Digital Amber

Jason Kottke

Part of what humans use technology for is to better remember the past. We scroll back through photos on our phones and on Instagram & Flickr — “that was Fourth of July 5 years ago, so fun!” — and apps like Swarm, Timehop, and Facebook surface old locations, photos, and tweets for us on the regular. But sometimes, we run into the good old days in unexpected places on our digital devices.

The future is here after all

The first such murder we witness is that of a woman who escaped slavery and came to Earth. She has found herself a job. It’s a degrading job, a job that even the hard-boiled, world-weary Deckard flinches away from watching. But it’s a job. She is participating in society. She is working. She’s doing the things that she has to do in order to be a part of the world that she risked everything to reach.

Deckard comes to her workplace. He finds her there, and he knows what she is, and she runs away from him because she knows what cops do to women like her. He chases her through the street and corners her. He aims his gun at her through a crowd of people. He squints. He takes a second too long to decide whether to shoot. She runs again.

(Nobody tells you about that part, when you tell them you’re about to watch Blade Runner for the first time. They tell you about all the different versions, and they tell you about the ambiguity of the ending, and they tell you about the fact that all the effects are practical effects. But nobody tells you about the part where a cop aims a loaded firearm into a crowd of people and tries to decide whether it’s worth risking their lives in order to murder an escaped slave.)

Syncing iBooks to iCloud with a separate Store Account

With the release of iOS 9.3 and Mac OS X 10.11.4, it is now possible to sync your ePubs and PDFs across all your devices and keep the read positions and bookmarks up to date. 

Set up is pretty straightforward if one only has one Apple ID to handle their store purchases and iCloud data, however it becomes a bit less clear if you use a shared Apple ID across the household for purchases with individual iCloud accounts to sync personal data.

Anecdotally, it seems like the optimal solution is to:

  1. Remain signed in to your shared Apple ID in the iBooks store in all your devices (in iOS there is only one place to sign in – the App Store and iTunes store page in Settings).
  2. Remain signed in to your personal iCloud account
  3. When the prompt asks to enable the iBooks in the Cloud library, do so.
  4. If it signs you into the iCloud account in iBooks, sign out and sign back into the shared account.

A gentle tap on your wrist

Off the cuff thoughts, 1 month after switching from a Pebble to a Apple Watch

  • First party support pays off. The Pebble suffers on iOS multitasking as it would sometimes the phone app would get killed off
  • Not having both your wrist "buzz" and the phone ring is nice. It's a really tiny detail, but one where it is so nice to have.
  • Speaking of the vibration, the taptic engine is very very nice compared to the harsh vibration motor used in the pebble. However, if I am wearing the strap a bit loose, I may not feel the tap.
  • The lack of an always on screen (coming from a Pebble) isn't really a problem as the Apple Watch reliably lights up, and the contrast on the Pebble is such that I usually need to hit a button to engage the backlight.
  • Battery life is not a problem as it was a habit for me to charge the Pebble nightly anyway.
  • Covering the screen with your palm "resets" the watch to the watch face when you raise your wrist the next time.
  • I set my watch to keep the App active for 8 minutes after use. So far it seems to be the right balance.
  • The DLC Coating and the Sapphire, while expensive, is really nice to have.
  • Third party app support is still rudimentary at best, and useless at worse. Sometimes the apps are almost powerful enough to avoid using the phone, and sometimes it feels like you're waiting for the data to update.
    • I find that if I am launching an app that is waiting for the data to load in, I would launch the app, drop my wrist and let the watch load, then raise it again shortly after and the data will be waiting for me
  • The ease of swapping bands is really nice

Generate @ VIFF Hub

A couple weeks ago, we had the pleasure to support two interactive walls and visuals at the Late Night Hub during VIFF.

It was pretty cool to see a quick side project that repurposed Generate's data into something event goers can interact with in real time.

In order to make the wall interactive, I had to make sure we pulled the data in several ways– via Hashtags and Geolocations – so that users can have their content featured on the wall however they choose to post 

One feature that I felt aesthetically engaging was the typed text that rotated and swapped throughout the evening to engage and call out to users to download and interact with the wall.

One key issue that we discovered as there was more content being fetched was that Chrome ran into a memory issue on Mac – eventually leading to an out of memory error. Because all the details and code for the wall came together last minute, it was still exciting to see it set up and work in the space, and also to gain knowledge and insight for next time from a small project like this. 

Download Generate from the App Store or Google Play store today to create your own abstract art!

Mastering Digital Media

As part of my work this term, I've been creating videos documenting our team!

Here is my video, and I encourage you to explore the other videos on my Vimeo Page