Well, that’s fine, because I haven’t got one of those…
I don’t normally think of myself as a terribly geeky geek, but the postman just called, and we now own the first series of Star Trek.
Actually, the first three series.
So I guess geekiness must come in bursts…
For a successful technology, reality must take precedence over public relations, for nature cannot be fooled.
– Richard Feynman
Here’s a quick plug: my next door neighbour, Edel, creates beautiful handmade books. They range from tiny ones you can carry anywhere, to medium-sized notebooks which will make your friends’ Moleskines look very dull, to A4 leather-bound guest books which would be a great wedding present.
As you can imagine, they’re not cheap, but they’re beautiful, they can be personalised in various ways, and you know you’ll be giving a unique gift made with great care by someone who loves her craft. Worth checking out.
In most places in iOS where you can edit text, you can tap with two fingers to select a whole line. This works, for example, in text editors like Notesy, Drafts and Byword, and can be quite a time saver. In fact, it selects the line up to the next line break; if you’re typing code, that’s probably one line, but if you’re writing prose, it’ll select the current paragraph. Very handy if you want to move paragraphs around using cut and paste.
Another place you can use it is in the URL field of a browser, where it will select the entire URL with fewer clicks than the usual tap-tap-select-all.
I use this, for example, if I’m looking at a page in Safari and want to open it in 1Password. As you probably know, apps can register particular URL schemes for their own use, and 1Password’s browser will recognise ophttp and ophttps, so you can just go to the beginning of the URL in Safari, insert an ‘op’, and you’ll be taken to the same page in 1Password (or ‘g’ for GoodReader, etc.)
The problem is that just ‘going to the beginning and inserting something’ can be a pain if the URL is long. You probably have to scroll slowly left, tap the correct insertion point, and so forth. Much easier is a two-finger tap, select ‘Cut’, type ‘op’ and then tap ‘Paste’.
If you’re doing this kind of thing regularly, you may want to set up a bookmarklet to make it even easier, but the two-finger tap is a handy thing to know in general.
I’ve been experimenting with low camera angles – something that hasn’t been so easy with my Canon 6D, since it doesn’t have an articulated viewfinder, so to get shots like these you normally have to lie on the ground if you want to see what you’re taking. But the built-in wifi means that you can, instead, put the camera down low and use your phone as a viewfinder, which is what I did today.
The shallow depth of field was deliberate – I quite like the effect.
The best chat-up line ever invented has to be the poem To His Coy Mistress, by Andrew Marvell, where, in 46 lines of glorious verse, he explains to his girl that they really do need to get down to some hanky-panky, because they won’t always be able to do so, and time is running out. Extended courtship and foreplay is all very well, he argues,
But at my back I always hear
Time’s winged chariot hurrying near…
I was thinking of this as I created my first app for my Pebble watch today, inspired by a combination of a 17th-century poet and my friend Richard, a 21st-century technologist. He held a party a little while ago to celebrate being one gigasecond old, and has a nice web page where you can check your age, too.
So, since part of the idea of the Pebble is that you can personalise it to a great degree, I thought that a watch face that showed my age in seconds would be a good project. I named it ‘Tempus Fugit’.
But then it occurred to me that one could also do the opposite – a countdown. How long I’ve been around is an interesting topic, at least for me. But how long I’ve got – well, that’s even more compelling!
Of course, life expectancy is a highly personal thing (and one wishes to avoid the estimation errors made by the Rich Fool in the parable) but it’s interesting to speculate. Life expectancy, in statistical tables, tends to be quoted as ‘expectancy at birth’, based on an assumption that mortality rates will continue through your life at the same kind of level as they were at your birth. When I was born, in 1967, it was about 69 years in the UK. It’s now 78, according to Wikipedia, and will no doubt continue to rise. So on the one hand, one might expect that the inferior healthcare, nutrition advice etc in my youth would mean that I probably come somewhere between the two. On the other hand, today’s figure doesn’t take into account the improvements in healthcare that are inevitable in the future, which may mean that my allotted span may be more that the expectancy of those born today (as will theirs).
So, as a rough estimate, averaging these two factors, I decided to use the present life expectancy for the UK, currently around 78 for men and 82 for women. (It’s slightly more in Canada and Australia, and a couple of years less in the U.S.).
And so, with a minor variation in the software, I now have two new watchfaces for my Pebble. The first, Tempus Fugit shows how many seconds I’ve been alive. The other shows my best estimate of how many I’ve got left, a number which is already distressingly lower than the first, and, of course, counting down…
Some may think this morbid. But I prefer to think of it as an inspiration… a call to action.
Oh, and in case I should be short of ideas about what to do with the time that remains, I named this second one Time’s Wingèd Chariot. I think Marvell would approve.
I may be celebrating a rather different kind of gigasecond soon!
Looking at the collection of gadgets on my bedside table makes me wonder whether I’m dull and unimaginative, or stylishly coordinated…
(For the curious, the three similar-looking devices on the right are my Kindle, iPad, and iPad mini. I don’t normally need them all in the same place at once! The thing on the left is my GPS logger and the watch is, of course, a pebble.)
iTerm 2 is a terminal program for the Mac with lots of great features beyond the standard OS X Terminal. Alfred is an excellent app launcher, which in its newly-released second version is taking the Mac world by storm.
If you don’t use either of these, I strongly recommend them.
If, on the other hand, you already use both of them, you might like my (very basic) plugin that lets you list your iTerm profiles using an Alfred keyword and fire up a new iTerm window using the selected one.
I’m enjoying Remembrance of Things Past, but my expectation of completing the whole thing has been somewhat reduced by my calculating that it’s more than one-and-a-half times the length of the Bible.
Fortunately, Marcel Proust is a much better writer than God, but I fear that may not be sufficient…