A Hasty Theory of Social Networking

Facebook succeeds so well at capturing our attention because it elevates the mere living of our lives into a performance, and there are surprisingly few who do not revel in it. We don’t fear the panopticon, we embrace it! Of course, it works precisely because it doesn’t see all. But we are happy to disgorge vast quantities of ourselves in order to craft an identity we consider even a marginal improvement on what we feel we truly are.

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Reluctant Apple Fanboy: iPhone 4 vs Galaxy S2

You'll find this image in every single post comparing the two, but who am I to break ranks?

I’ve had an iPhone 3G for about a year and a half now, and while I have been less than happy with a LOT of things about it[1], it’s certainly been enough of a positive influence that I’m sure I wouldn’t willingly go back to using a mediocre-phone, for lack of a better term. So now that it’s time to switch- and it really is, I bought the phone second-hand, it fell into the sea, it has scratches on the screen and I can feel some sort of buzzing sound in the background when I use it sometimes, which can’t possibly be a good sign for continued use- I was pretty sure that I’d want to get either the iPhone 4 or, more preferably, one of the better Android-based models. My choice up until an hour back was the Samsung Galaxy S2. It has far better specs- faster dual core processor, more RAM, a nicer camera, a better form factor, you can increase the memory relatively cheaply by using micro-SD cards, and so on. But when you actually use it, as my uncle exhaustively showed me, the story’s a little more nuanced.

For starters, very strangely, Samsung has insisted on fitting this phone with some sort of colour display enhancement, which means that everything you see in this is quite noticeably different from most standard displays or from “life”, as you can see if you compare photos. This would have been OK because it really does look quite nice in most cases, except for one thing: you can’t turn it off. There ARE 3 display modes which apply various levels of enhancement but all of them give you substantially different images from what you would see on a “normal” screen. This won’t be a problem for a lot of people and I’m still deciding if this is an issue for me, but for anyone who really cares about the “true” colours of something as opposed to how crisp a movie looks- and it definitely looks crisper, if much darker, even with the brightness turned all the way up- this might be a dealbreaker.

Then, the battery life. The battery theoretically has a greater capacity than the iPhone but possibly because of the better specs it does not, in fact, last as long. This might not be a major issue because it does last 6-8 hours of “active” usage, but it’s certainly less than ideal, and I can think of lots of situations where I would want more than 10 hours between charges.

Third, there’s the fact that it really isn’t as quickly responsive as the iPhone. I’m sure loading times for games and so on will be faster- that dual core processor and extra RAM must show up somewhere- but the basic touch sensitivity is just a teeny bit less. Not necessarily very irritating, but certainly noticeable, even when you’re not looking for it.

Fourth, there’s the screen resolution, which is quite a bit less. This is as advertised, but that doesn’t help the fact that if you’re going to be reading something on it, you’d have to scroll much longer on the galaxy s2 than on the iPhone 4, even with the bigger screen. The iPhone does look positively puny if you set them next to each other, though.

Now, all of these are minor points, and it’s entirely possible that I’m overweighing the small inconveniences and underweighing the substantially greater power of the Galaxy S2, and that awesomely large 4.3″ screen. A lot of these bugs like the colour enhancement are meant to be features, or are inevitable side effects of features, and they probably are features for some people in some contexts. My initial plan was to get a decent Android phone for the present and see how the iPhone 5 will be when it comes out, which probably will not be very long. But at least for now, despite my initial bias, I think I’m going to stick with Apple.

Footnotes:

[1]Where do I start? The biggest issues:

  1. Apple blatantly screws over people with older phones, as evidenced by the iOS 4.0 update rigmarole for the iPhone 3G. This update is by far my biggest reason for hating Apple.
  2. You need to resort to some extremely inconvenient workarounds to do anything to this phone without using iTunes every step of the way. I don’t really hate iTunes, I just hate being forced to rely on it.
  3. They… well, let’s just say they don’t have the cleanest corporate image.
  4. I really, really don’t want to be yet another Apple fanboy. Oh, but look…

A Guide to the Next Ten Years

Via Marginal Revolution, the list is pretty depressing, but then the author does call himself a radical pessimist.

Those of you who couldn’t come up with something for your BCG applications, take heart:

28) It will become harder to view your life as “a story”

The way we define our sense of self will continue to morph via new ways of socializing. The notion of your life needing to be a story will seem slightly corny and dated. Your life becomes however many friends you have online.

I don’t buy these, but it’s an interesting point of view:

16) “You” will be turning into a cloud of data that circles the planet like a thin gauze

the bottom of the world

Image by TheAlieness GiselaGiardino²³ via Flickr

While it’s already hard enough to tell how others perceive us physically, your global, phantom, information-self will prove equally vexing to you: your shopping trends, blog residues, CCTV appearances – it all works in tandem to create a virtual being that you may neither like nor recognize.

17) You may well burn out on the effort of being an individual

You’ve become a notch in the Internet’s belt. Don’t try to delude yourself that you’re a romantic lone individual. To the new order, you’re just a node. There is no escape.

This one is kind of obvious:

6) The middle class is over. It’s not coming back

Remember travel agents? Remember how they just kind of vanished one day?

That’s where all the other jobs that once made us middle-class are going – to that same, magical, class-killing, job-sucking wormhole into which travel-agency jobs vanished, never to return. However, this won’t stop people from self-identifying as middle-class, and as the years pass we’ll be entering a replay of the antebellum South, when people defined themselves by the social status of their ancestors three generations back. Enjoy the new monoclass!

On the bright side:

23) Everyone will be feeling the same way as you

37) People will stop caring how they appear to others

The number of tribal categories one can belong to will become infinite. To use a high-school analogy, 40 years ago you had jocks and nerds. Nowadays, there are Goths, emos, punks, metal-heads, geeks and so forth.

My Geek Code

GE/L/P d(+) s:+ a– C+(++) UL P L+(++) E(-) W+++ N++ o? K w(+) !O !M !VMS PS+(+++) PE++(-) Y+ PGP t 5? X R tv+ b+++ DI+ D+ G e++>+++ h- r z?

Man, that was LONG!I’m not supposed to be this jobless!

Explanation:

()
for indicating “cross-overs” or ranges. Geeks who go from C+ to C— depending on the situation (i.e. mostly “C+”)                could use C+(—).

!
Placed BEFORE the category. Unless stated otherwise, indicates that the person refuses to participate in this category. This is unlike the ? variable as the ? indicates lack of knowledge, while the ! indicates stubborn refusal to participate. For example, !E would be a person that just plain refuses to have anything to do with Emacs, while E? would be a person that doesn’t even know what Emacs is.

>

for ‘wannabe’ ratings. Indicating that while the geek is currently at one rating, they are striving to reach another.
Continued below.
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This is probably just an egotistic thing…

…but how do I not know this guy? Douglas Engelbart, that is.  Or The Mother of All Demos, where he introduced:

the first computer mouse the public had ever seen, as well as introducing interactive text, video conferencing, teleconferencing, email and hypertext.

The first computer mouse held by Engelbart showing the wheels that directly contact the working surface.

I mean, Jesus Christ, this is back in 1968, this guy should have temples dedicated to him by now.

Wikipedia has answers,though, as always:

Engelbart slipped into relative obscurity after 1976 due to various misfortunes and misunderstandings. Several of Engelbart’s best researchers became alienated from him and left his organization for Xerox PARC, in part due to frustration, and in part due to differing views of the future of computing. Engelbart saw the future in timeshare (client/server) computing, which younger programmers rejected in favor of the personal computer. The conflict was both technical and social: Engelbart came from a time in which only timeshare computing was achievable, and also believed in joint effort; the younger programmers came from an era where centralized power was highly suspect, and personal computing was just barely on the horizon.

Referred from Engelbart As UberTool?

My Desktop

I’ll let the picture do the talking. I’m using ObjectDock(not really useful, and worth it only for the eye candy), Launchy(which helps me eliminate pretty much all icons from my desktop), this tiny thing called DColor XP that lets me put the small tiled icons instead of regular sized monstrosities,and Samurize, with a mostly custom configuration, particularly the middle bit. It has disk space monitors on both drives, and CPU and RAM usage monitors(shaded is used, purple’s free), as well as a Winamp display: just song,album,artist and elapsed time. The clock I obviously copied from the Samurize site…thank you, guy-who’s-name-I-forgot. Below that is my to-do list; I’m actually keeping one now, as part of my “get your life into shape” plan. Not really working out that well so far: mostly, I think, because these are all very general, non-time limited goals. Well, I’ll fix that soon enough.

I was inspired by this guy, although I couldn’t go as far as he did. Specifically, no Yod’m 3d, Taskbar Shuffle, Start Killer or AutoHotKey. Or even the Google Desktop Sidebar thing, because I don’t have enough RAM to spare to run it and Launchy concurrently. Thanks, dude!

Meanwhile, not a single major game I’ve installed so far(Overlord, Heroes of Might and Magic V, and Deus Ex 2: Invisible War) has worked. I’m thinking it’s a systemic problem. They’re not even loading, it’s just returning a generic “unable to open this file” error. Any advice?

Firefox 3 killed my bookmarks!

That’s it, really. But I’m sufficiently outraged that I want to scream it out on a post all of its own. I mean, why BOOKMARKS? I can understand extensions with compatibility issues and what not, and I know the 3rd has smart bookmarks which might require reorganization, but why the hell would it DELETE most of them? Most being the key word, it’s not some stupid backward compatibility thing because my Google Reader and youhide proxy are still there. So are all the saved passwords etc.

Damn it, I was going to start with the social bookmarking thing soon (I use StumbleUpon, but only for random onetime stuff. Which by the way was the name of a whole folder of bookmarks that have now completely disappeared [:-(] .)Anybody have similar experiences or suggestions for a decent social bookmarking tool?

UPDATE:

I got them back! Apparently this happens because:

From MozillaZine Knowledge Base

If you previously tried a Firefox 3 pre-release version such as Firefox 3 Beta, went back to Firefox 2, and have now upgraded to Firefox 3, any bookmarks you added since you went back to Firefox 2 will be missing if you used the same profile for both versions. This happens because Firefox 3 uses the places.sqlite file to store bookmarks while Firefox 2 uses bookmarks.html. Firefox 3 will only convert the bookmarks.html file to the new “Places” storage system the first time you use it. [1]

and can be fixed, among other ways, by:

Manual deletion method:

  1. Open the Firefox profile folder and delete the “places.sqlite” file and the localstore.rdf file.
  2. Open the bookmarkbackups subfolder and remove all the .json files to another location.
  3. Restart Firefox. Firefox 3 will then automatically import the bookmarks from “bookmarks.html” in the profile folder.

By the way, this will involve losing everything you’ve bookmarked since, so move fast.Courtesy of Mozillazine .

Superman vs Sub-Zero!!!

This just in, from Technorati:

Midway Gamer’s Day: Mortal Kombat vs DC Universe First Characters Announced

Yes, everything you’ve already heard is absolutely true. The next Mortal Kombat game is going to feature characters from DC comics including Batman and Superman. The only other two characters announced were Scorpion and Sub Zero but it was enough to whip the gathered crowd at Midway’s Gamer’s Day in Vegas into a frenzy of hoots and hollers. Later in the evening however, an ugly story started to circulate. According to several sources, Ed Boon stated that the game would have no fatalities. No fatalities? Seriously? Fatalities are what the franchise is best known for but apparently DC will not have their beloved characters torn limb from limb in fountains of blood. Can’t say I blame them, but I’m curious to see how such a move will affect sales of the game. Will Mortal Kombat fans be willing to accept the trade off? Superman vs Fatalities: who is going to win out?

Although personally, as someone who loves the game but has only managed to put one single fatality in all my years(I think it was something wrong with the cracked version(s) that I normally played…I can’t be THAT bad!!!) I throw in my chips for Superman. It would be interesting to see how they fit it in,though. Will he still be able to fly? Have the eye rays? Because that is obviously a pretty big advantage over our more conventional combatants. Old Bats makes a lot more sense: he might be your worst nightmare, but even with that impressive little belt and toned muscles he will only just stand firm against men who turn into dragons. Not that anyone has confirmed that Liu Kang is in, but come on! He has to be!

Firefox Tips

Maybe I’m just a sucker for the under dog, but I’ve had this “thing” for FIrefox ever since I heard about it as (finally!) serious competition for Internet Explorer, and installed it. But you just can’t get rid of the feeling that it can be made a whole lot better. That’s because it can. Here are a few tips to get your Firefox streamlined and shiny, again courtesy K5.

Pimp My Firefox

Nikhil

PS: Remember my earlier “totally unnecessary” update? Another one to tell my faithful readers that doesn’t apply any more.

Geek Chic

Gone are the days of beige and boxy desktop computers, clunky black cell phones and ugly black laptop bags. Now the hottest tech gear styles mirror those that prevail in home and clothing design.

“Technology is an extension of personal style. It’s gone from geek to chic” said Mary Alice Stephenson, a contributing editor to Harper’s Bazaar who advises Intel on what’s hot on the catwalk and its relevance to tech product design. “There’s a kind of show-off factor now.”Apple Computer’s iPod music player has brought back the simplicity of white.Ofcourse, Apple has always been synonymous with tech chic and pure great looks in addition to what I suppose are good products…I’ve always stuck to PCs and somewhat more affordable stuff. But now a lot of companies are focussing on just that: affordable,chic gadgets. Prices keep spiralling downwards … Apple recently unveiled their new affordable “home computer”, which is essentially just a little box to which you attach a monitor, keyboard, mouse, the works, but do away with the boxy cabinet.

Shapiro of the Consumer Electronics Association said the trend toward fashionable tech coincides with the rise of women as buyers of technology. Could be. But what does that mean, men don’t appreciate good design ??? ( Nooo way. Curves are always welcome ! )But companies have to be wary of fads. Translucency has faded and been replaced by “midnight gray” or black, says Kevin Musgrave, director of industrial design at Dell. Blue LEDs, which cost only 12 cents each, deliver “more bling per square inch,” Musgrave says.All hail the fashionable geek !!!

Nikhil