July 2nd, 2014

Twitter channels

In my line of work, I use my Twitter account @zpower for… well, a lot of things. 95 percent of it is a bitter mixture of inane commentary and feeble attempts at comedy. Of the remaining 5 percent, about half is Spotify track shares, and the other half is real, actual feedback on news and events that arguably shows some remote glimmer of intelligence and/or expertise.

That’s just who I am, and that’s fine — but different people follow me for different reasons. The people who want to know what I think about Android Wear aren’t necessarily the same people who want to know what I think about Anjunabeats Volume 11. (It’s good, by the way. Very good. Anjunabeats 11, that is; haven’t spent enough time with Android Wear yet.)

I think people like me would benefit from being able to “broadcast” multiple “channels” in their Twitter feed. For instance, I might have feeds called Music, Cars, Nonsense, and News. If you want the full, unfiltered @zpower, you can still select All, which would be the default. But if you just want news, you’d follow my News channel.

You can effectively simulate this now by creating multiple Twitter accounts and tying them together for the benefit of your followers using a list, but that’s messy — in my proposal, everything would fan out from a single account and handle.

I’m no UX designer, but it’s easy enough to imagine how this would work: a dropdown below the editor would let you select which channel(s) to publish the tweet to. Most users, especially low-volume ones, would never even encounter this — they wouldn’t create channels, and therefore the additional UI would never be exposed to them. But for those of us who are trying to balance work and play from a single account, it’d be huge.

June 3rd, 2014

Things the United States could do instead of spending $1 trillion on the Joint Strike Fighter

By the time the program is over, the total cost of the F-35’s three variants is expected to be a trillion dollars, even as the Air Force’s and Navy’s F-15s, F-16s, F/A-18s, and F-22s are likely to outlast the existence of manned air combat. Here are just a few of the many things we could’ve done with that money:

  1. Triple NASA’s budget for 25 years.
  2. Pay for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for over a century.
  3. Give 4 million kids $250,000 college scholarships.
  4. Pay for every single US national laboratory for over 32 years.
  5. Close the UN World Food Programme’s budget shortfall, 1,000 times over.
  6. Give every homeless person in the United States over $1.5 million.

And some not-too-ridiculous sounding stretch goals:

  1. Cure cancer.
  2. Eradicate HIV.
  3. End hunger.

But hey, at least it looks pretty cool.

April 27th, 2014

Minimix April 2014

My first since moving to New York, and my first with a controller and mixer precariously balanced on a cardboard box (I don’t have much furniture yet).


December 23rd, 2013

With Batkid, don’t point out the obvious

In a Washington Post editorial, Princeton’s Peter Singer helpfully reminds us that the money spent on Batkid in San Francisco last month could’ve more efficiently been used saving or bettering the lives of dozens, if not hundreds of people through the efforts of nonprofit organizations operating around the world.

Clearly. I don’t think anyone had argued that making 5-year-old leukemia patient Miles Scott’s day was the most efficient, mathematically optimized use of money. But Singer skims over the fact that our spending as members of a wealthy industrialized nation spans the entire spectrum of utility. Did I need that slightly upgraded television with an extra HDMI input? How about that new Montblanc pen? Or the millions of Xbox Ones and PlayStation 4s sold in the past several weeks? What if we’d all went to a slightly less expensive place for dinner last night?

Indeed, on that scale, Batkid’s Make-A-Wish outlay was money well spent: it brought a major city together in a way that little else could, put a spotlight on leukemia research, and mesmerized a weary nation in perpetual need of good news.

December 2nd, 2013

Things that have gone horribly wrong since Thanksgiving

  • Comcast service has been out since Saturday, which also means my phone doesn’t work since I rely on a Microcell.
  • My garbage disposal stopped working.
  • My humidifier broke.
  • I ordered a vegetarian sandwich today and discovered when I got home that it was tuna salad. Gross. (Coincidentally, this is also how I found out that my garbage disposal broke.)
  • Paul Walker died in a tragic car crash.

One piece of good news? Anyone?

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