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August 20, 2008

Tips that made me go D’oh! #8567 & #8568

#8567 If iTunes — one of the least intuitive user interfaces around — isn’t transferring podcasts onto your iPod (which, except for the wheel, is a UI so badly designed that your first instincts are almost wrong):

1. Click on your iPod in the “Devices” section of iTunes

2. Click on the “Podcasts” tab in the window on the right. (See here for instructions and a screenshot.)

3. Click on “Sync”

4. Click on “Apply” in the bottom right.

5. Smite your forehead and say “D’oh!”

(I’m not proud of this. It just never occurred to me that syncing podcasts would be off by default. And I had always clicked through the very top level of the device, not recognizing it as a preference pane. Hence the self-inflicted D’oh!.)

#8568 If you are using Firefox and want to quickly scroll among the many, many, many tabs you’ve accumulated, install the add-on All In One Gestures and set the mouse wheel preference so that you can then:

1. Position your mouse cursor over any tab.

2. Spin the wheel away from you.

3. Watch the tabs fly by.

4. Spin the wheel towards you.

5. Watch the history of your tabs pass before your eyes.

4. Smite your forehead and say “D’oh!” [Tags: ]

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August 18, 2008

Worst. News analysis. Ever.

This could well be it. Of course, it may be fabricated, in which case, it’d be much less awfully funny, and funnily awful.

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I am up-down dyslexic

I know that I’m right-left dyslexic, although “dyslexic” can’t be the right (left?) word, can it? But I recently realized I’m also up-down dyslexic: if you tell me to climb the hill, I won’t roll down it, but if you give me a trapezoidal plug and a trapezoidal socket — like the small end of a USB plug, or a VGA plug — I will try to insert it the wrong way up 50% of the time.

I assume this is tied into my extraordinarily low scores on tests for spatial ability. You know the test where they show you a cube unfolded into six squares, some with various shapes drawn on them, and then you’re supposed to figure out which squares are adjacent? Not only can’t I do that, I have trouble imagining them folded into a square. To me, they might be instructions for making an origami heron or the shadow cast by a fourth dimensional cube onto a two dimensional surface. Or Space Dominoes. I just can’t tell.

This, by the way, make me the world’s most annoying chess player. Obviously, I can’t picture the board ten moves ahead. But I also can’t picture the board one move ahead. So, I have to actually move my piece to see what it would look like, and, if you’ll let me, to judge your possible responses, I’ll move your pieces too.

My nightmare: I’m piloting a spaceship over the surface of the Empire’s Death Cube, which is folding randomly because of a warp in space-time, and my only hope is to fly to the left and insert the trapezoidal nose of my ship into the trapezoidal hole of the Death Cube’s energy portal. And then I look out my window and see that the Cube is made out of seafood.

Oh, did I mention that I’m afraid of seafood?

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August 9, 2008

Edwards is a philandering shit whose politics I still like

Especially given how much I love Elizabeth Edwards, I was very unhappy to hear that John Edwards is an adulterer. And that perforce makes him a liar, a vow-breaker, and, well, the rest depends on details and psychologies I don’t even want to know about. So, when he and Elizabeth decided to continue the campaign despite the resurgence of her illness, I simply don’t know if they were reconciled and mutually aware, or whether he was cynically and quite horribly using her.

I had been hoping that Edwards would still be able to serve his cause and country. If this were a “simple” adultery, then I’d say it shouldn’t keep us from benefiting from his potential public service, and I’d say the same if it were either Bush, either Clinton or the one and only George Washington. But, there’s the potential that this was a far more treacherous betrayal. (Disclosure: I was a volunteer adviser to the Edwards campaign on Net policy.) [Tags: ]

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July 31, 2008

Blogs, journalism, community

Terrific piece, out of Harvard’s Nieman Foundation, by Dan Kennedy on getting news within the embrace of one’s community. It won’t settle the hash about the danger of only talking with like-minded people (a danger I’m less worried about than others), but it puts the positive well.

Here’s the final paragraph:

Critics of blogs have been looking at the wrong thing. While traditionalists disparage bloggers for their indulgence of opinion and hyperbole, they overlook the sense of community and conversation that blogs have fostered around the news. What bloggers do well, and what news organizations do poorly or not at all, is give their readers someone to sit with. News consumers — the public, citizens, us — still want the truth. But we also want to share it and talk about it with our like-minded neighbors and friends. The challenge for journalism is not that we’ll lose our objectivity; it’s that we won’t find a way to rebuild a sense of community.

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July 30, 2008

Rebecca MacKinnon on liberty and the Net

Rebecca MacMKinnon has an important and discomforting post that aims to shake us out of our complacency about handing the Net and our liberty to ventures that do not have that liberty as their primary value.

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July 28, 2008

Newspaper readership steady among the old and dying

The Readership Institute of Northwestern U has a new study out that shows that, compared to its 2006 study, those 45 years and older continue to read newspapers, while the 18-24 year olds continue to drift away from their daily exercise in origami.

Further, people continue to spend 27 minutes a day reading the paper, except on Sundays when the new average of 57 minutes continues its decline since 2002. Maybe we’re just getting better at doing the sudokus. People say they complete 60% of the paper on weekdays and 62% on Sunday.

By the way, Google tells me that the average reading speed is 230 words per minute. That means people on average read 6,200 words of their paper on weekdays. According to a person at Metafilter, if you read all the articles on the front page of the NY Times (including their continuation inside), you would have read 12,900 words.

Therefore, people are reading 60% of the newspaper only if by that you mean that they read half the articles on the front page and then stop.

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July 23, 2008

Zack vs. the RIAA

The first in a series of three short videos from the Digital Natives project of U of St. Gallen and the Berkman Center that tells the story of Zack McCune, a Brown student (and Berkman intern) who “won the DMCA lottery” and was sued by the RIAA. It’s nicely done product by summer interns Nikki Leon and John Randall, and it’s a cliff-hanger…

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July 17, 2008

Marco Montemagno’s project

I am an admirer of Marco’s. His new project is trying to explain what’s important and real about the Internet. Its page is here,. It’s in Italian, but I am confident in recommending it without having read it. (I’m still on the road, and only have 3 minutes left on the free hotel wifi before its 15 mins are up.)

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July 16, 2008

Mobile social networking

Spending an interesting day in Milan in conversation about whether Web-based social networking sites/services are going to continue to shape our expections about SNSes (and sociality), or whether the ubiquity of mobiles will wag this dog. The social roles of SNS on the two platforms are so different. One creates my presence, the other announces my temporality.

(Hint: Don’t try blogging on ytour blackberry on a bus.)

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