darkemeralds: Old black and white portrait of DarkEm at the age of three (Little Me)
There are whole communities for this stuff. "Theming." It's a thing. You buy an Android phone and you make it TOTALLY UNIQUE AND PERSONAL through the medium of extremely finicky, detailed customizing apps. We're talking nudging things around pixel by pixel and copy-pasting eight-character color hex codes into font settings. And stuff like that.

What I really want is JARVIS, you know? Never touch the damn thing, just speak my wishes and desires and hear the answer. Failing that, I like a homescreen with almost nothing apparent on it.

Theming. Because I have the time. And the inclination. )


Aug. 3rd, 2014 11:57 am
darkemeralds: Baby picture of DarkEm with title 'Interstellar Losers Club' and caption 'Proud Member' (Proud Member)
As desperately as I believed I wanted an oh-so-shiny, thin, sleek, sexy ASUS Zenbook, as imminent the failure of my beat-up old Dell Studio, and notwithstanding my having saved up for a fancy new laptop, the universe said, "Whoa, Nelly."

'Listen to your heart and what it has to say.' )

And bingo, I'm back in business. Total cost: $100 and an afternoon. I feel like I've saved a failing marriage or something.

Moral of the story? You tell me.
darkemeralds: Photograph of the seal on King Tut's tomb, with the words "What do you see?" and "Wonderful Things!" (Wonderful Things)
How many motors do you have in your house?

Kevin Kelly, in What Technology Wants and on his blog, talks about how the most successful technologies disappear. They start as major innovations, then become increasingly invisible and ubiquitous. (Douglas Adams pointed this out, too--Kelly quotes him at the link.)

Buckminster Fuller called it "ephermeralization," doing "more and more with less and less until eventually you can do everything with nothing." (Note that he says can, not must or should. I don't think he, or Kelly, or Diamandis or any of the Techno-Evangelists actually advocates for banning old technologies. There are still people producing illuminated manuscripts, buggy whips, and flint arrowheads.)

Kelly cites electric motors as one example of massive ephemeralization. When they were new, electric motors were huge and expensive. Entire factories were adapted to run off a single large motor. As they got smaller and cheaper, they were adapted to a million uses that weren't originally anticipated. They became ubiquitous and invisible.

How many do you have around you? Think about everything you own where you push a button and something moves. There's a motor in there.

It's a longish list. )
darkemeralds: (catastrophe)
Late last night I was up on my stepladder, sticking glowy-stars to my bedroom ceiling, when my brand-new Nest Protect smoke and CO detector first flashed yellow, then turned red and started shrieking at me.

"Emergency, emergency," it said (yes, it talks). "There is smoke in the room."

The Next Protect smoke detector

Spoiler: there wasn't. )
darkemeralds: Dark Emeralds in red glasses (Default)
In the last couple of weeks I've been obsessively geeking out over customizing my Android home screen. Not sure what triggered it.

Big phone geekery with pictures. )
darkemeralds: Poster image of farm-fresh food (Eat Food)
It seems I've joined the juicing brigade. Both of my sisters swear to the health benefits of daily fresh juice drinking, and Macy's had a zillion juice-making machines on display--presumably because it's this year's big holiday gift idea. So today I took the plunge.

It's big )
darkemeralds: Baby picture of DarkEm with title 'Interstellar Losers Club' and caption 'Proud Member' (Proud Member)
Thanks to [personal profile] vampirefan, I've been testing the by-invitation beta version of Aviate, a new launcher app for Android (phones only--not yet optimized for tablets).

What, you ask, is a launcher app? Well, maybe you don't ask, but I did. There are dozens of them in the Play store, and most of them offer ways to customize your home screen--different icon sets, widgets and themes, that sort of thing.

Aviate is a different order of being. It aims to present what you'll probably need when you'll probably need it, and it learns, both from you and from the wider user base.

First, it replaces your busy icon-and-widget-filled home screen with something much simpler.

Pretty! )

Aviate: intriguing, promising, and attractive. I have five invites available if anyone's interested. Just PM me with an email address.
darkemeralds: Dark Emeralds in red glasses (Default)
Around 35 of the apps on my mobile device are there by choice. Here are the ones I like, use and recommend the most. What are yours?

The Top Dozen )
darkemeralds: Dark Emeralds in red glasses (Default)
Chrome to Phone is a one-click extension that sends the web page you're looking at on your computer to your Android device. (It requires a free app on the Android side.)

I have a single use-case for it: fanfic.

Here's how I use it:
  1. Find a story on the AO3 using my nice big computer screen
  2. Click the Chrome to Phone extension icon
  3. Go to my phone and open the page I just sent
  4. Use the Download/Mobi option to get a Kindle-compatible ebook version
  5. Move the .mobi file to my Kindle app
  6. Read!

(Chrome-to-Phone has a dozen other use cases--basically, any time you want to make something from your big web browser immediately available on your little mobile screen.)


Oct. 13th, 2011 10:44 pm
darkemeralds: Baby picture of DarkEm with title 'Interstellar Losers Club' and caption 'Proud Member' (Geekery)

I was just writing up a rant about the complete technofail of my Android tablet-for-which-I-paid-too-much. I was gonna rage against T-Mobile, and Google, and Android, and the stupid fucking DRM fail that makes it impossible for me to use streaming Netflix on this otherwise perfect-for-lying-in-bed-and-watching-shows device.

(That part's still true. And also? Netflix's streaming TV show selection sucks. Really a lot.)

But that was then. And now: TV show! On my tablet!

Here's what I had to do:
  1. Install an FTP client app (SwiFTP) on my tablet
  2. Install an FTP client on my Ubuntu laptop
  3. Acquire the TV show from sources that stupid fucking DRM limitations will drive me to despite not only my willingness to pay Netflix money, but my actually paying Netflix money, speaking of wasting money
  4. Transfer the acquisition, with a vast amount of fiddle-farting around, to my tablet, via FTP
  5. Get an app on my tablet that can play said .avi file

This was after trying all kinds of tricks to get my laptop to recognize and give me access to my tablet via a regular old USB cable. Total fail. I overtaxed my geek limitations after about an hour of command-line mumbo-jumbo that didn't work.

Why didn't it work? As far as I can tell because either T-Mobile or LG sent out an un-refusable system update that broke that functionality.

But hey. TV show. On my tablet! Via a workaround that was time-consuming, extremely annoying, mentally taxing, and mostly not very legal.

PS: The show is "Community," which was highly recommended by [personal profile] ravurian. He said it was LOL funny, and let me tell you, after an evening of utterly frustrating geekery, I could use a laugh.
darkemeralds: Baby picture of DarkEm with title 'Interstellar Losers Club' and caption 'Proud Member' (Nerd)
I think I've finally been won over to the Kindle side.

Not that I have anything against ebooks--I really don't. I bought a Rocket eBook when it first came out, in 1999, and I've been an avid ebook aficionado ever since--in theory.

But somewhere along the line I kind of quit reading. "Real" reading gave way to fanfic--which I avidly read on my PDA, then on a succession of smartphones--but I gradually seemed to lose all power of attention, and switched almost entirely to podfic and audiobooks. I liked the Kindle in principle, but I didn't really need one.

[personal profile] ravurian (who has been the instigator of a number of changes lately*) recommended Ben Aaronovitch's Rivers of London, and located an audiobook version for me. I enjoyed it so much that I listened to it twice, the second time finishing this afternoon while I was ironing on my porch in the sun. I wanted to go immediately on to the sequel, but it doesn't seem to be available yet in audio.

So, with my new Android tablet in hand, and a Kindle-for-Android app before me, this evening over dinner I bought my first Kindle edition: Ben Aaronovitch's Moon Over Soho.

I'm in love. I can see it. I can read it. I'm reading again! It's wonderful.

* He also persuaded me to buy a hardcover novel not long ago--and I read it, but it took two months: Jo Walton's Among Others. Good book.
darkemeralds: Dark Emeralds in red glasses (clothes)
Busy in the shallow end.


Not-all-that-bloggable things which have been occupying my mind and time lately include
  • Doing my nails1
  • Trying on clothes2
  • Playing with my tablet3
  • Working out at the gym4
  • Trying new skincare products5
  • Fiddling around with Google+6
  • 750 Words7
  • Trip planning8

So while I turn into a member of some Band of Really Girly Sisters (an unanticipated morph that I lay entirely at the door of my oldest friend G, who has always been a beauty queen and my good grooming guru), I'm afraid that all substance has vacated my mind, my life, and my journal.

I might be back later. With a really nice manicure.

1With the CND Shellac system. "Zero dry time, lasts two weeks, easy off", so they say. When your nails get as old as the rest of you, a little help is in order.
2I just need a few things for my trip...
3The G-Slate from T-Mobile.
4Rebecca, my trainer, is a hardass. I think I'm doing great and she makes me do more.
5Including a sort of torture device that pokes microscopic holes in the epidermis so that the magic elixirs can penetrate to a deeper layer. It's What Technology Wants. Really.
6I agree with this assessment.
7Highly recommended writing goad tool
8 Only six weeks away! Eee!
darkemeralds: Dark Emeralds in red glasses (Default)
After the little flurry of family angst yesterday, Christmas Day turned out to be perfectly splendid. The oh-so-casual beef dinner at Xmas-Sister's house was not only delicious (seriously, the best beef I've eaten in a long time, and home-grown green beans, plus mashed Yukon gold potatoes and a really good key lime cheesecake of which I had a sliver), but entirely relaxed and enjoyable, AND attended by all available local family members.

Technical difficulties )

I was dropping off the Zipcar by 6:50, so No-Xmas Sister and I went to have a look at some pretty Christmas lights...

Pretty Christmas Lights )

...and then I came home. I found a Hacker's Diet-compliant weight-loss tracking app for Android, and have been fiddling with it happily like a happy weight-losing geek all evening.

And to top it all off, I did not overeat today one bit. \o/
darkemeralds: Naked woman on a bike, caption "I don't care, I'm still free" (Bike Freedom)
I discovered this function on my new Android phone last night. Well, okay, my 14 year old nephew showed it to me:

You push a button and say, "Navigate to 1234 Southwest 5th Avenue."

And it tells you how to get there.

I know, I know: people who've had iPhones for years, or who have GPS in their car, are no longer impressed by this. And people who actually have a sense of direction could never, ever be as thrilled about it as I am.

But I have no sense of direction. It's a borderline handicap, a slight but very real disability, that carries all kinds of baggage: it's funny to people, it's goofy, it's "feminine," it's an allowable form of "stupidity" for an otherwise very bright, creative person. It's also annoying and incomprehensible to people who don't suffer from it. They think I'm just not trying. "Come on!" they'll say. "Just picture the route in your head!"

There's no picture there. On a good day, if I know that that's west over there (because the sun is setting or I can see the West Hills, or the Pacific Ocean or something obvious), then I can painstakingly work out that to the right of west is north, and to the right of that is east, and to the right of that is south, using the "Never Eat Shredded Wheat" trick. But I can't feel it, and even if I can see it, I'm unsure.

As a prosthetic aid, I have whole catalogs of street names and their sequence memorized from long residence in my hometown. Jefferson Street is south of Madison Street, so if I set out from Madison and come to Jefferson, I can deduce that I'm heading south. If I come to Salmon, on the other hand, I know I've gone north. I cannot sense directions. When I'm moving, I'm just heading forward. When I turn left, I'm still heading forward. That's all I've got.

I've burned a lot of calories and a lot of gasoline over the years correcting for this handicap.

So when I got in my car this morning and said to my phone, "Navigate to [XYZ Address in unfamiliar neighborhood]" and my phone talked to me, right in my ear, and said, "Head west on NE Beech Street and turn right on NE 11th Avenue," and kept telling me exactly when and where to turn--well, I'm not exaggerating when I say I felt like I'd been let out of a prison.

And when I got to where I was going and there was a Google Street View of the destination house right there on my phone screen looking exactly like reality, I wish I could describe the sense of safety and security it gave me.

When I think that I ever, ever ventured out without this tool, I am amazed at myself.
darkemeralds: Manga-style avatar of DarkEm with caption Hee (cartoony me)
Multiple forms of satisfaction have rendered my weekend fabulous.

I just finished listening to What Technology Wants, and I might be prepared to put it into the category of "best non-fiction I've ever read". I'm going to re-listen to it, and will undoubtedly begin to see flaws in Kevin Kelly's sweeping notions (so sweeping that he even mentions fanfic, which I cannot but adore him for), but even if they're there, the book consolidates and articulates Great Big Ideas that I've been intuiting and struggling with for most of my life, and I love it to pieces.

On a somewhat lower order of intellectual satisfaction, I used the "My Tracks" app on my new phone today. GPS is cool enough, but the part that is making me giggle like a maniac is this:

Maps! Geekery! )

On an aesthetic and creative level of satisfaction, I spent a wonderful afternoon in the glass studio of [livejournal.com profile] roseambr yesterday, experimenting with colors and layouts for the set of glass dinner plates she's going to help me make.

Glass )

In gustatory satisfaction, I had a delicious breakfast with my mom today at a local gay-owned restaurant where the whole staff was Halloweened up, several large men in tributes to Carol Burnett's famous "Scarlet O'Hara" sketch where she makes new clothes from the curtains, including the curtain rods. And our waitperson was Underdog. Underdog! \o/

It's amazing, really, how a full and busy weekend seems longer and more restful than a quiet boring one, huh?
darkemeralds: Dark Emeralds in red glasses (Default)
Ah ha ha! I totally could have posted that last post from my new phone except I forgot. This is from my new phone. it's a bit tricky to navigate. But so what? It's cool. :D
darkemeralds: Baby picture of DarkEm with title 'Interstellar Losers Club' and caption 'Proud Member' (Proud Member)
I got myself a new phone this evening. Don't know what came over me. Tough day at work, chilly and damp ride home, and a T-Mobile store pretty much on the way.

I stopped, I dithered hardly at all, and I committed. I probably should BE committed. Anyway, I'm now the proud and ridiculously geeked-out owner of the HTC Android G2.

Pardon me while I have an orgasm squee a bit over the awesome. Those of you who've had iPhones for several years will be eye-rolly and unimpressed, but: it is online all the time OMG. I mean, I knew that, but I've never experienced it.

And it's on a 4G network. So I'm downloading audiobooks right now. In a few minutes I'm going to get some podfic. It's very, very fast. The screen is big and bright. It is beeYOOOOO tiful and I am a happy gadget freak tonight.
darkemeralds: Baby picture of DarkEm with title 'Interstellar Losers Club' and caption 'Proud Member' (Geekery)
Seriously, I've spent so many hours in the past few days resetting and re-flashing my Windows Mobile phone and generally trying to get it to behave, that if I were actually PAID for those hours, I could buy a new phone.

At one point, I was so stressed out that I was imagining smashing the damn phone and grinding it under my heel. maybe riding my bike over it a few times for good measure. then going to some creepy phone store in a mall and putting a new one on my credit card.

Why, you may wonder, do I do shit like this? Well, it wasn't working right. It started misbehaving in ways that a simple reset wouldn't fix. Apps that were working fine before started seizing up, etc., etc. And I really can't justify a new phone till the end of the year.

Five more minutes or so, and all my content should be transfered back onto the memory card, and I can see whether this fourth full system re-flash has worked, or whether I have to get out my bike.

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