May 29 2009

Android Apps

So, I’ve been playing around with Android on the G1 (and wrote my own app), and discovered there’s a fair number of quite useful, non-gimmicky apps I end up using with some regularity outside of the standard phone/sms/calendar type application. Posted below, in case you’re curious, but more specifically in case I end up having to re-download them for some reason and can’t remember the names:

Toggle Settings: quickly turn a variety of things on and off, like wifi. A must to save the battery.

EvenTrend: This is app I wrote, used for trending arbitrary data. Most importantly, I track my weight, body fat percentage, time between taking allergy medicine, and hours trained in various martial arts and exercises.

OI Countdown: Generic countdown timer application, but incredibly useful, for everything from exercise sets to cooking. Most importantly, the UI is slim and easy to use, and you can have an arbitrary number of named counters running concurrently. I most frequently find myself using timers for “pre-heat,” “meat,” “veggies,” “bread,” etcetera.

WeatherBug / The Weather Channel: Especially now that I’m taking sailing lessons, being able to check the weather quickly and easily is essential.

Google Finance: Watch my stocks. ‘Nuff said.

Hungry!: Quickest, easiest, most configurable shopping list dealy. Perhaps most useful, since I tend to buy the same items again and again, it keeps lists of the most frequently and recently purchased items.

Twidroid: I’m still torn on the whole Twitter thing – I like having the instant updates when important/interesting things happens (“party at my place tonight!”, “there was just an earthquake, I’m ok”, “Off hiking, out of touch for a few hours”, or various funny offhand comments that are worth sharing), but I find a lot of the other tweets rather … mundane. Regardless, I like this client.

ActionComplete: Great GTD (Getting Things Done) task/todo list with reminders.

The rest of these I don’t find myself using as frequently, but when I need them, they’re really useful.

handycalc: crazy uber-powerful calculator. I most frequently use the conversion tool, when I forget how many knots are in a mile or how many liters are in a gallon.

Movies: Lists local movies, with links to ratings and whatnot. I’ve used it a couple times when I missed the planned showtime and wanted to see what else was playing nearby.

NewsRob: Google Reader client. Only really used when I have some time to kill but not enough to do something else.

AK Notepad: Just jotting misc things down. Most of the time these things end up in ActionComplete, but sometimes not.

My Tracks: GPS tracking. I generally try to keep the GPS from being on continually, due to battery life concerns, but it’s pretty cool to be able to turn in on for a few seconds after taking a photo with my point-n-shoot and geotag the photo from the gps log.

Kanji Flash / FlashDroid: Practicing Japanese – doesn’t happen as much as I’d like, but it’s nice to have to kill a few minutes here and there.

Feb 24 2006


I wish there was some sort of configurable button on my iPod, something I could press while a song is playing that I could program to cancel the random list, go straight to the album of the song, and play the whole album in order. It happens all too often that the shuffle brings up some cut I haven’t heard in years, something that I even forgot I owned. An album that, no matter what mood or where I’m headed, I can always listen to. A little slice of personal infinite. There’s supposed to be some sort of analogy here to a successful relationship, about timeless appreciation, but it’s totally undeveloped and I don’t know if I buy into the implied lack of evolution, unless it’s coupled with an evolution of understanding and interpretation of some internally consistent core … you know what? I’m not going to try to develop that stream-of-consciousness style, I suck at that at readers generally find it annoying unless you really have that knack. Okay, that’ll be a later post.

Some of the albums that still do it for me, albums that are at least a decade old, in no particular order:

  • Portishead: Dummy
  • Nine Inch Nails: Pretty Hate Machine
  • New Model Army: Thunder and Consolation
  • U2: Joshua Tree
  • New Order: Substance

Oh, and a random aside: quintessential Jon Lovitz, from the Overheard in New York site:

Chick: Are you Jon Lovitz?
Jon Lovitz: Jealous?
–Union Square


Update: tonight may require a little debauchery for harvesting into blog-material. Uh-ohs. We’ll see how that goes.

Sep 14 2005

Are there any other types of errors in Lisp?

Security Advisory
Component: common-lisp-controller
Date Reported: 14 Sep 2005
Affected Packages: common-lisp-controller
Category: design error

Aug 10 2005

DV and LS Relationships

Ok, this is terribly geeky, but I like trying to find isomorphisms between ostensibly disparate realms. The preface here is requires knowledge of Distance Vector and Link State classes of routing protocols. Various details and optimization omitted, imagine a graph, similar to some spiderweb of connect-the-dots, where each dot is an airport and the line between cities is a flight. Not every airport has a direct flight to every other airport, so in order to get from one place to another, you may have to make several hops.

In Distance Vector routing, each airport sends out a list of how it knows how to get to every other airport in the world, but it only send this out to the neighbors it has direct flights to. So, if Phoenix International has direct flights to Dallas/Forth Worth (DFW), San Diego (SAN), and Oakland (OAK), it sends out a list to each of those three, saying “I can get to DFW, SAN, OAK, each in one hop.” Oakland might send out and update saying that it has direct flights to SFO, SEA, and PHX, each in one hop. From this, Phoenix Int’l can infer that in can also get SFO and SEA in two hops via OAK. Next time PHX sends out an update, it adds this information to the list. Basically, each airport broadcasts the path it would take to get anywhere in the world, but it only tells it’s friends.

In Link State routing, each airport only reports on the directly-connected airports, but it tells every airport in the world. So, PHX would tell DFW, SAN, OAK, SFO, SEA … you get the idea … that it can get to DFW, SAN, and OAK. That’s it. Then, each airport makes it’s own calculation to figure out “how to get there from here.” (Trust me, it can be done.)

Whew! Ok, that was terribly geeky. But, I see analogies in the way that people maintain interpersonal relationships.

Distance Vector (DV) relationships seem to parallel intimate relationships with close friends and lovers. Everything is shared, and communication is upfront, direct, honest, and continual. You’re either in the circle of close friends or your not – or perhaps, if you’re a close friend, you get direct communication, else nada. If the communication stops, the link is dead. The relationship is predicated on ongoing and frequent updates where you talk about the world, otherwise it’s relegated to gossip you heard through someone else. Low priority. If you’re in a good relationship with your SO, you probably use DV. (Wow, that a little sounded dirty.)

Link State (LS) relationships, on the other hand, appear to be similar to a looser approach to communication. You tell the world about yourself and your friends, unconcerned about who hears it. It’s a shotgun approach: “Hey, this is what’s happening in my sphere of influence. Do with it what you want.” However, it’s less constrained to an artificially binary “in crowd” and “out crowd”, and relationships are extremely resilient to temporary communication failures. There’s freedom to associate directly with whomever, although the such communication quite doesn’t have status DV has, and you don’t get the full picture from any one person. In a manner, personal blogs are LS communication.

There’s no big revelations here, and no one would want to walk around in the world categorizing their relationships in such a manner. However, I think some people get bound into thinking they must use, or at least get used to using, only one of the other:

“You’re not my friend if we don’t talk every day.”

“You don’t have to tell the whole world about me.”

There’s too much energy spent trying to change the way the world is, which you have very little control over, and the way you are, which you have a great deal of control over. Inevitably, the inability to control the world and every relationship you have in it will exhaust you; it will wear you down to an insensate nub.

I think successful relationships use both these approaches continually and fluidly.

I see these changes in my own relationships: I have many friends that live far away that I don’t get to see or even chat with on the phone very often, which is one of the reasons I maintain this blog. (Ok, yeah, we could call more often, and probably don’t because we’re all busy/lazy/whatever, but that’s beside the point.) I maintain a LS shotgun approach while we’re separated: “Oh, really, Joe got married? To whom? Oh, wow, good for them. Hey, pass it along that I just changed jobs.” Hearsay, second hand knowledge. But I retain it. When I next see Joe, we drop right back to a DV relationship: “So how are things going? Heard you got married, how’s it working out? Tell me about it.” This fluidity of form allows long-term, stable, lasting, and significant relationships, without exhausting myself or others, and most importantly, retaining the depth of the connection.

Jul 6 2005

Burrito CFG

Tonight the burrito shop shorted me my napkins – but never fear, my intrepid reader (how cliched is that) – my burrito was solidly constructed, and I had no need for them. (Burrito, light of my life, fire of my loins. My sin, my soul. Bur-ri-to: the tip of the tongue taking a trip of three steps down the palate to tap, at three, on the teeth. Bur. Ri. To.) Which, naturally, led me to wonder, is there a Context Free Grammar for the construction or validation of a well-formed burrito?

Based on my sampling of burritos from around the nation, my gut told me no, there is an art form to burritos, which threw me on to the assumption that art is that which cannot be constructed nor validated.

Ladies and gentlemen of the jury (to run with the cliches), I rest my case.

If I have one.

Or even a point.

Jun 7 2005

Pervasive Home Computing Interface

I can understand that most sci-fi computer user-interfaces are kinesthetic/audio input with audio/optical output, since those are are primary senses, but what about optical input? For example: the view from my bedroom presents a wonderful view of the sky, and I woke this morning, looked at the sky, and wondered if it was going to be a clear, chilly day, or a clear, warm day. Now, take one part minority report, one part red-eye reduction, and one part dashboard – have cheap little sensors around the house that strobe infra-red every second or so (or some wavelength that won’t damange humans by constant bombardment), have a sensor in the camera look for the reflection of the back of our retina (so it can tell when we’re looking at it, scanning for a pair of pinpoint reflections to avoid triggering by mirrors), and if it detects that they eye has been focused on it for two successive strobes, trigger a projector or other such device to superimpose/display a weather report (or stock ticker, time/date, etc) over the area that sensor covers for several seconds. If I had that, I could just wake up and if I was concerned about the weather, I’d look in the corner of my window for one second, and I’d have the weather report. A completely non-intrusive integrated interface.