I found this on Hacker News, and it reminded me of something I wrote 8 years ago. Working from home can be amazingly productive and rewarding if you can get it right. I enthusiastically encourage most of my colleagues to try it at every opportunity I can.
Wireless charging is one of those things I really, really want to succeed. I hate plugging stuff in; I hate having wires trailing all over the place, and I hate having to fiddle with connectors. Eight times out of ten I will try to plug in a micro-USB cable upside down on the first attempt.
Over the last few years more and more wireless charging has appeared, and it’s starting to become more common in mobile phones. The Palm Pre was the first I was aware of, but recently Nokia has been on board, and of course, my Nexus 4 has the capability. Aftermarket accessories are available for most major phones.
It’s a shame it just doesn’t work well in my experience.
I have two different wireless chargers at home – a Nokia, and a generic charger bought on eBay. I’ve given up on both of them. I’d try the official “orb” charger for the Nexus, but it’s not available in the UK without paying an extortionate amount for it on eBay.
Problems I’ve had include:
- the “charging spot” is small, and you have to place the phone in a very precise manner to get it charging. Sometimes even the angle of the phone on the face of the charger can have an effect. (Imagine the charger surface like a clock face – 12 o’clock: no charge; 2 o’clock: charging works)
- if you do get the phone in just the right spot, it’ll charge for a few minutes then mysteriously stop charging… then randomly start charging again… and so on. When your phone insists on making a noise whenever it is plugged in or unplugged from power, this gets annoying fast.
- All the chargers I’ve seen or tried have a smooth, glossy plastic surface. The back of my Nexus is smooth and glossy (glass). Unless you have the charger perfectly level, eventually the phone is going to slide off, either completely, or just enough to stop charging. The Nokia has a slightly raised ring in the centre, which seems to exacerbate this problem.
On the generic charger I tried to mitigate some of these issues using thin rubber bands near the edges to provide some grip for the phone to stay in place. When stretched over the charger they were maybe 1/2 mm thick. Sadly this was thick enough to prevent the phone charging at all – presumably for not being close enough to the charging circuit.
What I’d really like to see – and it’s something I think would solve a lot of the “fiddliness” I’ve encountered so far – is a QI-compatible wireless charger similar to an old mouse-mat (the soft fabric + foam/rubber type). The surface texture would stop the phone sliding around, and if you embed one big (or many small) charging spots it should maintain a constant charge even if it does move around. It seems obvious to me, so I can only presume there’s some sort of technical/manufacturing limitation which prevents something like this being made.
If I get some free time over summer I’ll try hacking this idea together (hopefully it doesn’t cause a fire!). In the meantime, here’s a really well done video of someone combining the Nokia charger with an Ikea nightstand. It would be wonderful if this was the reality of wireless charging.
I have to admit… I’m warming up to the idea of Google Glass. As a parent, the ability to capture what my kids are doing so quickly and simply is an exciting proposition.
The new Xbox One looks pretty ass-ugly. The integration features sound great in theory, but I’m not convinced they’ll work so well in the real world outside America. The “always listening” thing sounds creepy… But finally – it has Blu-Ray!
A couple of weeks ago I went to see Star Trek Into Darkness during its opening weekend here in the UK. I went in expecting something mediocre, like the 2009 reboot film, and left thinking it was one of the best films I’d seen this year, so far.
If I had one complaint about the film, it’s that the “Carol Marcus gets undressed” scene was completely gratuitous and unnecessary. Other than that I thought it was a stand-up film. Unlike Star Trek (2009) I could actually get behind the cast. This time around I didn’t want to smack Kirk in the face over and over (much like a scene from ST:ID), and I believed in the relationship between Kirk and Spock (who incidentally is a snarky git). Simon Pegg, as Scotty, would have stole the show if Benedict Cumberbatch hadn’t been cast as the villain.
For me, the plot was a nice twist on some classic Trek stories, as they would have played out following the events of the 2009 film. The world of “Nu-Trek” is a very different one to The Original Series, so even though many of the same events might happen, the reactions to them will be completely different. Some of it was pure fan-service, but other parts were subversion served up in a fan-service wrapping.
It’s not going to win any Oscars – and I’m expecting other films this summer to be better – but so far this year Star Trek Into Darkness is the only film I’ve come out of the cinema thinking “I really want to see that again!”
Why doesn’t the new Flickr app do automated background uploads like Google+ or Dropbox? Seems like it would be an obvious way to increase usage by reducing friction. Keep them private until I decide to share them, but do the boring bit for me. Add in some sort of “highlights” feature to surface the best of the batch and it would be a winner.
Yahoo! today announced they’ve bought Tumblr, in a deal we first heard about over the weekend. I’ll leave others to go into the analysis, but what I’m interested in is what the very vocal Tumblr community are going to do now.
I’m pretty sure 95% or more of Tumblr users will carry on as they have up to now, but inevitably there will be a number of users looking to jump-ship in case Yahoo! break their promise to “not screw this up”. Where will they go though? To me, the answer isn’t obvious.
If I had to list the most important things any potential replacement needed to have, to capture the core Tumblr demographic, I’d say:
- Images (photos + animated GIFs), videos, and audio should all be treated as equally as text – if not better.
- Sharing between blogs on the service should be “two-click simple”.
- Robust theming and customisation options. No two blogs need look alike.
- It should probably be free, with some paid, non-essential, upgrades (i.e. don’t charge me to use a custom domain)
- Rules and policies should stay out of the way of the community and content as much as possible (with only a few exceptions)
- It should be easy to stay anonymous/pseudo-anonymous
Posterous used to be touted as the main rival to Tumblr, but they were acquired by Twitter and eventually shutdown earlier this year. Right now I imagine some of the original team are kicking themselves at a lost opportunity.
Automattic have added a lot of Tumblr-esque features to WordPress over the last couple of years. Matt Mullenweg today blogged they’re getting a huge uptick in the number of users importing from Tumblr (I can believe it – importing my small Tumblr site took over 2 hours to import). That may well be the case, but I took a look this evening and couldn’t find a single theme in the WordPress theme directory which I would count as a “Tumblog“, or which worked well enough with a wide variety of post-types out of the box to make switching painless. Top it off with most customisation features are a paid-for upgrade, and WP.com isn’t going to be an instant choice for most Tumblr users.
So who else is there? I don’t think any “traditional” blogging service is going to cut it, really. Tumblr content is too varied to fit into the standard blog editor which focusses heavily on text (with a little bit of photo thrown in). Again, in this category WordPress.com comes the closest, using post types and media embeds.
If I was Automattic, I’d be trying to release a tonne of free themes matching the Tumblr media experience right now.
Researching this entry I came across a couple of lesser-known services – Soup.io, and Jux. Of the two, Soup.io resembles an cut-down, early version of Tumblr, and might be a good shout if you don’t need all of the bells and whistles. Jux seems more in tune with the art/photographer side of Tumblr; I can’t tell how well it copes with videos, GIFs, or audio. It was very pretty however, using a full-screen aesthetic.
So where will they go?
I really can’t see a clear winner. WordPress.com comes closest in features, but there’s still a big gap – largely cultural – between the two services that might be too big for many users to bridge. I’d love to hear any thoughts on this, or even recommendations of alternative services, so please leave a comment below!
I just switched over to Crunchbang Linux, on my ageing desktop. So far so good!