1996 Wilco

Forget Ryan Seacrest, this is a great listen to ring in 2013 (especially Box Full of Letters starting around min 24):

AirDroid and Update On My Android Experiment

Despite my frustrations over a lack of a TweetBot style app for Android, my current experiment with Android via a Galaxy S3 has been going pretty well.

I’ve had an iPhone since 2007 and constantly turned my nose up at Android all the while hoping that the platform could mature into an iOS rival that would fulfill my wishes for a more “open” and dare-I-say geeky user experience with a portable computer (or phone). That same wish makes me keep a copy of Debian installed along side my 15″ Retina Macbook Pro in hopes that one day Linux will find the right balance for me.

Apps like SwiftKey (and their insanely amazing new Flow app) make me realize why I started loving computers in the first place. The ability to tinker and get my hands dirty in (sometimes useless but nevertheless enjoyable) settings toggles.

Android isn’t for everyone. iOS is a cleaner and more user friendly operating environment. Things are prettier in Apple’s garden of eden, for sure. However, I like to tinker. I like to break things and have to figure out where I went wrong. To put it in middle school teacher language, I like to have the ability to tinker without voiding a warranty.

AirDroid is yet another example of why I’m liking Android these days:

AirDroid: The free app every Android owner should install in 2013 — Mobile Technology News: “Once connected, the computer browser shows a desktop-like interface to the Android smartphone or tablet. There are numerous icons for different activities and data: Files opens up a file manager for the phone, for example. Music, Videos, Messages and Call Logs all show their respective Android data as well. Or, if your device is rooted, you can click the Screenshot icon to snap an image of the Android device remotely.”

Imagine doing something like that with an iPhone. True, most people wouldn’t want to, and there’s no real reason to given iTunes, iCloud etc. However, rather than my data traveling over wires to Maiden, NC where iCloud lives, I feel like I have the permission to DIY if I want to try.

I’m really impressed with Android in 2012. I’m hoping 2013 brings even more enjoyment.

As Cory Doctorow wrote in his 2011 piece “Android and iOS both fail, but Android fails better”:

I prefer Android because it’s relative openness means more people can and do inspect its workings to ensure it is doing what Google claims it is doing. I prefer Android because when Google decides to leave out a feature that users might want – such as tethering – the people making alternative OSes for the platform stick that feature in, and shame Google into adding it in subsequent versions.

My mobile phone can track where I go. It can record my voice and image, and the voices and images of those around me. It can leak email, voicemail, texts, and passwords. In the time since I’ve gotten a mobile phone, each passing year has meant that I rely on my phone for more things, and I don’t expect that will change.

Android and iOS will both fail their users in the years to come. Not a lot, but often enough, and dramatically enough, that it’s worth ensuring that those failures are as minimal as possible.

That’s exactly how I’m feeling lately. I still love and use my iPhone 5. It is a much better experience than my Galaxy S3 when I want a stock, smooth, out-of-the-box experience.

Trouble is (as I’ve figured out after 34 go-rounds the sun), I normally don’t want that type of an experience in the long run.

Social Media Marketing Sizes Cheat Sheet

We use this as our internal “cheat sheet” for social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Google+ at Harrelson Agency for finding the right size for images and texts.

It’s a great quick reference to help our clients get the job done.

You can grab a copy from Scribd below or use this Dropbox link for a view or download.


Social Media Marketing Sizes Cheat Sheethttp://www.scribd.com/embeds/118366124/content?start_page=1&view_mode=scroll&access_key=key-27uvd00byzynodbr39xn(function() { var scribd = document.createElement(“script”); scribd.type = “text/javascript”; scribd.async = true; scribd.src = “http://www.scribd.com/javascripts/embed_code/inject.js”; var s = document.getElementsByTagName(“script”)[0]; s.parentNode.insertBefore(scribd, s); })();

Chosing Your Services and Apps Wisely

Sounds like Chris and I went on a similar journey of finding better apps to do what we do:

Goodbye ubiquitous digital service | Chris Webb: “Over the past months I’ve been transitioning away from a number of the digital services and apps I use. Honestly I didn’t set out to do it, rather it has become a snowball effect that started with one service I hated using and has led to an almost meditative evaluation of my digital workspaces and the way I interact with the technologies that are intertwined with my existence.”

Like him, I’m now using apps like:

All of those are apps I’ve paid for (except ThinkUp which is open source) and all (except Pinboard) are hosted on my own server (mail is downloaded via POP). Of course, I have to rely on the internet provider I use etc but I know where my data resides and I feel better knowing who has access, how it’s being used etc.

I don’t think the “bring it all back home” movement is going to ever catch up to the “throw it all into Facebook’s garden” mindset, but it’s great to read about others making similar choices with their attention and data.

How to Make “Khan” Videos

Khan Academy | What software program / equipment is use…:

“Sal uses a PC with:

  • Camtasia Recorder ($200*)
  • SmoothDraw3(Free)
  • Wacom Bamboo Tablet ($80)

My students and I have been using Khan Academy videos to help us in our studies of pre-Algebra over the past fall. While there have been some kinks and bumps, the experience has been amazing from a teacher and learner point of view.

Mostly, the pause button is the most revolutionary thing to happen in education in a long while. The ability to have classroom discussions, collaborative problem solving and real in-class learning combined with independent and self-paced skills work have changed how I teach (and learn).

Over the holiday break, I’ve been making a few “Khan” style videos to go along with presentations (lectures) I’m giving on a few more complicated subjects (such as some Astronomy and celestial mechanics topics) for my 7th grade students at Carolina Day School this spring.

Someone asked about my setup, so here’s what I’m using:

I’ll post up a few when I’m done with a series but have been impressed with the Bamboo tablet and experience so far. Pretty painless and enjoyable!

Don’t Get Borked by Your Netflix Viewing

What fiscal cliff? Now we’ve got Netflix frictionless social sharing thanks to Congress!

Your Netflix rental data: coming to a Facebook timeline near you soon | Media | guardian.co.uk: “We are pleased that the Senate moved so quickly after the House,’ a Netflix spokesperson told Talking Points Memo on Wednesday. ‘We plan to introduce social features for our US members in 2013, after the president signs it.”

Interesting history of the 1988 law being amended to allow for sharing our Netflix viewings on Facebook, btw.

Robert Bork died this past week. Coincidence? Maybe. Full-circle and all that.

Yet another sign that we’re slouching towards [privacy] Gomorrah.

Happy Holidays from a Point of Pale Light

One of my favorite pages on Wikipedia (and yes, our planet is going to get real interesting in a few hundred thousand years):

Timeline of the far future – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia: “Due to its northward movement along the San Andreas Fault, the Californian coast begins to be subducted into the Aleutian Trench. Africa will have collided with Eurasia, closing the Mediterranean Basin and creating a mountain range similar to the Himalayas.”

My 7th grade students frequently ask me how humanity will do with the sun going supernova and all in about 5 billion years. I remind them we’ve got bigger problems much much sooner than that (climate change, rising sea levels, gamma ray bursts, meteorite strikes etc).

Carl Sagan was, as usual, spot on about our pale blue dot. So let’s do the best we can with the time/space we have, while we can.

via Kottke.org

Learning And the Fragility of the Web

Kevin Marks has a great post connecting the notion of necessary complexity with the state of the web and our willingness to throw all of our content (pics, music, text etc) into the hands of silos and walled garden social media networks:

Epeus’ epigone: The Antifragility of the Web: “If you’ve read Nasim Taleb’s Antifragile, you know what comes next. By shielding people from the complexities of the web, by removing the fragility of links, we’re actually making things worse. We’re creating a fragility debt. Suddenly, something changes – money runs out, a pivot is declared, an aquihire happens, and the pent-up fragility is resolved in a Black Swan moment.”

The latest Instagram debacle over who owns user generated pictures points to a rising tide of web users who want more than just partial ownership of what they create simply for the sake of sharing. We’ve had another system in place for over a decade now with blogs and feeds.

Of course, it’s much easier to slap a filter on a photo and upload it to Instagram or Facebook and reap the benefits of the likes and comments received rather than uploading an image to a hosted blog and going through the necessary hoops of making sure your friends are subscribed etc.

However, this complexity begets savvy users and people who understand the fragility of the web and its main currency (the link) and why a web that is open and not centralized around one corporation is worth protecting

It’s one reason that, as a teacher, I’m big on portfolios (blogs) written and curated by each student and interlinking with other student blogs. In some small way, I hope this learning process helps young people who are setting the stage for the next iteration of the social web to appreciate what it means to have an individual name space and participate in the democracy of the commons rather than just the fiefdom of Facebook.

I’m picking up Taleb’s Antifragile tomorrow (I’m back to reading dead tree editions of books for philosophical reasons but that’s for another post).