iOS Alarm Debacle

Honestly, this alarm thing hasn’t affected me in the least, but I can imagine it did affect a lot of users. And really, there can’t be many things that are more frustrating than an alarm clock that doesn’t work.

However, what bothers me is that the situation speaks to a bigger (not big, just bigger) weakness of iOS right now that no one is talking about. Why hasn’t Apple decoupled it’s default apps from iOS and put them into the App Store? The way it is right now, in order for Apple to patch even a broken alarm clock, they have to push out a new build of iOS at 300-600MB and every single user has to plug their phone into their computer, download the software update (which could take a decent amount of time depending on connection speed), and go through the entire sync and update process.

If Apple would make all its apps the same as any other app, then they could push a ‘Clock’ update to the front of the iTunes line, and anyone who wanted the update would get it the next time they opened the App Store. They would be more likely to know about it, and they would be able to download it over any network, including their 3G signal. Hell, AT&T could even send out a free text to all users suggesting they download it. Just like that, problem solved.

As an added bonus, maybe we would all be allowed to delete some of the Apple apps that we’ve replaced with better third-party apps. Sounds like a win-win to me.

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Technology in Sports

Anybody and everybody who gets paid to yak about sports has an opinion on the use of technology to improve officiating. I grew up a Cubs fan, having words like ‘tradition,’ ‘pristine,’ and ‘old-school’ dominate my sports world. Wrigley Field didn’t even get lights until my 8th birthday, and they still don’t have a fancy scoreboard or video board.

So with that in mind, I was always on the side of the argument against adding technology to sports. Umpires are “a part of the game.” They make the sport charming and “add a human element” to the game.

I’ve changed my mind. I’ve decided that that argument doesn’t even make sense. We want our games to be called correctly. Who cares who makes that call? The yellow first down line has been a part of television for so long that I think we forget it’s not actually on the field. The Boise State-Nevada football game was decided by a missed field goal. Because it went higher than the uprights, we have no real way to know for sure that it missed. So why not have a laser upright that extends infinitely into the air. That would be the easiest way to know for sure. The same goes for baseball. MLB.com has had pitchFX for quite a while now. We know everything about every pitch: where it starts, where it ends, how much it breaks, how fast it’s going, and exactly where it crosses the plate. So why wouldn’t we have pitchFX calling balls and strikes?

I think there are valid arguments against using instant replay. You don’t want to slow down a game (especially baseball, which is already way too slow). So, don’t have replays. Just use better tools to get the calls right in the first place. If pitchFX is calling balls and strikes, there’s no umpire for the managers to argue with and cause delays in the game. If the laser goal post is also used as laser foul poles, we don’t have to argue about whether a home run was fair or foul. If you can put a chip in a soccer ball and know, for a fact, whether or not it crosses the goal line, how stupid do you have to be to not do it?

Even though I’m a Cubs fan, I’m also a technology enthusiast, and I have reached the point where I don’t understand why we’re not using this stuff. I don’t think anyone really wants calls to be wrong, so if there’s a way to get calls right and take human imperfection out of it, why not get it done?

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Five Oceans?!

First, they get rid of a planet, and now, apparently, they’ve added a new ocean. I have no idea when it happened, and Wikipedia doesn’t even definitively state that it did. Apparently it’s mixed up in some kinda ratification process.

Anyway, for those of you whose social studies books told you there were seven continents and four oceans, you better get your facts straight before your kids get to school. Say hello to the Southern Ocean. Yeah, it even sounds stupid.

Here’s the part where I quote some funny things from what I learned about the Southern Ocean:

The International Hydrographic Organization (IHO) published the third edition of Limits of Oceans and Seas (S-23), the global authority on the names and locations of seas and oceans, in 2000. The third edition in 2000 established the existence of the Southern Ocean as the fifth world ocean.

I don’t know whether to make fun of the International Hydrographic Organization or the fact that there are three editions of that publication. Obviously, they had to make up an ocean to get from the second to the third, so I wonder what they did to get from the first to the second. Discovered the Earth was round?

Anyway, five oceans now kids. Wanna learn more? Here’s a couple links:

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Conflagration of IE6, PHP session_start, and blank pages

Yesterday, I was troubleshooting a problem that (only) showed up in IE6 where anytime I click a link that goes to a page with session_start() in it, I get a blank page with no errors and the address bar shows the old address, and when I hit refresh, it goes to the new page and works perfectly. Bizarre.

It seems that lots of other people have run into this situation. Not a lot of people seem to get to a solution, or alternatively, they don’t post it. So, I have finally found the culprit, and I’m posting my “solution,” even though I don’t think it’s perfect. If you comment out the character encoding meta tag on the first page to start a session (in this instance, the login page), it seems to make all the problems go away.

Not having a character encoding meta tag is definitely invalid code, so I conditionally commented it out for only IE6. Not perfect, but neither is IE6. (W3C standard says to falls back to UTF-8, which is what I want anyway, so it’s getting where I want it to, just not explicitly.) Please let me know if you run into this post and come up with a better solution.

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Happy Halloween

Kate and I were supposed to go to Florida today for a shuttle launch that was scheduled to happen tomorrow. Sadly, the launch got postponed, so we’re sticking around here and handing out candy to the neighborhood kids. The good news is, October is nearly over and we’re closing in on Thanksgiving, which we all know is the best of the holidays. I’m looking forward to both the family Thanksgiving dinner and my Ball State Family Thanksgiving, which will take place on the Saturday after.

Hope everybody has a great Halloween.

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Get off my lawn #1

I’m just going to post something like this whenever I have an I’m-getting-old moment:

Today I realized I get perturbed by songs that sample songs I grew up with, even though I have since learned that all those songs were sampled from songs created in the 60s and 70s.

So, all you Isley Brothers fans out there who can’t stand the various reincarnations of their original songs, I kinda feel your pain now.

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Life Changes

I’ve been home for the last couple days preparing to start a new chapter in life. I wrapped up my tenure at the Children’s Museum of Indianapolis on Friday, and will be starting my new job at Innovative tomorrow. I had a pretty good run at the museum, but I like to keep chapters short, and the time had come to make another move.

For the most part, I’ll be doing the same things at Innovative that I did at the museum, but I’ll be working with a few other developers, rather than being an island. Hopefully, this will give me the chance to learn a lot of new stuff, and validate a lot of what I’ve been doing up to this point. It will be the first time I’ve worked with a lot of other people doing the same things I do. Also, it should be more fast-paced and challenging, and I expect to soon have a lot of work to show off that I’m really proud of.

I am super thankful for my time at the museum. Every time I’ve left a non-profit job, I have felt lucky to have some of the freedoms that go along with it. It’s too bad they are always so slow-moving and cautious. There’s such a great opportunity there to do cutting-edge, fantastic stuff when failure isn’t the end of the world. But, for a lot of people, I suppose it is the end of the world.

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Select the last n rows from a MySQL table

I needed to figure out how to select the last four rows of a database table without reversing the order of the rows. After a little digging, I got to this point:

SELECT * 
FROM (
    SELECT * 
    FROM table_name 
    WHERE whatever 
    ORDER BY date DESC LIMIT 4
) AS tbl 
ORDER BY tbl.date ASC;

So, as long as you have something to order by, you can reverse and re-reverse the order, and it will come out right in the end.

Note: Originally written September 2, 2010

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HDV and Graphics

If you are trying to create video graphics for HDV video, which is 1440×1080, the graphics should still be 1920×1080. Final Cut Pro will make it all jive when you import both.

There seems to be a lack of this information on the internet, so there you go.

Note: Originally written on July 20, 2010

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The Same Old Story

I’ve got blogs all over the place, and I’m not going to take it anymore. From now on, this is the only place I’m going to write anything. That’s not to say that I’ll ever actually write, but I’m not going to write anywhere else.

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