make it stop.

A guy shot up a church in Texas today. Same shit, dif­fer­ent day. Sigh.

If you’re pissed about the gun con­trol debate (or lack thereof), sick of politi­cians who pray for the vic­tims but don’t do any­thing to pre­vent it from hap­pen­ing again, dis­gusted by the polar­iza­tion of pub­lic dis­course in our country…

Stop post­ing about it on Facebook. You’re mak­ing it worse. We’re mak­ing it worse.

Because here’s the thing (and you know this): You’re typ­ing into an echo cham­ber. No one who mat­ters can hear you. Your heart­felt rant, your clever-yet-sad state­ments about politi­cians’ inabil­ity to act, or your tear­ful pleas about the tragedy of AR-15s… the only peo­ple read­ing them are peo­ple who already agree with you.

And it’s prob­a­bly worse than that. The more we all post this kind of stuff, the bet­ter Facebook’s algo­rithm gets at mak­ing sure we don’t inter­act with any­one who dis­agrees. Every time we do this, we widen the chasm between red and blue, and we help foment the very things that are destroy­ing America.

And while it’s easy to blame Facebook, let’s be hon­est with our­selves. We’re the ones killing our democ­racy. Because we eat this stuff up. We love hav­ing our own feel­ings val­i­dated, our opin­ions affirmed, our world­views con­firmed to be correct.

But if you want this mad­ness to stop, if you want to actu­ally do some­thing about the evil mad­man in the White House, if you care about gun leg­is­la­tion and women’s right to choose about their own bod­ies and an econ­omy that doesn’t just serve the rich and people’s right to marry whomever they love… don’t post about it on Facebook. When we do, we’re not just wast­ing our breath. We’re mak­ing it all worse by dig­ging our­selves deeper into our trenches. We’re giv­ing Trump and the Russians and Fox News and InfoWars fer­tile ground to sow mis­trust and dis­unity and polarization.

Instead, go out and talk to some­one who doesn’t share your views. Write checks to can­di­dates in con­tested dis­tricts, or vol­un­teer your time to make phone calls for them. Go to a gun store and learn some­thing about these things you want to ban but that so much of this coun­try can’t stop buy­ing. Run for office. Just what­ever you do… stop fuel­ing the echo chamber.

(As for me, from now on Facebook is for snarky com­ments about sports, adorable pic­tures of my kids, and giv­ing tech advice to friends. No more pol­i­tics. Because I can’t trust Facebook’s algo­rithms not to screw up our coun­try even more and I refuse to be a part of it.)

canon needs to get with the program.
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  • June 18, 2017

Canon Rumors (canon​rumors​.com) says the new EOS 6D Mk II will be lim­ited to 1080p video. It’ll have some upgrades — Bluetooth, a new image proces­sor, 45 aut­o­fo­cus points — and it’ll cost $1999.

Sorry, but Canon should (and prob­a­bly will) get slammed for this. To release a $2,000 (body only!) cam­era in 2017 that doesn’t do 4k is just inex­cus­able. For that kind of money you could buy impres­sive cam­era hard­ware from sev­eral other man­u­fac­tur­ers that per­forms vir­tu­ally as well for still pho­tog­ra­phy and shoots video in 4k… more than two years ago. Canon can keep insist­ing on ship­ping devices that are clearly focused on either photo or video. And that might fly for pro equip­ment, where that kind of focus pays div­i­dends. But the 6D is a con­sumer (or maybe a pro-sumer) cam­era, and as such it has to com­pete with Nikon, Sony, Panasonic, Olympus, and Fuji. All of them have fig­ured out 4k for cam­eras at this price point, and Canon should, too. End of story.

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  • 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.
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  • 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

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  • 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

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  • 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

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  • 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.

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.

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  • May 10, 2014

Turn Your Phone 90 Degrees:

Video is a panoramic medium (embrace it).

[Hat tip.]

On some days I feel like I’m in awash in awe­some online tools… I’ll dis­cover one, and then it’ll lead me to another, and then another. Before I know it, I’ve signed up for twelve cool ser­vices that promise to make me more pro­duc­tive, cre­ative, orga­nized, inspired.1

I finally signed up for a kippt account today. Good timing.

The Next Chapter:

This marks the end of the jour­ney for us at Kippt. Although our ser­vice has been loved by many, we never achieved the growth and the scale that would allow a sus­tain­able future for Kippt. Building per­sonal knowl­edge online con­tin­ues to be a unsolved prob­lem. While we are switch­ing direc­tions, we hope that Kippt and Inc have con­tributed to the future of online col­lab­o­ra­tion and knowl­edge sharing.

Read the rest


  1. To clar­ify, by “awe­some,” I mean: clever, time-saving, fun-to-use, use­ful, inno­v­a­tive. (back to foot­note in text)

My Students Don’t Know How to Have a Conversation:

As I watched my class strug­gle, I came to real­ize that con­ver­sa­tional com­pe­tence might be the single-most over­looked skill we fail to teach stu­dents. Kids spend hours each day engag­ing with ideas and one another through screens—but rarely do they have an oppor­tu­nity to truly hone their inter­per­sonal com­mu­ni­ca­tion skills. Admittedly, teenage awk­ward­ness and nerves play a role in dif­fi­cult con­ver­sa­tions. But stu­dents’ reliance on screens for com­mu­ni­ca­tion is detracting—and distracting—from their engage­ment in real-time talk.

Read the rest

The inter­net is fucked:

We’re really, really fuck­ing this up.

But we can fix it, I swear. We just have to start telling each other the truth. Not the dou­ble­s­peak bull­shit of reg­u­la­tors and lob­by­ists, but the actual truth. Once we have the truth, we have the power — the power to demand bet­ter not only from our gov­ern­ment, but from the com­pa­nies that serve us as well. “This is a polit­i­cal fight,” says Craig Aaron, pres­i­dent of the advo­cacy group Free Press. “When the inter­net speaks with a uni­fied voice politi­cians rip their hair out.”

We can do it. Let’s start.

Huh?

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  • April 12, 2014

The Empathy Vacuum:

Exposed to the entire spec­trum of human enthu­si­asms, it’s basi­cally impos­si­ble not to judge. Our empa­thy over­loads and gives up and we sit, star­ing at the screen aghast, that some­body, some­where might actu­ally believe that what they’re doing is OK, is accept­able, is even appropriate.

Read more