Social Software

A note about Richard’s Notes

Prologue

I’ve been following a web site devoted to the business side of Apple, Inc. for many years. The site was part of a larger news site but was easy to track and participate in without dealing with the larger news site. It also used DISQUS commenting and had been doing so for many years.

Without warning, last night, the site changed domains and changed comment engines (now using livefyre) and so, on Apple’s big announcement day there is chaos at that site, a site devoted to all things Apple. I feel bad for the journalist who runs the site as no doubt these changes happened behind the scenes and it seems, without his knowledge (his readers had no warning).

The site has lost a huge following, not because the site’s author said the wrong thing, but because followers couldn’t easily log on to comment and couldn’t easily find the site as there was no warning that this was going to take place.

By the way, the Apple WWDC 14 keynote was spectacular today, I urge you all to watch it. http://www.apple.com/apple-events/june-2014/

This web site

For the past few years I’ve been experimenting with another version of this web site running on the hosted WordPress platform. It has the same theme and the same content going back two years (and some earlier content as well as I’ve had time to move it). Over the two years it’s even picked up a decent following among WordPress users. I think it’s time I published that url here and I urge any of you who frequent this site to add a bookmark and when appropriate make a comment there so that I can get you through the initial moderation process (all first time comments go into moderation there as they have here).

Here’s the url:

http://rwanderman.wordpress.com

At some point, I may (or may not) point the domain I own (“richardsnoteds.org”) at this other version of this site. I haven’t decided that yet.

None of this matters at all. All that matters is that you, those who follow this site know where the other one lives. I will continue to post to both sites for the foreseeable future but if this site goes down (like it did a few days ago), you can always check out the other one as it’s not gone down once in two years.

If you get confused as to which site you’re at, look at the url in your browser. This one begins with www.richardsnotes.org, the other one begins with www.rwanderman.wordpress.com.

If you have questions or comments about this, let me know in the comments.

Marco Arment on the Instapaper business model and more

Marco Arment on Planet Money

This is a great interview. The Planet Money guys are brilliant and Marco gets right in sync with their style.

Marco made and sells one of my all time favorite utilities: Instapaper. In a nutshell, if I start reading an article on my computer and want to finish it or read it on my iPad, I hit a button on my browser “read later” and the article is sent up to Instapaper, a cloud-based service that acts as my breadcrumbs in the clouds. Later, when I’m using my iPad (still connected to wifi) I click the Instapaper app and update its cache of saved stuff. The article appears and I can read it there.

What many don’t realize is that Instapaper caches the articles on the iPad and/or iPhone and so, I can read them there when I’m not connected, like when I’m on a plane. So, before my regular trips to LA I routinely load up my Instapaper account with things I want to read on the plane, then update the iPad’s Instapaper cache memory and I’m set.

Instapaper has many iBook-like reading tools including typographic control and more.

I’m hoping to use Instapaper to help my mother read The New Yorker as its app is totally worthless for anyone who can’t read small type.

David Pogue on SOPA

Put Down the Pitchforks on SOPA

Pogue lays out the situation calmly and clearly. Its worth a read.

Some people are O.K. with the goals of the bills, acknowledging that software piracy is out of control; they object only to the bills’ approaches. If the entertainment industry’s legal arm gets out of control, they say, they could deem almost anything to be a piracy site. YouTube could be one, because lots of videos include bits of TV shows and copyrighted music. Facebook could be one, because people often link to copyrighted videos and songs. Google and Bing would be responsible for removing every link to a questionable Web site. Just a gigantic headache.

But there’s another group of people with a different agenda: They don’t even agree with the bills’ purpose. They don’t want their free movies taken away. A good number of them believe that free music and movies are their natural-born rights. They don’t want the big evil government taking away their free fun.

The second group of people is the group I don’t want to be associated with. This is what clouds my support for the entire protest.

Memo Touch

Introducing Memo Touch, a tablet designed for elders with short-term memory loss

While the implementation may not be the best, this is a killer good idea and it allows family members to log into the account and set up reminders.

Of course, someone might write an app like this for iOS and then one could have all the benefits of an iPad plus a custom reminder system.

The problem with any idea like this is it has to be made fully accessible to people who can’t see, hear, or use the tablet’s UI well.

I think this is a job for my friend David Niemeijer at AssistiveWare.

Ewald Mario Bauer’s flickr galleries

Flickr user Ewald Mario Bauer has assembled a number of flickr galleries which are collections of images that others have taken and allowed to be included in the galleries of other flickr members.

Ewald Mario Bauer’s Flickr Galleries

Note the page numbering on the bottom, there are 14 pages of them.

Frankly, I never looked on galleries as something of meaning because it seemed like a fancier way for people to collect links to favorite photos. But after looking through many of Ewald’s galleries I think a better explanation of them is a flickr feature that allows a user to curate a collection of things they find of interest and share that collection with others. I guess I was looking at this flickr feature from a bit too paranoid a viewpoint. In fact, being placed in someone’s gallery is useful in that it will lead new viewers to your photo stream.

Sometimes being included in galleries is something you don’t want, like some of my yoga images of my wife and our yoga teacher being included in galleries of “hot women.” As the owner of the image, you’re notified when someone includes it in a gallery and you can check things out and delete it from that gallery if you don’t want to be included as well as block the flickr member who made the gallery if they seem to be less than decent (my wife had mixed feelings, being flattered to be included in such a gallery).

I’ve not made a gallery on flickr and I’m not sure I’ll get around to it but I’m looking at this flickr feature in a new way after poking through Ewald’s curated collections.

Ask Different

Ask Different

Ask Different is a brilliantly built discussion site that allows people to ask questions about their Apple products and get a variety of answers and tips from others.

I first heard about it back here and I decided to subscribe to its RSS feed for a while to see what kinds of questions and answers were being put up.

In short order I figured I might be able to answer a few of the questions so I registered and posted an answer. That led to another and pretty soon I was hooked, less on being a know-it-all (I know much less than most people posting there) but on the challenge of attempting to explain in words the answers to various questions (one can also post screen shot images there).

Questions and answers are rated, much like Amazon or eBay reviews might be and in this case it’s less about a popularity contest, more about helping folks find the credible sources and to support well written questions and answers. Brilliant.

I’ve learned quite a bit from this feed, not just answers to my own technical questions but also about the types of questions and problems people are having in the Apple world. Ask Different could easily turn into a more up to date and fluid source than Apple’s support area or Wikipedia (Apple products) for these types of things. Certainly a parallel source for more specific questions.

Many of my Mac and iOS using friends who read this blog could easily become addicted to this so I’m warning you, be careful.

Instagram 2.0 upgrade a downgrade

Instagram 2.0 review: Insta-grumble

I agree, the recent big Instagram upgrade was terrible, images aren’t saved into the main library anymore, the filters suck, and the entire operation of the app has been slowed down and downgraded.

I’m going to go back to using Path a bit more and I’m not crazy about its UI either but at this point its better than Instagram.

For those who don’t know about these iOS Apps they’re iPhone photography apps that allow posting to a mini social network of your friends (limited number, not the whole world). Instagram also allows simultaneous posting to Twitter and Flickr from inside the app which is very convenient.

Both apps will geotag images which is nice and allow a bit of key word tagging as well. While I don’t use my iPhone as a primary camera I do enjoy taking pictures with it and the fact that these apps allow posting pictures instantly (if one has a connection, either wifi or cellular) makes them appealing.

[via Daring Fireball]

NGrams and Culturomics

What we learned from 5 million books

Erez Lieberman Aiden and Jean-Baptiste Michel do a talk at TED about what they did with a huge amount of digitized book data from Google. This is a fascinating talk and worth watching.

You can mess with it yourself with Google’s Books Ngram Viewer.

As an example I graphed the use of the term “dyslexia” from 1900 to 2008. Notice that it peaks around 2000 and then starts dropping off. I’m guessing this is because it was replaced by the phrase “auditory processing disorder.” Sure enough it was.

Wow, this is amazing. Give it a go, let me know what you come up with in comments.

[via wimp.com]