Yankees and Twitter

March 31, 2011

Today was opening day, and aside from the fact that it was cold and drizzling in New York it was a good day.

Jeter, Posada and Rivera set a very interesting record. No trio of players in any major US sport has spent 17 seasons together. Today marked their 17th season.

The record for oldest Yankee pitcher to record a save was at 40 years old. Mariano Rivera stepped in today at 41 and broke that record with his typically perfect ninth inning.

But it was the twitter trending that amused me most. Right after the win, at #3 and #4 trending on twitter were “Yankees Win” and “Enter Sandman”.

The funny part was that while “Yankees Win” quickly fell off the trending list, “Enter Sandman” stayed there for quite a while. Mostly due to people tweeting, “why is Enter Sandman trending?”.

For the non baseball fans, about 12 years ago Yankee management wanted theme music for when Rivera entered the game. Metallica’s Enter Sandman was chosen (not by Mariano, who is a devout Christian and not exactly into heavy metal). If you are at the Stadium for the ninth inning, you hear the first two seconds of Enter Sandman and the crowd goes crazy.

So on opening day, when Rivera comes in to close out the first game of the season, millions of Yankee fans tweeting “Enter Sandman” makes total sense.

While millions of non Yankee fans wondered why Metallica was suddenly hot…


Music in the Cloud

March 30, 2011

Amazon announced their Cloud Drive and Cloud Player to let people store and play music from the cloud. You get 5GB for free which is about 1000 songs.

Now it gets interesting.

Everyone was expecting Google vs. Apple on this one, but Amazon just jumped in there big time. There’s a nice Android app and it works on any browser. Well, any flash enabled browser. Kind of an interesting technology choice given the primary competition.

I loaded my library (imported all my iTunes playlists) and frankly it works great. To me having your music library on your computer hard drive where you sync up other devices with wires doesn’t seem right. Having it in the cloud makes total sense to me.

There are potential issues of course. Doesn’t work so good on the subway. And how will it impact your phone’s no longer unlimited data plan?

What’s fun now is that there is real competition. Apple has been so dominant that they’ve been getting away with iTunes which is kind of a crappy app. That being said, Amazon’s Cloud Player app is going to need improvements as well. It’s definitely a v1 app.

But now we have Apple, Amazon and Google battling over music with the music labels wondering what the hell to do.

Game on.


Google Street View

March 22, 2011

Google Street View is becoming rather amazing. My daughter has taken my phone, gone to Google Maps and “walked” the route from our place to her best friends house, via Street View.

That’s a totally pointless use of the technology, but as an old dude, think about the implications. From your phone, you can map the route visually from one place to another on the fly. That’s pretty amazing.

I use my Android phone for navigation when driving. I go to random places and when I arrive at the destination it shows a picture of where I am. No matter how random the place is, I get a picture.

We’re about to go on vacation and visit my wife’s brother in Orlando. So of course, I google his address to get directions. I’m used to getting the perfect map, but in the upper left is a picture of his house. Not like his block in the general vicinity, it’s a flat out snapshot of his house.

Very cool, but a little creepy…


NY Times for free

March 22, 2011

Not that I would ever suggest getting something for free, but people are already figuring out ways around the upcoming NY Times paywall (which already exists in Canada).

Apparently it requires just four lines of javascript:

javascript:(function() {

var s=document.createElement(‘script’);

s.setAttribute(‘src’, ‘http://toys.euri.ca/nyt.js’);

document.getElementsByTagName(‘head’)[0].appendChild(s);

})();

You can apparently drop this on your bookmarks toolbar and when you see the NY Times “you need to pay for this” screen, click it and you get the article for free.

Again, I’m not suggesting that you actually do this…


Swype

March 15, 2011

A little bit after I got my HTC Incredible, Swype became available for Android in beta. Swype is an alternate keyboard. For iPhone users that don’t get the concept, with an Android phone you can swap out the standard keyboard for something different.

There are several Android alternate keyboards. Some try to predict the next letter and make the most likely letters much bigger. But Swype is different. Instead of touching each letter individually, with Swype you touch the first letter, keep your finger on the keypad, and swipe your finger from one letter to the next. The software figures out what word you intended.

Depending on the word, it isn’t always unambiguous, so Swype presents you with a list of options. The software isn’t perfect (it’s still in beta) and doing double letters (i.e. the same letter twice in a row) is a bit tricky (it’s best to do a tiny loop on that letter). Seems like extra effort, so why do it?

Because it’s really fast.

Like world record fast. Like quadriplegic dude types faster than you fast.

When I first installed it, I hadn’t been using my phone for very long. It seemed a bit faster, but it was hard to tell. I got some nice envy from iPhone users, so that probably encouraged me to stick with it. It’s really handy holding the phone in one hand. But I wasn’t sure if it was a big deal or not.

Until I lost it.

Something funky happened. It’s not available via the Android Market so the installation process is a bit different. I was using it one day and I got a message, “your license has expired, please upgrade”. So my first thought was, “crap, they are out of beta and now they want to charge me”. But I couldn’t find any obvious way to upgrade. So I figured I’d check their website later when I got home. No biggie. But then I needed to send a text.

Torture.

And this was just a text. 50 letters tops. Seriously, torture. Typing the regular way was soooooo slow. I vowed that whatever Swype was charging, I would pay it willingly. The whole, “maybe I’ll switch to iPhone now that it’s on Verizon” thing went out the window.

I got home, checked their website and saw no mention of charging for anything, though there was some mention of a new version. So I just tried uninstalling and reinstalling.

Back in business.

I also paid a bit more attention to the speed and accuracy stats on their website. Sure, it’s marketing, but they are claiming average typing speeds twice as fast as “point and tap” phone methods.

I’m telling you, it’s twice as fast. It was just flat out painful doing anything the old way. I couldn’t bear it.

So while I understand that telling a company that you’ll pay whatever they want to charge is not exactly shrewd negotiating, if they ever do decide to charge for it, I’m buying it with a big fat smile on my face.

If you are on Android, join the beta here.


Hula Hoops

March 13, 2011

Danielle, now 8, is a crazy good with a hula hoop. She once did it for an hour straight, just to see if she could. Like many things, when people are good at something, it seems effortless to them. When Danielle is going her hips barely move.

If I try to hula hoop on the other hand, I look like a spastic drunk.

Victoria (4), of course, looks up to her big sister. She’s finally catching on…

Tori’s starting to get it…

IE 9

March 10, 2011

I’m playing with the release candidate right now, having set it as my default browser. Of course I still go back and use Chrome from time to time.

I’m highly amused by the IE 6 countdown site. Never have so many people, including the vendor, wanted people to stop using a product so much. And by the way, go Norway, nice job at 0.7%.

Anyway IE 9 seems pretty good. It’s quick. I haven’t seen any rendering issues. Origami looks great (but Origami always looks great).

I’m not in love with the way the tabs look. It seems like they went with the minimalist Chrome look but didn’t pull it off as well. Maybe there will be some clean up in the final version.

But overall, I would say well done. I’m sure that I will go back to Chrome. I would certainly miss Chrome to Phone and the Google Voice extensions. But IE 9 appears to be a worthy browser.

Now we just have to get corporations to upgrade to it…