So, with my very old Motorola RAZR on its last legs (I got sand in it, somehow) and my T-Mobile contract up, I decided to get the new Helio Ocean. I won’t get into all the aches and pains of my first few days with it. In a nutshell: childish anticipation as my new toy was shipped, then disappointment due to various glitches during activation. Now, I’m developing a love for the Ocean once again, as I learn to overcome some of its bad user interfaces and get it to do what I want it to.
Case in point: Synchronizing contacts with a Mac is a pain in the ass, but I’ve mapped it out, below. There are tons of crippled features on the phone (restricted bluetooth services, blocked network bridging, no calendar sync with Macs, saccharine ringtones, etc.) These are the rage-inducing par for the course, with American service providers. I haven’t found workarounds for most of these, yet, but I did figure out this one. Other Mac users might save some effort by piggybacking on my efforts.
Wow. John just sent me a link to Live Ink, a company that has cool text-formatting software. It’s analogous to code formatting, but for written language syntax.
It looked gimmicky, at first, but then I started trying out the samples on the site. After a few pages, it started to click. I would read phrases of each sentence as a unit. Because the text is formatted somewhat like the outline of the parts of a single sentence, I’m able to quickly scan and jump to relevant clauses. The indentation also serves to bring several clauses into the eye’s fovea in parallel. In this way, it seems to gain some of the advantages of serial reading interfaces (i.e. eye movement over a small area), while still allowing for page scanning and variable-rate reading.
Too bad it’s a proprietary product, and too bad it’s Windows/IE-only. Because of this, I’m pretty sure it will never see mainstream development or use, unless the company somehow does extremely well with its software boxen business model (unlikely) or it goes under and opens the source.
The product itself seems to work as a hosted service. You download a thin client that sends clipboard text to a server to be parsed and formatted, and then the client displays the result. If they were smart, they would make this a web service. There’s an adoption curve that Live Ink has to overcome, and letting lots of uses proliferate (Greasemonkey scripts! WordPress plugins! A new version of Wikipedia!) would build a user base that would actually buy the product, or demand it from content providers.
With all the Obama/Clinton poll-watching, armchair campaign strategizing, and hand-wringing over which democratic candidate is “electable,” it’s been easy for me to forget that there are people who really stand for what I believe. Dennis Kucinich articulates those beliefs with such passion and clarity that it breaks my heart, knowing that he has not one chance in hell of becoming President for the foreseeable future. But I can at least watch him go and hope for our collective future.