Archive for the ‘tech’ Category

Swhipy screen shot  (By J. Barrineau)

Swhipy screen shot
(By J. Barrineau)

After several frustrating months of not being able to manage my iPhone’s playlists on the go, I have found a $2 solution that allows me to create playlists from playlists: Swhipy by JYPApps. It’s an understated app that’s worth every damn cent and then some, and it’s as close to being what I would consider a New Year miracle.

My joyful purchase was all part of an effort to manage my large music library — MUSIC THAT I HAVE PAID FOR — following my switch to an iPhone 5S (64GB) with iOS 7. When I discovered the loss of functionality in the iOS 7 Music app, I turned to the Apple discussion forums, where other dismayed music enthusiasts were also registering their puzzlement and complaints. Based on several users’ recommendations, I also downloaded Ecoute ($2.99) and Lagu (free). These are interesting alternatives to the abomination that is the Music app, but they didn’t do what I needed them to do, which is build playlists from other playlists on the go. (Side note: Ecoute is the app for you if you’re suffering through the Music app’s disastrous sorting issues. Meanwhile, Lagu is interesting because of its “queue” feature, but there’s something missing. If you try to save a playlist, you’re prompted to type a title for the playlist, but the keyboard doesn’t appear. Oh well, it’s free.)

It’s no secret that Apple shit the bed with the release of iOS 7 — I will NOT call it an “upgrade” — but the changes to the Music app were particularly painful for music lovers. (Editor’s note: I have understated this on purpose because it’s not as though we’ve been fed alive to starving dogs or anything.) I realize this is a “first world problem” of the first degree. It’s also a pocketbook issue: Consumers who have paid for their music should have the right to manage their music on their terms.  And this isn’t a learning curve, as some bloggers would suggest. No, I’m talking about a loss of functionality and flaccid user experience that underscore Apple’s blatant disregard for its loyal customers who built the megadynasty that is iTunes. I mean, really: Would we have bought so much music if they hadn’t made it so easy to enjoy?

Why Apple would remove so much functionality from its native app is baffling. And yeah, I’ve read about the efforts for a “more simplistic” design — and that’s just bullshit. It’s one thing to simplify an icon; it’s another to simplify an application to the point of frustrating the user with radical limitations. There’s nothing simple about plumbing the depths of a gazillion-song library to find JUST ONE SONG. And, finally, if this sick-making overhaul is part of some coked-up marketing scheme to drive me to iTunes Radio, then that’s just evil.

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Copyright 2013. Jacqui Barrineau.

You would think in 2013 that we as an evolved society wouldn’t have to have discussions about how to write an effective workplace email.

And you’d be wrong.

We get so many emails, IMs and other messages every day that we’re dying from technostress. “Technostress” is not a new term – it’s an old ailment. The theory is the more technology we humans are introduced to, the more we freak out. Perhaps not screaming-and-kicking freaking out, but as message after message pummels us, the stress builds and takes a toll on us mentally and physically. Crying when you get five IMs at EXACTLY the same time is a good example of this First-World problem.

Aw, c’mon, is it really that bad?

Well, think about how many messages we have to respond to in a day – and then think about how much information we have to process. In their 2009 study, UC-San Diego researchers Roger Bohn and James Short estimated in that 2008 that the average person consumes 100,500 words a day. 100,500 words. And that was in 2008. With the explosion of social media and mobile devices over the past five years, we have to wonder how many are we consuming in 2013?

The bad news is there seems to be no end in sight. Until society begins to place more value on calm, effective listening – and no, we have ZERO idea when that unicorn of a utopia will emerge – we’ll continue to suffer as we try to interpret and digest ineffective IMs and emails that fail to inform and only distract.

Ohmigod! I just realized I’m a terrible communicator! How can I change?

While the first step is admitting the problem — “My emails really suck!” — here are five tips to help you change your evil email ways:

  1.  Use the subject field! Indicate why this email is important. There is nothing helpful about no subject line or a subject line that says “Hi!” or “Tuesday.” Tell the reader what this is about, why they should care. Indicate the email’s purpose.
  2. Don’t write in huge chunks of texts. Your reader won’t have time to read it all. Think in bullets. Who, what, when, where, how. There’s a lot of power in brevity. We’re a nation of overstressed people who are skimmers – not careful readers. (If we were still careful readers, there wouldn’t be Twitter.)
  3. Find an effective email font. How about one that was created in the past 10-15 years? Sans serifs are good, but for the love of all that’s 21st century, stay away from Arial that’s larger than 11 points. The white space and lines blur together, making your huge chunks of type even more difficult to read.
  4. Don’t use email as a way to avoid someone. They’ll just find you anyway, and when they do, whatever conflict that’s between you two will only be worse.
  5. Think before you hit “forward” or “cc.”

 
Do you really need to tell us this?

Yes.

An exchange that may seem boring and innocuous between two participants may be interpreted differently by a third. Furthermore, the person you’re communicating with may not want you to share their communication!


To: Manager McButterPants
From: Sad Gal Sally

Subject: Wednesday – doc appt

Hi McButterPants,

I just wanted to let you know that I have a doctor’s appointment on Wednesday for that small insect that has burrowed itself into my left leg and threatens to give me flesh-eating disease. I should be in before noon.

Thanks,

Sad Gal Sally

* * *

 

To: Sad Gal Sally
From: Manager McButterPants
cc: Loser in Cube 3772
Subject: Wednesday – doc appt

Hi Sad Gal,

That sounds fine. Good luck with that insect removal from your leg! Hope you don’t get flesh-eating disease!

Loser in Cube 3772: Sad Gal won’t be in until noon Wednesday. You can follow up on your sales meeting then. FYI.

Thanks,

McButterPants

These five tips may seem silly, but there is serious advice here: If we don’t become more mindful of our messages and how we craft them, we’re just screaming into the hurricane of information — and we will never be heard.

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About six months ago, I tripped on a running shoe and stepped on the case of my MacBook Pro, cracking the glass. The MacBook was less than a year old at the time, and a repair through Apple was going to cost me more than I wanted to spend.

 

I’m going to fix it myself!

 

Years ago, I was a systems analyst, which was a fancy name for a girl geek who did everything from software training to server upkeep. I also maintained more than 50 laptops for a national news organization, so I had seen my share of abused laptops; they usually weren’t mine, though. If I had cracked my display in 2003, I would have fixed it myself. So why not now?

I did some googling, found a place that sells MacBook glass, bought the panel, a tool kit and a special suction cup. Then I let all that shit sit in the Amazon boxes for three months — until the other day when I got up the nerve to do the repair.

I watched a couple of YouTube videos that explained the complications of replacing the displays on the Unibody models, and I finally settled on one by Small Dog Electronics, an Apple reseller and Mac repair shop in Waitsfield, Vt. The tech in the video was clear, concise and careful. She was precise in her message, explaining this was not a beginner’s repair and urging caution and patience. She was right; it was not. Although I succeeded in replacing my glass panel, I did not need to replace the LCD — and if I had, I’m not sure whether I would have attempted it. If you do, and if you’re thinking of replacing it yourself, heed the advice of Small Dog Electronics and consider having a pro do it. Watch the video, which has a second part, and see for yourself.
 

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In the wake of a Web blackout protesting  the antipiracy bills SOPA and PIPAlawmakers were calling for more discussion on the bills that have pitted Silicon Valley against the entertainment industry, which supports the bills that it says will protect against pirating movies and music. today. Wikipedia, Google and WordPress.com were just a few of the websites who tweaked their designs in protest.

Further reading:

 

Tatango, a Seattle-based SMS marketing company, has put together a nifty timeline that looks at key moments in the history of text messaging. Of particular note: texting’s role in American Idol season 2 in 2003 and lewd texts that Brett Favre admitted sending to reporter Jenn Sterger.

 

History of Text Messaging Timeline
Source: Tatango SMS Marketing

iPod Classic by Aaron Logan

In 2011, it’s hard sometimes to remember there was life before Facebook or iPhones. It’s hard to remember that one had to sit down at a computer and log into an email account rather than having the messages delivered to a smartphone in a pocket. It’s hard to remember the once-coveted music compact discs and their portable players, and it’s nearly impossible to remember music was once played by a moving stylus on a plastic disk with grooves. And although new names make headlines every day, a look at the past decade’s nearly frenzied embrace of technology shows the influence, the reach of Steve Jobs.

Although I had used Apples and Macs at school and work for years, Apple gave me my first real taste of truly personal tech in 2001. Shortly after 9/11, the news service where I worked received two supercool-looking gadgets from Apple they wanted us to test drive and write about. It was called an iPod, and its 5GB hard drive held “1,000 songs in your pocket.” (A 1,000 songs?!! Really?!!) I got to take one home and play with it — and I played with it for hours, which turned into days.  After my test drive, I was able to pre-order one. I was one of the first people in America to own an iPod. It’s probably my greatest achievement.
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UPDATE 10-06-2011: I say goodbye — and thanks

 

Steve Jobs: R.I.P.

UPDATE 7:59 p.m.: The Wall Street Journal story

 

UPDATE 8:13 p.m.: WSJ interactive timeline of Steve Jobs’ life

 

UPDATE: #iSad trending on Twitter

 

UPDATE: Twitter mourns a genius