I don’t want to let April slip away without me posting at least once here, so. How much of a surreal, sci-fi living legend (ledge) is Elon Musk? I was sitting wasting time waiting for class to start at uni the other day when I looked at this tweet of the first stage rocket booster narrowly failing a perfect landing and I was struck by how far out of the mundane this stuff is.
It’s the little things, ya know? Like how Musk named the landing barge, “Just Read the Instructions” in the spirit of Iain M Banks’ spaceship names for the Culture series. Or the fact that the electricity used for recharging Tesla cars is all offset by the power generated by SolarCity ie. the project is genuinely green, not just electric cars using fossil fuel-made electricity.
I have to say for once here is a newer thing than the other things that doesn’t suck—and that’s great. Fluorescent tube light had been the bane of my recent life (at least while living in korea). Yes they are energy efficient but it’s a horrible glarey unrelaxing light and they were everywhere in korea: restaurants, homes, workplaces = everywhere.
So when I saw these energy-efficient, coiled fluorescent-style light bulbs in the supermarket I steered a wide berth, for a while at least. Then I thought, okay we’ll try the kitchen. Pretty soon they spread to everywhere in the house. It’s pretty cool that they can be only using 14watts but emitting the same amount of light as an old 60watt globe. And the best thing is it’s a warm white.
Boy oh boy I can barely keep up with how all this technology works. It’s keeping track of me in ways I wasn’t even aware of me self. I got the replacement phone yesterday and got it all up and running and back to normal. Back whenever iOS5 came out and I changed to that, a few months back, it mentioned ‘the cloud’ and how all my stuff was going into ‘the cloud’. It asked me questions like “do you want to merge with the cloud?” I said I thought I’d need some time to think about it but it seems like I must’ve agreed without knowing it because yesterday I was going through my photostream, which is the collection of photos I have taken. And I was surprised because I started seeing photos I thought were lost with the stolen phone. Copious shots of the cat. Emo shots of the landscape around my mum’s house from when I went out walking.
I don’t know exactly when & how these photos got from the phone to the cloud but I hope to goodness it was at a time when I was sitting in a free wifi place, rather than the 3g global roaming thing. I have no idea what the next phone bill will look like. When the phone got stolen the one password I didn’t change was the apple account one because you need to input it everytime you buy something but the other functions that use it stayed open. Thus I got a rather odd surprise when looking through the photostream last night; there were three pics taken by whoever took the phone, one two days after it happened, and the other two four days after. I like to call this one, ‘Portrait of a Robber’.
This remote photos from stolen gadgets idea would be a great device to work into a mystery murder story, except most people wouldn’t know what the heck you were on about.
technology — yak sox @ 10:38 am, February 23, 2012
And so, unpopular as it may be, I wanted to mention a few apps of note that I’ve come across lately.
First one, just yesterday, is google translate which could potentially be a game changer in that it will change the game I play weekly to get money. The one called teaching english as a second language. I just speak right into the phone and it uses voice/word recognition, then via the internet connection translates up to a whole sentence into the 2nd language and shows it on the screen in that language, but you can also click to have it come out of the speaker as a computer voice.
I may need to practice and adjust how I talk when I talk to it because when I said ‘people in this country are idiots’ it thought I said ‘people in the country of India’.
Second is, as recently mentioned, Angry Birds, which only just recently became available to buy in korea. I know I’m wasting time with it but in any given day there are minutes which if they are not wasted in one way, will surely be wasted in another. There’s not much to say about angry birds. It’d be a challenge to write an essay on the narrative underpinning angry birds, but I’m sure someone will try. One thing I did find interesting was that a couple of the green pigs’ structures were adorned with a little swedish flag and I thought it might be a sign of some light ribbing toward their scandanavian neighbours, but then there was also a finnish flag in the same place in one screen as well.
Third is an iPad app, put out by the people who run the Ultimateguitar.com website. Very crafty on their part. The app itself is free, and you buy a subscription (8 bucks for a year) and it serves up the data from the website in the form of guitar chords and tabs. They have thousands and thousands of songs on there. Again, crafty because all of those song chords were submitted by people ‘the community’ and now the website is making a pretty penny from it. And of course you don’t really have to pay—you can still use a web browser and see the songs that way. One neat thing the app can do is transpose chords up or down however many keys you need.
I figured it was worth paying for because sitting around learning and playing songs is infinitely more constructive than playing computer games. We were playing Ziggy’s Rock And Roll Suicide last night.
It’s rainy season here. A trend caught on a year or so back of young women wearing gumboots on rainy days. My guess is this was copied from Tokyo. And someone’s laughing all the way to the banking website because apparently the flashier, patterned gummies go for around W100,000 (about 87AUD). Amusing, considering that usually only the most hardcore of farmers would wear their gumboots into town in Australia, or even moreso New Zealand, my goodness how these constant sightings make me think of New Zealand.
Conversely, sensible headwear like a broad-brimmed hat is becoming more and more acceptable (cool? certainly neccesary) in Australia but here large straw hats are still only worn by peasants, and you are a peasant if you wear one.
I see I beat The Pope to twitter by only a week or two. And he already has 30 thousand followers but, as the news tells me, follows no one. And I finally got to look at an ipad2 today and it was enough to dissuade me from the temptation of buying one. The viewable area is still too small and the on-screen keypad had no bleeding apostrophe! It was just the same level of inconvenient-functionality that I deal with when using the iphone to write something. I thought it might’ve been good for reading things on but I don’t know. I don’t think the paper book has anything to worry about for a while yet.
ps. Standby for short intermittentcy as Sunny Breaks dot aug moves to a different host and re-propagates.
Well you can’t spell twitter without twit and I have been quite resistant to the so-called, “social media” but since my studies are wrapping up I have a little more time to really get down and grok what twitter is all about. However I maintain that I am never going to use facebook.
And so, like your dad, I just signed up for twitter, several years after even the techno-lumpin. Actually, that’s not true, I did infact make an account over three years ago but I used it once and didn’t see much point to it, stopped, and I guess they delete old accounts. Or at least old accounts of non-famous people, because I noticed that whacky old Kimi Raikkonen did the same, used it a couple of times then gave up years ago. I guess I thought it’d be another thing that’d have me potentially neglecting this website more than I do now. Plus it’s essentially the same thing any way—blogging—except on an ADHD scale. Communication for the always connected foreveralone.jpg generation.
Actually, come to think of it, maybe back then it was the name that I couldn’t get past. It sounded so dippy and gimicky, like it wouldn’t last long. Like the name of a Linux computer program eg. Jabber – the AIM clone. But I guess twitter is an apt name. Noise emitted by small, near-mindless creatures.
The internet’s supposed to be all about democracy and everyone having their say but it always seems to work out pyramid-shaped and this is no different. ‘Following’ my heroes in text form brings up the possibility of something terrible happening, like finding out that someone I think is really cool “had fish and chip’s” or instead of writing definitely they write ‘defiantly’ or ‘definatly’.
Anyway, my twit is yaksox, but it’ll be just as dull as everyone else’s.
During the hols my ipod went on the fritz. I wasn’t sure it was dead, but wouldn’t seem to wake up. I suspected it got a bit of water in it. It didn’t come good after a couple of days. It was roughly 3 years I’d had it. It was an 80gig black “classic” model. I was waiting til I got back home and plugged it into its homebase before concluding that it was really in trouble, thinking that perhaps it was the strange voltage in Aust. that was impeding its recharge and return to health.
I plugged it in here and for a moment it said, Recharging, and had a little picture of a battery but that only lasted momentarily. I left it plugged in, hoping that something good would happen. Later that night I woke to go to the toilet and noticed that in the dark the ipod screen was flashing intermittently — every 10 seconds or so — as if it were trying to communicate with some far off creator.
Three years is a short life for a device of its price. I usually think along the lines of, if I get a lot of use out of an object, or if it provides me an invaluable service, then these are the things that make up its real worth. That is, price is less important. But I’m starting to reconsider the worth of Apple and their iPods.
I wasn’t left totally music-less while in Au. I did have some 60 or so more-or-less random songs on the ipod part of the new iphone. This included Amon Tobin’s Monthly Joints series. Ten tracks that I actually bought and like. Also on there was Something Else, by The Kinks, some Russian rap: Shaiba and a bunch of single tracks like Polk Salad Annie by Tony Joe White, Apache – Incredible Bongo Band, and Bule Bule by Los Rockin Devils.
I got to know that stuff pretty well. It reminded me of times in the past when I actually bought most of the music I had and the arrival of new music was much more irregular. I’m a boy of the cassette era. Skipping tracks on a cassette took time and was imprecise. Consequently I didn’t skip tracks. Sometimes a cassette would be bought on the strength of one or two tracks. I’d get it home and find that the rest of the album was nothing like the singles, but I’d paid hard-earned, shopping trolley-pushing pocket money to buy it so I’d listen to it and eventually the rest of the music on there would eventually grow on me and find a time and place in my life.
I compare that to some of the music I’ve latched onto in the last year or so and the pattern is different. I D/Ld Iggy Pop’s Lust For Life album and I like it but I rarely listen to anything on it apart from the tracks Lust For Life, The Passenger and Fall In Love With Me. With New Values I went that one step further and deleted all of it except for I’m Bored and The Endless Sea. I think Roxy Music’s self-titled album would get into my top 10 of best from last year but the first five tracks have been listened to twice as often as the second half.
So anyway, in normal circumstances all I would bother with on Something Else by The Kinks is the last track, the classic Waterloo Sunset. But in Melbourne, stuck on the god-awful slow and inefficient Met and V/line I had little other choice than to listen to the rest of the album, and found it grew on me. Same with the Russian rap. As a language, its sound suits rap well. It’s easy to picture those young turks Russians all attituded-up and gesticulating with their fingers.
So apart from the fact that the damn things keep breaking on me, I’m debating whether its such a good thing having the whole 80gigs of my music collection at the ready. There’s whole days of stuff in there that I never listen to but it’s difficult to find because iTunes’ filing structure is so primitive and inflexible.
I might just stick with the hard-disk space that’s available on the phone, or perhaps get a nano.
This is another review. It’s a new phone! that I’ve been using 6 weeks or so and now have enough of a feel for to talk a bit about. I have this theory that the more flashy and new the phone is, the less personality the owner has. That would make me one bland laddy because the iPhone 4 is pretty flashy—like welcome to the near-future flashy. And in the 6 years I’ve been in Korea, this is my 4th phone, which smacks of conspicuous consumption, even for a guiltless wonder like me. The real folly too has been that phones 1 to 3 were like a gradual slide into worseness. The buttons got smaller, the sound quality got worse and the ice-picking of my brain became a bit more pronounced. I don’t really know if the radio-waves caused by mobile phones affect the brain. I remember reading stuff about that ten years ago but so far I haven’t heard of any brain-phone cancer epidemic. What I do know is that I would get an uncomfortable heating sensation from using a phone for more than 10 mins.
Incidentally, all those phones 1 – 3 were Korean ones. I know samsung and whatever are quite popular overseas, but as with cars etc. the stuff on the domestic market is made to different standards.
Anyway I’m going to try to get to the point. I’m not as technical as I used to be but I know what I’ve been after in a phone and this one is doing surprisingly well.
– The sound quality when talking to someone is surprisingly good. Especially when talking to someone else who has the iphone 4 (like the g/f). Notice how devilishly ingenious this is. There seems to be a little more bass to the mini-speaker that emits the person’s voice. Being able to hear and understand easily without going, ‘Whut… whut? continually is a definite improvement in quality of life for me.
– Less radiophonebrainwavecancer ice-picking sensation. I wouldn’t say it’s gone completely, but again, it’s a noticably big improvement. I can be more relaxed when conversing and spend less time distracted by the thought of dying a horrible death.
– In S.Korea at least, the internet connectivity is really pretty good. Many small businesses have wifi that’s provided by the phone company I pay bills to. Being able to check email on the phone is something I’ve wanted to do for years and while the other phones kind of said they could do that, they couldn’t. Browsing the internet is still a bit of a pain in the arse. Most web pages don’t resize right and I have to do a lot of zooming in to actually read what’s on there, to zooming out so I can scroll down. It’s possible, but not comfortable for extended periods.
– The screen resolution is really pretty good. Again, a big improvement on say, the older ipod touch I have. I would try to read things on that, like news articles or ebooks, and after ten minutes I’d look up and out the window and my eyes would be so screwed up that it was like Monet. I’m really conscious of how much of the day I spend staring at screens and how it’s affecting my eyesight. I don’t wear glasses and I don’t want to start. Reading things on mobile devices is very tempting but I know it’s bad. So, the iPhone 4’s resolution is a big step up, but it’d be good if there was a way to set the standard font sizes to larger right across the thing.
– The little keys on the touchscreen touchpad (for texting etc) aren’t necessarily bigger, but the whole keyboard is there so I don’t have to press one key four times just to get an “s”. Interestingly, I notice I write the whole word much more often than settling with abbreviations now.
That’s the hardware stuff. I might write about apps another time.