There’s a reason I’ve listed Evernote on my 2008, 2009 and 2010 Free Software Christmas Lists. Imagine if you could hook up a hard drive to your brain to remember anything that can be put into text, picture or file formats: Drawings, screen captures, e-mails, notes, doodles, webpages, pdfs, mp3s, etc. Now imagine being able to effortlessly sort and search through that information database to find what you need when you need it. Such a thing does exist, and it’s called Evernote.
“Remember Everything” is the mantra of Evernote. You don’t have to have a poor memory to realize how useful an information database is. If you have notebooks full of ideas and sketches, or a binder full of research notes and printouts, or even your class notes from Fiction Writing 101, store them to Evernote. Then, the only thing you’ll ever need to remember is your username and password for evernote.com. [Read more…]
For those who don’t know, Twitter is a service that lets you post bursts of random nonsense onto the internet in a format called a ‘tweet’. Tweets are limited to 140 characters, so it’s an exercise in succinctity for people who have a lot of nothing to say. Tweets can be sent/received from the web, cell phones, and automatically (as this blog post does through twitterfeed)
The real-world equivalent of Twitter would be: standing in the mall courtyard, shouting out short sentences along with everyone else, as if the whole world had suddenly come down with Tourette’s Syndrome. It’s interesting to simply watch the rolling stream of collective consciousness going absolutely nowhere in thousands of small steps.
Even when you understand it, it still doesn’t make sense. Twitter about as useful as a wet-nap is to a scuba diver.
I’ve been on Twitter since middle of 2008 www.twitter.com/conradzero, and its undergone quite a shift in both popularity and purpose. People everywhere are scrambling to see how they can use Twitter in new and different ways. I have to admit that part of me finds it exciting when some new odd open-source project comes along, and the innovators dive in headfirst trying to twist it into usability.
The number of Twitter-ish applications are growing at a preposterous rate, and you can keep track of them at twtbase.com. Lots of people are desperately trying to integrate music and video ability into Twitter. And of course you can’t help but be amazed at people trying to figure out how to use Twitter to make money. I can tell you there will always be a market for idiots buying books on “How to make money using Twitter,” even when the only obvious way is to sell a book titled, “How to make money using Twitter.”
I was surprised to discover this message in my inbox last Monday: “The Dalai Lama is following you on Twitter!” My surprise was only matched by my disappointment when I found out that it wasn’t the Dalai Lama at all. [UPDATE: Turns out the account was turned over to His Holiness, so you can color me re-surprised!] I’m guessing God and Satan on Twitter aren’t really who they say they are either.
One of the more interesting uses of Twitter that I’ve seen is people using it to release short stories, fiction or poetry in small, 140-character pieces. I might consider doing that myself later this year.
So, what’s the future of Twitter look like? Looking into the Magic 8-Ball; I can imagine where my cell phone is programmed to post tweets for me based on my GPS location and a wetwire connection to my central nervous system, requiring no interaction on my part:
1:31AM – Still at the computer. [Mood: Passive/Receptive/Gathering | Elapsed time: 2hrs 41min)
1:38AM – Wandered into bathroom [Privacy mode activated]
1:42AM – Standing in front of open refrigerator [Mood: Hungry/Active/Hunting]
1:51AM – On the couch, eating Ben and Jerry’s Heath Bar & Coffee Ice Cream (Yum!), watching Pray For Daylight. [Mood: Sated and mildly amused]
Basically my entire day getting poured out into the rolling consciousness cesspool of Twitterville. From there, it would be searched/scanned/filtered for target marketing purposes and aggregated Sociology studies, and the important bits tagged and stored in Evernote for future reference.
Privacy issues notwithstanding, we’ll be able to pull up every moment of our lives, and/or stalk anyone on the planet without bothering them. This should be handy for settling court cases (where were you on the night of August 6th?) and interpersonal arguments (When did you eat the last of the Ice Cream?), not to mention any debates about how boring our lives really are.
Add some audio/video ability to Twitter, and now you’ve really got something. We’ll get together for the holidays and pull up Twitter to play back “The Infamous Shaving Cream Incident” from each persons’ point of view. We can even pass these moments on to future generations, so instead of telling our kids what it was like heating the house with gas or electricity instead of an in-home fission reactor, we’ll be able to show them. Over and over again. And we’ll all wonder how we ever got along without it.
That’s when someone will look up this old blog post and read my quote:
Twitter is about as useful as a wet-nap is to a scuba diver. – Zero
So, what do you-all think of Twitter? Any predictions about it might evolve into? Comment below or throw me a tweet.
Ever since computer games have been able to network and play cooperatively (I think the first one I played on a network was Quake…) I have enjoyed the strange phenomenon of the LAN Party.
For those who don’t know, a LAN Party is where you load up your computer, monitor, keyboard, mouse, game controllers, power cords, extension cables, a myriad of games (and your Windows System Disk, just in case), maybe a USB drive full of games, a mittfull of blank media, chips, and enough caffeine to kill yourself and head over to your buddy’s house, spend an evening trying to figure out the intricacies of TCP/IP vs IPX/SPX Protocols. If you are lucky, or have a computer science major, you will be able to network your computers and frag each other to virtual bits, or even better, team up against virtual baddies and overload on virtual ultraviolence until the sun comes up.
Strange, I know. Years from now, when “That 00’s Show” comes on, they will show some geeky teen loading up a huge beige computer and monitor into the trunk of their 96 Saturn, and heading off to a LAN Party, and the audience will laugh….
Anyways, with increased bandwidth that broadband gives us, the LAN party seems to be shifting more towards the virtual lounge. Now that my friends all have High-Speed connections at home, we can play BF2142 and run Teamspeak on the side, and talk to each other like we were there in the room together. It isn’t that different from an actual LAN party – you’re mostly making table talk, and you don’t make much eye contact, because you’re focused on the game.
I agree, it isn’t a whole lot of fun to disconnect all that crap and discover how much dust and cat hair is caked on the back of your PC chassis, stuff it all in your vehicle, haul it across town, unpack, hook it all up, only to unpack/set up, then break it all down again, pack it up again, and drive home at some ungodly hour with your brain fried to a crisp on 12 straight hours of caffeine, adrenaline, ultraviolence and Doritos.
But I still enjoy the moments between the games; deprogramming what happened and what others might have missed. There is more to a LAN party than just voice chat. That goes for other things as well.
Can you imagine two people going to different restaurants and keeping the cell phone on the table on ‘speakerphone’ mode? How different is that than eating dinner together?
Or going to the movies, and sitting next to a laptop with Netmeeting running a wireless video conference with your significant other, so you can watch a movie ‘together’?
I can imagine it, and that it’s a reasonable temporary substitution if the other person is in China or on the Moon or something, but I wonder if people will end up forsaking personal interaction for simply the audio/video.
Do I even need to mention that myspace “friends” are no replacement for the real thing? Or that porn is no replacement for intercourse? If you’ve ever seen the movie Sleeper with Woody Allen, or Demolition Man with Sandra Bullock, you will know what I mean.
I doubt that LAN parties will become obsolete, it gives geeks a chance to show off their new hardware, and their pimped-out computer chassis. What good are green glowing neon lights if you don’t go show them off?
As the technology gets better, online gaming will probably reduce the number of LAN parties, and that’s not all bad, it makes the experience of gaming together more convenient, but also takes away some of its quality – like fast food compared to gourmet food, or like an e-mail compared to a handwritten letter, or a text chat compared to a face-to-face conversation.
And how will geeks ever procreate if they don’t mingle? Hey, mooks have country-western bars and geeks have LAN parties.
Called Belkin tech support. After navigating the phone push-button menu hell which was designed for those paid by the hour, I was placed into the waiting queue. The great thing about being on hold with Tech Support is that I can do almost anything and it still counts as work (to me, anyways). That includes internet research…
The words “Your call is important to us” have burned into my brain along with the smooth jazz music to create a kind of annoying emo song that I am certain I could sell to Dashboard Confessional, I’m sure they would play it exactly the way it sounds in my head, and I’m sure I would hate it royally.
Much to my surprise, someone answers the phone.
Belkin Support Tech 1: “So what is the problem?”
Me: “The new, Belkin Gigabit Ethernet card model F5D5005 won’t connect to the network switch at one Gig speed.”
Tech1: “A gig?”
Me: “Yeah, one thousand Meg. It will only connect at 100 Meg. I’ve downloaded the latest drivers…”
Tech1: “Um, what internet service provider do you have?”
Me: “This has nothing to do with my internet service provider, I can’t connect to the network switch at one gig speed.”
Me: “Yes, this is a business, we have a network, and the card will only connect to the switch at 100 meg. Not at one Gig, like it’s supposed to.”
Tech1: “Hmm. Well, if you could tell me your internet service provider…”
Me: “This problem is not related to the internet, it’s probably just a bad card. Our internet service provider can’t help you.”
Tech1: “I’m sorry, I can’t process a ticket without knowing your internet service provider.”
Me: “Sure. Fine. My internet service provider is a company called ‘N Slash A’. That’s ‘N’ as in Nancy…”
Tech1: “Could you hold please?”
Put back on hold.
New support person Tech2. Redescribed problem. He asked what OS I was running.
Put back on hold.
New tech support person.
Tech3: “Are you sure the hub you are trying to connect to is a gigabit hub?”
Me: “Yes, it’s a Belkin Gigabit 8-port switch, model F5D5141-8. I have five other people connected to it at one Gig, so I know it works.”
Tech3: “Hold on.”
Back on hold.
I’m wondering at this point if they realize that I’m enjoying the quiet time they are giving me. At least three people poked their head in the office, and the speakerphone pumping out smooth jazz and assurances of how bloody important my call is keep them all at bay. Good thing I called so early in the day. I’ve completely caught up on all my e-mail, news, and blogs at this point. Even sent an e-mail request to Belkin’s online tech support to see if the e-mail support might be faster, which would be kind of funny.
Tech4: “What I want you to do is to uninstall and reinstall the card please.”
Me: “I already did that.”
Tech4: “I know, but sometimes these things just get screwed up, and uninstalling then reinstalling fixes the problem.”
Me: “Sure. Fine. I need to get a screwdriver, can you hold on?”
Tech4 is on hold as I look for a screwdriver. I couldn’t find one in the bathroom, (although I did take the opportunity to use the facilities and wash my hands. Twice.) Also could not find a screwdriver in the breakroom, although someone had left some orange juice in the fridge, so that was pretty close. I settled for a Diet Coke.
Finally found a screwdriver in my office, and returned to the computer and (surprisingly) tech4, still on hold.
Me: “Are you still there?”
Tech4: “Mmm Hmm.”
I proceed to remove the card, restart the computer, remove and reload the drivers. Shutdown, insert the card, restart the computer. The problem is still there.
Back on hold
Another tech (not tech4 or tech1, but possibly tech2) tells me the card is bad, and they are sending another one.
I hope the problem isn’t with the card, I could use another hour or two of relaxing ‘tech support time’…
I went looking for some new virtual real estate, as I am thinking of starting a business venture, and one of the names I looked into was Zerovision. So of course, I checked out zerovision.com you can check the site yourself, but I don’t recommend you do, because it is a splog Someone bought up the domain name just to turn round and sell it at a profit.
There are rules against doing this. You can’t simply buy up a made up domain name and not use it, waiting for some company with that name to buy it from you. Not to mention that there is a cost to register the domain, and a yearly fee to keep the name registered to you. But this doesn’t stop people from trying.
I think zerovision.com is a particular kind of splog called a scraper site. There is no actual content on the site at all. The entire site is made of buzzwords scraped together (hence the name) from high-ranking websites, to place it as high as possible on search engines, and generate any traffic at all to their site. Where the content is supposed to be (in the body center of the page) is…you guessed it, advertisements. Tons and Tons of ads, which probably generate a small bit of revenue.
Now the vulture can say they are actually using the domain name, and the site might actually make a couple bucks from ads, although if they made enough to offset the yearly registration fee, I would be surprised. The real money is made by reselling the name.
I e-mailed the owner of the website/splog zerovision.com, and asked them how much they would sell the name for. I have copied the e-mail below. I have reversed the order of this e-mail trail so you can read it from the top down, but I have not changed any content. Keep in mind that a website name costs about ten bucks to register.
I know it looks like something I would make up, but I assure you this is the real thing.
From: DomainSpa.com e-mailer [mailto:[email protected]]
Sent: Thursday, July 13, 2006 11:36 AM
To: [email protected]
Subject: [zerovision.com] Inquiry
Every now and then, I look to see how the MyLifeBits project is progressing. The goal of the project is for people to be able to record every aspect of their lives to searchable computer files. Every piece of paper you handle, bills, cards, junk mail. Every e-mail. Every phone conversation. Every blog post. Every photo, movie and song. Everything. Even to the point of having video and audio recordings of your daily life stored to terabytes of hard drive space. Your entire life, digitized, tagged, indexed, and archived forever.
Why? Probably because we can. The technology is there, and space is cheap. The limiting factors are having the ability to search such a large quantity of data, and eventual obsolescence of data formats. Just you try to open that old Amiga text file now, you know, the one on the 5.25 floppy disk! It is estimated that data becomes obsolete after about ten years, and that is if you pick your formats carefully. Otherwise, you need to continually convert your data to the latest/greatest format.
Make all the Big Brother jokes you like, but if this technology takes off, it could change personal and social relations Significantly. Imagine these scenarios:
An officer arrives on the scene of an accident, and the five or six people each whip out their pocket pc and playback the audio/video of the events leading up to the accident from their own perspectives.
Instead of saying “I told you so!” or “I never said that!” you could play back the conversation.
Ask your computer “What was that red wine I had on vacation in Chile six years ago?” or “What was my favorite song in 1999?”
Best of all, when you die, hand off the data to your heirs. then they can see what kind of person you really were…
I have read and understood your policies regarding your customers, also known as the ‘account holders’. I am NOT asking about how that information is treated. I am asking about the Contact data the account holders store using Windows Live. Since this is confusing to you, I will use an example:
Pretend that your customer/account holder (Lets call him Bill Gates) opens his Windows Live Contacts Beta, and he puts in address, phone number, e-mail, birthday, SSN, etc for several people, (Lets call them Sally, Johnny, and Jimmy)
In this case, my question is: What are your privacy policies regarding Sally and Johnny and Jimmy’s personal data? Is that data shared in any way, shape or form?
Hopefully you now understand what I am asking, and can send your response to me at your earliest convenience.
Microsoft is retiring support for these products because they are outdated and can expose customers to security risks. We recommend that customers who are still running Windows 98 or Windows Me upgrade to a newer, more secure Microsoft operating system, such as Windows XP, as soon as possible.
Customers who upgrade to Windows XP report improved security, richer functionality, and increased productivity.
Continuing to run these operating systems is like leaving the large, plastic, glowing snowman and candy canes in your frontyard until July. Looking for patches and drivers for these old systems would be like trimming the grass that has grown up around them.
Worse yet, when some 10-year old hacker from Holland figures out a security flaw in your Windows 98 system, there will be no patch. No fix. No ‘download to make it all better.’
So unless you have a computer that is completely offline, and you only use Notepad to keep family recipes on it, then you really might consider changing over to something supported. Like Linux. Or Windows XP. Or just go back to using a pen and paper.