Saturday, November 15, 2014

One Armed Blogger

I am typing this - slowly and laboriously - with my left hand today. Last night as I was getting ready for bed I hit a slick spot, and did "something" to my right hand and wrist. For several reasons I am trying to get through the day just keeping my arm in a sling and hoping a day's rest will be enough.

Of course, as a student of the human condition my unplanned "experiment" is opening my eyes to several things that I suspect folks who have lost some function in one or both hands (arthritis, breaks, sprains, etc) have to deal with. In other words, reasons why "your grandpa is always grumpy"...

Case Study 1: I usually have Morningstar Breakfast Patties to start the day with Coffee and Chobani yogurt. I always thought wrapping the patties two to a bag was a bit wasteful, but when you have to open each bag one handed - which came down to me having to leverage each bag and a sharp knife so I could make a large enough hole to work a couple fingers in and then split the package enough to get them out...

Of course while the Chobani lid can be peeled one handed, you then have to stir it - requiring you to brace it against something...

My normal 5 minute routine became more of a 30-minute ordeal.

Case Study 2: Getting dressed is it's own adventure. Underwear reasonably easy, but ever tried to button pants with one hand? Belt goes on about 2/3 of the way, and then you can't reach the next loop. You get the idea.

Case Study 3: Typing this. I suspect it would help if there was autocomplete on your desktop. And having to hold the shift and another letter... Oh, and trying to navigate the mouse and still hit the right place to scroll when your precision is off...

And now my left wrist and shoulder are bothering me. Aargh!

Friday, November 07, 2014

Getting around town in e-style

I've mentioned on here before that my main mode of transportation is a Currie e-bike - or at least started as a Currie and now has been "frankensteined" into a 48v 1000w wonder.

The ride in most mornings is pleasant, but the ride home seems to get worse by the day unless I'm willing to put in a 12+ hour day at the office. Which mainly comes down to the fact that in SA (as in many cities) riding an adult bicycle on the sidewalk is illegal unless posted otherwise (primarily for shared bike/pedestrian paths). Yes, I see many of my fellow cyclists that ignore the law for some or all of their route. I see many cars speed or tailgate or... but that doesn't mean that I expect them not to get a ticket for their behavior and I HAVE seen at least one cyclist get a ticket.

So what choice do you have in that case? TheVerge has an article up on rideables that parallels the research I've been doing. I am very likely going to pick up Yuneec E-Go, although I am spending some time this weekend with a skateboard and some hiking poles to make sure I'm comfortable with a longer ride that way.

Hiking poles are because I used to ski, and I am thinking I will have an easier time with balance and planting my turn if I have some poles to help guide my weight shifts. We'll see if that turns out to be true or not.

In any case, not only "should" it get me there and back in about the same amount of time as the bike - but being on the sidewalk should get me out of all that traffic and will definitely eliminate folks telling me to get off the road (since I won't be on it).

More on this in a couple weeks :-)

Tuesday, November 04, 2014

Add Me to the List of Folks whose Real Name is not Facebook Approved

I have to say that I didn't really mind uninstalling Facebook this evening, though I did get a chance to be reminded how many services I used their ID to help me login with.

You see, it appears Facebook doesn't believe my name is my name. It evidently doesn't fit in with their list of "approved" names. Guess I should sue my parents or something, huh?

Of course I'm sure that losing me, and losing news about any of my books or my games, will not cause Zuckerman (how did THAT name get approved) to lose any sleep.

But it is nice to know that the US can sleep peacefully knowing that the Name Police are hard at work.

Sunday, November 02, 2014

Latest on the Astro Mountains

It has been some time since I posted the original concept on here, and up until now I have been doing basic research and had some initial talk with folks who might be involved with the proposal. If you've forgotten the original proposal - here's that link again.

At this point I finally have enough of the basics covered to understand the work I need to do next. Obviously one of the early steps will be to get a proper Non-Profit setup. Given the state and IRS rules around 501(c) non-profits I will want to wait until after the first of the year so that the initial funds can go towards setting up the organization rather than the filing fees.

I would also love to hear from folks who might be interested in getting involved in the effort next year who are based in Texas. Also looking for someone who might be willing to help (unpaid at first) with some artistic conceptions of the project.

Rather than try and run this from the blog, you can join me over at our subreddit - AstroMountains.

Look forward to having more (hopefully a lot more) news after the first of the year.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Why Project Ara Matters

I read the Wired article about Project Ara, and then read the discussion of the article at Hacker News. The discussion there led me to realize that folks may be missing the boat on why we HAVE to have Project Ara.

First a quick summary of the article - Yes, the device now boots. Yes, they were able to swap out components without the phone crashing. No, they didn't try hot swapping the CPU. One major point of the article was making the point that you could have different frames, and then move the modules from one to another. So if you are out climbing and you want the real long battery and real good camera, but don't care about calls because you won't have service anyway...

So that is one reason we need it - phones that can change on a use case basis. Another that I don't see getting talked about is that we're at about the same point with mobile that we are on the desktop in terms of CPU. The system I am writing this article on is a custom-built PC from June 2009 that has a core i7, discreet nVidia graphics, and 8 gigs of RAM. If I bought a top end system today it would have a core i7, somewhat more powerful nVidia graphics, and probably 8 gigs of RAM. With the Snapdragon 805 I could easily see that if I could update the display and camera I might not feel the need to mess with anything else for a couple years. In fact, from a Google or Apple standpoint, wouldn't it be great if they could stop having to sell me the razor and the blades and just extract the money for the blades? As a consumer wouldn't it be great if I care more about the camera than a fitness tracker to have more room and spend more money on the camera without forcing folks who would prefer the other to find a different phone, or force the manufacturer to have two (or three or four or...) different SKUs?

Whether it will be Ara and Spiral specifically that get the job done or not, I think the direction is important to mobile, and feel confident that we will see something in this space sooner than later.