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Archive for September, 2010

Nano way!

September 23rd, 2010 1 comment

iPod Nano

When Apple announced its exciting new iPod Nano 6th generation, with its tiny form factor, slick touch screen, and cool “iOS-looking” interface, I got my credit card out as fast as I could – in order to purchase a 5th generation Nano before they went out of stock! Without a doubt, the new Nano is quite slick, but in terms of actual usefulness and usability, it represents a decline from the previous model and a very un-Apple-like triumph of design over actual functionality.

Ironically, Apple itself acknowledged that it made a similar mistake with the previous generation iPod Shuffle. You remember, the model that eliminated any buttons on the unit, creating a beautiful little objet d’art that was utterly unusable as an actual music player under many use cases, such as with third-party headphones or in noisy environments. Apple recognized this and re-introduced physical buttons on the newest Shuffle, while retaining the slick voice command system for those who like it. It wouldn’t surprise me if likewise the next Nano brings back some of the functionality Apple stripped away.

Many of the Nano reviews that have mentioned the taken-away features have focused on “bulletpoint” options, like the missing camera, voice recorder, games, and video player. While these features might be important to some people, they are not the primary reason most people buy a Nano – listening to (and controlling) music, especially in certain environments.

Nanos are especially popular as relatively cheap, but very functional music players that can be used in environments where you might not want to bring your expensive (and larger) Touch or iPhone, such as gyms, boats, or jogging trails. Furthermore, the older iPod Nano’s physical buttons allowed for control of the device without having to view the screen. You could have the iPod in your pocket or in an armband and pause the music or change songs by (physical) touch alone, without looking at the iPod.

The new touch-screen Nanos are impossible to control by, well, touch alone, without looking at the screen. You have to pull the device out and look at it in order to change settings, or leave it clipped to your clothes. While some creative straps and bands (such as the one that turns the Nano into a wristwatch) may help with this, the fact remains – it takes more effort to control the touch Nano then the older click wheel variety.

Obviously, the touch interface is more flexible then the click wheel, and Apple has already at least provided physical buttons for volume control. Perhaps the next version will add physical buttons for play/pause and next/previous while keeping the touch screen as the major way of interfacing with the device. Like Apple’s compromise with the new Shuffle, a change like this for the Nano would really represent the best of both worlds and make the device even better.

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Aid and comfort

September 22nd, 2010 Comments off

Imagine if Al Qaeda, working with Taliban insurgents in Afghanistan and Pakistan, developed a devastating new bio-weapon to use against the US forces. This weapon has the following effect when deployed against our troops:

- Intelligently seeks out and permanently disables the most valuable and highly trained soldiers in mission-critical specialties
- Destroys unit cohesion in targeted units, damaging our forces’ ability to fight back and causing thousands of casualties
- Is a persistent agent, continuing to wreak havoc over time and resisting our ability to overcome the attack, resulting in a long-term weakening of our military

I have to imagine that if such a weapon were deployed against American troops, our military would spare no expense if figuring out how to counter it and how to take the fight back to the enemy.

The sad thing is, Al Qaeda and the Taliban don’t need to waste time developing such a damaging weapon, because it already exists, and is being deployed against our soldiers as we speak. Even worse, all the casualties from this attack are technically “friendly fire” because the weapon is called “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” and it is being deployed by our own military commanders, with the support of Congress and our President.

And just yesterday, the Senate voted to keep up the attack. Talk about giving “aid and comfort” to our enemies!

If you are curious, this short report is one of the best overviews of the damage Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell has done to our military, and is a great way to familiarize yourself with the issue, especially if you only have a vague idea what it is and how it affects people. The Senate failed to act to fix the problem, and our Cowardly Lion of a President doesn’t seem too keen on making changes, but the issue will come up again, as indeed it should, as long as American soldiers are dying for their country and for freedoms that (sadly, ironically) are denied them.

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About the internet, and advice to survivalists

September 1st, 2010 4 comments

A couple random thoughts, on topics as varied as Net Neutrality and how to survive the apocalypse in style.

First, and I’m not sure how to turn it into a slogan that would fit on a T-shirt, but I thought of a great tactic for the pro-Net Neutrality folks. Basically explain that without net neutrality, your internet experience will become what your cable TV experience is today – numerous confusing tiers of service, lots of pay-per-view, crappy mandated equipment, and lots of added fees for everything.

The internet won’t matter once the apocalypse occurs. Assuming you want to survive in style (I myself will probably end up on a spit with an apple in my mouth!) you might decide to stockpile gold, guns, and so forth. I have a better idea – stockpile something that is portable, would soon be worth more then its weight in gold for trade, and can survive almost indefinitely if stored correctly. I’m talking about spices of course. The contents of your local Whole Foods spice aisle will enable you to live like a king, especially after a few years when everyone is getting sick of plain roast squirrel and the nearest cinnamon tree may as well be on the moon.

Categories: Food, Internet Tags: