Archive for September 2007

Have your stolen Mac call home

I've often wondered why Macs (and even iPhones) don't come with this functionality. Great idea and seemingly simple to implement.

Two iPhone App Requests for the Lazyweb

After using my iPhone for over two months now, I really have only three lingering annoyances with it. Two, which can hopefully be solved quickly via the magic of the lazyweb:

  1. No way to simply give a URL its own button in the main menu (like, for instance, your favorite humor site). Solved with iPhone Apper!
  2. No way to either increase the duration or recurrence of vibration when you receive an SMS message (currently, it lasts about a half second and never buzzes again, causing me to miss it the great majority of the time).
  3. No over-the-air or wifi syncing capabilities (probably not solvable without Apple’s help).

Numbers one and two seem imminently solvable given the groundswell of development activity within the iPhone community lately, and number two would be of benefit to nearly everyone who uses vibrate mode.

I was hesitant to hack my iPhone at all until last night when Newsvine Lance showed me how easy and clean it has become to install apps. In case you’re curious, just download the AppTap Installer to your Mac, sync up, and you can begin testing out new apps and customizations without any dirtywork or scary command line stuff. After the Installer is installed, launch it and install “Community Sources” to get the full array of applications available for your iPhone. The first ones I recommend installing are Summerboard, BSD Subsystem, MobileFinder, Mobile Terminal, and NES (in that order). It’s important to install Summerboard first so your list of applications is infinitely scrollable.

Anyway, back to the lazyweb stuff.

For number one, it would be nice to simply be able to add an application called, say, “Bookmark Launcher”, and have the app prompt you for a URL and the name of the Bookmark. After you type the URL and name in, an icon would be created in the main menu that takes you straight to the site. Quick and simple. See iPhone Apper.

For number two, either of two things would solve the problem of missed SMS vibrations: tack on an extra second or two of vibration when an SMS (or any alert) comes in or keep vibrating every 5 or 10 minutes for up to an hour until the alert is dismissed. I was skeptical that this pet peeve of mine could ever be hacked around until I saw the, uhhh, “interesting” app iBrate. Say what you want about the app, but it’s a nice proof of concept for modifying iPhone’s weak vibration alerts.

Before I was a crotchety old man, I’d have tried to tackle these two potential features myself, but alas, I don’t have the expertise. Anybody have any ideas? I’ll sport a brand new Samsung Upstage music phone to whoever solves number two. It’s the worst phone ever invented — I know — but it’s new and it’s free, and it goes for over $200 on eBay.

The Ocean in 185 Lines of Javascript:

Mesmerizing. Try tweaking some of the variables in the “sea” section of the code.

“"Design had been a vertical stripe in the chain of events in a product’s delivery; at Apple, it became a long horizontal stripe, where design is part of every conversation.””
Why I Just Asked My Students To Put Their Laptops Away:

A great essay about how toxic everyday distractions can be.

Humanity's deep future:

A group of researchers at the Future of Humanity Institute talk about where our race may be going and how artificial intelligence could save or kill us all.

Steve Jobs speaks about the future at the International Design Conference in 1983:

31 years later, it’s safe to say this is one of the most prescient speeches about technology ever delivered. Jobs covers wireless networking, tablets, Google StreetView, Siri, and the App Store (among other things) many years before their proliferation. A fantastic listen.

How to travel around the world for a year:

Great advice for when you finally find the time.


A fantastic app for prototyping your design work onto real world objects like billboards, book covers, and coffee cups. This seems like just as great of a tool for people learning design as it does for experts.

50 problems in 50 days:

One man’s attempt to solve 50 problems in 50 days using only great design. Some good startup ideas in here…

How to Do Philosophy:

If you’ve ever suspected that most classical philosophy is a colossal waste of time, Paul Graham tells you why you’re probably right.

TIME: Why Medical Bills Are Killing Us:

Stephen Brill follows the money to uncover the pinnacle of corruption that is the U.S. Health Care system. A must-read article if there ever was one.

DIY Dot Org:

A beautifully designed site full of fun and challenging DIY projects. I could spend months on here.

The Steve Jobs Video Archive:

A collection of over 250 Steve Jobs videos in biographical order

Self-portraits from an artist under the influence of 48 different psychoactive drug combos.

Water Wigs are pretty amazing.

David Pogue proposes to his girlfriend by creating a fake movie trailer about them and then getting a theater to play it before a real movie. Beautiful and totally awesome.