• images
  • January 6, 2015

Twenty years ago, I was always read­ing at least one book. And I’d read dozens — maybe hun­dreds — each year.

Now? I can’t remem­ber the last time I read a book. But…

IMG_5227-1.PNG

I’m def­i­nitely read­ing more than ever.

unlocked iPhone 6 works great in the uk.
  • images
  • December 29, 2014

The short ver­sion: This arti­cle from MacWorld UK is wrong. A US-purchased unlocked iPhone 6 works just fine in the UK. (If that’s all you wanted to know, I fig­ured I’d spare you the details. If you want to know more, read on…) Read More

limmud handouts available for download.
  • images
  • December 28, 2014

Here’s where you’ll find my hand­outs from Limmud 2014 in Coventry, England. (I’m post­ing them live on the day of the ses­sion. All hand­outs should be up as of January 1, 2015.)

If you have any ques­tions, or if you’re look­ing for some­thing that should be here but isn’t, drop me an email.

the handouts.

Hacking Hanukkah to Design the Jewish Future:

This return to the blog has turned into a shar­ing of other people’s wis­dom rather than my own. That is prob­a­bly the best assur­ance that it is actu­ally wis­dom! Today is no excep­tion.

Read the rest

  • images
  • October 25, 2014

Just text me, ok?

Please Do Not Leave A Message: Why Millennials Hate Voice Mail:

We’ve all heard that auto­mated voice mail lady, telling us what to do after the beep. But fewer peo­ple than ever are leav­ing mes­sages. And the mil­len­ni­als, they won’t even lis­ten to them — they’d much rather receive a text or Facebook mes­sage.

So true. I really really hate voice­mail.

Read the rest

  • images
  • August 28, 2014

I backed a Kickstarter cam­paign. And it paid off, which is to say that I even­tu­ally received an actual pro­duct in the mail. Here it is, ladies and gen­tle­men: the Almond+ wifi router. (Pics inside.)

Read More

  • images
  • August 26, 2014

Instagram’s new Hyperlapse app is amaz­ing.

Basically, it sta­bi­lizes video as it shoots it (or soon there­after) and allows you to play back at var­i­ous speeds. It’s time­lapse pho­tog­ra­phy in super-smooth mode, or a replace­ment for a very expen­sive video sta­bi­liza­tion rig.

Instagram HyperlapseThe secret, accord­ing to a Wired pro­file, is that the app doesn’t try to sta­bi­lize with any­thing like the fancy (and very processor-intensive) soft­ware found in high-end video pro­duc­tion soft­ware. Rather, it uses data from the iPhone’s built-in gyro­scopes to sim­ply adjust for move­ment.

My ini­tial reac­tion to the app was (a) won­der­ment, and (b) hope­ful­ness that the app would let me import media (like, um, from my GoPro?).

After read­ing the Wired arti­cle, it’s clear that the Hyperlapse app won’t work with imported mate­rial, since the whole point is that it records the gyro­scopic data as it’s record­ing (and adjusts the video accord­ingly).

But what if…

  1. We use a rig that mounts an iPhone directly to a GoPro, cam­corder, or DSLR. (There’s this cool mount for GoPro, or you could just use any dual-camera tripod mount, like this one.)
  2. We have an app on the phone (like Hyperlapse) that records the gyro­scopic data.
  3. We then take the video footage from the GoPro/camcorder/DSLR and plug it into a desk­top app along with the iPhone app’s gyro­scopic data. It could then sta­bi­lize the video using that data — just like the Hyperlapse app, but as a post-processing tech­nique rather than “in-camera.”

For this to work, you need to be able to pre­cisely (!) sync the gyroscope’s data with the video. For that rea­son, I’m won­der­ing if the app might record audio, which the post-processing desk­top app could use to sync the recorded data’s time with the footage. As you begin record­ing, it could even emit a beep or clap­per sound or some­thing sim­i­lar that would be picked up by the video camera’s mic. (The desk­top app could know to look for that pre­cise sound.)

Or… we could sync even eas­ier. Both my GoPro and my Canon 6D can be con­trolled by cor­re­spond­ing iPhone apps. What if the gyro­scope data col­lec­tion was sim­ply built into those apps. Then, you could trig­ger record­ing on the cam­era direct from the phone and simul­ta­ne­ously begin record­ing the data needed for sta­bi­liza­tion.

I have no idea what kind of patent that Instagram (err… Facebook) has on this tech. My point is that this one amaz­ing inno­va­tion has the poten­tial to be a big-time game changer, since all the other pieces already exist (or, in the case of the desk­top app, should be doable by apply­ing exist­ing tech). With some­thing like I described above, you could replace an expen­sive sta­bi­liza­tion rig with an iPhone, a mount­ing bracket, and some sim­ple (ish) soft­ware.

From “Don’t Send Your Kid to the Ivy League The nation’s top col­leges are turn­ing our kids into zom­bies”:

What an indict­ment of the Ivy League and its peers: that col­leges four lev­els down on the aca­d­e­mic totem pole, enrolling stu­dents whose SAT scores are hun­dreds of points lower than theirs, deliver a bet­ter edu­ca­tion, in the high­est sense of the word.

I can’t speak for the Ivy Leagues, but my fourth-tier lib­eral arts col­lege did a pretty good job.

Max Steinberg grew up in the same part of Los Angeles where I did, and he grad­u­ated from my high school, though it was a decade after I was last there. So I never met him. But I’ve read a lot about him this week, after he died while serv­ing in the IDF in Gaza and his story became the par­a­dig­matic nar­ra­tive about Americans who go to Israel to join the army.

And I read with inter­est when one of my favorite writ­ers, Slate’s Allison Benedikt wrote about Steinberg yes­ter­day in a much-Facebooked arti­cle.

birthrightThe piece has come under fire because Benedikt seems to be claim­ing that Birthright killed Max Steinberg. Or at least that’s what the crit­ics are say­ing.

I don’t think that’s what Benedikt was try­ing to say. As I read it, she’s answer­ing a ques­tion that a lot of non-Jews (and non-engaged Jews) might be ask­ing: What made this kid — who never seemed to be all that Jewy before — decide to pick up and join the Israeli army? That’s a legit­i­mate ques­tion. How many American kids ship off to fight for the Dutch army or the Argentinian navy? (Not very many, I would think.)

Benedikt answers the ques­tion by explain­ing that (a) Steinberg’s par­ents credit Birthright, and (b) Birthright’s goal is to get American kids to care about Israel. Her assess­ment seems to be: Look! It worked.

And, “at some point dur­ing their all-expenses-paid ten-day trip to a land where, as they are con­stantly reminded, every moun­tain and val­ley is inscribed with 5,000 years of their people’s his­tory,” there is “the moment”— the moment when par­tic­i­pants real­ize just how impor­tant Israel is to them, to their fun­da­men­tal iden­tity, and how impor­tant they are to Israel.

According to Steinberg’s par­ents, that is exactly what hap­pened to Max.

Birthright’s defend­ers should take her arti­cle as a com­pli­ment, not an attack.

Benedikt does make one impor­tant crit­i­cal point:

People say Birthright is “just like camp,” and it sure sounds like a very con­densed ver­sion of the Jewish camp I attended as a kid, whose pur­pose was, at the very least, to fos­ter a con­nec­tion to Israel in young Jews—and at best, to get us to move to the coun­try and fight for it. My camp, filled with the chil­dren of lib­eral American Jews, did this by pre­sent­ing a very sim­plis­tic pic­ture of the polit­i­cal sit­u­a­tion in Israel and the threat to Jews world­wide, all within the con­text of help­ing to fix the world while hav­ing the time of your life. Birthright does a form of the same.

Um… are peo­ple say­ing she’s off base here? It seems to me that it’s a fair crit­i­cism. Birthright is a ten-day trip, partly because the 6-week sum­mer trips that existed before its incep­tion weren’t attract­ing unen­gaged, dis­con­nected Jews (like, um, Max Steinberg). Since it’s begin­nings, I’ve heard lots of Jewish edu­ca­tors who are Birthright sup­port­ers (and I think I count myself in that group) admit that ten days is just a taste, and that it presents a “sim­plis­tic pic­ture.” (And we usu­ally say that if Birthright does its job, we’ll have lots of chances to add lay­ers of com­plex­ity to that pic­ture as the atten­dee engages post-trip.)

Is Benedikt’s atti­tude toward Birthright a lit­tle cyn­i­cal? Sure. It should be. It’s a multi-million dol­lar PR cam­paign for Israel and Jewish iden­tity. It deserves to be exam­ined with some healthy cyn­i­cism.

Moral of the story: Chillax. Allison Benedikt said noth­ing wrong.

Lets say that for some rea­son you needed a SATA cable or two. Or six. You think to your­self, “I guess I should head down to the store,” or you mozy your online self over to Monoprice or Amazon or what­ever.

sata-cablesYeah. Don’t do that. I’m pretty sure I have twenty extras lay­ing around. They’re angled and I needed straight, or I already bought some and hooked them up before open­ing up the mount­ing cage to find that it came with five, or they’re just attracted to me… I don’t know. Somehow I ended up with more SATA cables than any one per­son could use in a life­time. And how did I end up with six or seven extra case fans in var­i­ous sizes?

While I’m at it, I’m pretty sure I have dozens of HDMI, DVI, and DisplayPort cables. And USB (3.0 and 2.0) cables in the hun­dreds. And at least a cou­ple extra Thunderbolt cables. Don’t even get me started on 4-pin Molex power cables.

Moral of the story: If you need any of this stuff, message/email/call/text. Most of it’s free to any­one who’ll give it a good home. (OK… I can’t give away the Thunderbolt cables for free. But the rest.) Think the cable/adapter/dongle you need is insanely obscure? I prob­a­bly have six of them. Try me.

6 was the monkey who brought in the mail

Found the above pic in Maurice Sendak’s strange count­ing book One Was Johnny.

Freddie_OGWhat’s weird is that he looks an awful lot like Freddie (at right), the mas­cot for MailChimp.

This incar­na­tion of Freddie has been around since 2008, but it seems he was born August 17, 2001. So the mon­key in Sendak’s book has got to be a dif­fer­ent mail-delivering pri­mate. In case you’re unfa­mil­iar, MailChimp does awe­some email mar­ket­ing (and email newslet­ters, and that kind of thing). It’s one of my favorite software-as-a-service com­pa­nies. If you’re using ConstantContact, there are about a gazil­lion rea­sons to switch. (If that sounds scary, I can help.)

Anyway, I’ve decided that Sendak’s mail mon­key must be Freddie’s dad, since it would make sense that he’d go into the fam­ily busi­ness.

freddieevolution

Look at those two. They just gotta be related.

item 1.

dbgToday is Israel’s inde­pen­dence day, if you’re Gregorically inclined. That’s because Ben Gurion declared inde­pen­dence on May 14, 1948.

Of course, he declared on that day that the new country’s inde­pen­dence would be effec­tive the fol­low­ing day, imme­di­ately fol­low­ing the ter­mi­na­tion of the British Mandate. So if you’re cel­e­brat­ing the dec­la­ra­tion, today’s the day on the Gregorian cal­en­dar. If you’re cel­e­brat­ing inde­pen­dence itself, then I sup­pose you should hold off til tomor­row. Yom HaAtzma’ut, he offi­cial state hol­i­day in Israel (and the cor­re­spond­ing hol­i­day for Jews liv­ing else­where) is com­mem­o­rated on the fifth day of Iyar, or on the sixth day of the month if it turns out that Yom HaAtzma’ut (or the day before it — Yom HaZikaron, Israel’s Memorial Day) would fall on Shabbat.

This year, Israel cel­e­brated its own inde­pen­dence on Tuesday, May 6, which was the sixth day of the month of Iyar. Had they cel­e­brated on the fifth, then Yom HaZikaron would have fal­len on Shabbat. So they pushed em both up a day. How do I know all this? Well…gcal-hebrew2

item 2.

This just in from Google: You can now dis­play Hebrew cal­en­dar dates (alongside the nor­mal Gregorian head­ings) in Google Calendar on the web. To enable it:

  1. Log into to your cal­en­dar.
  2. Go into Settings (click the gear icon in the upper right and select “Settings” from the menu).
  3. Under the General tab (which should be the one that’s active), scroll down to the “Alternate Calendar” option (it’s third from the bot­tom for me).
  4. Select “Hebrew cal­en­dar” from the drop­down.
  5. Click the Save but­ton at the bot­tom.

Now, you should see Hebrew dates alongside the English ones in your cal­en­dar.

  • images
  • May 10, 2014

Turn Your Phone 90 Degrees:

Video is a panoramic medium (embrace it).

[Hat tip.]