Sunday, November 22, 2009

Religious Right == Taliban?


“There are not many steps left on this insane path.”
Look, I get that its an 8 minute video, but you really need to watch it.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Droid, stop comparing it to iPhone

So, I have been using the Droid for about two weeks now, and every day makes me love my Droid more and, believe it or not, appreciate the iPhone more.

That’s right, it makes me appreciate the iPhone, there, I said it.

I am continually amazed at the Droid vs iPhone debates both on the ‘net and in advertising, it’s like comparing a pair of scissors to a screwdriver, you can’t. The Droid is an integral part of an holistic communications system. When I get a text message, or an email, or a voice mail I can respond to any of them from my Droid or from my desktop computer, there is no difference, they have the same capabilities and the same contacts. If you call my phone number it rings at my desk and my Droid. When there is an emergency I am instantly alerted; in the past 6 weeks I have received 6 emergency message, 2 from the National Weather Service and 4 encrypted VitalLock Messages. They all showed up on my handset, in the background, while I was doing other things, AND on my desktop.

I don’t own an iPhone, but from what I have seen and heard, it appears to target a different use case, its not MEANT to be a communicator. Is it meant to be a cell phone? Of course. And it does a very good job, sure you may have problems with the ATT network, but that will be resolved this year when the iPhone migrates to more carriers. So what do iPhone users love about their device? For starters 100,000 + applications. Well, its hard to argue with that. Yes some say “but of the 100,000, how many are QUALITY applications?” Lets say its 20%, that's 20,000 apps, and if the Droid Marketplace has 10,000 applications, then the same 20% will be quality, so that’s 2,000 applications. (yawn) Who cares?

But the iPhone is closed! Yes, yes it is. And it HAS to be or upgrades would be TRAGIC. Imagine that Apple updates the operating system or hardware and now 50% of the apps break! By keeping the system locked down Apple ensures that upgrades are as painless as possible AND that current apps behave. The same goes for locking down multitasking, if you have an application running in the background that YOU installed that slows your phone down the average user says “stupid phone” NOT “stupid application that I installed.” Apple is just protecting users from themselves.

The reason that iPhone users love their device is that it works for them. They will ask “Why do I need multitasking?” and “Why do I need open development?” These are valid questions that have to be approached from the users perspective, NOT as an outsider (non iPhone user.) Watch how iPhone users use their device. They use it as (get ready for it…) a phone! Why do you need multitasking or open development for that? They also use it as a distraction or a gaming platform. And in that use case, multitasking and open development are evil. When Apple updates the iPhone, they need the current apps to continue working, so you MUST use the standard API’s or risk not working, in fact, it is now rumored to be part of the app store approval process.

Compare this to the Droid users that I know (feel free to chime in Droid users). The Droid is not a gaming platform, its a communicator. I NEED multitasking so that I can glance at the device and see that I have 3 emails, 1 voicemail (transcribed), its going to snow tomorrow, the NWS is calling for flash floods, and Bob has sent me an encrypted message. All this and I didn’t have to wait 5-10 seconds for an application to run, I just glance at the phone. Do I run games on my Droid? I haven’t yet. When I have a spare few minutes I read my RSS feeds or practice conjugating Spanish verbs. COULD I run games? Sure. Are they as good as the iPhone games? In some context, yes. But if I wanted a gaming device I would get an iPhone, its more dependable and locked down.

Don’t get me wrong, I frakking HATE the iPhone and would never buy one. Really. Just like I would never buy a handheld gaming system, I don’t get the appeal. I have no need for a device that is a phone and can play games and I can run apps in the fore ground only, thus limiting its utility. But there are many people out there who have said “I wish that my Sony PSP had a phone”, and they probably love the iPhone.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

“The Matrix” as done by Charlie Chaplin

No, seriously, I kid you not. The Russian actor's group "Big Difference" (Bolshaya Raznitsa / Большая Разница) did this short video that features a Charlie Chaplin type character as Neo. Pretty dam funny.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

The sorrow with search

Want to find all the comparisons of the Droid versus its competitors? Great, Google it. Want to find out when it will hit the market? Again, Google is your friend. But Xenu help you if you want to find any bits of data that are too esotoric (for lack of a better word).

For example, is the Droid going to be part of the Verizon BOGO sale? (Buy One, Get One) Well, lets go to the Google and type in “Droid Verizon BOGO” and see what happens. The problem is that many (most) sights have “Recent Posts” and “You might also like” links embedded in the HTML, and virtually any sight that mentions the Storm BOGO sale will have a “You might also like” that includes the Droid. What this means is that all of my search results are articles about the new Storm2, with ads and “you might also like” pointers to Droid stories, not at all what I am looking for.

This is a nontrivial problem. When I was at Eluma I worked on a recommendation engine and this was a pretty big issue. When you recommend a page to a user you probably don’t want to include the advertisements on the page in your algorithm, and the comments should have a lower rating. So you need to parse the RSS items, not the landing page, but of course many sites just put a synopsis in the RSS item so you really need to parse the landing page.

But surely the Google has solved this problem? For example, what about their “Blog Search”. Yeah, good idea, but blog search indexes the landing pages, and the landing pages are full of all of the cruft that is making my search useless. Well, not totally useless, after switching to the blog search I *did* get better results, but still not good results.

Certainly Technorati can do a better search? In fact they can, and did. My search resulted in 2 (two, yes two) hits, but they were both pertinent. So did I only get 2 hits due to the fact that Technorati doesn’t index ALL RSS feeds, or just because there really are only 2 articles that are pertinent? Dunno, but it does make me wonder; Google is touching just about EVERY RSS feed in existence, why not have a blog search that only indexes the RSS feed for more focused results?

p.s. lest you think “sure, but I don’t care about the Droid and its BOGO sale status.” Well, this also cropped up when I was researching the article Best Sandwich Ever; search for “tuna muffaletta” and be prepared for nonsense. On a side note, it does appear that that sandwich may be unique.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Best Sandwich EVER

So, make your basic muffaletta olive salad:

1 1/2 Cups Green Olives, Pitted
1/2 Cup Calamatta Olives (or Black) Pitted
1 Cup Gardiniera (Pickled Cauliflower, carrots, celery, Pepperoncini)
1 Tbsp. Capers
3 each Fresh Garlic cloves, thinly sliced
1/8 Cup Celery, thinly sliced
1 Tbsp. Italian Parsley, finely chopped
1 Tbsp. Fresh oregano or 2 tsp. dried
1 tsp. Crushed red pepper flakes
3 Tbsp. Red Wine Vinegar
1/4 Cup Pimientos (Roasted red peppers)
1 Tbsp. Green Onions, thinly sliced
Kosher Salt & Freshly Ground pepper To Taste (salt may not be necessary)
Crush each olive on a cutting board with your hand. Combine all ingredients. Cover with:
Extra Virgin Olive Oil about 1 - 1 1/2 Cups
Put into a bowl or jar, cover and let the flavors marry for about a week.

Then get yourself some good focaccia bread and whip up a nice muffaletta
(Genoa Salami, Hot Capicola, Mortadella, Mozzarella, Provolone)

Put the left over olive salad in a sealed Tupperware container, throw it into the fridge and forget about it for 2-3 weeks. Open up a can of tuna (yes, tuna) throw it in a bowl with about a 1/3 – 1/2 cup of the olive salad and JUST enough mayo to hold it all together. Let that sit for 10-15 minutes, then put that between a couple slices of bread and THAT is the best sandwich ever.

Think about it, I usually chop up a little onion, garlic, capers, and shallots for the tuna, and that's pretty good, but the olive salad? MUCH better.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Isabella Rossellini

Or her full name Isabella Fiorella Elettra Giovanna Rossellini has three seasons of “Green Porno” videos over at Sundance. What, you ask, is Green Porno? It is a series of short, factual skits where Isabella plays the part of an animal as she teaches us its sexual behavior. Is it funny? Hell no, its hysterical. And of course we love Isabella Rossellini, and not because she is beautiful (she is), but because she is smart and funny.

My favorite is the bumble bee “… but I would die, without my penis I would bleed to death.” Uh, yeah, I can’t really argue with that.

Check it out.