Low disk space alert

  This piece was originally posted on gdgt. Check it out, here.

Low disk space

Apparently, my computer is going crazy because I have ZERO disk space left. What in the what?! Turns out, my problem stems from iTunes insane backup system. I have multiple redundant multi-gigabyte iOS backup folders eating all my space.

A few minutes ago, I had 0 bytes free out of 120GB SSD. (After deleting the iOS backups, I now have 12.5 GB free).

Here’s what I want in a third-party browser in iOS 4 and iOS 5

  This piece was originally posted on gdgt. Check it out, here.

Safari logo

A number of third party browsers have been developed and released for Apple’s iOS. Despite the requirement that they must use WebKit, most of the browsers have executed some pretty interesting ideas and provided a lot of enhancements over the basic Safari browser found in the iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch.

Some of the browsers off the top of my head:

  • Atomic Browser
  • Dolphin Browser
  • iCab
  • Mercury Browser

What I would love to see is them offer some extra enhancements that would seriously make me switch. What are some of these enhancements?

  • TextExpander support: A number of applications (mostly text editors) have been released for iOS that take advantage of TextExpander. I would love to see this added to browsers! I do most of my work in a browser window each day anyway, and on the desktop, TextExpander has been a completely critical feature.
  • 1Password: If 1Password could find a way to allow other applications to user their database / keychain for passwords (similar to how other apps can use TextExpander macros), this would be huge! I use it all the time to ensure that I have completely random passwords, and if any one site is compromised, I don’t lose access to everything. The 1Password app on iOS is well done, but I don’t want to use their built-in browser. If there was a way I could access the passwords from another browser, this would be huge!
  • Xmarks: Xmarks has been an important tool for me when keeping all my browser bookmarks in sync between Chrome, Firefox, and Safari on the laptop. Why not bring that over a third party browser in iOS? If this was available in any third party browser, it would instantly become my go-to browser.
  • Ability to set a default browser in iOS: (Sadly, it will take Apple to build in this feature — there’s no way developers or users can do this short of jailbreaking) I’ll admit, having the option of running third-party browsers in iOS is pretty damn nice. But it still feels like a kludgy hack when you open a URL in any other application in iOS. It always goes to Safari, without fail. If there were a way to set a custom default browser in the system preferences, this would be awesome!

What sorts of other features do you want to see in third party browsers that they don’t currently offer (and aren’t offered in Safari)?

Safari Reader — One of my favorite features in iOS 5

  This piece was originally posted on gdgt. Check it out, here.

Safari reader

Been using various iOS 5 betas (and now the GM) for awhile now. One of my favorite features (besides proper notifications, of course) is Safari Reader. Basically, it strips away all the cruft from a webpage and simply displays the content you want to read. It works similar to things like Readability.

It’s especially nice, since it presents the content in an eBook like format and you can dynamically resize the text.

Something I find interesting though — I haven’t really been using the “Reading List” feature. Basically, it’s a way to temporarily bookmark articles and websites you want to read late. As far as I can tell, it doesn’t do offline access though (so, I’ll still be sticking to Instapaper for my offline needs).

More info on Apple’s website.

Thanks for showing us the future, Steve

Apple steve jobs

Steve Jobs, September 9th, 2009 by Dave Schumaker

There’s little that I can add or say about Steve Jobs that hasn’t already been covered by more eloquent writers elsewhere.

I feel fortunate that I was able to see him in person on a number of occasions, showing off some of his most beloved inventions.

His enthusiasm was intoxicating and his drive was inspiring.

Here’s to the crazy ones. The rebels. The troublemakers. The ones who see things differently. While some may see them as the crazy ones, we see genius. Because the people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world, are the ones who do.

We’ll miss you so much, Steve. Thanks for showing us what the future will be like.

Around the web:
So long, Steve. [gdgt]
Steve Jobs, 1955 – 2011 [Wired]
Steve Jobs Was Always Kind To Me (Or, Regrets of An Asshole) [The Wirecutter]
The Steve Jobs I Knew [All Things D]

The final flight of the Space Shuttle Endeavour

STS-134 NASA Tweetup

STS-134 NASA Tweetup and the final flight of the Space Shuttle Endeavour

On April 28th and April 29th, 2011, I was fortunate enough to participate in the NASA Tweetup for STS-134. It was to be the final flight of the Space Shuttle Endeavour and the second to last mission in the Space Shuttle program. I traveled to the Space Coast from San Francisco and spent three fantastic days with fellow Twitter users and enthusiastic space geeks at Kennedy Space Center. Things didn’t always go as planned (you’ll see), but it was an experience that I’ll cherish and never forget. Godspeed, Endeavour.

Continue reading “The final flight of the Space Shuttle Endeavour”

A theatrical review: “The Agony and the Ecstasy of Steve Jobs”

Originally posted on gdgt on February 10th, 2011.

Last night, we ventured across the bay to check out a play by Mike Daisey at the Berkeley Repertory Theatre. It was a 120 minute one-man extemporaneous show about the history of Apple and a look at the people who build the gadgets that we love.

Judging by the title (and with recent events relating to Job’s recent health), you might think this is a show taking a deeper look into the life and times of Mr. Jobs. This would turn out to be an incorrect assumption. Daisey’s performance is an insightful, an often hilarious tale of the two Apples under Steve Jobs and John Scully. “Steve is not a micro-manager — he’s a fucking nano-manager!” Daisey switches between this and taking a serious look into what goes on behind the scenes at “all factories” in Shenzhen, China.

Daisey is the perfect epitome of an Apple fanboy, calling himself a devout follower of the Apple religion and perfectly describes what it’s like to own an Apple product. For those of us who are equally under the influence, it makes him easy to relate to. (That said, I don’t think you need to be a fan of Apple to enjoy this show.)

This sets up his story for a perfect transition from faithful believer, to wavering skeptic. “One day,” says Daisy, “I began to do something that all religions fear — I began to think.” Daisey goes on to explain that it all started because of a post he read on an Apple news site (Daisey says, “Have you ever noticed there’s no such thing as an Apple news site? The only thing they talk about are rumors.”). The post was about an owner of a new iPhone finding a series of pictures from the factory in the camera roll of their phone. A few of the images even showed factory workers in their cleanroom jumpsuits. This changed everything for Daisey. Until that point, he had never thought about the actual people who made his gadgets.

Side note: I think this may be the post that Daisey speaks of.

Daisey ends up traveling to Shenzhen, China and poses as an American businessman. He shares some of the things he saw; from factories with tens of thousands of people working on assembly lines in complete silence, to young teenagers who spoke to him about their work days (12, 14, or 16 hours).

Throughout the entire performance, Daisey is switching between the seriousness of what he saw in Shenzhen and his light hearted story of Apple’s history. In the mid-1990’s, Daisey explains, “Apple needed Jesus Fucking Christ to save them. So, they got the next best thing and brought Jobs back.”

If you’re a fan of gadgets and technology, I think you’d get a kick out of this show. It’s an interesting look into Apple and makes you consider the consequences of using the gadgets we love. Daisey explains that while it’s shameful nearly all companies turn a blind eye to this sort of behavior, the onus is on us as consumers to let these companies know we won’t stand for it.

Fortunately, Daisey’s humor and stories make the show quite entertaining, and you never really feel like you’re being lectured at. That said, I definitely felt bad about using my gadgets afterward (I arrived at the show carrying my bag containing a MBP, iPad, and iPhone — all of which were made in Shenzhen). You leave the theater with a heavy heart.

“The Agony and Ecstasy of Steve Jobs” is performing at the Berkeley Repertory Theatre until February 27th, 2011. Ticket prices range anywhere from $45 – $75 dollars.

Show info: www.berkeleyrep.org­/index.asp

I might have talked myself out of an iPad 2


I originally posted this on gdgt, read and comment here.

In the weeks leading up to the iPad 2 announcement, I clung to a rather steadfast belief that I wasn’t going to be interested in iPad 2. “My iPad is perfectly fine,” I thought, “besides, probably no retina display, slightly faster processor, and maybe a FaceTime camera — big deal!”

I thought about how I would justify this in my head and how it would sound to my friends, all of whom expect me to have whatever the latest and greatest Apple device is. I even thought of the perfect analogy.

This upgrade was going to be akin to the iPhone 3G to iPhone 3GS upgrade (interestingly, that’s the argument I’m currently telling myself for the potential iPhone 4 to “iPhone 5” upgrade). More evolutionary than revolutionary, no must have features, pretty much the same design. Did I *really* need to upgrade back then? Probably not.

Anyway, here’s why I thought that was an apropos analogy:

At the time (a month or so ago), based on what all the conventional rumors were saying, the iPad update wasn’t going to be that impressive. Same screen, mostly same form factor, potentially two cameras (FaceTime – yay?), new CPU and increased RAM. The two cameras rumor, I didn’t really care about. Besides, how many times have I used FaceTime? Probably once, and that was to test it out. What I wanted was more RAM and maybe a better display.

So, March 2nd, 2011 arrives and Steve Jobs strolls out of Yerba Buena Center for the Arts and surprises everyone. He launches into the standard Apple press event and highlights numbers of apps they’ve sold, misquotes various competitors, and uses almost every synonym related to the word “magical.”

Finally, he announces the iPad 2 and its feature set.
– Same enchanted display
– Magical A5 dual core processor
– 9x otherworldly graphics performance
– Conjuringly thin design
– Spectral battery life
– Wizardly cameras*!

* Notice, like the iPod touch 4th-gen keynote (a device which was renowned for just how crappy its cameras were), Steve made zero mention of the number of megapixels iPad cameras were capable of. Contrast that with iPhone 4, which literally had an order of magnitude more megapixels, Steve couldn’t say “5 megapixels” enough times and tout the phone’s ability to take pictures. And believe me, I love the photos that phone takes.

Anyway, I quickly fell under the influence of the infamous RDF. I wanted one. Needed it even. My current generation iPad instantly looked obsolete. It smelled obsolete. Just using it seemed to hurt my technology street cred.

Here at gdgt HQ, we discussed who would be waiting in line at the Apple Store next Friday and when we should go. Interestingly enough, one person who had an iPad wasn’t excited about it at all. Two others who didn’t have iPads were eventually persuaded / convinced that they needed them. I was all about it. Another remained irrationally committed to his singular cause of being the only person in San Francisco that would eventually own an Android tablet (subject to price and availability, of course).

So, for the last week, I’ve been all about iPad 2. I couldn’t wait for it to arrive. I stressed about how early I should wait in line. I thought about how awesome it will be to use while I’m in Austin for SXSW and our gdgt live event.

And tonight, it all just suddenly changed. The iPad 2 embargo is up, so all the major news organizations and tech publications have posted their detailed reviews of the device. They love it. It’s even faster. Feels good to hold. It still sets the bar for any tablet coming out.

One thing everyone seems to agree on though, is that it’s a brilliant device for people new to tablets or otherwise buying their first iPad. For people who already own an iPad, it’s a tossup. There’s definite speed improvements, and more RAM is great in apps like Safari, but it doesn’t offer much otherwise.

And that’s the feeling I can’t shake. This iPhone 3G to iPhone 3GS analogy. Using my iPad tonight (with iOS 4.3), Safari is still fast and mostly responsive. Yeah, the meager amount of RAM in the device means I still lose webpages when I switch tabs, but do I really want to drop another $600 for the device for that reason alone? Probably not.

So, I might sit this round out. I’m not urging or suggesting anyone else do the same, I’m just reflecting on my own thought process over the past few months. For someone with a massive case of gadget envy and weak defenses to the RDF, it’s been a wild roller coaster ride.

So, what will you do? Are you still excited about getting one? Has your enthusiasm been tempered for one reason or another? In the market for something else?


Some caveats:
1. I’m completely aware of the possibility that once we get a review unit in the office, all bets are out the window. I might want one all over again, and just as bad, if not more so.
2. I realize the possibility that some new app or game will come out to take advantage of the features. For example, if they somehow come out with a better version of Civilization that runs better on the new iPad, it’s over. Goodbye. See you later.
3. There are social pressures as well. If my friends, my significant other, or even my parents get one, well we can’t have that now, can we. (Honestly, we probably can. It’s a ridiculous justification.)

Anyway, stay tuned for my post tomorrow, where I write a thousand word essay on why I’ll probably be camping out overnight to get an iPad 2.

List of iPhones

Based on a recent discussion I had, here is the current list of iPhones I’ve had. 8! 8 iPhones in 4 generations. To be fair, the iPhone 3GS and the iPhone 4 were flawless devices for me.

1.) iPhone 1st-gen: Touch screen stopped working.
2.) iPhone 1st-gen: Touch screen stopped working.
3.) iPhone 1st-gen: Some weird short caused constant “device not designed for iPhone. Please use airplane mode” messages to appear, even if nothing was hooked up!
4.) iPhone 1st-gen: Dock connector completely stopped working.
5.) iPhone 3G #1: Upgraded to iPhone 3G by choice. Hoping for relief. Just kidding! Glass screen began to delaminate from iPhone. Weird defect.
6.) iPhone 3G #2: Hopefully it will be perfect for now?
7.) iPhone 3GS: (Upgrade) Worked perfectly!
8.) iPhone 4: (Upgrade) Works perfectly, so far!

(See previously.)