I'm a subscriber of The Listserve, a mailing list where, every day, one of the ~22,000 subscribers is randomly chosen to share something. Last week, I was given this chance. I didn't have much to say (you can read what I wrote here), but I took the opportunity to ask the audience for book/media recommendations.
An interesting theoretical question was poised today in our office: Why doesn't Canada Post, instead of raising postage prices to cover postage costs, reduce the number of mail deliveries? Many homes and businesses receive less than an average of one addressed mail item per day. Wouldn't it be nice if mail only came 2-3 days a week, and you knew for certain that there'll be something in your mailbox when you check it?
Nota bene: for the sake of simplicity, assume I'm talking about audio podcasts. Video podcasts are cool, but a totally different ball game.
I spend more time in the average week listening to podcasts than consuming any other kind of media. (Music is the only medium that comes close.) Each aspect of podcasting seems to trump a certain other form of media.
Podcast episodes are stored locally on one's devices, so you don't need a active internet connection to listen. This is great for people on the go who don't want to pay for Canada's super-expensive mobile data.
Malls should have mandatory valet parking. Maybe not all malls, but at least malls that are big enough to need multi-level parking.
Take West Edmonton Mall as an example. If any mall were to have valet parking, WEM, being the largest in North America, would really benefit from it. (Right now, just the hotel has a valet service.) If one goes to the mall in the early evening or on weekends, the parking lot is a madhouse.
The gross majority of Twitter users are the personas of humans and brands, of course, but there's a small group of Twitter accounts that aren't, and they are the best ones. They are the bots, and they are accounts controlled by software to do various things. Here's three of my favourtes.
Acrotowne is a simple game built by @zhaytee. First, it posts a random string of letters, such as "SATW". Then it's followers may send it a direct message with what they think those letters could stand for if they were an acronym. Finally, after a set amount of time, all the suggestions are anonymously published, and everyone who submitted a suggestion may vote. The one twist is that if you don't vote, any votes for your suggestion are nullified.
Updated on 22 February: see bottom.
What's going on, if you've been living under a rock: the FBI has requested that Apple help them by creating a modified version of iOS that doesn't have safeguards preventing someone brute-forcing the password.
It's key to realize that Apple is not being asked to decrypt what's stored on the iPhone, but to make it possible for the FBI to guess the passcode by trial and error. The thing that makes this case interesting is that, though we all know the FBI has the power to have a search warrant to ask the Apple to give over everything they have related to the case, the question is if they have the power to get Apple's assistance in the case. Apple has already stated that they've given the Bureau everything that's been asked of them, but does the FBI have the ability to force Apple to create the custom build of iOS? (An interesting side note is that the writ from the Bureau does explain that they will reimburse Apple for the cost of the work.)
I recently finished reading The Moon Is A Harsh Mistress by Robert Heinlein, and it easily makes the list of the top ten fiction books I've read, if not the top five, though I haven't yet made such a list.
Background: it's the future. The Moon has been colonized in a way similar to how Australia was: it is used as a penal colony, for states on Earth to send their criminals. By this point in the timeline, Earth's resources are strapped, and the Moon's society is flourishing. The majority of residents on the Moon are not criminals: they've either been born there, or their sentences have been served and they've decided to stay due to the fact that their bodies have adapted to the lesser gravity.
Live in Edmonton, and enjoy the northern lights? Some people at the University of Alberta set up a service that notifies you of times when the aurora is most visible, via email and Twitter. Both options are nice, but what about a way to get instant notifications? That's where IFTTT comes in.
Every once in a while, I like to browse the the App Store for good casual games. I'm not much of a gamer in any sense, but I do really enjoy a good puzzle game every now and again.
Monument Valley is as close to the perfect puzzler that I've ever seen. At the beginning, I nearly gave up because it seemed a little too simple, but the beautiful visuals kept me playing, and it did get more difficult. The world that you control your character through is something of a 3D maze, but because it is isometric and has no perspective, various sections that seem to be at different heights end up matching up together. As the game becomes more complex, and twists like having the camera angle change can completely change the layout of the maze.
The Oatmeal sums it up nicely: autocorrect hates you because you don't give it any credit. We have all these sites full of screenshots of funny things that people have said, and blamed autocorrect for making it funny and making them "famous".
Autocorrect is like the sound engineer at a concert. No one really notices him, no one gives him any credit for his work, and no one cares about him, unless he messes up. The moment there's feedback or a mic cuts out, everyone shares their hate for the sound engineer.
Okay, it's not that secret. But it is one that my Dad came up with after much tinkering with recipes for breadmakers.
This recipe works with most breadmakers, and makes a 2lb loaf (the 1.5lb recipe follows). It works with any mix of whole wheat and white flour, though it's best with slightly more whole wheat than white.
There are many variables when it comes to how fast a webpage will load, and most of them are out of the developer's hands. Thankfully, there are a few things we can do to optimize how the page is delivered to the user, speed up the whole browsing process, and also use less bandwidth.
I'm frequently asked for TV series recommendations, and I frequently ask for recommendations myself, so I thought it'd make life simpler if I just listed my favourites here.
The IT Crowd
Here's a fun British comedy which accurately describes the terrors and triumphs of the corporate IT department, and on a wider spectrum, geekdom as a whole. Don't worry, it's written in a way that doesn't alienate non-nerd too much (to the point where my wife even enjoyed it).
- Does not require watching sequentially, but does have an ongoing story arc
- No longer in production
For me, and a lot of people that I've talked to, the most difficult part of waking up in the morning is getting out of bed. Being able to just reach over and snooze — or completely turn off — the alarm and fall back asleep is just too easy.
A very common solution to the issue is place one's alarm clock on the far side of the room, so they have to get out of bed to turn it off. This works rather well, as long as you have the self-control to not just climb back in bed. This is what I currently do, but I have a better plan (and it doesn't involve buying a clock that runs/flies/hides or something silly like that).