Tag: Technology

Any Tumblr Users Care to Comment?

I'm getting ready to move my blog system from the rapidly disappearing Posterous to a different platform. Right now the top candidates are Tumblr, Storify and WordPress. None of them is a perfect replacement for Posterous but I can make any or all of them work.

My plan at Tumblr would be to create a mesh of blogs as I've done with Posterous, with one central blog that covers everything and topical blogs on the most important subjects I cover frequently. That seems to be baked into the Tumblr DNA so that is a point in its favor.

There are some very nice Tumblr themes and although I have only ever paid for a theme once in my career (and that didn't work out so well), I'm considering adopting a premium Tumbr theme.

So far, at least, it looks like Tumblr meets almost all of my criteria. The autoposting feature is somewhat inadequate, supporting only Facebook and Twitter natively (though it appears some themes go beyond that). Posting by email looks like it will work quite nicely (though I haven't pushed that feature far yet). 

What am I missing? What are the walls in Tumblr that I'm not going to encounter until I've already invested my time and content in it as my blogging platform of choice? What other platform(s) should I be looking at that i may not have checked out yet? This is a major decision for me and I don't want to second guess or be forced to rethink it in less than two years if possible.

Slow Posting First Signs of Posterous’ Ending?

I've noticed in the past week or so that my email posts to my Posterous blogs have been taking longer and longer to post. Before Twitter acquired — and abandoned — the company, response from the Posterous servers was nearly instantaneous. 

Today, it took more than an hour for me to receive the email acknowledging my morning post. Yesterday, the time was several minutes in many cases.

Guess it's time to bite the bullet and migrate my blogs. I hate the thought of spending that much time but the handwriting is on the blog.

Forcing Me to Use a LESS Secure Password? WTF?

Enompasswordstupidity

I’ve written in the past about my annoyance with companies that try to put specific restrictions around passwords. It’s my stuff, dammit; let me pick the password. Warn me if you think it’s too insecure. But don’t tell me how to form it.

Along comes enom.com, where I do my domain name work. Tonight I went to change my password to make it more secure. I entered the new password twice as required and was met with the stupid response shown in the image. One of the best-known and most widely accepted ways of securing information with passwords is to be sure the password includes one or more “special characters” which my new password does. But enom.com won’t let me use it.

Stupid, stupid, stupid!

Who wins by this idiotic policy? The programmers who are too lazy to deal with hashing and testing passwords that are beyond dead simple?

Gimme a break, enom. Fix this problem.

Why Apple is Highest-Valued Company in History

Apple has just become the highest valued corporation in world history this week as its stock has surged to over $660/share giving the company a valuation of $622 billion.

The WEEK does its usual good job of rounding up opinions as to why this is the case, particularly in view of the stock's plummet a mere few weeks ago in light of "disappointing" earnings.

Citing a variety of sources (as is its style), the magazine offers four possible explanations for the stock explosion:
  1. iPhone 5
  2. iPad Mini
  3. New Apple TV
  4. The stock is badly undervalued
At least one Apple analyst has projected a per-share price of $1,111 within a year. Apple's market valuation has crossed the $400 billion, $500 billion, and $600 billion marks — all in 2012, so there's no reason to stop being enthusiastic now, right?

Dictation in OS X Mountain Lion is a Toy

I was really excited to hear that Apple's new OS X 10.8 (Mountain Lion) release included free dictation. I've been working for some time to train my Nuance Dragon Dictate to understand my voice and transcribe dictation correctly. It does a decent job but it is badly hampered by its complete lack of integration into my system. I have to dictate content into its notes window, then copy-paste it into my word processor where I have to manually format it.

Apple's dictation promises in-app support. Theoretically, I can open any app, turn on dictation, and dictate directly into the app. Not as good as the old MacSpeech Dictate, which seems to have gone away; it had app support packages that would let you do text formatting and issue commands inside the apps. But Nuance bought the MacSpeech guys and ended that as far as I can tell.

But Apple dictation works only on the Internet. You speak, it transfers the audio to Apple servers, which translate the text and ship it back to your app. That wouldn't be too onerous, but Apple has a time-out in the dictation at around 30 seconds. So I can't get into a good flow of dictation as I can with Nuance. I still have to pause with Nuance, but the pauses can be more natural and much shorter, in large part, I'm sure, because the dictation is being translated locally. With Apple, it just arbitrarily stops listening every 30 seconds or so, and you have to wait for it to bring the translated text back to the app. 

In my mind, that makes Apple's dictation an interesting toy not ready for serious prime-time use.

Oh, well, back to Nuance.

Trying on a Mountain Lion

I just installed Apple's latest OS X release, 10.8 known as Mountain Lion on my iMac at my office as a first step in deciding whether to adopt it.

I read a lot of reviews and posts about it and it seemed pretty stable and works fine with all but one of my apps so far. (And the installation process warned be about that app but not until after the installation, which was a little strange.)

While I'm anxious to try out some of the cool features like tight integration with iCloud for synching devices (which seems however not to have bypassed the extremely annoying synch issues with iTunes) and dictation (really!?), I'm most excited at the moment that the new release of Safari bundled with Mountain Lion has adopted the Google-devised "omnibar" which allows me to type search terms or URLs into the same field. That may be enough to get me to switch from Chrome to Safari, particularly since Chrome continues to not play well with Google's own apps in some cases as I've mentioned before.

Watch this space over the next few days as I experiment with OSX 10.8.

Beyond Responsive Design to Reactive Design

The latest rage sweeping the Web design world is responsive design. This is a set of design principles and techniques which allow a design to shift dynamically in response to the environment in which the user is viewing the site. At its core, it means that views resize gracefully.

Most modern Web designers seem to favor designing first for the small screen of a smartphone and then expanding the designs out to the full-sized browser, perhaps with an intermediate stop at a pad-sized view.

This is very cool stuff and I heartily applaud it.

Today as I read this column on TechCrunch by well-known designer Jay Jamison, it occurred to me that one problem with responsive design is that as the design effectively "shrinks" from full-sized to phone-sized presentation, the designer of necessity makes decisions about what content and links and imagery will appear on the opening screen, which is the hard-line equivalent of "above the fold." Speaking from experience, that's not always an obvious or easy call. Balancing the user's interests against the publisher's needs and desires is never easy and when you compress the real estate within which you can make those trade-offs, you make those choices more difficult.

What if we let the user make those decisions rather than the designer? Furthermore, what if we allowed the user decision to be inferred from behavior on (and perhaps even off) the site? In other words, rather than having the user experience merely adjust visually to the differing screen size, we make dynamic decisions about what to display based on what user behavior has previously told us about his or her preference on the site?

I propose to call this new approach reactive design because the design reacts to user behaviors and preferences, expressed and implied, in deciding what and how to present its information.

Any thoughts?