I'm Josh Goebel, the creator of Pastie, Invoicie, and Snag the Flag. I make a living writingam a Rails pro and also dabble in photography and other geek stuff.

Running Blind

running blind... we are all running blind.

I'm Josh Goebel, the creator of Pastie, Invoicie, and Snag the Flag. I make a living writing Rails and also dabble in photography and other geek stuff.

April

Apr
23

Dressage: A New Type of Bathroom from GRAFF

Bathroom of the future?  Sign me up.

April

Apr
22

How Americans Die

Amazing stats and visuals.  Via Gruber.

April

Apr
21

Research Blog: Lens Blur in the new Google Camera app

One of the biggest advantages of SLR cameras over camera phones is the ability to achieve shallow depth of field and bokeh effects. Shallow depth of field makes the object of interest “pop” by bringing the foreground into focus and de-emphasizing the background. Achieving this optical effect has traditionally required a big lens and aperture, and therefore hasn’t been possible using the camera on your mobile phone or tablet.

That all changes with Lens Blur, a new mode in the Google Camera app. It lets you take a photo with a shallow depth of field using just your Android phone or tablet. Unlike a regular photo, Lens Blur lets you change the point or level of focus after the photo is taken.

When this type of technology comes to point-and-shoots DSLRs are going to become even more niche.  Most of the people I’ve converted to DSLRs love the improved detail and shallow depth of field.  With sensors constantly getting better pretty soon depth of field will be the big noticeable difference for a lot of casual photographers.  

Having to move the camera physically is annoying though.  The depth map needs to be built with faster auto-focus sensors or something… not by physically moving the camera about.  As someone who has used point-and-shoots for years then moved to DSLRs having to move the camera to capture a single still image sounds very bizarre to me.

I understand why, but my gut says it would feel so awkward.

April

Apr
20

Windows Phone 8.1 review: A magnificent smartphone platform

Unfortunately, Data Sense remains a feature that carriers can opt out of. Many AT&T models, for example, do not include Data Sense. AT&T has its own data tracking feature, but it’s much less capable than the built-in feature, as it lacks the ability to cut data usage as you get near the monthly limit. This is one of the frustrating ways in which carriers make Windows Phone less compelling than it should be.

My god, carriers are evil.

April

Apr
19

Windows Phone 8.1 review: A magnificent smartphone platform

It does, however, highlight a long-standing problem of almost all software keyboards. I’m a grown adult. I use swear words. While swear words are generally in the dictionaries of these keyboards, so they don’t get red underlined, they’re normally blocked from autocompleting. The autocomplete will always assume I meant ducking instead of another word, one that sounds like ducking but has a very different meaning.

This means that the swipe keyboard will never produce a swear word, even when that’s the only desired word. To use the English language in all its variety and richness, you have to revert to traditional letter-at-a-time tapping. This is strangely jarring, really detracting from the value of the swipe keyboard. I really like the swipe keyboard, but every time I have to tap a word out letter by letter, I scowl.

In 2014 it’s about time we had an easy solution to this. What about an “auto-complete expletives” toggle switch or something. Make it off by default but allow those of us who want to use swear words to enable it.

April

Apr
18

Samsung Galaxy S5: When a Committee Builds a Smartphone

Pogue on the S5 (via Gruber):

The S5 is now reasonably waterproof. It can sit for up to 30 minutes three feet underwater, even turned on and operating, without blinking.

That’s pretty impressive.  When will I be able to submerge my iPhone? 

April

Apr
16

"Ground Control to Major Tom"

Loving this song from Walter Mitty.  ”Space Oddity”.  Never heard it before. iTunes, why oh why is it “album only”?  I’m really not going to pay $9.99 for a single song.  I considered it, but no.  I might have paid $1.99 for it, but not $9.99.  Wake up industry.  Profit lost.

April

Apr
15

Daring Fireball: The Nocera Chronicles

Gruber:

Even then — come, say, 2017, when Apple is reaping billions in profits from some product first introduced this year — the doomed-without-Jobs crowd could (and I bet will) just argue that the product succeeded only because it had been conceived while Steve Jobs was alive. It’ll never stop.

Yep.  Steve left behind a scrapbook of new product ideas.  Once Apple releases every idea in the scrapbook their stock will tank and they will fall from the sky faster than a hot air balloon filled with ice.  If a new product fails we’ll know for sure it wasn’t Steve conceived!

April

Apr
14

Heartbleed Explanation

So simple a 5 year old could understand it - not that they would care. (via Engadget)

April

Apr
13

This system can tell if workers are lying by looking at their eyes

The system revolves around an SMI-made camera that monitors pupil dilation as well as the positions of the eyes and head. If you look shifty when answering questions, your supervisors will likely know within minutes. It’s not a perfect system; Converus claims 85 percent accuracy, which could allow for occasional false positives.

Imagine the future Google glasses (or contact lenses) that constantly run in the background analyzing someone’s face, eyes, and body language and can tell you instantly if someone is being untruthful.  Even with only 85% accuracy that is crazy cool (and scary).  I think a lot of the imaginary sci-fi stuff we see in movies is just waiting for chips and batteries to get small enough.

April

Apr
12

Day One's new Publish feature

Today, there’s a significant update to Day One, our favorite journaling and logging app. The update is a new feature called Publish, and it lets you selectively share your Day One entries to the Web.

You don’t have to share your published entries with your legions of social network followers. You see, people can only get to entries that they have the direct link to. So, say, for example, you publish two entries: one you share with all of your twitter followers and the other you share with just your family. Well, neither group will ever come across a link that would send them on to the other entry you published.

I think this is a great idea and may fill a void for me.  After ditching Facebook I thought I’d use everyme more to stay in touch with family but that hasn’t really happened. I also really dislike the new direction they seem to be considering with the survey the new owners just sent out.  This might be a good way to post something semi-personal once in a while and then share via email with friends and family.  We’ll see.

I also like how Day One chooses to explain the feature on their own product page:

Data Retention - Publish allows you to share and participate in multiple social networks, all the while keeping your source entry in a single location—your Day One journal. With this centralized, single source, you’re free to archive, print, and export your entries—even after you stop using a given social media service.

Taking control away from the huge social media services is always a good thing.

April

Apr
11

An Existing Home & Modern Addition Become One

On the ground floor of the new house, they installed a small swimming pool that can be used all year long. The pool sits between two sets of folding doors that can close the pool off to the outdoors when it’s wintertime and open it completely up during the warmer months.

What a great idea.  I wonder what a small pool like this costs as far as installation and then upkeep.

April

Apr
10

Testing SATA Express And Why We Need Faster SSDs

It’s not the increase in battery capacity that has brought us things like 12-hour battery life in 13” MacBook Air but the more efficient chip architectures that can provide more performance while not consuming any more power. The term often used here is “race to idle” because ultimately a faster chip will complete a task faster and can hence spend more time idling, which reduces the overall power consumption.

SSDs are no exception to the rule here. A faster SSD will complete IO requests faster and will thus consume less power in total because it will be idling more (assuming similar power consumptions at idle and under load). If the interface is the bottleneck, there will be cases when the drive could complete tasks faster if the interface was up for that. This is where we need PCIe.

Never thought about needing faster SSDs to increase battery life.  Imagine how the world would change if we improved battery technology at the same pace we improved the rest of technology.

April

Apr
9

Household Brands Become Tasty Street Art

Yum.

April

Apr
8

Apple After Jobs: Pretty Much the Same as Ever

This is a tired criticism, one that fundamentally misunderstands how Apple works. Apple has always created its next big things in secret. Unlike Google and Microsoft, it rarely publicizes its innovations before they’re ready.

The fact that we don’t know what Apple will do next could be evidence that it has run out of ideas. But you could have said the same thing late in 2001, just before it launched the iPod, or in 2007 just before it launched the iPhone, or in 2010 just before it launched the iPad.

Indeed, lack of evidence of the next big thing may just be proof of it’s existence - and it must be really truly amazing if it’s such a well kept secret.