Categories: technology

How to Turn off Buzz

If you are worried about privacy and Google Buzz (you should be), here’s how you can turn it off.

1. Log into Gmail
2. Scroll down to bottom of the page
3. Click: “Turn off Buzz”

UPDATE: See here (Thanks Karl!):

You can follow the Google Blog for more information.

Categories: technology

Some Software That Makes Life Better

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.

Categories: technology

Our RFID World

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?

Immaterials: the ghost in the field from timo on Vimeo.

[via Warren Ellis].

SXSW Panel: When Every Book Is Connected

My colleague, co-founder, and the chief architect and getter-doner at Book Oven, Stephanie Troeth has proposed a moderated panel at SXSW this year called:

Beyond Publishing: When Every Book is Connected to Everyone

We have an all-star line-up who have agreed to join us (if SXSW agrees to give us some space to talk):

The description of the panel is as follows:

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.

Categories: technology, web

Babbling about Twitter & Microblogging

danah boyd points to a study of Twitter usage by PearAnalytics, that concludes:

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.

Categories: technology

Close Door Buttons

In most elevators, at least in any built or installed since the early nineties, the door-close button doesn’t work. It is there mainly to make you think it works.

And (unrelated, but from the same article):

The [elevator] escape hatch is always locked. By law, it’s bolted shut, from the outside. It’s there so that emergency personnel can get in, not so passengers can get out.

From a fascinating & terrifying story about elevators, and getting stuck in them, by Nick Paumgarten in the New Yorker.

Once you’re done with the story, check the video.

Media Hack 12: Mobile & the Changes that Twitter Wrought

This week on Media Hacks we talk about the new iPhone, the next level of mobile, and … yep … Twitter, Iran, and the characteristics of the reach of microblogging.

> Media Hacks 12

Categories: mobile, technology, web

Layar: Superimposing the Future on the Present

O, present, we hardly knew ye.

More here: layar via here: Martin Bryant.

Those Darned Kids

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…]

[via boing]

Categories: books, technology, web

Apple Doesn’t Want You Reading Kama Sutra

Ug. Apple iPhone App store rejects Eucalyptus ereader app … because you can read erotic texts from the public domain. As we say in Quebec, QQF? I presume this will get sorted out, but still …

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.

(For the record, I downloaded Fanny Hill on Stanza on my iPhone.)