Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Android phones come with spyware preinstalled?

tickingtimebomb.pngNot exactly sure what all this Carrier IQ stuff (via DF, of course) on Android and Blackberry is about yet, but the smartphone landscape right now reminds me of the middle ages when marauding bands would roam over the countrysides -- "pillage and burn". Castles were principally built for safety during this period, and I imagine they were enviable places to live.

When you choose Android, you're choosing life out in the countryside, free from rules and limitations, but at risk of having 30 guys show up and dragging you out, stealing all your stuff and burning the house down (spy- and malware).

When you choose Apple, you choose life within castle walls. Doors are closely guarded, and the vast grounds are kept neat and friendly. Come and go (i.e. surf the internet) as you please, but home (your phone OS and apps) are by all measures safe. Pretty easy to be happy as long as you trust the lords of the castle.

The question a smartphone buyer has to answer is this: do I feel safe inside castle walls, or imprisoned?

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Friday, October 28, 2011


Nest thermostats.

We need more design like this.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Mormon Milieu

For my LDS friends, on the 40th anniversary of its delivery one of the finest talks I've ever heard: Mormon Milieu, by Neal A. Maxwell.
The Gospel is really the counsel of a Super Intelligence as to how we may survive and progress in a cold universe that responds only to law. Man didn't get to the moon with random trajectories and with each astronaut "doing his own thing." The price for reaching the moon was obedience to universal law.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

iPhone 4S announced

I'm pretty sure this will be my next phone, so I was excited to read about the new features.

A quick summary:
  • faster (2x)
  • longer battery life
  • new antenna design
  • fancy 8 megapixel camera
  • voice integration (speak your texts instead of typing them, ask it random questions, etc.)
  • location-based reminders ("remind me to feed the dog when I get home")
  • iCloud
  • availability on Sprint

No near-field communication (use your phone as a credit card), no 4G (which is still an ambiguous term), no new form factor, still no data connectivity during phone calls on Verizon, and not waterproof.

So not everything everyone wanted, but overall a very solid upgrade. I can't wait (till I can afford it =).

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Graphing Calculator (Lite) is here!

In August 1996 I had just returned from Ecuador, and needed to get registered for the fall semester at the U of A in Tucson. I ended up crashing with some good friends Chris and Ivy Bonhorst who I'd known there in 1993 before I left. While I was there Chris had a PowerMac 6100 on his desk, one of the first PowerPC Macs, and he said I could poke around and try it out. I'd been away from computers for 2 years, so playing with the newest 7.5 (?) OS was fun and exciting...

I soon saw an application called "Graphing Calculator", and upon launching it very quickly came up with this:


It wasn't a static image either, it's like a sheet floating in space that you can grab with the mouse and spin in 3-d. Zooming and panning and animating were all perfectly fluid -- no ugly stepping, no entering in plot bounds, no "plot" button to re-click every time the view changes. Any mathematical relationship I could think of was instantly visualized. Any piece of the equation could have an "n" inserted which lets you animate that piece and see the sensitivity to that parameter. It was amazing! 2-d plots are great too, but my mind quickly was unsatisfied with only 2 dimensions. 4-d and beyond suddenly made perfect sense.

Within minutes I had knocked out half my unresolved math questions. What a thrill! Not only that, I'd never seen a computer do anything like that before, I didn't think computers would ever be fast enough to do anything close to what I was seeing right in front of my eyes.

And this was 1996. 66 MHz.

I immediately knew I needed a Mac, and worked like crazy to get one. Graphing Calculator sold me.

The story of how Graphing Calculator got on the Macs is crazy. Crazier still is that Apple didn't buy the guy out (I'm guessing his price was too high).

The advent of OS X in the early 2000s brought with it a crappy "Grapher" app replacing Graphing Calculator. GC was still available on the website, but it was $100 (?!), which I couldn't ever justify spending. For me that took all the fun of math back out of the Mac and has been a sore spot for me for the last 9 years.

Well, for anyone else out there like me, the wait is finally over. $10 on the App Store, the "lite" version has everything I missed. I didn't even blink between seeing the screenshots/price and clicking the "Buy now" button.

Math is already more exciting again. =)

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Cleaning Apple products

There's a very good chance that someday you'll need Apple's recommendations on how to clean their products.

Via DF, of course.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Monday, September 12, 2011


Neal A. Maxwell, "But for a Small Moment", 1 September 1974:
"A third trap into which we can fall, if we are not careful, is to fail to notice that at the center of many of our challenges is pride, is ego. In most emotional escalations with which I am familiar, if one goes to the very center of them, there is ego asserting itself relentlessly. The only cure for rampant ego is humility, and this is why circumstances often bring to us a kind of compelled or forced humility--so that we may recover our equilibrium. ....

Ironically, for those of us who most need to serve to develop our capacity to love, our very egos often make us unapproachable so far as others are concerned. We, therefore, are underused and we wonder why. And this is typical of the trials that we impose upon ourselves."

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

'98 Ford F-150 won't start, part II

Yesterday my truck wouldn't start again. All the lights would come on, but it would just do a heavy "click" when I tried to start it.

Going through the steps from last time, I quickly narrowed it down.

Bad starter.

A few tips for those trying to change a starter on this type of vehicle:

  • This is not an easy job -- maybe 3x harder than changing a battery. If you have the right tools, though, it's a lot easier. You'll need:
    • jack and jack stands
    • pneumatic socket wrench (otherwise you'll loosen and tighten the nuts one 16th of a turn at a time)
    • regular socket wrench (since pneumatic ones can't fully torque the starter bolts (at least mine can't))
    • 13mm socket (for the starter mounting bolts)
    • 13mm DEEP socket (for the starter mounting bolt that has the ground attached)
    • 10mm wrench (for the relay lead)
    • 8mm socket (for the battery -- yours may be different)
    • 3" and 6" socket extensions
  • Be sure to disconnect the battery first.
  • The starter is wedged up to the right of the oil pan, and looks sort-of like a large soda can with a large spice container attached.
  • There are two bolts that you can't see, and that are very hard to get to. Use the standard socket wrench with 13mm socket on a 6" extension to break those loose, then use the pneumatic wrench to get them out.
  • The rest is fairly intuitive...
  • Except don't tighten the nuts on the leads too tight when installing the new one! I snapped off the back of the new starter relay and had to start the whole process over again!

Hope someone benefits from my experience.

Steve Jobs resigns as Apple CEO

What better time to resign than after leading a company from the verge of extinction to being the most valuable company in the world (for a few days anyway).

Sounds like sad news, but he actually hopes to remain on as Chairman of the Board, director, and "Apple employee". Which means he spends less time on CEO stuff and more time squeezing miracles out of turnips.

I'd bet on Apple's best days being yet to come.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Global health database

Imagine President Obama standing up and announcing a partnership with Google to build the most comprehensive anonymous health database the world has ever seen.

Google would be permitted to put ads in a small box off to the right.

Everyone in the world would be encouraged to create an anonymous account (or they could use their existing Google account if they trust Google), and input all of their health information -- i.e. diseases, medications, conditions, symptoms, diet, exposure, activities, cities lived in, etc.

Why would anyone do this?

Individuals could be completely anonymous in their inputs. It could be touted as patriotic, and scientists and doctors would encourage everyone to put in their inputs. The system would offer health recommendations and potential risks based on their inputs. They could see whether they have shots due, or if their yearly colds happen to line up with allergy season. Or if their particular symptoms have a new treatment, e.g. stomach ulcers can be cured with antibiotics now.

Google would love it, they make money any time ads are shown, and they could target the ads to your conditions. They'd get access to a massive database of coincident health conditions and could use that to improve ad targeting to others.

The gov't, hospitals, medical universities, and even regular individuals could go in and do searches and download data, such as "What percent of folks with arthritis also have strokes"? or "In what cities are cold sores most common?"

Reputable organizations could request more information from folks with a given condition, e.g. "Have you ever lived near high voltage power lines?" sent to to all folks who get migraines. Users who wish to help the medical community by answering these kinds of questions would only have to click the "Help with research" link to see/answer them.

No one's name nor address is never entered, or even requested. Fraud would be rare since there'd be no motivation for it, and it would quickly get washed out in the volumes of data. Google could investigate or weed out obviously false info.

I could see something like this changing the world.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Lion's out

I can't believe I beat John Gruber to the news, but Apple's new OS called "Lion" has been out for about half an hour now.

John Siracusa does an excellent job of reviewing the OS for the highly technical folks -- his review came out 3 minutes ago. For the rest, see what's new at

I highly recommend John Gruber's advice on installing.

Be aware that Rosetta's not supported anymore with Lion, so if you're using old PowerPC apps your time is up.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Wealthy getting wealthier?

Everyone should read this.

If you didn't think #1 was the right answer from the start, I'd love to hear what your first thought was.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Modern Android

A very good review of the Nexus S Android phone.

Love the last paragraph.
Sure, it comes with a whole host of freedoms that I can exercise, like installing a third-party keyboard component to replace the system keyboard, but I didn’t exercise those freedoms because I don’t care, I’m just not that guy. I never themed my Windows installations, never jailbroke my iPhone, never turbocharged my car. I want a phoneputer that just works and lets me pursue my own goals; goals that don’t include being a sysadmin.

Our grandparents lived through this

Always good to remind ourselves why dictatorships shouldn't have nuclear weapons.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Faith will always remain a matter of choice

Terryl L. Givens on the FAIR podcast:
If we were to ever reach a point in our lives where we felt the evidence -- for, or against, Christ's divinity or the Book of Mormon, or Joseph Smith's prophetic calling -- were overwhelming, then there would be a kind of intellectual compulsion involved, and our faith would not be a matter of choice.

I've been trying to put that thought to words for almost 2 years. My experience so far has been that whenever I feel like the evidence weighs more heavily on one side than another, it's only because I haven't looked hard enough for the counterpoints on the other side.

But why faith? Because this life is principally a test of spirit. Sure knowledge eliminates the wrong answers from the test, and it ceases to be a valid test for the spirit, and instead becomes a simple test of will, which is interesting, but insufficient.

Russian soldiers in WWII who ran from the front line were shot by their own men -- how do you award medals of honor when valor is forced on you?

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Japanese Earthquake

I had heard it was bad, but I hadn't seen this...

Does anyone read this thing?

views since Feb. 9, 2008