Tag Archive: Technology

USB cable nastiness

October 2, 2006 1:47 pm Published by 3 Comments

I am in need of a product that I am virtually sure exists.  I can’t, for the life of me, seem to find a place that sells this product — although I suspect that’s just a difficulty with putting my thoughts into search terms.  I also am even having a difficulty envisioning what it might look like.  So I ask for your help.  I need some way to easily keep all of my different USB cables (iPod, Palm, phone, camera, video camera, et al) as easily accessible and not-ugly as possible.  Requirements:

  • A hub, or at least some way to not have to reach around my tower to get the right cable plugged in.  I only have six USB ports, and including my keyboard, mouse, and printer, I have far more devices, so there currently ends up being a lot of juggling.
  • Some sort of cable hiding solution.  Cable ugliness is the number one cause of premature death, followed closely by the goddamn Nihilanth.
  • The cables should be easy to remove, so that I don’t have to spend fifteen minutes pulling one out just to bring it to a friend’s house.

Just a simple USB hub that I can plug things into solves the biggest part of the problem: the pain of juggling.  But I still have to keep the cables neatly tucked away in a little bin next to the desk.  Is there a better solution that I’m missing?  I can’t be the only person with this problem.

How I got a new DSL modem

March 10, 2006 8:48 am Published by

MetaFilter — or more accurately AskMetaFilter — is a thing of beauty. Last week, after about a month of noticable deterioration, my DSL stopped functioning almost entirely. I spent three hours on the phone with five different AT&T helpdesk people until they finally decided to send out an engineer. He showed up, plugged something into the wall, mumbled “your modem is broken” and left. They wanted $100 to replace it, which I considered (information super-)highway robbery.

EBay has hundreds of DSL modems listed for a lot less, and I decided I’d get one there. But I didn’t know what to look for. There are a lot of acronyms and whatnot, and I wasn’t really interested in doing hard research and studying for a twenty-dollar piece of equipment that I only need for a few months. So I asked MetaFilter. I got better answers than I expected. Two people offered me free modems. One lived in New Haven and I met him last night.

It works like a charm. The Internet is a wonderful place. Thank you, horsemuth.

Bloglines and keyboard shortcuts

October 13, 2005 9:51 am Published by

Am I the only one who doesn’t like keyboard shortcuts on websites? I find it far easier to navigate on the web by, I don’t know, clicking on things, than by remembering that “Y” means to archive, and shift-A means to reply-to-all-in-new-window. One of the things that stood in the back of my mind as not-too-nice about Google Reader was the fact that it forced these keyboard shortcuts upon you. Gmail is at least nice enough to default to shortcuts off.

And now Bloglines, thinking it needs to actually start (gasp) improving, took a look at Google Reader to see what they needed to do. Obviously, there was only one thing there they could learn from. Keyboard shortcuts! Don’t hit shift-A in Bloglines or you’ll end up marking all of your news items read. The “read all” feature itself is so ridiculous that even before they started “innovating”, I had wished I could remove the link that did that. It’s obnoxious — I end up with a page that’s several megabytes long. It’s dangerous — the only way I can undo it is by clicking “Mark all new” on every single feed’s header. And it’s totally unnecessary.

Google Reader

October 10, 2005 7:01 am Published by

I’ve figured out what I don’t like about Google Reader, Google’s new RSS aggregation service. I keep having to think. I’m not used to doing that with a Google product. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a solid feed reader, but the navigation isn’t quite intuitive. “Down” should be at the bottom. There should be a way to scroll through the new posts without viewing them (or having to mark those you viewed as “keep unread”, which, by the way, is really far away). But one of the things I’d really like, in contrast to Bloglines, is the ability to see which feeds have new items at a glance (and sort by that criterion). In the “My subscriptions” view in Google Reader, I can’t tell what has new items nor can I even resort them as far as I can tell.

I have high hopes and I plan to keep coming back to it — it is the big G, after all, and they have a track record of improving services in response to user feedback — but I’m going to stick with Bloglines for now.

Slashdot’s short memory

May 14, 2005 10:41 am Published by

I’ve noticed an interesting pattern on Slashdot. They’re notorious for duplicate stories (although, in my opinion, they have improved over the last few years). But a couple weeks after posting an article about a new Google feature, someone independently discovers it and the Slashdot editors feel the need to discuss it again. I only point this out because they did it not one month ago with search by numbers (original).

Update 25 Jul: Look, two more in the past 24 hours!

Update 26 Aug 2006: Another pair about Google Trends.