My geek hero, Shaun Inman, has just released a clock/calendar replacement for Mac OS X's menu bar. It's nice, but superfluous if you run iStat Menus (and really, who doesn't?), which offers a very similar replacement.

The world is trying to contact you. Tell them how and when.

Sure, at first blush, Protocol may come across as a bit pretentious, but I'm not convinced there's no value here.

Linen backgrounds for iPhone and iPad

October 24, 2011

While some love to hate the linen textures that are so prevalent in Lion, I'm kind of into them. I use the dark linen texture as my Mac wallpaper and wanted the same look on my iOS devices. iOS 5 actually uses linen textures for various interface elements (including Notification Center's background), but oddly, it's not offered as an option for the lock and home screens.

Fortunately, Lion includes swatches for dark and light versions of the texture, which you can find here:


Dark: NSTexturedFullScreenBackgroundColor.png

Example of dark linen texture

Light: NSLinenBackgroundPattern.png

Example of light linen texture

iOS won't let you tile wallpapers, and so I used the swatches to create native-resolution images for both the iPhone and the iPad.



With a SendTab network, you can send send and receive tabs between computers [including iOS devices], or you can send a tab to every computer in your network!

Neat, though I can't say I've come up with a use-case for me that fits within my Instapaper/Read It Later framework. For detailed thoughts on this utility, check out the write-ups from Matt Haughey and Jorge Quinteros.

Kindle 4.0.1 software update includes page refresh option#

Remember this from my review of the latest non-touch Kindle?

One odd thing I did notice when playing with both devices today was that "page turns" on the Kindle 3 always flashed the entire screen (including the non-text border surrounding the content); on the new Kindle the entire screen is flashed every sixth page turn. This does make the transitions slightly less jarring, but again, the flashing (no matter how egregious), is something you won't notice after a while.

What I hadn't yet noticed when I published that piece (but did notice the following day) was how much the quality of the text fell off between full-page refreshes–it got worse with each successive "partial" refresh.

This latest software update adds a "Page Refresh" option that lets you choose which type of refresh you want the Kindle to use–"full" or every-sixth-page. I of course reverted to "full" refreshes, which is what every previous Kindle used.

Why is religion stronger in economically unequal societies?#

[E]very single measure of religiosity--and there are 12 of them--shows a highly significant positive correlation with economic inequality. (Emphasis mine.)

[The] findings suggest that both the deprivation and relative power theories are needed to explain the data. In economically unequal societies, rich people promulgate religion to keep their own place in the hierarchy, and, rather than fighting for more equality, poor people accept religion as an easy form of solace.

Vintage Walkman Museum#

Welcome to Pocket Calculator's Classic Walkman Museum. Our goal here is to provide you with the most complete vintage walkman & portable stereo information source anywhere. As trivial as the subject may be, we realize there's a following out there in search of information on the history, technology and collectibility of personal stereos and walkmans.

So many memories. "Auto-reverse," haha.

iOS 5 has SMS mark-as-unread, sort of

October 12, 2011

One of the biggest additions in iOS 5 is Notification Center--a pane that holds your most recent notifications (among other things)--which you can pull down from within any app. I've been using the iOS 5 beta since jump, and constantly find myself inside Notification Center. The granular, app-specific controls are fantastic (though of course I, like Ben, have a few niggles, which I'll outline in a future post).

Regarding iOS' SMS app, a few years ago I wrote:

The main thing I'd like added is the ability to mark text messages as unread. I receive a ton of texts, sometimes in quick succession and from multiple people, and don't always want to respond to them right away (much like email), but do want to respond to them at some point. The lack of mark-as-unread is most annoying when I receive a text message while inside another application; when this situation arises, a modal window appears with the text message, and gives me two choices: "close" and "reply." If I choose "reply," I'm shuttled out of the current app and into the SMS app; "close" kills the semi-transparent pop-up and marks the message as read. These limited options mean that if I receive a text message while doing something else, I either have to respond to it immediately, or run the risk of forgetting that a response is due.

OK, so what does that have to do with Notification Center?

Within Notification Center, each app's notifications are grouped together and are cleared either by clicking the circled "x" associated with the app or by launching the app (usually). The rub here is that cleared or uncleared, the SMS app's unread badge is not affected; this means you can read your texts from within Notification Center (and/or the lock screen and banners/alerts if you have "Show Preview" turned on), without ever disturbing that subtle reminder you've at least one message to which you need to attend.

The only thing you need to watch out for is "Slide to reply"--which appears on the lock screen when you receive an SMS while the screen is off--because this will take you directly into the SMS app, and subsequently mark the text as read.

I have "Show Preview" turned off, and so I need to jump into Notification Center to actually see the content of the SMS message(s). When I receive a text I want to look at immediately, I hit the power button to toggle the screen on/off, "Slide to unlock" and then swipe down to invoke Notification Center.

With this method you can review (and clear) your text messages without having them marked as read, and then respond to them when you feel like it.

(Please don't tell my friends I do this.)

Why do you close your eyes to remember?#

When your eyes are open, those areas of the brain that are involved in vision [and visual recollections of things you've seen in the past] are getting input from the eyes, and this input keeps those areas busy. Consequently, when you have to answer a difficult question or think about some visual memory from the past you either close your eyes or look upward to help you disengage from the world.

Amazon Associates Bookmarklet v1.2

October 11, 2011

I've just made a minor modification to the bookmarklet I created for tagging the URI of any Amazon product page with your Amazon Associates ID. I was compelled by Marco Arment to make this change, when the other day he tweeted the following:

I've been doing my Amazon affiliate links wrong most of the time.

Can't do: /yourname–20
Must be: /?tag=yourname–20

That's actually incorrect--according to Amazon's Link Checker either way is fine--but I've seen the &tag syntax more frequently of late and even Amazon's own Link to Any Page dingus uses it, and so I thought I'd make sure my bookmarklet does too. Future-proofing is never wrong.


Memory's photons#

[M]emory is divided into discrete individual packets, analogous to the way that light is divvied up into individual bits called quanta. Each memory is just 125 milliseconds long – which means the brain can swap between different memories as often as eight times in one second.

It won't surprise you to know that the method devised to come up with this data (i.e., rat "teleportation") is as fascinating (to me) as the data itself.

Thanks for everything

October 05, 2011

I'll miss you Steve, and will forever think different. Rest in peace.