09/05/12 3:05 am
Speaking of copyright enforcing robots...
09/03/12 11:31 pm
Last night, robots shut down the live broadcast of one of science fiction's most prestigious award ceremonies. No, you're not reading a science fiction story. In the middle of the annual Hugo Awards event at Worldcon, which thousands of people tuned into via video streaming service UStream, the feed cut off — just as Neil Gaiman was giving an acceptance speech for his Doctor Who script, "The Doctor's Wife." Where Gaiman's face had been were the words, "Worldcon banned due to copyright infringement." What the hell?
09/01/12 1:34 am
A pseudo-proximety sensor experiment for OS X
I have started a new, little side project on my github page. It's called ProxSentry.
ProxSentry uses your Mac's built-in camera and OS X's built in facial detection technology to determine when you're paying attention to your computer.
Using this information, ProxSentry can do smart things, like:
- Dim the screen when you stop looking at it
- Stop your Mac from going to sleep while you're reading a long article
- Start your screensaver when you leave, and stop it when you get back
- Lock your screen when you stop using your computer
During a discussion of sleep and power management on episode 82 of the podcast Hypercritical, John Siracusa envisioned that Apple might one day add a proximity sensor to the Mac, so that things like sleeping and waking one's computer could be managed more precisely as the user came and went.
This got my mind spinning: between the built-in camera and the facial detection libraries that have shipped with OS X since Lion, it seemed possible that the Mac might already have a pretty good approximation of a proximity sensor built in. The idea intrigued me, and I was temporarily burned out on the project I was working on anyway, so I decided to sit down for a night or two and see what could be cobbled together.
The result is ProxSentry.
If you're interested, head on over to my github page and check it out.
07/27/12 9:31 am
Dieter Bohn, writing at The Verge:
In February of 2011, meeting notes from an executive level discussion described a "crisis of design" at the company. According to the notes, executives were concerned that Samsung was too focused on Nokia. The real competitor was Apple, and the problem was that when Samsung's "UX is compared to the unexpected competitor Apple’s iPhone, the difference is truly that of Heaven and Earth."
If I read this correctly, Samsung still considered Apple, who entered the phone market in 2007, an "unexpected competitor" as late as 2011? Amazing.
04/07/12 3:03 pm
Justin Watt has discovered that the public WiFi gateway at the Courtyard Marriott in Time Square is defacing his website:
The Revenue eXtraction Gateway apparently inserts ads on every website accessed over it's public wifi network.
The idea of the wifi network at an expensive hotel monkeying with my network connection is bad enough, but the lack of disclosure and transparency is what really disturbs me. Readers will naturally associate the ads they see with the websites they see the ads on, no matter how inappropriate the ads may be. They have no way of knowing the ads are from a third party.
04/06/12 11:50 am
Leo Laporte of the TWiT Network announces, through a tweet, that their show Game On is canceled after 12 episodes:
I've cancelled Game On. We planned 12 eps but the show was just too expensive and too little watched to do more. -sigh-
As they transition from one man with a microphone to a real network—they famously sunk a million dollars into a new studio last year—it seems like many of the same problems that plague traditional broadcast networks are proving unavoidable.
04/06/12 1:37 am
Arguably Mac OS X's first major virus outbreak. If you have a Mac and are technically minded, it's worth following F-Secure's instructions to find out if you're infected.
04/06/12 1:27 am
Shocking, but in light of the News of the World phone hacking scandal not too shocking. Seems Murdoch's anything-to-win attitude has completely permeated the organization.
I can't tell if their ends-justify-the-means argument is evil or just misguided…
Appologies for the lack of content here over the last week or two. A bug has popped up which makes posting here hard, and I haven't had the time to fix it.
We should be up and running again soon, in the meantime please enjoy this early 90s Canadian public service message.
03/21/12 12:04 pm
Matt Neuberg is shocked—shocked!—to discover that it's the top microphone, not the bottom, that's active during iPhone speakerphone calls.
Interesting enough, but then he whips out the tinfoil hat:
But I can’t resist also ranting briefly about why I didn’t know this simple and useful fact. I didn’t know about it because Apple didn’t tell me! [...] I didn’t discover it, because I didn’t know I needed to look for it.
But by persisting in the myth that everything about an iPhone is obvious and that no manual is needed, Apple certainly does its users a disservice.
What part of that is myth? The microphone that's active during a conference call is an implementation detail. Why waste booklet space or customer brain cycles on it?
You're not supposed to speak right into the microphone. You don't even have to speak at the phone. (I've had plenty of good speaker phone calls with my iPhone on my desk across the room.)
The fact that Neuberg has apparently had years of speaker phone calls so good he never thought to ask which microphone was active, all while speaking into the wrong end of the phone, proves that this is not something most customers need to know.
As Apple products get easier and easier to use, there's a certain group of old-school Apple geeks that long for the days when Apple was a cult, and knowing the incantations to make the products work was a hard-won badge of honor.
© 2012 Pete Burtis. All Rights Reserved.