noideadog: (shutup)
What a cranky and difficult day. Nothing was good today and everything went wrong and there was no obvious reason for any of it. Joel says "It's because you didn't light box yesterday" and I say "No, it's because every goddamn thing is stupid." I'm medicating with Bach, a purring cat and a lot of pillows. (Joel: "the Pillow Of The Month Club called; they wondered if you meant to take out that third subscription.". Oh, Joel's on a roll today.)

Today was a day of technological failure, hanging browsers, crashing IM clients, wedged phones, laggy infrastructure, upgrades that didn't and -- really, this seemed a bit unnecessary -- an adjustable desk that chose today to stop adjusting. Seriously, desk? You too? That said, the fax I needed to send this evening went out on the first attempt, so maybe this was some sort of technological karma: you need to build up a lot of broken crap to balance out a fax machine that does what you want it to do.

But even the reason for the fax was annoying! Our baby-delivering hospital, the sleek, modern NYU Langone, got flooded in the storm, and we've been bumped to the less salubrious NY Downtown. Right, lots of people had actually bad storm outcomes and we're going to not whine about it (apart from right now, when I'm absolutely going to whine about it, but then it'll be out of my system I promise), but it does seem to be a step down in terms of facilities and attitude. It'll be more 'hospitally', I think. Well, we'll know more when we take a tour, but for now the most visible impact is that we change from sending off crisp downloadable pdfs to badly photocopied faxes. I filled out the labour and delivery admission form today and was bemused to note that after the blurry lines for "Name", "Address", "Date of birth", "Race" and "Gender" (which, in itself, is an interesting question to see on a maternity form), the next question was "Mother". What? Whose? I added a cover sheet to the fax, like it was 1994 or something, and included my email address for any followup questions.
noideadog: (california)
My laptop is randomly seizing up and crashing, my phone has stopped doing voice and data since some time last night, and my brain is fully engaged in negotiating with a terrorist headache that came from nowhere and won't back off. In summary, all of my communications hardware is running in degraded mode. Since this is my only phone, my only computer and my only brain for the rest of the week, and since I was hoping to spend this week learning everything my development team in Mountain View knows, it's not perfect timing. I'm prescribing myself tea, ibuprofen, grumpiness and ten hours sleep.
noideadog: (brain)
So, around a week ago, Diana says: "What would you do without your phone?". We're sitting in Stout Bar, a fine establishment on 33rd Street and the only place in midtown that I can ever remember serves a good pint. Their beer menu is extensive but poorly described, and this is the problem: I am a relatively small human who loves beer, particularly stout, and this is one of the finest selections of stout I know of. Naturally, I am eager to try several beers. Equally naturally I would like to walk out of there with detailed, happy memories. In the land of the stunt-beer, beer menus without alcohol percentages are my nemesis.

So out comes the smartphone. The application, Beer Cloud, is not complete and it's not perfect but it does a pretty good job of listing at least the more popular breweries. And I'm sitting there checking whether the Belhaven (Scottish, 7%) is going to put a dent in my recollections and Diana says, quite rhetorically, "What would you do without your phone?". And I think about it for days.

Here's what I regularly use my phone for

  • 1:1 communication. Texts, email, voice calls.
  • Reading (ebooks on Aldiko and Kindle, pdfs on Adobe Reader).
  • Clock and alarm clock. Current temperature. Predicted weather.
  • Recording data like people's names, books I should read, words I like (AK Notepad)
  • Putting things on the internet. (Seesmic, LJ Beetle, Buzz, Camera)
  • Finding stuff out. (Browser)
  • Taking notes (including this one, which was written on the subway) (AK Notepad)
  • Checking the strength of beers so that I don't get stealth-drunk (Beer Cloud)
  • Focussing at work (Pomodoro timer, White Noise)
  • Maps, directions, subway maps (NYCMate); checking if friends are nearby (Latitude)
  • Calendar; todo list (Remember The Milk)
  • Shopping (scan barcode or take a picture and Amazon sends the thing 2 days later)
  • Running: (c25k app, MyTracks)
  • Movie reviews, restaurant reviews (Movies, Yelp/Google maps)
  • Lighting up dark rooms, looking for the cat in the neighbour's yard (Spotlight, more often than you'd think)
  • A ton of internal work things.

Those are the things I do very regularly. My phone has some other features I use occasionally, like a calculator and a stopwatch, an english/irish dictionary, a radio, etc, but those are my main uses.

So, what I would do without my phone would be "be inconvenienced". There would be a bunch of information I would no longer have in my pocket. Some data would get lost. Some functions would take longer, or not work as well. I would miss having a smartphone a lot, but I wouldn't be too incapacitated. Irritated, absolutely, but I'd be able to live a relatively normal life. I wonder how much longer that will be the case. As more and more data and functionality goes into the device, and as bandwidth massively increases. it's going to be much more painful to withdraw from it.

(Like every nerd on the planet, I've read Accelerando recently. The best and most exciting thing about Accelerando is how very close its technology seems. I, for one, can't wait.)
noideadog: (hair)

omgwtfrofl.JPG
Originally uploaded by worse than hitler.
Do you know these chat abbreviations? After rocking the "How does routing work?" and "Whack-a-Spam" portions of the San Jose tech museum, Sara, Karl and I were pretty sure that we were Internet Gods. And then we were faced with this. There are at least five there I had to look up. Dam' kids think they're so clever with their HHOKs and LYMYs.

The inventions section had a "name the inventor" game which included a picture of Vint Cerf as a wholesome looking teenager. I forgot to take a photo.

I recommend the tech museum if you're in the San Jose area. It's entertaining and educational and has an IMAX, which is everything you can ask from a good museum I guess. (Well, t-shirts in small or medium would have been nice too.)

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February 2014

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