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Misuse of labels: On the definitions of "mobile" and "computer" {TUAW.com}

Nov 9th 2010 1:46PM "We need to stop insisting on easily digested sound bites and call out anyone who tries to inappropriately apply labels in an attempt to misdirect the conversation. Describe what something does and doesn't do, and let people decide for themselves if it is the best choice for them."

Ok, so we no longer use the label "ebookreader" to describe the Kindle, Nook, or iPad, but what do you do? "The Kindle is a device that works great in the sun, gets fantastic battery life, has a very sharp stable display, is good at reading books and bad at dealing with most web pages" by the time you are done saying that you can't remember the point you were attempting to make, your audience doesn't care any more on account of all having died of old age, and you are about to describe the iPad which does sixty seven times as much stuff so will require a mid-sized novel just to introduce.

Seriously?

Now the bit about calling out people who misuse labels is good...but hard to apply because labels are pretty nebulous. I happen to believe that Zuckerberg wasn't trying to steer anyone with his label usage. It was so far off from what most people think "mobile" is that it had to be a mistake. I think Zuckerberg deeply believes that mobile is a phone. I happen to deeply disbelieve that, and I think most people think of the term as more inclusive, but it still isn't exactly a sharply defined term. For example I think of mobile as something you can cary with ease, say in one hand without adding on a carry strap or bag, and something that has it's own power.

Others may think mobile has to be under 10 pounds.

Others may think mobile has nothing to do with self powered and insist anything they can simply carry to a LAN party is mobile and I'm clearly thinking of "portables".

(and note my definition is pretty open ended...what is "with ease"? Would my definition lead to football players having a wider variety of mobile devices to choose from?)

The same looseness and rapid (relative to "dictionary words") evolution that makes labels useful also makes them pretty hard to police.

Terminal Tips: bash cron script to keep an app running {TUAW.com}

Oct 21st 2010 10:57AM @TJ, "'deprecated" almost always means there is another way to do it, and the other way has some significant advantages.

For launchd vs. cron launchd uses less CPU and battery, and can directly express many concepts cron can not.

cron on the other hand can be found on all unix systems and almost all unix like systems while launchd is open source it's adoption rate outside of osx is low. So the primary value of cron is to be portable... But this script is so very very nonportable already that I wod say portability is nonapplicable.

Terminal Tips: bash cron script to keep an app running {TUAW.com}

Oct 21st 2010 10:47AM @TJ having any cron job makes cron wake once a minute (yes even for a run every 5 min job vixie's cron wakes every minute). Running a shell script is also a nontrivial amount of work. The launchd job only does work on process exit.

There is a measurable battery life difference.

If the launchd job were a run every 5 job the difference would be a lot smaller, but still mesurable.

Kindle ad goes on the offensive against the iPad {TUAW.com}

Sep 21st 2010 12:05PM I have an iPad and it serves me well for reading (mostly via the Kindle app). Sometimes I'm waiting in line and don't have my iPad, but I have my iPhone.

When I'm outside I'm normally doing something that precludes reading. The few times I have wanted to read outside have been in the shade anyway.

I haven't tried a kindle with a book light, but I have used paper books with a book light, and the experience is subpar. Bright enough to cobra the whole page without constant adjustment and it keeps my wife awake. Small enough to not keep her awake and I have to fiddle with it to read the whole page, and that movement wakes her. The whole page LED lights are ok but scratch to easily...and make a book more unwieldy then an eBook! I imagine a kindle plus book light would be just as bad (except I could adjust the font size to somewhat make up for poor light). This is very important to me, important enough that I strted reading with kindle in the iPhone prior to the iPad existing!

So I have no real reason to buy a kindle. If I did a lot of outdoor in the sun reading I would likely buy a kindle, but unless I stopped doing indoor stuff I would not regret having the iPad. It is my goto device for web browsing (even if a laptop is handy), and a lot of reference materials are on web pages not books I can simply load into a kindle.

I don't think the kindle is a bad device (it does nicely for the display technology and price point...a duel mode display could work wonders for it but that would add signifigantly to the price and without careful software work cut battery life significantly), and I don't think that people who buy it are dumb.

I think the kindle addresses problems I don't have, fails to address problems I do have, and is a great device for people who do have the problems it does address and don't have problems it fails to address.

Apple profiles iPads used in big business {TUAW.com}

Sep 14th 2010 5:41PM Depends on the product I think. The Xserve for sure has that kind of service plan available, I would imagine the MacPro does. You should probbably give apple's 800 number a call and chat about it.

Retro new iPhone dock has pricey, film noir feel {TUAW.com}

Sep 8th 2010 10:42AM Really? 'cause I figure the more like a glove it fits, the less likely it will fit the next phone I buy...

At $250 I would hope it lasts me 2 or 3 phones not be an "instant hand me down"

The Queue: Predicting the Cataclysm release date {WoW}

Sep 2nd 2010 11:45AM I doubt the last WoW expansion will be coupled with a subscription price drop. I do bet the next blizz MMO will have a "bundle discount" if you subscribe to both. If the new MMO is similar to WoW it will be a large discount. If it is very different (say space baised and less quest oriented, or less sandboxxey) it will be a small discount. The discount will grow if WoW's subscription numbers drop "too much".

After all why cut profits from someone who only plays WoW and not the new thing? After all it will still cost money to run WoW. More money if they plan to keep up with expansions (if WoW stays popular even with a second Blizz MMO out they would be foolish not to think about more WoW expansions). Even a declining player base generates work, figuring out what realms to merge, or coming up with a tricky way to retrofit "transparent merges".

So they need to give enough discount to folks who are thinking of leaving to make that a hard choice without giving the discount to everyone, and without making the discount so steep that they lose money.

TUAW Review and Giveaway: Vuzix Wrap 310XL Video Eyewear {TUAW.com}

Aug 29th 2010 11:57AM I would totally watch mad men, since my wife hates that show.

Rolling shutter effect can make stunning iPhone photos {TUAW.com}

Aug 26th 2010 2:01PM This isn't just digital cameras.

All film cameras with "high speed" shutters (at least that I know of -- this includes a lot of consumer and pro cameras) really have TWO shutters. One slides across to expose the film to light, and the second slides across to block the light.

For "low speed" shots (say anything under 1/250th of a second) normally one shutter entirely opens, then some time passes and the second comes and shuts the light off. For faster shots the second shutter starts closing before the first is full open.

Exactly what the cut off depends on the camera, but you can paint an X on a spinning plate (say a sanding disk on a power drill) and spin it fairly fast (say 300rpm) in a dark room and use a flash to take an exposure. Some cameras will refuse to sync with the flash if the shutter speed is fast enough that the second shutter is moving before the first is closed. Other cameras (like Canon and Nikon SLRs with their self branded strobe systems) will fire the flash on each independent piece, on those the first image you see distortion on the X is when the second shutter had to move before the first was shut.

(some strobes "just" make sure the fire during the whole exposure, but that means the flash exposure has to take shutter time into account which you normally get to ignore -- and yes you DO sometimes want short exposures with flash, to freeze a fast moving object, or just to use fill flash to soften shadows)

Of corse this normally makes boring pictures, so while it WORKS on film cameras, most folks will never experiment with it except on digital.

Report: Rush Limbaugh tears into Chevy Volt, fails to understand how it works [*Updated] {Autoblog}

Jul 29th 2010 12:23PM "Meanwhile the column fails to mention that after 40 miles the car becomes essentially one that gets no better fuel economy than many other much cheaper, much better performing ones. So, other than the first 40 miles, it's grossly overpriced. That was his point I think"

Those are VERY different things though! If I live 21 miles from work (which I do) a car with a 40 mile range is useless. A car with a 40 mile range with great MPG plus 300 miles at a somewhat below average range will not only be able to get me to work, but will likely have better mileage then my current car.

A car with a 40 mile range will not let me go on a long trip once in a while. A car with a 40 mile range at great MPG and 300 at below average MPG will let me get to grandmas house. It may do so less well then other cars, but it would allow it to be an "only car"