Wednesday, July 29, 2009

App Store vs Web Apps

This article seems to be saying that, in the downloadable apps vs web apps battle, the marketing support provided by the App Store is indispensable, and inherently favors downloadable apps. I get the marketing support part, but can't you promote web apps through the app store, too? You could purchase and acquire your user id through the app store, but access the application via a web interface.

Actually, now that I think about it--I wonder if an "app store" might not be the solution to getting users to pay for ordinary web sites.

Cell Security: Thumbprint Reader

There is an Android app that uses iris-scanning for phone security. Very impressive, but what I really want is a thumbprint reader, since it would obviously be about 100x less intrusive.

Netbook Tablet PC Form Factor

Instead of making every netbook as mini-notebook, why not try a different form factor? I am thinking a tablet PC, with a capacitive touchscreen and virtual keyboard, like the iPhone and myTouch smartphones? Maybe the cost of the display would be excessive?

Lost LIbrary Card, Lost History

I lost my library card a few months ago. My library was happy to issue me a new one, for a reasonable cost of $3. But then I noticed that it had a different number, and when I logged into my oneline account, guess what? All my saved books were gone. Ouch!

Obese Americans Spend Far More on Health Care

A study found that obese Americans annually spend about 42 percent more on health care than normal-weight Americans...so I wonder how much of the 8%/year healthcare inflation is explained by this fact alone?

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

45 Consecutive Retired Batters

Jim Buehrle pitched 1-2/3 perfect games, very exciting, and set the major league record with 45 consecutive retired batters. Very impressive. What surprised me was that I learned the previous record was 41, and not held by Harvey Haddix. You see, for a long time, my favorite baseball trivia question to pose to other fans is "What is the significant major league record least likely to ever be broken?"

Of course, that is far to open-ended to lead anywhere conclusive, but it is a fun though-provoker. I eventually narrow the question to "major league pitching record", but still nobody ever gets the answer: most perfect innings in a single game. That record is held by Harvey Haddix, but what makes the story better is that his team lost the game!

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Feature Idea: Delay on Library Waiting List

I like to add books to my library request list as soon as I hear about them, so I don't forget. I just did that today for the new book on Lance Armstrong. The only problem is that I am just a few pages into a long book that I am really looking forward to, Shadow of the Wind. And since my time budget for leisure reading in the summer is about 3 minutes a day, I make really slow progress. Since I am currently #2 on the wait list, I will probably get Lance about 2 months before I am ready!

So the feature I want is to be able to specify a target date that I want the book. If I could do that, I would put 9/1/09. Then, the wait list could keep letting people cut in front of me, until the target approached. How hard could that be?

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Different Phones for Different Occasions

The latest smartphones--iPhone being the prime example--are very, very nice devices. As has been observed elsewhere, they handheld computers with voice calling grafted on. Which means they are too expensive and delicate to take just anywhere. Which is where the concept of SIM-switching comes to play.

Cell phones have been around long enough that many of us have old phones from previous contracts. And while those old phones may not be web-surfing, app-running wonders, they do tend to do voice calls perfectly well. In fact, I believe that my current, soon-to-be-replaced phone is probably the smallest phone I will ever have.

So if I am traveling somewhere rugged (biking, camping, canoeing, maybe even going to the local swimming pool), I might not want to expose my wondrous new smartphone to the elements. Why not press my old, backup phone into service? Well the way things stand now, switching the SIM card is just tedious enough that I probably wouldn't bother for anything less than a weekend trip. But if they could just make the SIM cards easy to pop in and out, like a well-placed microSD card, then it would be much more realistic to accessorize your mobile device to your activity.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Pineapple--Easier to Prepare Than You Think

I don't like many fruits and vegetables, but I try to eat reasonably healthfully, so the ones I like, I eat frequently. About a decade ago, I discovered I really like pineapple. Only fresh is worthy, of course. It is kind of pricey to buy it prepared, so I didn't have it that often. I assumed that preparing it was a huge hassle. I recently discovered--thanks to Beth--that I was wrong. It is really not that hard to prepare at all. So now we keep a fresh pineapple in the fridge all the time. They are a BARGAIN at Sam's, I want to say $1.99, but that seems too cheap, maybe $2.99, at the most. For 6-8 large portions of really good fruit, that is a great price.

Bad Design--Easy to Hit the Fail Switch

I spontaneously lost home broadband connectivity this afternoon. I spent 20 minutes troubleshooting on my end--re-setting cable modems, and Comcast boxes--before calling Comcast. Just as I was talking to the Comcast rep, I had the idea to press the little black button on top of my cable modem. Voila, all the lights went solid, and I had a connection.

I think the idea is that is the emergency disconnect button--you know, in case you are online, and Russian e-gangsters start attacking you. But it is SO ridiculously easy to tap by accident, that my cat could have nosed it, or more likely, my son with restless, teenager energy, kicking underneath the desk whilst using the computer. Really bad design, just like your typical telephone mute button.

Thursday, July 09, 2009

Cell Phone UI Idea: Apps on the Desktop

One of the many nuisance of typical, poorly-designed cell-phone software is how far into the menu system you have to drill down to get different apps. For instance, part of the fun of having a camera phone is taking quick, impromptu pix. But if you have to go 5 clicks to get to the camera, the moment will be lost. So one idea I have is to have an immediately accessible "desktop" on the phone, where you can pick your currently-needed "top 5" apps to reside there.

My unloved Nokia 5610, for instance, has a place where you can permanently place shortcuts to key apps. That is okay. But often, your need for an app is time-and-place specific. For instance, at a track meet, I would want the Stopwatch to be readily accessible. The remaining 360 days of the year, I probably do not need such quick access to a stopwatch.