Flynn Taggart Do people actually read this stuff?

30Nov/091

A Bright Future

December is nearly upon us and the holiday season is in full-swing. My tabletop Christmas tree is sitting on my dining room table and I purchased a set of new LED Christmas lights, which were promptly strung in my bedroom and kitchen windows. I can smell the power savings already.

Actually, these LED lights are pretty spiffy. Besides the obvious benefits of less power usage and a lower electric bill, they appear to be much more vibrant than the traditional incandescent lights. A good comparison would be automobile brake lights. The incandescents on a regular car are bright, yet soft, while the LED tail lights on a higher-end vehicle are almost piercing. The LED lights also run far cooler due to their reduced power consumption. The downside is that the strand of lights seems to have some kind of inline resistor, which does get slightly warm. It also the clunkiest thing on the entire strand (comparable to a C-size battery) and can be a challenge to hide when decorating.

Overall, I'm happy with my purchase. I'll probably save a few dollars on my December energy bill, while providing seasonal merriment for all my neighbors.

25Nov/092

Birds of a Feather

I think I've finally begun to see the light. I used to view Twitter as a farce; a simple distraction to keep morale up during a day of work. After all, what was the point? When I first started using it, the service was largely a vehicle for friends to exchange goofy little updates about themselves. Feeding the cat? Tweet it. Varnishing your footlocker? Tweet it. Initiating a multi-million dollar diamond heist? Tweet it. Despite this, Twitter continued to evolve. While it still serves as a melting pot for all the world's experiences, it also serves as an excellent way to stay up to date on news tidbits.

While I do share tweets with friends of mine (which also show up in the top-right corner of this website), I largely use Twitter to keep up on news and interesting people. By following SonyPlayStation, I'm able to stay informed about the latest game releases and PS3 firmware updates. Meanwhile, AdagioTeas, keeps me up-to-date on the tea inventory at my favorite online tea retailer. It's actually useful! Who would have thought? My only gripe is that not enough of my friends use Twitter, so I'm largely left reading the tweets of people I don't know on a personal basis.

Because of the increasing usefulness of Twitter, I found myself requiring tools that would circumvent my increasing need to visit the website a hundred times per day. For the longest time, I used an iPhone app called Twitteriffic ($5). This worked fine for my limited use, but as my needs increased, I found myself wanting more - especially an application for my desktop computer. And so, about three weeks ago, the great Twitter software shakedown began.

At first, the field was large. For the iPhone, I was considering TweetDeck, Tweetie 2, Twitterific, and Echofon. The desktop computer side of things was a bit smaller with just TweetDeck and Echofon. At first, the selection was whittled down quickly: I found the desktop version of TweetDeck far too complicated and annoying, so Echofon easily won out. On the flipside, I found the iPhone version of Echofon to be a bit on the light side, so that was dropped almost immediately. Twitterific held onto the crown for about two weeks, until I decided that TweetDeck and Echofon offered far more features, while being easier to use... and that is where I stand right now. I'm still debating between TweetDeck and Tweetie, as both apps are almost equally weighted with pros and cons. If someone held a gun to my head and told me to pick one, I might lean towards Tweetie, simply because I like it's minimalist design, but both apps are otherwise in a virtual dead heat.

  

Left to right: Echofon, TweetDeck, and Tweetie 2
(Click to Enlarge)

That about concludes my Twitter software spiel. I would review each individual program and explain their merits, but I think this blog post would end up being a solid 2000+ words in length. Just know that I'm a picky guy and each Twitter client is examined for their presentation, color scheme, ease of use, and chunkiness (in other words, less bloated = better). If nothing else, I hope this list will help to point someone in the right direction if they're looking for a good Twitter client.

Also, if you're a Twitter user, keep your eyes peeled for FlyTags. That's me.

24Nov/090

Paging Tina Fey

The iPhone lets the user set a wallpaper. This wallpaper image shows up during two common occurrences. The first is when you unlock the phone. The second is when someone calls and are not in the phone's contact list. On my phone, nearly all of my contacts have pictures. If my mom calls, I see a picture of my mom. If a friend calls, I see their picture. So, what's the problem, you ask? Simply this:

Much to my chagrin, Tina Fey is not on my contact list. She's my current wallpaper image. Thus, whenever a strange number calls me, I see a picture of Ms. Fey pop up on my screen and, for a split second, I actually think that she's calling me. The next moment, the bottom drops out, I realize that it's just my wallpaper image, and I begrudgingly pick up the phone. This is one little feature that drives me nuts about the iPhone. I want a background image that I can enjoy, but I also don't want to be tricked into thinking a celebrity is calling me every time an unknown number calls me. Such a quandary!