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. =)

Does anyone read this thing?

views since Feb. 9, 2008