Historical Footnotes

Wednesday, 2 September 2015

I posit that the event hori­zon of “his­tor­i­cally im­por­tant” as a qual­ity of in­for­ma­tion is the point at which the dataset dis­ap­pears from liv­ing mem­ory. The mag­ni­tude of cer­tain events en­sures that they will be recorded for pos­ter­ity, but even then, the rea­sons be­hind that record­ing fade as the peo­ple who ex­pe­ri­enced it die. I might be us­ing the wrong terms here. Maybe it’s not his­tory I’m talk­ing about, but an­thro­pol­ogy. History is “these are the things that hap­pened”; an­thro­pol­ogy is “these are the ways peo­ple acted.”

Living as I do, in a so­ci­ety where many peo­ple are ar­guably ob­sessed with record­ing and archiv­ing every de­tail of their lives, I won­der what meth­ods fu­ture historians/​anthropologists will use to sift wheat from chaff — es­pe­cially when, as this post is ev­i­dence for, so much of what is shared and saved is chaff.

That’s long-term his­toric­ity. If his­tory is still be­ing recorded 5,000 years from now, this whole epoch will likely be re­duced to a one-liner: “An age of tech­no­log­i­cal growth so rapid it’s ef­fects threat­ened to de­stroy civ­i­liza­tion.”

Specific to this is the rise of the au­to­mated au­to­bi­og­ra­phy. People have been post­ing things on­line so long now that there are ser­vices to show us and let us share what we were do­ing to the day, 1, 3, 5, or 10 years ago. Is there a broader de­sire to con­sume these mini-his­to­ries, or do they just ex­ist to serve our need to feel more im­por­tant than we are? It doesn’t have to be either/​or. My bet is that it’s an ad­mix­ture of onanism, ex­hi­bi­tion­ism, and voyeurism.

Signal to noise de­pends on your ears.

Trash is trea­sure.

A Dozen of My Favorite Free Android Apps

Tuesday, 24 May 2011

Look, I know there are a thou­sand-and-one posts on the in­ter­net about the best smart­phone apps. I’ve a bunch of apps on my phone, and I use some more fre­quently than oth­ers. However, I want to share the ones that I en­joy which might not be so ubiq­ui­tous.

Productivity/​Administrative

  • ConnectBot — This app con­nects you with a Unix ter­mi­nal, re­motely and se­curely to an­other IP ad­dress, and does the same thing lo­cally. It works great if you’re tweak­ing the per­mis­sions of your phone.
  • Advanced Task Killer — This app lets you quit pro­grams that you’re run­ning in the back­ground or for­get to exit, with just two taps. It re­ally helps me save on bat­tery life and showed me which pro­grams keep turn­ing on all the time. I used ConnectBot to dis­able them.
  • Remote Desktop — Rather than have to plug my phone into my com­puter via USB to down­load pho­tos, &c. or pay for a ser­vice to sync items, this ap­pli­ca­tion lets me con­nect to my phone via IP ad­dress when I’ve got it con­nected to my home wire­less.

Reading/​News

  • Google Reader — This is a well known piece of the Google pie, but this app works so much bet­ter than us­ing Reader on a com­puter that I find my­self brows­ing through on my phone when there’s a com­puter within arm’s reach.
  • iPa­per — This is the Android app that al­lows ac­cess to InstaPaper, a book­marklet ser­vice that al­lows you to archive web ar­ti­cles for read­ing at a later date. Perfect for when you’re stuck some­place with noth­ing worth read­ing nearby.

Fitness

  • Sit Ups — This app helps you set a sit up goal, as­sesses your phys­i­cal con­di­tion and then tai­lors an it­er­a­tive and timed work­out to help you reach the goal. Pick a goal, in­put your start­ing abil­ity, fol­low the work­out prompts (a gym whistle blows when the rest pe­riod is over), and then in­put how dif­fi­cult you found the work­out. The next ses­sion will be changed slightly based on your feed­back.
  • Push Ups — Same deal, ex­cept for pushups.

Gaming

  • Star Traders — This is a space trad­ing, turn-based econ­omy RPG that’s pretty bru­tal. Small choices have cu­mu­la­tive im­pacts on how you can in­ter­act with the var­i­ous plan­ets you visit. It has re­ally tough achieve­ments too. The Elite ver­sion is $1.99 and gives ac­cess to bet­ter ship up­grades, more mis­sions and more plan­ets.
  • Scrambled Net — A sim­ply de­signed but ad­dic­tive puz­zle game. Connect the tubes from the server to the mon­i­tors to make sure every­one has some in­ter­nets. I play this all the time.
  • Geared — This is an­other puz­zle game (with very pleas­ing graph­ics). With a lim­ited num­ber of gears of dif­fer­ent sizes, and a lim­ited amount of space to work with, you have to con­nect the mov­ing yel­low gear too all of the sta­tion­ary blue gears.

Miscellaneous

  • Color Note — Because of this app, I no longer walk about with lit­tle scraps of note pa­per flut­ter­ing about me like moths. The gro­cery check­list is my boon com­pan­ion. I don’t for­get stuff on the list any­more!
  • Toddler Lock — This se­cures the phone so your off­spring can play with it. I lit­er­ally have to wrestle the phone away from Abraham when he uses it. Swiping lets you draw, tap­ping places shapes, and there are pleas­ant chimes play­ing all the while.