Thursday, January 29, 2009

An Interesting Observation

(This is something that came out of one of those "You kids don't know how good you've got it!" rants, where I was telling someone who was complaining about having to "haul around" a 120GB iPod that, when I was that age, all we had were Sony Walkmans--Walkmen...?--that ran through four AA batteries in two hours, and cassette tapes to listen to, so that you needed a backpack to carry a good assortment of music, not to mention the spare batteries....)

A 4 gigabyte SD card costs anywhere between $6 and $50 these days, depending on its transfer speed and where you buy it, and it holds, roughly, 70 hours worth of music. A "standard" cassette tape held 30 minutes on a side (because, in the days of LPs, that was about all the gouged-in spiral you could fit on a side of a platter) and cost a buck and a half, easy.

So, to store as much music as that SD card would hold would have taken seventy cassettes--a sizable stack--costing over $100. In 1972 dollars. Backpack not included.


(Okay, there's one thing you can do with LPs that you can't do with digital media, or cassettes, for that matter, but I've only seen it done once. Monty Python's Flying Circus' Matching Tie and Handkerchief was, to the best of my knowledge, the world's only 3-sided record album. It had two spirals gouged into one side, one "inside" the other, so that depending on where you randomly dropped the needle when you started to play it--do you have the slightest idea what I'm talking about, Best Beloved...?--it would play one "side" or the other... Doesn't seem like that big a loss... And in case you've been wondering, the storage capacity of a standard filiing cabinet runs around 50 megabytes...)

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

This is What The Future Should Look Like!

Actually, I want to mention an instance of what The Future is possibly going to look like, and shouldn't, first. I've commented in a variety of places about the problems with Android's security model, and how it essentially made any security problem the users' fault by asking them to approve what the application says it wants to do--in broad terms--on installation, without any policy component behind it at all. Lo and behold, here's the first instance I've come across of (possibly inadvertent) Android malware: a memory optimization application which (I suppose) optimizes the memory on your G1 by simply getting rid of all those space-consuming files, contact lists, etc. I suppose whoever installed it said that they were okay with it messing with that stuff. The article calls this a failure of the Android marketplace, but it's exactly what Google promised: completely open. Social engineering wins again. Caveat downloader.

Now, onto more promising and uplifting things. I use two travel tracking social networks, TripIt and Dopplr, and while I've mainly concentrated on TripIt (since it had the ability to organize my confirmations from airlines and hotels first, mostly), Dopplr blew me away last week by sending me a beee-yooo-tiful PDF report of my various travels last year (not entirely accurate, since I didn't update Dopplr with every single trip I took, but close). Check this out, I think Edward Tufte would be thrilled (you can download the PDF by clicking on the picture):

This really provides an interesting overview of things, in an immediately accessible way. One small addition I'd like would be a more explicit legend of the color-coding of destinations outside of the top ten, but that can be figured out from the map (which, again in Tufte-inspired fashion, shows both where one has been and how much time one has spent there).

I've found something very similar for my cell phone use, SkyDeck. Once you get it initialized to your phone, you get a very illuminating weekly email documenting a variety of interesting things about your cell phone usage. Not as snazzy a use of graphic design as the Dopplr report, but still interesting stuff...

I've replaced my Lenovo X61 Tablet with a 15" MacBook Pro, one of the unibody ones. I'm having some interesting experiences getting back to OS X for the first time in a couple of years after the death of my G4 Cube....