Here are four pieces of software that have really changed my quality of life for the better. I thought I would share them with you.
1password ($39.95). I don’t know what unit stress is measured in, but every time I see a web login page the little needle on the gauge attached to my ear starts bouncing. Considering I see about 10,000 login pages everyday, that adds up. 1password is an encrypted, desktop password manager, that integrates seamlessly with my browsers (FF & Safari at least). Every time I register for a new site, I tell 1password to remember the password. So now instead of having a list of 1,000 login details in some “secret” excel file, everything is stored and encrypted in 1password. All I need to do is remember one password, and just login once per usage session. This changed my life completely. It’s expensive, OK, but so worth it.
Skitch (Free) Almost every day, it seems, I want to take a screenshot of something, and mark it up a little, to explain how to do something, to comment on a site/design, to quickly (re)post an image to the web. Skitch is a simple little tool that does this and more. It’s a: screengrabber, image marker-upper, and image post-to-webber (and image host) all in one. It is the ugliest program that I use, but man do I love it.
Dropbox (free –> $19.99) Ever pour water on your computer and have to get a new one? Yeah, me too. Luckily, all my important files are stored on dropbox, which is: a) a little app on your machine that b) syncs selected folders with your online dropbox account. You can sync that account with multiple computers too. It is so easy & so seamless, I forgot that big brother can read everything in the cloud. Free for up to 2G, and $9.99/month for up to 50G. $19.99 for 100G. There’s even an iphone app, so you’ve always got your files at your fingertips. I just recently upgraded to the 50G dropbox.
Grand Perspective (free): What is taking up all the space on my damned hard drive? GrandPerspective will tell you, by showing you a “picture” of what’s on your drive, with the memory hogs represented by big squares. The colours are god-awful, but if you want to clean stuff out, it’s a great way to find out what.
For a while I was leery of RFID technology, with worries about everyone & everything being trackable at all times. I guess I still worry about it in some sense, but it doesn’t matter. RFID is already everywhere, and will become even everywherer. The overwhelming pressure of the usefulness of RFID (and its successors) means that my worries or anyone else’s won’t make a shred of difference. Want to know what all that RFID looks like?
What happens when every book is online, linkable, and connected to every writer and every reader? What happens when the book is liberated from being words on paper, unbound from a format that’s two thousand years old? What happens to how we read and how we write?
For more info, or to comment on or vote for the panel (please do!), see here.
40.55% of the tweets they coded are pointless babble; 37.55% are conversational; 8.7% have “pass along value”; 5.85% are self-promotional; 3.75% are spam; and ::gasp:: only 3.6% are news.”
As danah boyd suggests in her first sentence, studies like this are irritating. Every time someone complains about Twitter, or microblogging, blogging, or the web or anything else being overrun with “useless” information, I always have the same reaction: you could say the same thing about talking, but no one ever questions whether talking is useful or not.
These are means of communication, used by humans to communicate, each with their own idiosyncrasies, but all driven by the same impulses that have always driven humans to communicate: the urge to connect, to find, to babble, to sell, to buy, to share, to romance, to complain, etc etc etc…
Twitter, or microblogging in general, will bring profound changes to some of its users (it has for me) in how they find/consume/interact with information and other people. As did the printing press, ballpoint pen, telegraph, telephone, radio, television, email, blogs, youtube, mobile phone .. etc.
The interesting question is how these things change our informational & social interactions; but the question of whether or not these “new” tools are “good” or “valuable” are moot: if people use them, they use them because they find them good & valuable for whatever reason.
Humans have been pretty consistent in flaws and virtues over the past few thousand years; amazingly we still seem to be surprised when new tools of communication come along and display, in a new way, those same old flaws and virtues.
Kids boycott classroom with CCTV cameras. People call them brats. Kids respond with an op-ed that every adult should read.
Many users suggested that cameras were a good idea because they could be used to keep an eye on bullying and student behaviour, we were accused of been “narcissistic megalomaniacs” angry at “being nabbed for our churlish troublemaking”. This stereotypical and frankly ignorant view ignores the fact that Davenant Foundation School produces some of the best exam results in Essex. Violent behaviour among pupils is simply not an issue, making the justification for putting cameras in our classrooms more surprising…
Eroding standards in schools and deteriorating discipline are down to a broken society and the failure of the education system. The truth is that we are whatever the generation before us has created. If you criticise us, we are your failures; and if you applaud us we are your successes, and we reflect the imperfections of society and of human life. [more…]
If you’re wondering why Eucalyptus is not yet available, it’s currently in the state of being ‘rejected’ for distribution on the iPhone App Store. This is due to the fact that it’s possible, after explicitly searching for them, to find, download from the Internet, and then read texts that Apple deems ‘objectionable’. The example they have given me is a Victorian text-only translation of the Kama Sutra of Vatsyayana. For the full background, a log of my communications with Apple is below. [more…]
The round and round email thread with the app store is a treat to read.