I’ve been in less of a mood to write lately. While I enjoy it, I question how important my views are in a world that seems to be losing the forest for the trees in terms of design sensibilities & overall approach.
I read this article by Steve Rubenstein in SFGate today: http://www.sfgate.com/bayarea/article/S-F-history-on-view-at-Old-Mint-expo-6107758.php
This post is an insult to anyone with enough intelligence to see through it. Before the first line of the article, the lack of proper title case, “S.F. history on view at Old Mint expo,” gives the reader a clue of how sloppy of an article Steve and his editor (or lack of an editor) saw fit to publish.
This is the first line: “They’re having something called a History Expo,” but who is they? The reader has to wonder who did what, for paragraphs while Steve makes observations that would only be informative to someone without a brain “gaze at … objects from the past, which is when history took place.” Steve’s tone is just as unprofessional as his sloppy writing and smacks of someone that didn’t want the assignment in the first place. Instead of writing about the expo itself, which is what the title of the article suggests, what it really is, is an assassination piece from a PoV of someone that didn’t do any research at all before writing, and it shows.
The problem with a lot of online and support options is knowledge base suffers from proximity bias. In addition to this, no one in the company tests their information architecture from a third party perspective. Since they know the exact terms, and have access to more detailed information,they never have to eat their own dog food.
While internal documents that tech support uses have step by step flowcharts of trouble shooting with a lot of detail and details exacting language, end users using the web site do not have access to the terminology. So often they must try searching multiple variations of terms to find the “magic words” to describe the problem to find the KB article that gives an answer.
Most tech savvy people have a wish list floating around on NewEgg or Thinkgeek or some other site — I have 4 I can think of without effort. Some of us even keep a private list of gift ideas for others at various sites and occasionally make a note of something we see in a store only to forget about it or be unable to find it among the many notes me make — whether within an app or on paper — when it is around gift giving time. The problem is most people do not have 1 convenient place they can keep track of all the items from across the web that they find for themselves or others. I have various want lists I have forgotten about as well and from time to time I go back and remove things that would have been impulse purchases had I bought them instead of wish-listed them. So, the utility of a gift list minder app that is not tied to a single retailer is a necessity—especially at this time of year. However, after using his a few years, I realized that this app fills that void of when you see something perfect no where near their birthday or a gift giving occasion.
Rather than write this article, I noticed that this article has been updated and is still relevant.
I would add that, if you want to be able to do this away from outside the network the Mac is located, you need to have administrative access to your internet router, and understand how to configure ports on your router to forward the right port number to the Mac you want to connect to — you should also make a DHCP reservation for the machine so it is a reliable connection.
If you are behind a company firewall, I doubt many Network Admins would open up and forward the ports to you without very good reason. (If they do, send them the port numbers and do not make them look them up.) The reason Network Admins are very hesitant to allow users this level of access, is because most users do not understand the huge security implications that need to be considered before opening any externally accessible ports. In short: lock down every port you do not need, limit the rights of the remote account if you can, and make the access password as brutal to crack as possible — especially if you put your machine on the DMZ.
So, it is best to just do this on a home network that you have set up Access Point Isolation on (so the computer accessed externally can only see the router). Basically, once you are allowed to remote control a intra-network device, this can be used to attack an entire internal network. When I worked as a Network Admin, there was only one exception we made to this policy of not allowing any sort of direct access from outside our network, and that was only for the CEO of our company, and only for a few days. Yup, we said no to our boss until given good enough reason, and even then we placed a severe limit on it.
That said, this article can be vey handy, and can also be used to allow Mac Techs remote access to your machine should you need remote technical support that would cost a lot more with an in-person service call. However, setting this up, might require a service call considering the wide array of variables between routers, internal networks and machines that true network techs can quickly understand.
I have tried a few iOS to Mac apps, but I am still trying to decide which, if any, would warrant a recommendation. The yearly fees of those that I have tried often put me off of even writing about them.
I got a ton of flack from people on Ars when I commented that CD quality audio lost a lot of information that greatly affected a listener’s perception, and MP3 and other compressed audio formats simply made a bad situation worse.
I over-simplified my argument to keep it approachable, and had some wannabe audio experts quoting the Shannon-Nyquist theorem. They must have read ahead or did not understand the geek-speak for what needs to be true for the theorem to be valid. I figure they didn’t even read the prerequisites needed, and do not understand music enough to know that pretty much no music falls into the prerequisite category — having a constant frequency.
Apparently, Neil Young agrees. I was unaware that his hatred of MP3s is probably greater than mine until he announced Pono. Young has been on the road showing off and evangelizing better quality audio. There has been a lot of buzz about it — not just because he is such an iconic figure in music, but because the 3 big music companies (Warner, Sony and Universal) will sign up to support the better quality format.
In my post: 44kHz is not enough. I decided that a good compromise between file size and quality would be 24bit, 128kHz. But Young has decided that the studio quality digital audio woule be supported which is typically 192kHz/32bit. (Apple’s ALAC actually supports up to twice the sample rate, but it is probably future-proofing the format.) My hope is that this will not be yet another failed better quality audio format. The reasoning is two-fold:
- I want higher quality audio than what is currently available.
- I want the influx of bandwidth consumption to wake up consumers, and have them apply pressure to the communications companies* to increase speeds so that even a slow connection could stream 1–2MB/s.
See http://techland.time.com/2012/10/01/pono-neil-young/ for an article and video of Young and Letterman talking about Pono. So all in all, this is good news.
*The telecoms monopolized our internet access landscape about a decade ago, after G.W. Bush overturned the laws that prevented de-facto monopolies. The laws that were repealed forced the telecoms to open up their lines (the cost of installation was funded by the government in many cases) thereby flattening the bandwidth speed increase curve. This lead to many smaller ISPs dying and fewer jobs in every region of the country. In turn, since there was little to no real competition, there was little-to-no incentive to increase internet speeds. The same 6Mbps connection has been offered for $40 or more the last half decade. But that is another topic.