Archive for July, 2017

Alexa Turn Your Screen Off

Friday, July 28th, 2017

We put our Echo Show in the bedroom. Works well there. Headlines in the morning. Music as we get ready. It’s nice.

At night though, it’s good to have it go completely dark instead of the regular screensaver thing it does.

Alexa turn your screen off

That works.

When we first got it, it would say “OK”, then the screen would go to a dimmed version and still display the time.

Then a few weeks later, the same phrase would continue to say “OK”, but turn completely off.

Just in the last few days, it just turns completely off with no verbal “OK”.

It’s kinda like it’s reading my mind, as that’s what I thought it should do all along.

You Should Not Force Quit Apps on iOS

Monday, July 24th, 2017

I have so many family and friends that do this and it drives me nuts.

John Gruber clears it up:

The single biggest misconception about iOS is that it’s good digital hygiene to force quit apps that you aren’t using. The idea is that apps in the background are locking up unnecessary RAM and consuming unnecessary CPU cycles, thus hurting performance and wasting battery life.

That’s not how iOS works. The iOS system is designed so that none of the above justifications for force quitting are true. Apps in the background are effectively “frozen”, severely limiting what they can do in the background and freeing up the RAM they were using. iOS is really, really good at this. It is so good at this that unfreezing a frozen app takes up way less CPU (and energy) than relaunching an app that had been force quit. Not only does force quitting your apps not help, it actually hurts. Your battery life will be worse and it will take much longer to switch apps if you force quit apps in the background.

The Door Problem

Wednesday, July 12th, 2017

Liz England:

I like to describe my job [as a game designer] in terms of “The Door Problem”.

Premise: You are making a game.

  • Are there doors in your game?
  • Can the player open them?
  • Can the player open every door in the game?
  • Or are some doors for decoration?
  • How does the player know the difference?
  • Are doors you can open green and ones you can’t red? Is there trash piled up in front of doors you can’t use? Did you just remove the doorknobs and call it a day?
  • Can doors be locked and unlocked?
  • What tells a player a door is locked and will open, as opposed to a door that they will never open?
  • Does a player know how to unlock a door? Do they need a key? To hack a console? To solve a puzzle? To wait until a story moment passes?
  • Are there doors that can open but the player can never enter them?
  • Where do enemies come from? Do they run in from doors? Do those doors lock afterwards?
  • How does the player open a door? Do they just walk up to it and it slides open? Does it swing open? Does the player have to press a button to open it?
  • Do doors lock behind the player?
  • What happens if there are two players? Does it only lock after both players pass through the door?
  • What if the level is REALLY BIG and can’t all exist at the same time? If one player stays behind, the floor might disappear from under them. What do you do?
  • Do you stop one player from progressing any further until both are together in the same room?
  • Do you teleport the player that stayed behind?
  • What size is a door?
  • Does it have to be big enough for a player to get through?
  • What about co-op players? What if player 1 is standing in the doorway – does that block player 2?
  • What about allies following you? How many of them need to get through the door without getting stuck?
  • What about enemies? Do mini-bosses that are larger than a person also need to fit through the door?

I love this. I could see this being a serious ah-ha moment for someone trying to wrap their mind around what a designer (of any sort) does.

Just a Guess

Thursday, July 6th, 2017

Charles M. Blow, in “The Hijacked American Presidency”:

Last week, when Donald Trump attacked two MSNBC hosts, people were aghast. The condemnation came quickly and from all quarters.

But his words shouldn’t have shocked. His tweet was just another pebble on a mountain of vulgarities. This act of coarseness was in fact an act of continuity. Trump was being Trump: the grossest of the gross, a profanity against propriety.

This latest episode is simply part of a body of work demonstrating the man’s utter contempt for decency. We all know what it will add up to: nothing.

Nothing is right. It’s the same stuff we saw in the election, the stuff that got him elected.

Just a guess, but as much resisting and activism and outrage as there is out there, he’s headed for re-election.

Tech Workers & The Government

Thursday, July 6th, 2017

I was very interested, right after the last U.S. presidential election went to Trump, if there would be an exodus of tech workers from government jobs. As best I can tell, the tech industry leans pretty strongly left and to say it, as a whole, dislikes Trump is an understatement.

58% of folks told me working for the government is now less appealing:

Which isn’t as drastic as I thought it would be.

It does seem to be chipping away at it though. It was interesting to read Noah Kunin’s journey, from being steadfast in sticking with it:

My oath to this country was not to a particular office, or person, and certainly not to a political party. It was to the Constitution and to the people.

To feeling like this:

Since the election, I’ve been on the “inside” for 224 days. I just can’t see how being within the system is supposed to work anymore. Means matter. Even if good is done over the next 3 years, what message does that send? That nepotism, favoritism, opacity, and personal loyalty work? That they are in fact, more effective than the alternatives?

Passion and Pickiness

Saturday, July 1st, 2017

If you’re super into car stereos, it’s more fun to work on nice cars installing state of the art equipment than it is fixing an old radio in a jalopy.

If you’re super into bicycles, it’s more fun to work on a high performance bike with modern componentry than oiling the rusty chain of an old Huffy.

If you’re super into math, it’s more fun to talk theory with fellow math nerds than it is to teach long division to middle schoolers.

If you’re super into fitness, it’s more fun to train serious athletes than to work with half-heartedly committed schlubs.

If you’re super into cooking, you’d rather work in a spacious kitchen with good equipment than in a cramped apartment with old appliances.

For the most part, anyway. Surely there are folks who’s passion is strong and broad enough that any chance they get to be active in it feels good. But I imagine this kind of thing largely holds true.

Sometimes it bums me out. Like when I want a new car stereo, but it needs to be within a tight budget and go in my old truck. I’m no fun for that salesman or installation person. Or when I need my old bike tuned up and the bike repair person isn’t exactly excited about the job.