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Transneptune

beyond the Kuiper Belt, over the sea

Archive for November, 2009

Google Wave

Thursday, November 26th, 2009

Is still cool. I’ve got a pile of invites; anyone want one?

(Since people keep asking: Google Wave is not, in and of itself, anything new.  It is, rather, a beautifully conceived [though not yet quite fully implemented!] melding of existing technologies.  The tag-line version is that it is a integration of wiki, IM, email, and collaborative document editing, with line-item threaded responses and real-time typing from other users visible.  Many people balk at this last point, but it’s (a) really surprisingly useful and makes communication a lot more like, well, real conversation, and (b) eventually going to be configurable.)

Droid Review Addendum

Wednesday, November 25th, 2009

The inimitable @andrewa121 pointed out that the iPhone has greater extended-latin input abilities than I had ascribed to it; he suggested touch-and-hold to get options for accented characters (which is exactly what one does in Android 2.0). I would like to state for the record that I had tried this unsuccessfully on an iPhone 3GS prior to writing the last post.

Motorola Droid Review (finally!)

Sunday, November 22nd, 2009

Well, I’ve had this phone for a bit now, and thought it time to give my thoughts on it. They are basically positive—if you’re a nerdy guy, this is a good smartphone for you.

The pros are good pros for me, and the cons are cons that don’t bother me, but might be bad for other people. I like the speed, UI, option for on-screen (for general use) or slide-out (for intensive, or SSH, use) keyboard. I like the selection of apps (by which I mean that there’s a good, free, SSH app, and then other, very Google-oriented apps, and a Pandora app).

I like the battery life, I like the resolution, I like the camera. I like running six different apps at a time, and I still like the battery life.

I think that the shape of it is very male, it’s a little thicker than I’d like (for fitting in my erstwhile cell-phone pockets), and many of the apps seem buggier than I’ve seen on the iPhone—but they’ve yet to be destructive bugs. Mostly, the Twitter app I use complains that it needs to force-quit a lot, and then doesn’t, because, actually, it doesn’t need to.

This point is a slight win for the Droid over the iPhone: it can input extended latin characters quite easily, and — and … particularly, but it doesn’t have the fonts to display weirder Unicode, like ♆.

It can’t (yet) play arbitrary Flash embeds, so I can’t watch ZP on it. But it can catch YouTube links and redirect them to the YouTube app.

In the end: nerdy guy, yes. Anyone else, probably not. Price is completely equivalent to the iPhone, in terms of data plan as well.

Addendum

Tuesday, November 17th, 2009

I sat in on a seminar at Berkeley. Fantastic. I feel like a fish back in water, my mind latching on to novel approaches to familiar problems—the Problem, really. Human language, what is its form? What are its possible forms?

There are reasons I love Cyteen.

The department seems to offer the most wonderful mix of field work and cognitive theory. The brain is most certainly not a Von Neumann architecture computer, though I think that the arguments for considering it a species of computer are compelling. And to talk of Language, of course you need a broad spectrum of data.

Berkeley

Tuesday, November 17th, 2009

First impressions: I like this place a lot more. It reminds me of Cambridge, MA: the urban environment is vital, not kept at arm’s length, and has and independent life. Also, the area is denser with people I know—not something to sneeze at.

Yesterday, went to a ling department colloquium, and had great fun there and at the post-talk reception. It had a pervasively academic feel.

I’ve come away from both visits with more targeted ideas of how to write my Statements of Purpose. That’ll be good. If you catch me on I’M the next week or so, yell at me to write. I don’t expect I’ll take much cajoling.

Stanford

Friday, November 13th, 2009

Good:

  • Awesome research happening here; chances to do grammar induction with sparse data, or, more accurately, work on it.
  • They sure have funding.

Bad:

  • Beautiful lawns with no one on them.
  • Feels like southern California.
  • Definitely exclusive; will my patent application make up for my lack of published work?

New phone

Sunday, November 8th, 2009

Well, I feel like I’m officially in the future, now that I have a smartphone.  I got the Droid, a bit of nice Motorola hardware running Google’s nice open-source OS Android, and carried by the icktastic Verizon.  So it goes.

Wiring

Wednesday, November 4th, 2009

I spent much of today rewiring the house (with my dad’s assistance, or, more accurately, I was assisting him).  Lots of drilling, crawling in the basement, getting dusty, trying not to inhale fiberglass insulation.  I found it quite fun, but it’s not a usual thing for me, which I suppose makes a difference.  But there was something exciting and satisfying to that kind of work—a nice combination of manual work, and basic network set up of a sort familiar to me.  Satisfying work is satisfying.