Help Someone Make Something

Thanks to John Gruber for the link to [Elevation Dock](, which is on KickStarter looking for start up funding. The best part of the KickStarter page? The video showing the guy behind the project milling aluminum stock down to the dock — and the ending with the aluminum shavings being swept into a pile is a nice touch.

iPhone 4S Video

Benjamin Dowie has a short video (1:25) up on Vimeo that he shot using an iPhone 4S which is, well, it’s just amazing how good the video is. And it was shot on a phone. Now, obviously there are obviously a lot of other things that make for great video, especially sound, as I have noted before, but in terms of the creative possibilities, I am just delighted. More importantly for someone like me who works with students to document folk culture and everyday life, it just hammers home how much great equipment is already in their hands. What we need to do, what I need to do, is simply to use it to greatest effect. (Maybe that’s what I’ll do tomorrow in class.)

The Size of Things

On the heels of my experiments in hacking computer speakers, I found myself with an old fourth generation iPod, the 20GB model, in my hand, and I was struck by how good it feels. It has the same roundrect shape of Apple’s iOS icons — but in three dimensions. It also feels like the length to width ratio is better than, say, the iPhone.

And that got me to wondering about the dimensions of the two objects and the aspect ratios involved. That meant getting a ruler out and measuring them. I included another much loved object for the sake of comparison:

Three Objects Side by Side

Object Length Width Depth L/W Ratio
iPhone 11.5cm 5.8cm .9cm 1.98
iPod 10.3cm 6.2cm 1.4cm 1.66
Moleskine 14cm 9cm 1.2cm 1.55

What’s interesting about the length-to-width ratios of the iPod and the Moleskine is how close they are to the golden ration of 1.618.

I tried to think of a way to throw the thickness of the objects into some relationship, but I couldn’t. I’m open to suggestions.

Three Objects Stacked

iPhone Tracker on GitHub

Apple’s latest update to iOS fixes the problem of making the location services cache easily available on your computer, but before you update, you might still enjoy seeing how much information about you is available. How widely available it is is a matter for a separate discussion.

I tried out the app on myself, just before I updated, to see what the results look like:

It’s pretty much what you expect: it shows that I live most of my life within Lafayette, where I live and work, and the city’s environs, where I do research. What I found interesting, since the app offers this data as an animated timeline, are the brief flowerings that occurred thanks to travel I have done over the past year.

Viewed within a historical perspective, and internally, this information raises no great concerns for me. Viewed from a chance to market to me I have some concerns. Viewed from a particularized and dynamic tracking of my movements … I don’t like it at all.

Yes, the Flip is dead; let it go

So Cisco bought a perfectly good little company with a perfectly good product and then lost it all by not figuring out how to distinguish their product from the wide variety of multi-use devices that were packing “good enough” functionality into their units. The Flip is dead, and I’m okay with that. No, I don’t think the video recording functionality, including ergonomics, of my iPhone is quite as good as the Flip, but that also goes for my point and shoot Canon camera, which has largely sat in its case of late. I think the really great thing about the Flip was how some of my colleagues were using it in their classes: it was a great “good enough” video camera that made it easy to work with video. That part I will miss — I don’t see my university buying a bunch of iPod Touches any time soon. And negotiating with multiple device interfaces and usages does slow things down in the classroom.