Monthly Archives: May 2015

The glitch

something's not rightTime you enjoy wasting is not wasted time. But what about time wasted doing something you don’t enjoy, like trying to figure out a software problem? You have to waste a certain amount of time when something isn’t working on your computer and you don’t know exactly how to go about fixing it.

Last week there was a glitch in the blogging platform I use. The body of writing and the toolbar would not appear. It was there but wouldn’t show. By the end of the week I got it straightened out. Episodes like that help me appreciate how well most of the systems work most of the time.



Going boardless

the possilbeLast weekend, we spent time in the mountain town of San Sebastian. It’s only two hours from the beach town we live in, but it feels very different, the weather, the plants, and the old buildings some of which are from the 1600’s.

You need just about as much stuff for a three day stay in a different house as you’d need for a month. We brought along a couple of games with us. the only thing we forgot to bring was the Scrabble board. “Necessity is the mother of invention,” so since we had the tiles and the tile racks we decided to play without the board.

Turns out Scrabble was better without a board. The board creates plays that focus on getting more points and it imposes a boundary, the board’s edge, beyond which you can’t play.

We played for points, but only the points from each tile. And we only stopped playing in any direction when we came to the table’s edge.

The scores are about half what they’d be when using a board. But the word plays are more interesting without using a board.

It reminded me of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu competitions, sort of.

In one form, points are given for different positions and changes of positions. The competitor with most points wins. This makes it in a competitor’s interest to rack up points and possibly stall once they’re ahead, instead of focusing on winning a “fight.”

The other, older format has no points. You can only win by submitting the other person. No submission, it’s a draw. It’s more real (it’s a self-defense system after all), more fun to do, and more interesting to watch if there’s an audience.

We discovered that playing Scrabble without a board is actually more fun, takes less time, and encourages using better words. So we’re now going boardless.

EDC again

red bagEDC stands for “every day carry,” the stuff you carry around when you leave the house.

There’s a subculture of people interested in displaying, discussing, and looking at EDC of other folks. I don’t know how big the EDC subculture is, but it’s big enough to have sites online dedicated to EDC.

I wrote about EDC years ago. It was a guilty pleasure for a while. But eventually, most of the EDC submissions begin looking similar: keys, a knife( usually a Spyderco), an expensive penlight, a multitool (usually a Leatherman), and a few other bits and bobs. So I stopped visiting.

Then I checked in on the EDC scene last week.

The stuff being carried every day isn’t much different except for newer iPhones and such. The site though is more sophisticated. Maybe monetized would be a better way to say it. Now, when you let your cursor hover over an EDC photo, each item is overlaid with a number corresponding to numbered hot links just below the photo. If you click on the item description you’ll be sent to Amazon, or some other vendor. There are even notes in the description to let you know if an item is on sale.

The newer format also has lots of little features, ads really, about new gear for EDC.

One thing that’s the same as before is how new and unused the items seem in almost every submission. The submissions with items that appear to be actually carried every day really stand out. Maybe the new, slicker format feeds into the EDC crowd who’re more about style than actually carrying the stuff they fetishize about.


Where am I?

getaway packageSuccessful people often became successful by pursuing an idea they think is good, but that everyone else thinks is wrong (but isn’t), or they have a (good) idea that’s brand new.

There’s a new company called what3words that’s onto something. They’ve assigned a unique string of three easy words that identifies each three meter square patch anywhere on the planet.

Why? Because we can remember and use a three word location description a lot easier than we can numbers, like latitude and longitude, and because there’s often  confusion and ambiguity in a location’s address. There’re eight “Lonsdale Roads” just in London. And London is one of the best addressed cities in the world.

Successful ideas can seem obvious after they catch on because they answer simple questions. Like what information do people crave but don’t have? How can you give consumers access to data?  What will make peoples’ lives better, save them money and give them better access to other people?

Here’s some of the claims from what3words:

The what3words app is small enough to install on almost all smartphones and works across platforms and devices.

The what3words geocoder turns geographic coordinates into 3 word addresses & vice-versa

what3words is a universal addressing system based on a 3mx3m global grid. Each of the 57 trillion 3mx3m squares in the world has been pre-allocated a fixed & unique 3 word address.

It’s much easier to remember, use and share than a set of coordinates.

When addresses are inaccurate, because either the house name or a road name is not recognised by mapping apps, or when there are multiple towns and streets with the same name, it can cause confusion, annoyance and wasted time.

Taxis often have trouble finding remote or out-of-the-way locations, particularly in areas with poor addressing systems. Inputting of destinations into taxi apps can be difficult, and giving the pick-up location for a phone-only taxi is often complicated – even more so if the pick-up point is not easily identifiable by a street address.

Poor addressing contributes to the last mile problem that accounts for up to 28% of the total cost to move goods.

A 3 word address will show the potential renter or buyer exactly where a property is situated, be that along a long road, in a village with only house names or a plot on the side of a mountain.

By using what3words, social media users can instantly and easily share their current locations (in a global, unambiguous, platform-independent way), or past/future locations equally as easily.

I found the what3words address for my house in a small town on the Pacific coast of Mexico. If you need to find me it’s: sizes.seal.wagged.

Color Transportation

beatiful dayFor almost every photo, I prefer color over black and white.

Now that most people take pictures digitally it’s easy to convert them to black and white, but I rarely see any improvement after the conversion. I guess I prefer seeing photos represent the world more closely to the way I actually see the world.

This is especially true for images from the older past. In black and white, older times seem more different than they were. Black and white is harder to relate to, even beyond the fashions and other cues of the time, because seeing the color makes the scene at that time easier to imagine yourself in.

Here’s an example, seven minutes of color film in Berlin in 1945, just after WWII ended.

It doesn’t seem that long ago while as you watch it. Most of the buildings are damaged, everyone is slim, and there aren’t many trees, but people seem to be going about their lives – walking, riding bikes around, or taking a trolley. Some people are smiling while others are shy.

The color in this footage isn’t oversaturated like it can be in older films. So the feel transports you. In black and white the same footage would feel very old and difficult to image yourself in.

Color rules.