camcarlson

miscellaneous commentary

Archive for the ‘Apple’ Category

Digital clutter

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Some years ago I embarked on a comprehensive decluttering project [I interchange the word declutter with unclutter, though the latter is not recognized by my spellcheck], purging unwanted and unneeded books, clothing, household items, various trinkets and baubles, as well as scanning all my photographs and paper documents and culling both down to the bare essentials. A couple years ago I swallowed hard and purged my DVD collection. I’ve embraced a minimalist way of living, not only in the things that I own but also in my daily activities, taking part in only those things that bring me the greatest sense joy and fulfillment (aside from work, naturally).

Yet I’ve allowed my computer to harbor an ever-growing collection of digital data, and it’s reached a point where I often spend so much time attempting to retrieve a quote or a photo that I either forget why I was looking for it or lose interest altogether.

Digital clutter is easy to accumulate as it does not take up space in our lives the way a book or a piece of clothing would. Storage space is incredibly cheap, both in disc/SSD format and in the cloud, and most of us will never come close to filling up our computers’ hard drives. But the point is that, just because every file we ever create can be saved forever, doesn’t mean they should be.

Over the next few months I’m going to review and purge three main areas on my MacBook. The month of May will be devoted to the six thousand-plus songs in my iTunes library, while June will be focused on my nearly four thousand pictures in iPhoto.

April will be spend on Safari, my web browser of choice. I have a knack for saving bookmarks to sites I will likely never revisit, and over the years I’ve created folders within folders to tame them. But the bookmark zoo has grown far too large. I have 20 main folders, covering topics such as movies, employment/resumes, simplicity, nutrition, exercise, computers/technology, places/travel, habitation and (everyone’s favorite) “random”. Most of these folders contain several dozen sites; my exercise and random folder have well over a hundred, as does my employment/resume folder if I count the sub-folders for resume-writing, interviewing and recently-unemployed. Whew.

So my first task is to go through each folder and sub-folder, open up every bookmark in a separate tab, review the site, see if it’s something I still want to reference, then either keep it or delete it. Having done this to several of my folders, I have already found somewhere between a fourth to a third of all bookmarks are dead links! Of the live links, I’ve tried to delete multiple links to the same web site, opting to keep just one link to the main page if possible. I’ve probably already eliminated a couple hundred bookmarks already, and I’m not even halfway done… I’m saving the two biggies (exercise and nutrition) for last, as they’ll correspond with folders cluttered with various clippings on my hard drive.

Once I’ve purged my bookmarks, I will move on to the Reading List, a neat little feature built into Safari, like a Netflix queue for web articles. It’s insanely easy to save a page in the Reading List to read later… and then forget about it completely. Such is life. But I dislike having so many unread articles out there. It gives me the feeling of having unfinished assignments hanging over my head, a feeling I came to dread when I was in college.

I made a cursory review of the list last weekend and deleted about a third of the one hundred or so articles saved therein. What’s left will be read, consumed, contemplated, then either referenced on this here site or deleted. I’m going to resist the urge to simply transfer saved articles to my bookmark folders.

Thinking about my to-read pile reminded me of this article in Unclutterer about handling the flow of information in our lives. There’s a lot of shit out there on the internet and not enough hours in the day to consume it. I can’t read every article or watch every video posted to my Facebook feed (note to my family and friends — PLEASE stop posting links to Facebook on a daily basis!). As Chris Miller is quoted in the article, “my time and attention are the most valuable things I possess.”

Upon reflection, I think I save so many bookmarks and Reading List articles because I want to learn, to stay informed, on as many topics as possible. As I’ve grown older, I’ve learned that life is just too damned busy for me to keep up with every topic of interest. I have to develop an ability to cull from the monstrous pile of information, to seek out what really benefits my life and focus solely on those things, and be at peace with leaving the rest of it behind me. With that said, I’ll close with this gem of a comment from the Unclutterer article:

EVERYTHING is interesting when you have a curious mind but we can’t read everything, can we? Why are we becoming so afraid of missing out on the latest post, article, whatever? Why do we have to follow so many feeds or “friends”?

I am just as guilty in some of these areas as everyone else and I have been asking these questions of myself lately, so this is not intended as just criticism for all of you and not me. I realized that in my quest to remain “informed” about so many things, I was actually learning less by becoming distracted and scattered. I am trying to turn that around now but it’s not easy!

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Written by camcarlson

April 14, 2014 at 9:55 PM

Posted in Apple, Simplicity

All that glitters is not gold

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I’m glad I bought the iPhone 4S last year instead of holding out for the iPhone 5.

Written by camcarlson

September 22, 2012 at 8:55 PM

Posted in Apple

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Fateful hands

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A restored version of “Manos: The Hands of Fate”, one of the ‘best’ worst films ever made, is being released on DVD. Kudos to aintitcool.com for this story.

Also, an iOS game version will be released this Thursday. The below video makes it look far more interesting than the film was. I’ll be trying it out this Thursday.

Written by camcarlson

July 23, 2012 at 10:21 PM

Posted in Apple, Cinema, video

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Summer reading

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Last week I read Insanely Simple by Ken Segall, a fun read about the virtues of simplicity for Apple Computers, both within its design concepts and its management style. Segall has a couple decades experience working as one of Apple’s ad men, so his insights were based on firsthand anecdotes.

I also read Overtreated by Shannon Brownlee, a fascinating analysis on the multiple ways our nation’s health care system is spiraling out of control. Brownlee’s premise is that America’s system is not making us any healthier or keeping us alive any longer than other developed nations, despite the astronomical amount of money we spend compared to other countries. The book was written in 2007, so I would love to read some follow-up after the partial implementation of ‘ObamaCare’ that has taken place thus far.

And now I’m diving right into The How of Happiness by Sonja Lyubomirsky. It’s one of the rare texts on the field of happiness based on scientific studies, and although I’m only a couple chapters into it, I already like what I’ve read. I took the happiness test in Chapter 2 and I scored about average for my age group… I think my score was down only because I had coming off of a 9-day vacation and was slightly bored by the end of it. Thankfully, I completely failed the depression test in the same chapter, which is to say I’m certifiable not depressed. Which I already knew. But it’s reassuring to be tested as such, I guess.

After I finish this book I’ll get around to checking out Moby Dick, which has been on the deck for over a month now. I guess I’m just on a nonfiction role at the moment.

Personal computing for the rest of us

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I finished Walter Isaacson’s biography of Steve Jobs in four days. Fascinating read. Jobs was a genius and highly intuitive but he was also an insufferable prick to a lot of people. If I ever had a boss like him, I would have walked out the first time he threw one of his famous temper tantrums. But that’s just me; I don’t put up with egomaniacs.

A nice coda to the bio is this article on Susan Kare, who designed icons for the original Macintosh’s graphical user interface. It’s too bad neither of her “jump” icons made the cut.

Once software was developed that enabled Kare to start brainstorming digitally, she mined ideas from everywhere: Asian art history, the geeky gadgets and toys that festooned her teammates’ cubicles, and the glyphs that Depression-era hobos chalked on walls to point the way to a sympathetic household. The symbol on every Apple command key to this day — a stylized castle seen from above — was commonly used in Swedish campgrounds to denote an interesting sightseeing destination.

Kare’s work gave the Mac a visual lexicon that was universally inviting and intuitive. Instead of thinking of each image as a tiny illustration of a real object, she aimed to design icons that were as instantly comprehensible as traffic signs.

To creative innovators in the ’80s who didn’t see themselves as computer geeks, Kare’s icons said: Stop stressing out about technology. Go ahead, dive in!

Written by camcarlson

December 3, 2011 at 11:26 PM

Siri says there is a 99.7% chance I’m on the right track.

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I’ve taken to reading quite a bit during the evenings in lieu of movies or writing. Hence the lack of updates. But I am working on a longer piece which should be ready in a few days. This week’s book: “Bird by Bird” by Anne Lamott.

I love my new phone! It makes me feel like Dean Stockwell in “Quantum Leap”, smacking Ziggy around to get it to compute some statistic for Sam on his latest exploit. The battery holds up reasonably well. I find I only need to charge it once every 2-3 days. And the quality of the photos is remarkable.

Written by camcarlson

October 25, 2011 at 9:23 PM

Posted in Apple, Literature

One in, two out.

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My previous cell phone, the Motorola ROKR, was obtained through Verizon in July 2007. The battery had diminished in capacity to the point where a five-minute phone call would kill it. Since I used the phone as my morning alarm clock, I had to plug it in every night lest it mysteriously go “dead” and I fail to awake on time (which has happened on more than one occasion).

Also, as I mentioned in my previous entry, my digital camera, obtained in November 2006, died on me in May. I’ve been relying on a bulky, AA-battery-powered Samsung dinosaur ever since.

So when Apple announced the iPhone 4S, I finally gave serious thought towards upgrading from a dumbphone to a smartphone. The built-in camera looks impressive – 8 megapixels with a backlit sensor and five-element lens – and I was able to order it at a considerable discount through Verizon as I’m far outside of my previous contract. Also, as an indirect Ally Financial employee, I receive a sizable discount on each month’s bill, reducing the nonsensical prices being charged for even the lowest voice/text/data plan.

It arrived Friday afternoon and I’ve been using it all weekend. I’m hooked. This is an incredibly nifty device! I haven’t set up the Email program or transferred bookmarks or any music/videos yet. I’ll tinker with those things later this week.

Don’t cry MacBook, I still love you… one of the big selling points for the iPhone over any of the Android-powered phones is the effortless syncing between the two devices.

So now I have a new toy to play with, and it assists my uncluttering efforts by not only replacing two things (the ROKR and the Samsung) with one thing, but by performing the tasks of each device in a far more superior manner.

Check out that low-light quality! (see if you can spot Cory and Ben in this picture)

Written by camcarlson

October 16, 2011 at 8:36 PM

Posted in Apple

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