Oh John Carroll

Category: technology (page 1 of 4)

If you haven’t already, you should read The Internet With A Human Face, Maciej Ceglowski’s talk from the 2014 Beyond Tellerrand conference:

I’ve come to believe that a lot of what’s wrong with the Internet has to do with memory. The Internet somehow contrives to remember too much and too little at the same time, and it maps poorly on our concepts of how memory should work.

I don’t know if they did this in Germany, but in our elementary schools in America, if we did something particularly heinous, they had a special way of threatening you. They would say: “This is going on your permanent record”.

It was pretty scary. I had never seen a permanent record, but I knew exactly what it must look like. It was bright red, thick, tied with twine. Full of official stamps.

The permanent record would follow you through life, and whenever you changed schools, or looked for a job or moved to a new house, people would see the shameful things you had done in fifth grade.

How wonderful it felt when I first realized the permanent record didn’t exist. They were bluffing! Nothing I did was going to matter! We were free!

And then when I grew up, I helped build it for real.

Andrew Swick has a quick, digestible primer on what’s happening with net neutrality and how you can help.

I didn’t expect to write another post about cars this year, let alone this week, but here we are!

Today’s link comes from The Verge, where Casey Newton writes about his experience hitching a ride in one of Google’s self-driving cars:

After years of working mostly in secret, Google is beginning to speak more publicly about what its autonomous vehicle can do. There’s a reason the company has decided to explain its program more fully: its cars are moving from the highways, where they typically interact only with other cars, to cities, where they are contending with pedestrians, cyclists, moving vans, and freight trains, among hundreds of other objects. As autonomous vehicles start becoming a part of daily life — at least for residents of the Bay Area — Google will face new questions, concerns, and regulatory hurdles.

Matthew Inman writes about his “magical space car” (a.k.a. the Tesla Model S) in a new cartoon at The Oatmeal.

Like Matthew, I’ve never been a car guy, but I’m fascinated by the Model S.

Fantastical

I’m writing today with a software recommendation: if you’re on a Mac, iPhone or iPad and haven’t tried Fantastical, you should rectify that immediately.

Fantastical is an alternative to the built-in calendar software that arrives baked in to your operating system. I started using it a few years ago after hearing raves about the way it collects your event data: in sentences & phrases. Rather than telling you all about, let me show you:

Screen Shot 2014-04-26 at 8.04.11 AM

I write and Fantastical figures out what goes where. And it always gets it right. Once you use it a few times, you’ll wonder why all calendar software doesn’t work this way.

Why am I writing about this on a Saturday morning? Well, after spending a day house hunting, I appreciated how much Fantastical made everything about planning and living that day easier1, and thought I should reward it with my previously private praise.


  1. Since the software isn’t created by Apple, you have the option of opening everything in Google Maps. If you’ve been burned enough by Apple Maps (and I have), this feels like a godsend every time you use it, even though it’s saving 30 seconds, tops.

BoingBoing’s Xeni Jardin explains how the FCC is about to gut net neutrality:

Under the new rules, service providers may not block or discriminate against specific websites, but they can charge certain sites or services for preferential traffic treatment if the ISPs’ discrimination is “commercially reasonable.”

Bye-bye, Net Neutrality, and the internet as we know it. Hello, greater connectivity gap between rich and poor in America.

I just wrote an email to the commissioners: Tom.Wheeler@fcc.gov Mignon.Clyburn@fcc.gov Jessica.Rosenworcel@fcc.gov Ajit.Pai@fcc.gov Mike.O’Rielly@fcc.gov. You should too.

A lot of what Scotty Loveless wrote about technology and the classroom hit home for me, particularly this part:

Josh argues that students should be allowed to learn the way they learn best, whether it be using an iPad, Mac, or a notebook. As a former student, I heartily agree with him on every point.

However, I gained a new perspective on this subject while working on my Masters in Education.

If 2009 John saw the syllabus that 2012 John wrote, 2009 John would be shocked by the technology policy.

The Gameological Society has a good write-up about the history of the now-defunct Rock Band video game. I was a total nerd for these.

Gary Shteyngart is an early adopter for Google Glass. He wrote about his experiences using the techie eyewear for The New Yorker:

As I leave Basecamp, I cross a bike lane where, a week earlier, I’d nearly been run over, an irate cyclist telling me exactly where I should wedge the iPhone I was distractedly tapping at the time. A similar near-miss now brings out a shout of “O.K., Glass!” from a cyclist clearly in the know. As I walk down lower Lexington’s curry row, a group of Indian men start chanting, “Google Glass! Google Glass!” Freshmen from Xavier High School follow me for an entire city block the way kids in the world’s poorest countries follow you if you have, say, a pen. I hear that in San Francisco, where these devices are far more in evidence, the term “Glassholes” is already current, but in New York I am a conquering hero. I pass by fascinated faces looking intently into my own unremarkable punim, as I update Walt Whitman’s poem—“Are You the New Dork Drawn Toward Me?”

Since you’re likely reading this post on a computer, can I recommend a piece of software to you? Click the title and try out a free program called f.lux. It’s simple and helpful: f.lux changes the lighting on your laptop or monitor as the day progresses.

During the day, your monitor is bright and loud. During the evening, it becomes a bit yellow instead of blue. In short, it adapts to your surroundings.

I started using it recently because I am in the bad habit of becoming very productive late at night. This blog post, composed at 12:54 AM Central, is an example of said productivity. Before I started using f.lux, I would sometimes toss and turn in bed for long stretches of time. I felt wired and wide awake. This software has helped changed that.

I should note that f.lux doesn’t alter the brightness of your screen. It changes the color of the light, so that it’s easier on your eyes toward the end of the day.

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