Category Archives: Scribbles

Mobile Blogging

With the weather warming up, and a lovely outside balcony, I have been considering how best to work with our various computers without having to sit indoors. There are multiple, varied options (all right, there are exactly two):

1) Use MacBook Pro
2) Use iPad

Option 1) requires booting up rarely-used laptop (since I recently inherited a 24-in iMac).
Option 2) requires typing on an on-screen keyboard.

Then, I had an idea: Didn’t the New iMac come with a wireless keyboard? One that we decided not to use in favour of a full-size one? And doesn’t the iPad have Bluetooth?

It took a bit longer than I would have liked — I discovered that unlike their wired counterparts, wireless keyboards require batteries and have an ‘On’ switch, together with an indicator light that is all but invisible in bright sunlight. Undeterred I hunted for batteries, voltmeters, and obscure Apple support articles, and in the end I got what I wanted: A decent typing setup for the iPad that can be used outdoors.

Attached a piccie whose sole reason for existing is that I wanted to find out how to get the WordPress app to include a photo. It turns out that it is not enough for the photos to be in the Media Library of the blog server; they have to be locally on the iPad. Which means connecting the iPad to a new computer it had never seen. More yaks were shaved before success finally beckoned.

Back to proper photo blogging soon.

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Google+ First Impressions

As anyone who hasn’t spent the last month living in a cave on top of the Himalayas will know, Google has made its entrance into the social networking fray with Google+.  I was very keen to start using it but it’s still invitation-only so I had to wait a bit until the network reached me. It finally has, I’m playing with it a lot, and I thought I’d record a few thoughts.

Spiderweb
A symbol for social networking?

I already have a Facebook profile, do I need another “social network”? Well, not really. But I’m very much inclined to prefer Google+ over Facebook; certainly I have somewhat more confidence that Google can handle data security. Google+ has easy-to-configure privacy controls, and  some built-in features that I’m keen to use, such as the concept of a circle as an easy way to limit posts to a subset of your online friends. (I know it is possible to separate friends on Facebook into subcategories but the hassle…) Nor do Google+ relationships have to be bidirectional: You can add people to your circles (“follow” them) without them putting you into one of their circles. That way, you can only see their public posts. Also, Google+ isn’t full of third-party applications that may or may not be secure as far as protection of my data is concerned (which is why I don’t use a single application on Facebook), nor does it clutter my page with annoying adverts (so far).

So, as soon as I got invited I set up a very minimalist Google+ profile and started playing with it.. There is a little bit more of a learning curve than for Facebook but the basics are very similar: Add people you know to your circles, share status updates / photos etc with any appropriate circle, or make them available to everyone.  If your friends don’t yet have a Google+ account you can send them an invite. While they’re “not yet” on Google+, you can still share with them via email, the instructions helpfully state. I hesitated at that point. Surely if I send someone an invite, and they don’t accept it because they don’t want a Google+ account, is it not rather annoying for them to get my posts anyway in their email? I really didn’t like that option but the first time I posted something to a circle that included email-only contacts it asked me if I wanted to share by email, I clicked “no”, and this option became the default. I appreciate how the last post’s settings become the default for the next one; it’s a nice touch.

Facebook-like minimal functionality thus established I started to look further. As I learn more about photography I find I like to share some of my photographs with a wider audience. Hence this blog, for example. Then I stumbled on this article: Google+: The Survival Guide for a Photographer’s Paradise, which I found an excellent introduction to the basics of Google+ even for non-photographers. The post explains every menu item, button and display area, and goes into some detail about circle creation and settings. It also pointed me to the Scrapbook album, which I might not have found on my own. It can be set up so that it shows five photographs on your profile page, and you can even choose which ones. I like this functionality a lot.

Of course I’ve still barely scratched the surface, for example, I haven’t been in a Huddle or Hangout yet. But so far I like Google+ a whole lot more than Facebook.

The Disappearing Bike Shop

Subtitle: Google Maps approaches sentience

After all the cycling that has been happening recently, it’s no wonder our bikes needed a service. More accurately, after leaving it in a Sydney garage for three years, the Obsessive Cyclist’s preferred mode of transport, being a highly strung top-of-the-range model, said “No, shan’t” on the very first outing. So we took it to the bike shop for a service. That was about eight weeks ago, and cycling has been happening ever since.

By contrast, my trusty mountain bike, at half the price and double the robustness, was in reasonable working order. Nevertheless, after quite a bit of cycling since then, I didn’t like the squeals when I brake hard. And the tiny, annoying noise it made every time the front wheel goes round. And the fact that I found it so hard to change gears on the rear wheel that I generally made do with the middle ring only. So I started nagging The Mechanic to do something about it. “Ooh,” he said knowledgeably, “it’s probably the brake pads being worn out. It needs a service.” Several nags later, over several weeks, and he got around to booking my bike in. Same shop as last time, since they did well and were knowledgeable and friendly.

Today was the day, but, owing to work and opening times of shops generally coinciding, we meant to drop the bike off yesterday evening. Surely 45 mins between work and shop closing time is sufficient to drop a bike in the back of the car, drive it 7km down the road and leave it at the shop? We took our trusty iPad “just in case” but since we knew where we were going it probably wouldn’t be needed. We thought. Halfway down the six-lane highway in the middle of what passes in Brisbane for the rush hour, The Driver asked for a count-down on how much longer. I try to locate the bike shop on Google Maps. “Hmmm, that’s funny,” I think to myself. “I could have sworn that the bike shop was actually marked on Google Maps.” But hey, we had an address, and maybe Google Maps had updated meanwhile or the business forgot to pay them the fee for being on the map. Or something.

The street started to look more and more familiar. Both of us said “I’m sure it was around here.” Eventually we parked the car where we did last time, wisely left the bike in the car and had a look on foot at where we thought the bike shop had been. Empty shop front. Incredulously, we discussed how people who booked a bike in for a service less than a week ago could somehow fail to mention that they were so close to financial ruin that within days their business premises would look deserted with a “For Lease” sign on the top. Hang on… I spot a tiny piece of paper in the window, where someone had written in biro “We have moved!”, followed by an address and directions. At 5:46pm with 14 mins left to get there, this is not what you want to find.

Just as well I’d brought the iPad. I typed in the new address, and hey presto — the shop, at its new address, is marked on Google Maps!

The moral of the tale is, if Google Maps tells you something isn’t where you thought it was…. then it really isn’t there.

I’d post a picture of my bike to go with this post but I don’t actually have my bike owing to it being at the aforementioned shop. Instead, we shall make do with an artful photograph of a very lonely bike lock.

I can haz bike?

NB: The inclusion of at least one photograph in each post has nothing whatsoever to do with the fact that the Onswipe theme will “select” a photograph at random for my blog cover page if I don’t provide one.