Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Thing 14 Technorati

Technorati has that unintuitive feel that I get from a lot of these popular internet culture sites that are popping up these days. Oh yeah, I can use it. It's easy for me, but man it looks bad. Maybe I'm spoiled by Apple, Google, and Nintendo, but the streamlined interface that I'm used to from them isn't in Technorati. The look of each blog hits you like billiard ball to the face. Nothing in particular grabs your attention. It's all just... there. It's jarring how the tags are listed in different sized fonts, or how there are a bunch of different colors for text that's just everywhere.

Wow, I just read what I wrote and it sounds like I hate Technorati. It's not bad, but it's messy. At least compared to the other three I mentioned, like Apple. In my experience, their user interface philosophy seems to go like this: grab the user's attention with something big and simple, then gently guide them to the fine detail. This is true to some degree in most OSX apps I've used and in their website design. Technorati is organzied, but it's also just all over the place. It's probably just the tags that really bug me the most.

Speaking of tags. They're a useful way to help others search for things one has published on the internet. However, oftentimes there are a jillion labels tagged to blogs or what-have-you and your search results are sometimes cluttered with wildly generalized lists. But tags are mostly useful.

Monday, April 9, 2007

Thing 13

Delicious (no, I won't punctuate it) is the most useful site I've discovered on this Library 2.0 course. It can point to some sites for research that I may not even have thought of. Others are just fun.

Library Thing, for example, can point me to books of the same ilk as those I've enjoyed... in theory. I might go out on a limb in the future and see if I find its recommendations worthwhile. I like Douglas Adams' The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy because it's funny. Will I really like Isaac Asimov's Foundation just because it's also Sci-Fi?

thing 12


Use Noogle to find information about newts and salamanders.

Monday, April 2, 2007

Thing 11

I discovered Wayfaring from the list. It's a remarkable site that showed me how to get from 7-11 to work. I didn't create an account, but seeing as the site uses the same satellite imagery that Google Earth does, I was quickly familiar with it. If someone can't use Google Earth, Wayfaring is a nice alternative. It's no Mapquest, though.

Thing 10 Pics

RSS feeds/ Thing 9

Of the newsfeed search engines there, Feedster seemed the most useful.

Honestly, it's just easier to use Google News to search for the latest information on something. They may not all be RSS feeds, but if I do find a Google-linked page that has one, it's super easy to use Safari to subscribe to it. Bloglines is kind of useless to me because the RSS reader on Safari is easier.

Sunday, April 1, 2007

Tech post: SJPL should make the Switch

Of all things technology related, I'm most impressed by the products that come from Apple. iPods are cool, but their real magnum opus is the Mac. I've owned PCs in the past. I use them at work and school. In nearly every environment I've used a Windows PC in, there's been some kind of problem. In high school, there were two computer labs I worked in: one with PCs, the other with Macs. The PC lab had problems once a week. The Mac one, never. Sometimes all the PCs crashed at once! At work, the problems are far less frequent, but the classic PC annoyances show up from time to time. The compromised speed, blue screens of death, frozen applications... they show up once in a while.

At home, I worked for the PCs more than they worked for me. First we started off with a Dell. It sounded good. It's prebuilt by professionals, includes a monitor, and comes preloaded with Windows XP! Neat-o! Our dreams of becoming true citizens of the Silicon Valley were finally being realized! It's too bad that the Dell was just a nightmare that wouldn't end. It wasn't Dell's fault. The thing was what we asked for... physically. Tower and monitor were all good, but the problem was that Windows XP part. No-one told us we had to build a fortress of firewalls and spyware blockers for the computer to just be normal. Just NORMAL! By the time I learned the swiss cheese structure of Windows XP, it was too late. A myriad of spyware programs were displayed the first time I ran an anti-spyware application. As bad as computer viruses, the spyware was lodged deep in the computer's intangible innards, spreading virtual molasses onto the CPU's floating point operations. The computer became uselessly slow if it wasn't displaying the blue screen of death. My only option, my computer literate buddy informed me, was to reinstall Windows. The process was something I'd become very familiar with. I had to lose everything to start over; I had to format the hard drive. All my work was gone. The essays, the drawings, the TV pilot, the UFO footage, the plans for my perpetual energy machine, all gone forever. But hey, at least I could start anew! No dice though. Even though I prepared a small army of anti-virus and anti-spyware apps immediately after the reinstall, they were no match for the onslaught of spam the interweb threw at it.

So, my friend told me, I needed to build my own PC for better results. This brought up even more hassles. I had to pick out the computer's case, sound card, video card, hard drive, power supply, secondary fans, CPU, CD drives, monitor... oh, it was more trouble than it was worth. Then came putting the damn thing together. It's easy now, but it's still annoying. Still not there yet. The sound card wouldn't play sounds from all the programs. So I had to go back and buy a compatible one! Then the same problems as before started showing up again. The speed was compromised after running the computer for some time. The whole system would crash occasionally. Incompatibility and driver issues were endless. Unfortunately, I had to go to all that trouble to realize the real problem was Windows. That buggy, archaic, and exposing operating system would no longer cause me a great many woes.

I made The Switch to Apple after that. It was like recovering from an illness I had all my life. I bought the iMac, and it's awesome. The whole thing, monitor and computer, is in a single unit. Hooking it up was easy, the initial startup was easy, and using it is just a joy. All the problems I had with PCs are a gone. The performance is never compromised. I can leave the computer on for a week and it's always speedy. The operating system is intuitive and clean. I learned to use it much more quickly than I learned Windows. The threat of spyware and viruses is almost nonexistent. I've never installed any protective software on the iMac and it's always running perfectly.

The Windows PCs at work certainly don't give me the trouble my own did, but they act up from time to time. It probably won't ever happen, but a San Jose Switched to Macs would be one step towards utopia.

"My favorite old PC game was called "Getting the darn thing to work". That's when you work on a project for four hours and your machine dumps all of your work, then you make calls to 5 different vendors finding ANY human's company who will take responsibility for one driver, one piece of hardware or one application.

Then I got a Mac, and we all know these kinds of games (like many other games) are not available on the Mac." -Doug Tennapel