All posts in Technology

Every stoplight can be the Rockin’ Roller Coaster

One of the most popular attractions at Hollywood Studios is theRockin’ Roller Coaster1, and one of the best parts about the Rockin’ Roller Coaster is the initial, 2.8 second, 0-to-57 mph start.

Thankfully, we can now get that kind of start in our every day lives, since the Tesla P85D can do 0-to-60 in 3.2 seconds.2

Excuse me while I go check my sofa cushions for any extra change.

(h/t to The Accidental Tech Podcast for bringing this to my attention.)

  1. It also happens to be one of the only attractions still open at Hollywood Studios, but that’s a whole other issue. 

  2. The P85D’s $120,000 price tag might mean you have to wait another month or two before you buy your Bungalow DVC. 

→ How to make TV sports announcers shut up

I use this trick all the time.

→ Samsung dims the lights on LEDs

A major thank you to Cree for creating affordable LED bulbs that last for 10 years and blowing up this market before it even got started.

→ The New Kindle Voyage

Today, Amazon released the new Kindle Voyage1, an upgrade over the existing Kindle Paperwhite. It looks like a really awesome reader, but I am going to have to wait for some reviews before I can say that it’s $100 better than the Paperwhite.2

  1. Affiliate Link (as is the post link and the other links in this post.) 

  2. I have a Kindle Paperwhite that I absolutely love it. Also, it’s unclear from Amazon’s announcement whether or not the Paperwhite will be sold going forward. 

→ Two Toasters Tapped To Develop WishClouds New Shopping App

Congratulations to a local, Durham developer for being involved with such a highly publicized app. I always like hearing about local companies like Two Toasters doing well.

→ FiveFingers Maker Will Pay Millions To People Who Bought Its Shoes

“This study showed that increases in bone marrow edema [the precursor to a stress fracture] are more common in subjects who were transitioning to the [Vibram FiveFingers],” concluded this 2013 study.

I always thought FiveFingers shoes looked ridiculous, but I never thought they actually might have been causing damage to people’s feet as well.

→ Fixing Word Crashes with “Smart” Copy and Paste

Word is by far the crashiest program on my Mac. I am going to try this tip from David Sparks in hopes that it help alleviate some of Word’s problems.

→ Advanced Mark as Read Options in Mr. Reader

Wow. I had no idea these options existed. I have been looking for a good way to “Mark items older than 2 weeks as Read” since FeedWrangler first started. Well done, Mr. Reader. 1

  1. Affiliate Link. 

→ Comixology removes in-app purchases from its iOS App

You’ll still be able to read comics you’ve purchased through in-app purchasing in this new version, but you will need to sync purchases with the new app via the Restore function. And if you want, you can continue to read your existing comics through the old app; you just won’t be able to purchase new comics with it.

This is kind of a bummer. Doing everything through the iOS app was just so much easier.

Count me amongst those who think this is related to comixology being bought by Amazon.

→ Goodbye, Net Neutrality; Hello, Net Discrimination

Tim Wu, writing at the New Yorker:

“The answer is yes,” Obama replied. “I am a strong supporter of net neutrality.” Explaining, he said, “What you’ve been seeing is some lobbying that says that the servers and the various portals through which you’re getting information over the Internet should be able to be gatekeepers and to charge different rates to different Web sites…. And that I think destroys one of the best things about the Internet—which is that there is this incredible equality there.”

If reports in the Wall Street Journal are correct, Obama’s chairman of the Federal Communications Commission, Thomas Wheeler, has proposed a new rule that is an explicit and blatant violation of this promise. In fact, it permits and encourages exactly what Obama warned against: broadband carriers acting as gatekeepers and charging Web sites a payola payment to reach customers through a “fast lane.”

People in the tech industry are now starting to realize what everyone who opposed Obama said from the start: nothing he said on the campaign trail was true.

→ Breaking down iOS URL Scehemes and URL Encoding

This piece by Phillip Gruneich is a great starting point for people who want to understand how to use URL schemes in iOS.(Or a good refresher for people who have used them before.) Gruneich’s piece won’t explain how to use URL schemes, but it will give you the foundation you need to understand the way URLs are encoded.

→ How to cancel an iTunes or App Store subscription right from your iPhone or iPad

I did not know this was possible.

→ Feds will require new cars to include backup cameras

It takes about 2 days using a backup camera before you start to wonder “how did I ever survive without this?”

→ Helpful Tweaks for Facebook’s new Paper App

These tweaks has made it pretty easy for me to replace the regular Facebook app with the new Paper interface. I am still getting used to the gestures, but I think I like it a lot more than the old app.

→ Mr. Reader Updated to Version 3.0

My favorite RSS reader for iPad, Mr. Reader, has just received an iOS 7 update. This means a slick new look and background downloads. It is available in the App Store for $3.991.

  1. Affiliate Link (as is the post link.) 

→ New Technical Difficulties Podcast Makes Listening Easy

You can tell this website was made by knowledgable geeks:

SoundCloud provides one of the best inline players around. It can play in the background on iOS and doesn’t require flash. But it stinks with HuffDuffer. If that’s your thing, then you can use the regular link on the same page. It uses our current CDN, Buzzsprout.

I wish more shows would make their episodes so easy to use with HuffDuffer. That would make my listening experience so much nicer.

→ Why Feed Readers Need to Identify Their User Agent

Alex Knight explains how Feedly has ignored the requests of content publishers by refusing to identify the number of subscribers for a given feed:

Feedly is an extremely popular news reader service. They claim to have 12 million users, so they are by far the biggest concern to us at the moment. Since they aren’t reporting their user agent, this makes it extremely difficult for content producers to tell if anyone is checking out what they do. We have made numerous attempts to contact Feedly via email and on Twitter (see our tweets here and here), however, they have yet to provide any promising information about if and when they will start providing this data. In September Feedly released an API, which we dutifully did all of the integration on day one with their provided sandbox access. We are now into November, and they still refuse to give us access to their production API. Meanwhile we don’t have access to anything and they make money out of your content.

That is just unacceptable for a company in the RSS space. Shame on Feedly.

→ Instacast for Mac now Available in the Mac App Store

My favorite Mac podcast app, Instacast, is now available in the Mac Appstore1. If you are someone who has avoided buying it simply because you prefer Mac App Store versions, now is your chance to pick it up.

  1. Affiliate Link (as is the post link.) 

→ ‘Knock’ App Lets You Unlock Your Mac Simply By Knocking On Your iPhone

Speaking of gimmicks, I just bought this. It works just as advertised.

→ The Verge’s Story about the End of Everpix

Casey Newton chronicles the rise and fall of Everpix, a great service for backing up and remembering your photos:

The immediate concern in the room was a forthcoming bill from Amazon Web Services, which hosts the 400 million photos stored with Everpix; the team estimated the bill would be about $35,000. “Our AWS bill is going to be due on the third. We’re not going to be able to pay,” said Pierre-Olivier Latour, who had the idea for Everpix four years ago after a vacation left him struggling to organize the hundreds of photos he took on the trip. Behind him, a poster advertised San Francisco’s minimum wage of $10.55 an hour, which he had been paying his employees for the past month. “Amazon is going to reach out to us saying, ‘Your card doesn’t work.'” He paused. “So that’s going to be fun.”

The [Everpix] software was fast, the design was clean, and the service was simple to use. “The best part about Everpix may be its ‘set it and forget it’ nature,” TechCrunch noted at the time. “After the one-time installation and configuration, there’s nothing else you have to do.” To the team’s surprise, Everpix became a finalist at the competition. (They lost the $50,000 first prize to Shaker, a bizarre kind of Second Life-meets-Facebook social network that raised $15 million and hasn’t been heard from in a year.)

Unfortunately for Everpix, they went out to raise money in the midst of what has become known as “the series A crunch.” The number of initial (or “seed”) investments has increased dramatically in the past few years, while series A investments have plateaued. Many investors remain willing to write a $100,000 check to see if a startup becomes an overnight success. But when it comes time to write a $1 million check, or a $5 million check, they have become much more selective.

The founders acknowledge they made mistakes along the way. They spent too much time on the product and not enough time on growth and distribution. The first pitch deck they put together for investors was mediocre. They began marketing too late. They failed to effectively position themselves against giants like Apple and Google, who offer fairly robust — and mostly free — Everpix alternatives. And while the product wasn’t particularly difficult to use, it did have a learning curve and required a commitment to entrust an unknown startup with your life’s memories — a hard sell that Everpix never got around to making much easier.

It is disappointing to see just how the machines of Silicon Valley drive you to either play the VC game fully or try to build a business without any of their help. In this case, it appears the founders of Everpix tried to do a little of both and it burned them. I hope Loom sticks around a little longer.