetooth. I know one medical professional specifically who would like to use only one device, and is looking for the ideal. This could bump the iPhone up there in the running.

One thing that I would like to see is an attachment for gameboy-like buttons. This would really allow for more in depth gaming on the iPhone. It seems like this now would be possible, though it would probably require support from Apple to work correctly.

Background notifications will be enabled. According to Apple, applications running in the background cause an 80% decrease in battery life, opposed to 23% when the app is merely checking for notifications. One thing they fail to mention is that apps like Pandora will still not be able to run in the background, and have no need for push applications. This will be disappointing for some thought the battery life would be absolutely pitiful if you were listening to Pandora and playing a game. The battery is bad enough already, so I think that Apple was between a rock and a hard place but made the smart decision, though it may not be the popular one.

They are opening up new APIs to developers. What this means is that app makers will be able to use more of the iPhone’s features in their apps. Things like access to the music library, proximity sensor and full use of the GPS (Turn by turn directions anyone?). Another example would be that within a game, you could access your music library as a character, select a song and play the song. EA demonstrated this with their game, The Sims.

One thing notably absent from the official announcements is bluetooth tethering. In a question and answer session, Apple said that they were working with carriers to get this function up and running. They also said that they have no hardware announcements at this time. Bluetooth keyboards will not be supported, and P2P will be limited to devices running bonjour, Apple’s personal flavor.

The update will be available to all iPhone owners for free this summer, probably when the next iPhone comes out. For iPod Touch users, it will be  $9.99. I am surprised that they didn’t try to sell the update as part of the next iPhone. That means that whatever they come out with will have to have some serious hardware updates to sell (faster processor anyone?). I don’t believe that anyone has the right to complain anymore about Apple intentionally nuetering the phone, though due to human nature, we will probably start demanding satallite TV on the iPhone around July.

Pictures Courtesy Gizmodo and Engadget Liveblogs and their creative commons license.

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The Beta Meister!

So there is a trend that has been pointed out by others prior to me, and I wanted to throw in my two cents.

I installed the Windows 7 beta on my HP mini, and am lovin’ it (except the more whiteboy way: “loving it”). It is a beta version, but seems quite good so far. I have one driver issue that has yet to be resolved (Windows OS with a driver problem? Well I never… kidding!) But overall it has a beautiful UI and they truly did improve upon the taskbar that was one of the things that drove me into Steve Job’s turtlenecked arms in the first place. The preview function is awesome.

But this is all besides the point, which is not aimed directly at Microsoft, but beta culture in general. For those not familiar, the beta culture is where software developers release their product initially in beta (or as a preliminary release) so that basically regular ‘joe warcrafts’ do the testing and report the bugs. This is all well and good, except, an OS? Seriously? This is what I think happened:

Vista was a failure. Whether it truly deserved to be is another discussion (I don’t think it deserved what punishment it got). But I think that Ballmer’s boys are tricking us a little. After using this OS, it seems pretty stable. So I think that they are basically releasing Windows 7 now, though under the Beta guise so that if everyone complains they can fix it before the official release? Very, very smart, though tricky. I don’t blame them, I just think that is what they are doing.

Do you think this could be possible?

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I am a Hypocrite

I would like to take this time to say that I am going to eat my words. A couple of months ago, I wrote a post entitled “Why I hate PCs” or something like that. Well to say that I have grown tired of that debate is an understatement. They all have their good points. After using all of them, I have come to the conclusion that I enjoy using OSX as my primary OS. However, on my HP Mini 1000 I am running windows, and enjoy using it as well. There are things that I don’t like about it, but there are things I don’t like about OSX as well.

The reason that I wrote that post is that I was extremely frustrated with my little Eee PC which lacked the processor and storage to run Windows adequately. I read an article that pointed out that we have a good set of options. Windows is closed software on open hardware. Macs have closed software on closed hardware (virtualization doesn’t count), and Linux is open software on open hardware. We have all the options, and you can pick the one that works for you.

Although I don’t disagree with a lively discussion about the merits of each, and the neat things you can do with each, it upsets me when I see any blind rage towards any of them (usually on a tech blog). I realize that we are just talking about computer operating systems, but the universal issue of blind discrimination is applicable to much larger issues.

As I am writing this, I am on my little HP Mini 1000, and loving it. I am using Firefox with a bunch of add-ons (yes I ditched Chrome, thereby completing my Firefox experiment) and enjoying it. However, I have yet to find a music management program that I like better than iTunes, and wish that I had iCal on here, but it is definately great.

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