alexxkay: (Bar Harbor)
19th century France had video transmission and display technology – but no actual recording tech, just live. Moderately expensive. Mostly used by (mad) science hobbyists to set up the equivalent of WebCams in various places in the city. One of these hobbyists, matter than usual, is linked to vampire urban folklore.
alexxkay: (Bar Harbor)
I just got a robo-call ad from Marriott Hotels. I don't get many such calls, so this was unusual to start with. But then it occurred to me -- I was physically inside a Marriott for a few hours on Monday. Did some system note my presence (or at least the presence of my phone number), and therefore figure I was a reasonable marketing target?
alexxkay: (Bar Harbor)
A while back, Tom installed a new lock on the front door. It has fancy new technology: if you have a new enough phone in your pocket (and the apt loaded) you can toggle the lock just by touching it. No more need to carry a key around!

Of course, new technology brings with it new and unforeseen failure modes. The lock plate that Tom installed was a little bit loose. Sometimes it would jiggle in such a way that the powered lock mechanism was unable to actually lock the door. But folks had gotten into the habit of just touching the the lock mechanism and walking away, not realizing that the door wasn't always actually locked!
alexxkay: (Default)
iPhone 3GS Review
I have now had my new phone long enough to offer some reasonably informed opinions about it. I should note up front that I am not a typical user; I use a phone in fairly non-standard ways, and I use it a LOT. So the criteria by which I evaluate it may be very different from yours. (I used to prefer a very basic phone, and have the complexity live in a PDA. Sadly, PDAs, per se, don't seem to get made anymore.)

1) Phone. Poor.
Usability features are good. A third-party app let me easily make a custom ring tone. But AT&T doesn't have the reliability of coverage that I was getting with Verizon. Of course, folks who hang out in different places, may get different results. But the A-number-1 function of a phone, for me, is so that [livejournal.com profile] kestrell can reach me in an emergency. So this is a pretty serious mark-down.

2) Ebook Editor. Meh.
I really like reading ebooks on my phone. But many of the books I read are scanned, and need corrections. I also like to write on my phone (and am writing this review on it!). So I don't just need a reader, but a robust editor as well. This actually divides up into many subcategories.
2a) Storage. Excellent.
This is the main reason I went with the iPhone, 16 GB of onboard storage. My old phone had an SD card, but if you use it as much as I did, those cards wear out and start corrupting files after about six months, which is clearly unacceptable. I currently keep about 300 MB of documents on my phone, and I expect that number to keep going up. The iPhone is the only one on the market that has enough built-in storage.
2b) Battery Life. Meh.
While the iPhone's battery is plenty good enough for the average user, I'm not that. When being used near-constantly, as, say, at a convention, the battery won't last out the day. I get paranoid when phone batteries run low, as reliability ( in all senses) is important to me. I solved this problem with third party hardware. There are several different iPhone battery extenders on the market, which shows that I am not alone in considering it a problem. I got the most powerful one, a Fastmac ($99), which in hindsight may have been overkill. On the other hand, it can be used to charge other USB devices, and has a potent flashlight built in, so those are fun.
2c) Text Entry/Edit. Average.
Lack of a tactile keyboard is annoying. The software one does work pretty well. Many typos get mitigated by an autocorrection system, which is usually correct (though it does have a baffling desire to replace "or" with "o'r"). Moving the selection point is a bit harder with a finger than with a stylus. The methods for selecting arbitrary blocks of text still sort eludes me in practice, though the theory is simple enough.
2d) Software. Meh.
On my old phone, I used Documents To Go, and I saw that there was a version available for iPhone, so I naturally went there first. The iPhone version is rather different from the Palm version, some improvements, some missing basics. The desktop synching software is easier to use in the iPhone version, which can remember folder and subfolder information from your PC. It does have a limitation (common to many iPhone apps, as it apparently stems from some bizarre Apple 'security' policy) that it cannot synch documents over the synch cable, but has to synch them over wireless. This was a bit of a problem for me, as I had previously had no use for wireless, but a relatively cheap dongle was able to fix that for me. One very serious flaw is the lack of ability to set bookmarks, which makes reading/editing lengthy documents quite awkward. I have hopes that a future upgrade will include this functionality, but for the moment it's just a hope. DTG is still the most advanced editor out there for the iPhone; none of the others have bookmars either (though several plain reader programs do).

3) Calendar/Alarm. Epic Fail.
The builtin calendar program is pretty bare bones. It will let you specify simple repeats for recurring items, but not such complex ones as "second Thursday of the month" or "every 28 days". It allows you to attach a maximum of 2 alarms to an item, and only one by default. Once those alarms have gone off, it will never bug you again, nor give you any indication that you may have missed something. I got very used to the way my Palm would bug me every five minutes until I explicitly acknowledged the appoinment; indeed, this functionality is vital when using a device as an 'alarm clock with snooze'. I tried purchasing a third party replacement app, but their alarm functions are *worse*! Apparently another of Apple's 'security' notions means that these apps have no background or interrupt ability. As near as I can tell, a third party calendar is only allowed by the OS to set off an alarm when the phone is turned on, and the calendar app itself is open. Totally useless. This feature is *such* an epic fail that I am still carrying around my non-phone-connected Palm for the sole purpose of filling this function.

Final Verdict: Meh.
I am definitely feeling some buyer's remorse. On the flip side, my perfect device doesn't seem to exist, so compromise is necessary. I will definitely be keeping an eye open for a better compromise in a year o'r so...

New iPhone

Jul. 10th, 2009 04:59 am
alexxkay: (Default)
I have a new shiny toy. I can't seem to sleep right now, so I might as well try posting with it. Internet access to Melville Keep is still being spotty at best, but I appear to be able to get online with this new toy via 3G. It does drain battery quite fast, though. Still getting used to the typing interface, but it's not bad, especially with smart autocorrecting (which at least is often right).

Technology

Dec. 19th, 2008 09:08 pm
alexxkay: (Default)
I'm a big fan of cutting-edge 21st technology. But I like lots of older technologies as well. Days like today, many of them come to mind. I'm a big fan of "houses". "Interior Heating", also a big win. "Glass Windows", so I can see the weather outside, while remaining inside myself, are icing on the cake :-)

Technology

Dec. 19th, 2008 09:08 pm
alexxkay: (Default)
I'm a big fan of cutting-edge 21st technology. But I like lots of older technologies as well. Days like today, many of them come to mind. I'm a big fan of "houses". "Interior Heating", also a big win. "Glass Windows", so I can see the weather outside, while remaining inside myself, are icing on the cake :-)
alexxkay: (Default)
Here's a great e-mail written by Bill Gates five years ago. I observe that much of what he complained about has yet to be fixed.

...using the download page to download something was not something they anticipated.

Link from [livejournal.com profile] thnidu.
alexxkay: (Default)
Here's a great e-mail written by Bill Gates five years ago. I observe that much of what he complained about has yet to be fixed.

...using the download page to download something was not something they anticipated.

Link from [livejournal.com profile] thnidu.
alexxkay: (Default)
So, after spending so much time over the last week trying to get my various bits of technology to Just Work, I decided to spent some time last night on a tech-intensive yet fundamentally frivolous task. The result? I now have a complete, viewable copy of A Bloody Deed on my cell phone! Now I can spread the love of this piece *anywhere*, at a mere moment's notice :-)
alexxkay: (Default)
So, after spending so much time over the last week trying to get my various bits of technology to Just Work, I decided to spent some time last night on a tech-intensive yet fundamentally frivolous task. The result? I now have a complete, viewable copy of A Bloody Deed on my cell phone! Now I can spread the love of this piece *anywhere*, at a mere moment's notice :-)

GO BACK!

Jan. 26th, 2008 11:21 pm
alexxkay: (Default)
Currently in hour 3 of attempting to eradicate GoBack from my computer, so that it will deign to boot again. Taking a break to post from frustration. This program was allegedly supposed to *prevent* exactly the sort of problems it is now causing. So far the process has been full of catch-22, and not letting me uninstall until I've already uninstalled and so forth. Gahhh!

This on top of spending 3 hours this morning wrestling the household wireless setup into submission. At least that effort proved successful. This is not how I planned to spend my Saturday...

Edit: fixed, finally, just short of 1 A.M. I recommend to folks out there that if they have this "utility" installed, that they make some time to remove it before it explodes. There are some fairly straightforward fixes, but neither worked for me. After a lot of googling, I found the following, which eventually solved things:
http://www.itreviews.co.uk/discuss/1154/7
Message #63
From: Josh
posted: 24.09.2006 19:28

Well, I think we all agree, symatec is absolute sh*t any way you look at it. Sh*t progs and Sh*t support. I repair pc's for a living and I always uninstall norton antivirus and install avast. Finds malware everytime that norton didn't and they have a free version. I now wish extreme bitch slaps to the people that designed goback. LoL ;)
Anyway, wanted to share my fix for goback nightmares. Sometimes the boot cd provided by symantec works to take goback out of mbr, BUT if goback.bin is corrupted that won't work. Same with the gb_prog.exe /u fix or the ctrl. alt. g fix. Then when your really about to freak because you think of all the data your gonna loose and all the time to reinstall windows and all the apps. and get everything configured just the way you like it. AAAAAGGGGGHHHHHH!!!!!!!!
Try to slave the drive into another pc but you can't access the drive because windows does not recognize the partition. Install goback on the pc hoping it will then recognice the drive, but oh, you "fixed the mbr and goback is not gonna have that. So your left with a drive that is completely inaccessable by any recovery prog.
WELL HERE IS THE FINAL FIX!!!! Google ptedit.exe and download. (free) create bootable floppy and copy ptedit onto disk. Boot to floppy and run ptedit. CHANGE DISK IDENTIFIER TO 07 . Goback changes disk identifier to 44 (raw). 07 (ntfs) will allow the disk to become accessable when slaved if you can't boot it. My pc booted right up after hours of trying everything else.
Hope this helps someone.
Remember boys and girls, symantec is over priced crap.
Rollback rx seems to be a great replacement for goback.

GO BACK!

Jan. 26th, 2008 11:21 pm
alexxkay: (Default)
Currently in hour 3 of attempting to eradicate GoBack from my computer, so that it will deign to boot again. Taking a break to post from frustration. This program was allegedly supposed to *prevent* exactly the sort of problems it is now causing. So far the process has been full of catch-22, and not letting me uninstall until I've already uninstalled and so forth. Gahhh!

This on top of spending 3 hours this morning wrestling the household wireless setup into submission. At least that effort proved successful. This is not how I planned to spend my Saturday...

Edit: fixed, finally, just short of 1 A.M. I recommend to folks out there that if they have this "utility" installed, that they make some time to remove it before it explodes. There are some fairly straightforward fixes, but neither worked for me. After a lot of googling, I found the following, which eventually solved things:
http://www.itreviews.co.uk/discuss/1154/7
Message #63
From: Josh
posted: 24.09.2006 19:28

Well, I think we all agree, symatec is absolute sh*t any way you look at it. Sh*t progs and Sh*t support. I repair pc's for a living and I always uninstall norton antivirus and install avast. Finds malware everytime that norton didn't and they have a free version. I now wish extreme bitch slaps to the people that designed goback. LoL ;)
Anyway, wanted to share my fix for goback nightmares. Sometimes the boot cd provided by symantec works to take goback out of mbr, BUT if goback.bin is corrupted that won't work. Same with the gb_prog.exe /u fix or the ctrl. alt. g fix. Then when your really about to freak because you think of all the data your gonna loose and all the time to reinstall windows and all the apps. and get everything configured just the way you like it. AAAAAGGGGGHHHHHH!!!!!!!!
Try to slave the drive into another pc but you can't access the drive because windows does not recognize the partition. Install goback on the pc hoping it will then recognice the drive, but oh, you "fixed the mbr and goback is not gonna have that. So your left with a drive that is completely inaccessable by any recovery prog.
WELL HERE IS THE FINAL FIX!!!! Google ptedit.exe and download. (free) create bootable floppy and copy ptedit onto disk. Boot to floppy and run ptedit. CHANGE DISK IDENTIFIER TO 07 . Goback changes disk identifier to 44 (raw). 07 (ntfs) will allow the disk to become accessable when slaved if you can't boot it. My pc booted right up after hours of trying everything else.
Hope this helps someone.
Remember boys and girls, symantec is over priced crap.
Rollback rx seems to be a great replacement for goback.
alexxkay: (Default)
Recently, I needed to buy a new ticket at the Quincy Center T stop. There are 5 automated machines there. One of these was being serviced by a technician, and was unusable.

I went to the second machine. After going through the multi-step process of telling it what kind of ticket I wanted, it asked me to insert my credit card. I did so, but the machine did not respond in any way. I tried again several times, fast, slow, leaving it in for a few seconds before pulling it out – every variation I could think of. No response.

I went to the third machine. Exactly the same thing happened. My credit card was not recognized at all.

I went to the fourth machine. This time, at least it responded. It did so, however, by putting up an error message saying something about this being an invalid type of card.

I went to the fifth – and last – machine. This one, finally, accepted my credit card as valid. Needless to say, I had missed the train I should have caught due to all this delay.

This is a brand-new credit card, less than a month old, in perfectly good condition. It worked in one machine out of the four I was able to try. The other station I use most often is Shawmut – there are only two machines there. A 1 in 5 success rate leaves me extremely nervous about my ability to purchase tickets there. Please do something to improve the reliability of this system!

Sincerely,
Alexander Kay
alexxkay: (Default)
Recently, I needed to buy a new ticket at the Quincy Center T stop. There are 5 automated machines there. One of these was being serviced by a technician, and was unusable.

I went to the second machine. After going through the multi-step process of telling it what kind of ticket I wanted, it asked me to insert my credit card. I did so, but the machine did not respond in any way. I tried again several times, fast, slow, leaving it in for a few seconds before pulling it out – every variation I could think of. No response.

I went to the third machine. Exactly the same thing happened. My credit card was not recognized at all.

I went to the fourth machine. This time, at least it responded. It did so, however, by putting up an error message saying something about this being an invalid type of card.

I went to the fifth – and last – machine. This one, finally, accepted my credit card as valid. Needless to say, I had missed the train I should have caught due to all this delay.

This is a brand-new credit card, less than a month old, in perfectly good condition. It worked in one machine out of the four I was able to try. The other station I use most often is Shawmut – there are only two machines there. A 1 in 5 success rate leaves me extremely nervous about my ability to purchase tickets there. Please do something to improve the reliability of this system!

Sincerely,
Alexander Kay
alexxkay: (Default)
I was talking with [livejournal.com profile] kestrell the other day about how wrist watches have largely become obsolete. Practically everyone has a cell phone and/or PDA which they can tell time with. The only real use for wrist watches now is as fashion. Or, I suppose, because you're so used to the idea of wearing one that you do it out of habit.

I was walking past a jewelry store recently, and glanced in the window. They were advertising a new line of Seiko watches. The brand name? "Citizen fossil".
alexxkay: (Default)
I was talking with [livejournal.com profile] kestrell the other day about how wrist watches have largely become obsolete. Practically everyone has a cell phone and/or PDA which they can tell time with. The only real use for wrist watches now is as fashion. Or, I suppose, because you're so used to the idea of wearing one that you do it out of habit.

I was walking past a jewelry store recently, and glanced in the window. They were advertising a new line of Seiko watches. The brand name? "Citizen fossil".

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Alexx Kay

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