How could Facebook be less time consuming?

Let’s admit it, all social media is a big waste of time and productivity. You tend to open it when you are bored, have nothing else to do or simply look for an escape, but it the long run it becomes a habit that consumes so much of your precious time. Even further, it creates addiction and in some cases it makes you lose the connection with the real world, pay less attention to your loved ones and even worse cause accidents when used at improper times.

Facebook, the biggest social media network is no different when it comes to being a ‘time wasting’ machine. I knew people, millennials in general, that couldn’t start their day without reading all the time, scrolling down until the last post they could remember from their previous evening. I won’t make here the argument of how people stare of their phones in public spaces without paying attention to the people that pass by or to what happens around them. I guess that all of us are aware of this, are we?

What I’ve learned over many years in the work field and in personal life also, criticizing without trying to be constructive or without proposing a possible solution helps no one. So here is my attempt on proposing a solution.

Solution 1: Timeline Filters

Let’s imagine for a moment that you are interested in several topics like business, money management, sports and arts (music for example). In this scenarios over time you’ve liked several pages providing news, stories, articles, pictures, videos, online shops, etc. for each and every topic you are interested in.

You are drinking your coffee in the morning and you open Facebook on your phone. You want to read something along your coffee so you chose one of the first articles that come on your time line. Stop. Why did you do that? Why the first and not an useful or meaningful article?

I’ll tell you why. Just because you can’t filter them and you settle only with what Facebook pushes up to you first.

So Facebook, why not releasing some nice Filters to the time line (let’s say TABs) configurable for wider areas of interest that would present all the latest posts specific to that particular topic. You don’t actually need to automatically configure them. Each responsible user could create his own and add what he likes in a specific Filter/TAB of his time line.

Solution 2: News groups

Same scenario as above, but instead of applying various filters to your timeline to select from a drop down right menu a group of news feeds (pretty much configured by you as Facebook group) containing all the relevant latest posts for a specific topic.

How cool would it be for these customized groups to be shareable?

I could enumerate multiple advantages of the approaches from above. However I’ll let you imagine how they would work and how they could help you, maybe you’ll come this way with even a better idea.

Instead, I will express one of my bold opinion which actually made me think of the above. Facebook is a waste of time – at least 90% of it. Why I’m still using the app is because I enjoy reading new articles published by pages I started to trust over time. I’m not interested in what my friends are doing, where they travel neither, and for sure I’m not amused by the fart my neighbor puppy cat just made. I prefer to read ideas some old other new – and that makes me feel better about the time I’m wasting staring at my phone.

Second, Facebook why are you trying to make the mistakes Television made in the past? Why I am saying this? If I start to watch an online video I’m expecting to see the video not the add you consider to publish it to me in the middle of the nice video. Sorry to say this, but this is the approach Television had and we all run of it and escaped online. Don’t make the same mistake they did, if you still want to keep your users across several years. And Yes, YouTube is a lot better video service than you are. Look at them, they prompt you with the add in the beginning you get to chose if you watch it or skip it and guess what?, you continue to use their platform instead of closing it and moving to another site or another activity.

As a conclusion I can say that my general impression about Facebook is that they try to still my time. So I spend less and less on this particular social media, close the browser tab of it, disabled mobile phone notifications pushed by it, etc. Who knows, maybe if it implements a similar solution as the ones described above, I could start again using it more often but for a useful purpose like reading articles from the topics I’m interested in, by keeping me up to date with the latest news in the fields I like, by feeling that I’m not a dumb idiot staring at my phone but instead I get informed out of it. So Facebook please don’t treat us as a Tabloid TV network, treat us as intelligent readers and media consumers and we might chose you more often.

 

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The future of printing

Got this idea a couple of weeks back, doing manual work trying to assemble something I haven’t researched it! Well, I’ve researched a bit, but that does not count because I can’t prove it or bring some good theoretical arguments to it.

It’s more like a feeling, a simple idea:

The future will be a lot about rearranging atoms!

Imagine you’ll be able to buy only a small box, so small it will fit in your pocket, go home with it, power up you special ‘printer’ and get all those atoms rearranged based on a model you’ll be able to download from internet. Even further, if the ‘printer’ has a shredder too, you’ll be able to reuse the atoms from different useless things, recycle them and rearrange them into something else, you definitely need now.

Maybe this sounds a loot like science fiction, but, the more you look into it the more you’ll see how practical it would be.

Off-course, it will require very accurate maps of, well, atoms within an object. You wouldn’t like to obtain a cloud of useless gas, perhaps toxic too, instead of the so needed object. That map will have to contain a lot of data, perhaps more than we’re used to store right now – but that constantly improves, isn’t it?

It will also require compressing the space between the atoms, or who knows, maybe just rearranging them in a more convenient pattern for shipping. Maybe one day, we’ll simply be able to create minuscule neutron stars and get all the ‘big bang’ figured out.

Would love to read more on this topic, but, as per know – the internet is great for ‘surface’ information, an expert’s opinion is still rather difficult to find.

Disclaimer: For sure someone thought of this already. That does not prove anything, I haven’t read the idea somewhere, so it makes it my Utopian idea too. Would rather like to see someone else has the same ideas, that would actually mean we have more in common than we know.

New keyboard design

As an IT professional, I spend 8 to 12 hours a day, sometimes even more, in front of my two 24 inches monitors and my Rapoo mouse and keyboard. I got so used to this setup that I could use it with my eyes closed if needed.

Even though I never watch my keyboard while I’m typing, even though I use so many shortcut keys that in most windows I don’t even need the mouse anymore I started to think if the interaction with the keyboard couldn’t  be more natural, more portable or even more efficient. Having this is mind, here is what I propose. (This is just a design exercise, it could be put in practice by a team of engineers with different particular skills – however I do not have all of them together yet)

Inspired by the Kinect for Xbox functions and knowing that projections can easily be made on different surfaces – was thinking to combine the 2 in a small device that would simply project the keyboard onto a flat surface. Here is how I imagine it:

Keypad1

It could be integrated in the monitor, or in the laptop case, eliminating the need to use a keyboard or mouse. The projection could be made either on the desk or on a special surface, but instead of providing a keyboard with individual keys, it would be more similar with a mobile phone keyboard.

How would this work?

I’m sure the Kinect inspired device – which I’m calling Projector, could be calibrated to know the position of any of my fingers. Based on where I tap them – it will know which keyboard I’ve wanted to press and would ensure the text editing for me.

Also, the Projector – would project on a flat surface (could be curbed too, that’s less important) the keys delimitation with white / yellow / red /blue / phosphorescent color enabling the user to know where the position of each key is.

Section 1:

Contains main keys – as a regular keyboard. Supposing that the Projector knows the position of each finger and its movement – typing can be made.

Section 2:

  • Show current application on the screen in a box with its name, by swiping left or right you could navigate through the different applications you are currently running
  • Show current tab in the same way as above and enable you to change between the browser tabs in the same way

Section 3:

Since holograms are not easy to be projected yet, this is only an imaginary delimitated space for now. For further usage – it could integrate projections of 3d objects that could be twisted on each and any part of them

Currently – using only an imaginary space above Section 3, by moving the fingers in the air you could:

  • Swipe between different opened applications
  • Size a specific window using (Thumb and Index fingers), rotate it or move its place on the displays
  • Drag and drop using Thumb, Index and Middle fingers

Section 4 – Mouse function

  • Index finger – ensures the mouse
  • Thumb finger – ensures the left click
  • Middle finger – ensure the right click
  • Index finger and Middle finger pressed together – ensure the scroll
  • Getting Thumb, Index and Middle fingers together will ensure drag and drop (close all fingers together select and move, expanding fingers – paste)
  • Closing all fingers in the fist and using Thumb and Index to select text, and copy/paste the selection in a different place

Section 5 – Y axes above section 4

  • Mouse representation in biplane coordinates but using the Y axe (by moving the Index finger in the air you move the pointer of the mouse on your screen)
  • By contracting Thumb Finger and Middle finger – same functions as above (left click and right click) will be ensured.
  • By bringing Thumb, Index and Middle fingers together – drag and drop will be realized as described above
  • By closing all fingers in the fist and using Thumb and Index select, copy, paste of text could be realized

Special setup function:

  • Establish the dimension of the projection of the flat surface (could be enlarged or made smaller as the zoom on a photo is made)
  • Establish the dimensions of other work spaces

 

I don’t think I’m proposing something too new. This concepts have been adapted for mobile phones or touch screens, I’m only trying to imagine using them in a different way. Might require deep investigations of each functions in order to make it easy to work with and most important as functional as possible.

Could be integrated with voice command, if OS for the laptop starts to support that too.

Let me know your thoughts about it in the comments.

PS: Searching for an image to represent the projection of a keyboard, I saw that the base function I’ve imagined is already built on a device: Images of products I didn’t know about this when I wrote the post. Still, the functions I’ve imagined go a bit further that what the built devices can do for now. Don’t you agree?

The image was created on:

https://www.tinkercad.com/

A simple idea for Raspberry Pi

Among the rather cheep devices I usually call gadgets, my Raspberry Pi has a very special place. This thingy computer which I usually call the smallest laptop in my home is way cool with it’s multiple possibilities most of them well documented too.

The only thing I don’t like about it it’s formatting the Micro SD thing, once in a while when I want to reinstall it’s operating system from scratch.

Managed to do that once using an old phone as the Micro SD card reader, now I’m doing it using an old 3G stick that has a Micro SD card port – but start to wander why? Wouldn’t be simpler to just connect it to my computer?

How difficult would be to add a button to it, to use it as a Micro SD card adapter? Think of it, you already connect it with an USB cable to your laptop for example to power it up, you could use the same cable to format it or transfer data to it. Would be a lot easier than looking through all the old junk you no longer use to find a Micro SD card adapter or something that could replace it.

Even further, that button could have 3 positions:

  • Normal usage of the SD card for the little beast OS
  • Data storage/format from computer
  • Input port for different programs. A small app from the laptop could control that port and send multiple sequences of bits to it, then you’ll use the RaspberryPi to receive those packets. Could have some applications in testing or even automation.

Was just thinking of it…

NO to Music Streaming Services

I’ve always liked to listen music no matter what I’m doing. If I’m working, reading, driving, relaxing, cooking, fixing something in or around the house, waiting, geeking, or simply reflecting (as of doing nothing at all – which I call planning) – I always have some kind of music source playing somewhere in the background. Occasionally, even at full volume of the speakers / headphones / stereo system.

Being interested in new genes of music and sometimes actively looking for new tracks – I got curious about the Music Streaming Services too. Unfortunately, I was disappointed on what I found about them and their possibilities.

First I’ve tried to use Google Play Music. I installed the app on my Android phone and was stupefied to find out that, for free I can only listen to the tracks I upload to the service, no ad-funded service is available. But why Google? Why should I pay 10 pounds for this service? You are having such a big success with Youtube and many of the new generation listeners and musicians started to use it to listen or publish free music. Don’t know how much the earnings from youtube adds are, but for sure I don’t mind them. I don’t mind skipping them, I don’t mind watching them, I don’t mind buying things that are marketed to me this way.

I’m always trying to stay away from Apple services and devices. Will not talk about iTunes or Apple Music. From my point of view Apple is only good at selling overpriced services and devices, that hardly sometimes bring any improvement or step further to technology.

Regarding to music, I’m not going to buy from iTunes a masterpiece of engineering, that managed to sell a musician with no voice and no talent to million of people that easily believe that so called artist it’s a star. In the same way, I’m not going to pay for a music streaming service and here is why:

  • I was born in the 80’s and grew up in the 90’s. The Radio was my best friend during all those years and it streamed music to me for free;
  • I consider that it worth paying for music only for live concerts of known or unknown artists. Only live performances qualify as art worth paying for;
  • Access to music should be a human right, not an industry.
  • “Without Music, life would be a mistake” Friedrich Nietzsche

Going back to the Music Streaming Services – why don’t they take the good lessons learned during the 70’s, the 80’s and the 90’s? Adding some adds to the services – might pay the service I would think and you could publicize it for free enlarging your users. Don’t have the figures on this, but I’m sure some good solutions can be figured out.

Regarding the FM Radio stations, well, they are going to die slowly. The main reason why, is because with the internet speed increase and technology development, people expect to receive both audio and video service. Even if they only listen the audio, or have a quick glance at the video with the audio turned off if time doesn’t permit them to watch it entirely. Radio stations, because you can’t chose or schedule your preferred tracks, because you have to listen to idiot moderators, because they don’t present any integrated video content are going to slowly die.

In my humble opinion, this is where the Music Streaming Services should come in. I’m sure they could evolve to stream video content too, could enable elaborated schedulers, could offer multiple options for the users in terms of genes, artists or even surprise tracks. And they could easily do that for free for their users too, by adding small 30 seconds to 1 minute adds, customized for the location and the target audience by the music preferences. Would be what Youtube started to do right now on the free version, still, it can be a lot improved (I will present some further ideas for a scheduler for Youtube tracks in a further post).

I heard a rumor on some forums, that Google would like to take the music listeners off Youtube and have them use it’s Music Streaming Services. Could that be true? For me Youtube seemed to be a very successful story that manages to slowly change the way people listen to music.

It’s true Music Streaming Services might deliver better content, focused and particularized for Music, but still – as it looks like now it’s not a solution. Mark my words, the entire communication world and social media world will move towards video content in the next years. Even if most of the video content will not be watched because of lack of time or multi tasking, still, it’s better to have it as an option than not having it at all.

I could talk about this subject for hours. Will try to resume with a few conclusions bellow:

  • Stop buying everything Apple sells to you. It’s shitty and expensive any way
  • Stop paying for things that you could get for free
  • Consider access to music and information your human right, a true artist would like you to get the message of his song and listen to it, He would not be interested so much in the percentage of sells, hopefully…

 

Disclaimer: This is a pure personal view susceptible to change. The purpose of the topics is to start a constructive discussion in order to create a better future for ourselves.

You are free to buy, believe or think whatever you like 🙂

 

 

New feature for Chromecast

I love my Chromecast little stick and I tend to use it even for Smart TVs. It’s easy to command and I can easily play my favorite youtube videos or youtube playlists.

I also love about it that it defaults (when nothing is streamed to it) to a nice app that simply shows beautiful nice Featured photos from Google+.

This got me thinking – why I can’t simply listen to music while seeing these nice photos? Why I have to watch them on perfect silence or have to use another device to play music?

For me it seems a fare questions so here are a couple of solutions I thought of:

  • Create a simple app that would allow you to chose what your TV displays. This would allow you to chose to play the youtube videos on background and let the random photos be displayed on your TV. It’s a simple idea, would simply work as 2 diferent tabs in a browser work.
  • Even nicer would be to be able to split the screen in 2, 1/3-2/3, 1/4 – 3/4 and chose what it’s played on left or right side (this applies to all the other items in the list)

or

  •  Integrate the photos app with Google play music (I haven’t tried this service yet) and let the photos be played randomly while you listen a radio station for example.

or

  • The coolest idea would be to have an app that would play random photos from Google plus or the posts of the ones you follow on the social app (even it’s not the biggest social app used) persons or businesses – while you play your favorite music or favorite radio station.

 

Another nice feature/app I would like to have on my chromecast device might seem a little SF.  Nowadays, 4G networks or very good internet services and wifi coverage allows you to make video calls. Why not be able to cast the video you receive during a video call to your chromecast and use the phone to initiate the video call and send the video of your own camera to your caller?

Think about it. You could easily make a conference of 3 people. They will receive the video from the front camera of your phone as usual, but you’ll be able to display their live videos on your TV (which is bigger and has a higher resolution than your phone, laptop, or computer monitor).

Even further, Chromecast could incorporate a mini video conference module and an app built with it, that might change the way some people make phone calls to their families, distant relatives, old friends that moved far away.

 

These are only the simple ideas. I’m sure if anyone finds them good enough they can be translated into a complete requirements document and a project plan can be created based on it.

For any further clarification of the ideas (if needed) drop me a note and I will reply. I would find it as a very relaxing activity to work even more and deeper on such a project 🙂

 

 

Lost your phone? Here is how you can find it

Have you ever lost your phone, in your home or in your back yard, at your friends or parents house, in someone else’s car… Here is how to find it:

You can simply use Android Device Manager to ring it, or know it’s last known position.

Here is how it worked for me:

Android Device Manager 2 

 

Teapa Media Galaxy, sau cum inteleg unii sa se poarte cu clientii lor!

Povestea incepe undeva la sfarsitul anului trecut. Pentru ca treceam prin Baneasa Shopping City, pentru ca am vazut un magazin Media Galaxy in drum spre Carrefour  si pentru ca avem mare nevoie de un router wireless in casa, am intrat in magazin si am cumparat unul.
Am ales un router mediu ca pret (putin peste 300 de lei), l-am dus acasa si l-am configurat in 10 minute. Apoi a mers bine mersi vreo 10 luni.
Toate bune si frumoase pana aici.In vara, am fost plecati o saptamana si ceva in concediu. Cand ne-am intors, router-ul nu mai mergea… L-am resetat de nenumarate ori, l-am scos din priza si l-am lasat deconectat mai multe ore, l-am intors pe toate partile, am incercat toate butoanele dar nimic. Nu vroia sa porneasca din nou si pace.
Fiind inca in garantie, am cautat bonul cu care l-am cumparat, am cautat cel mai apropiat service, am impachetat router-ul inapoi in cutia originala si, foarte increzator, am dus router-ul spre a fi reparat si inlocuit. De la service mi s-a zis ca voi fi anuntat telefonic cand router-ul va fi reparat. Daca nu se poate repara au zis ca voi putea merge in magazin sa imi inlocuiasca produsul pe baza garantiei.
Din nou, toate bune si frumoase pana aici.

Increzator astept cam 2 saptamani. Nici o veste de la service. Intre timp ma chinui cu modem 3 G prin casa, mai conectez din cand in cand doar un calculator direct la cablul de net, etc… Usor dezamagit, dar inca increzator sun la service. O donsoara amabila imi spune ca router-ul e inca la ei si ma indeamna sa astept telefonul ei, ca cica o sa ma anunte cand si cum o sa il recuperez.
Iar astept, mai sun dupa o saptamana jumate, si acelasi raspuns.

Dupa 33 de zile de asteptare, deja foarte nervos sun la ei si ii anunt foarte calm ca deja perioada de servisare se apropie de sfarsit. Un echipament poate sa stea in service maxim 10% din perioada de garantie. Cum perioada de garantie era un an, in a 36-a zi puteam sa ii dau in judecata pentru ca nu mi-au inlocuit echipamentul defect.
In a 35-a zi, dupa pranz donsoara de la service m-a sunat si mi-a zis ca router-ul nu mai poate fi reparat si pot sa ma duc in magazin sa cer un echipament nou care sa il inlocuiasca pe cel vechi.
Inca acceptabil pana aici …

Ajung in magazin in aceazi seara si cer un router in schimbul celui stricat.
Prima teapa pe care vroiau sa mi-o dea:
Intre timp modelul respective de router se ieftinise cu 10 lei. Pentru ca nu il mai aveau pe stoc vroiau sa imi dea unul cu 10 lei mai ieftin.

Inaccepbil!!!

Nu am acceptat si dupa vreao 30 de minute in care angajatul a tot vorbit cu seful lui la telefon au zis ca pot beneficia de intreaga suma pe care am platit-o pe primul router pentru a a primi unul in schimb.
Cel mai aproiat router cai si pret era cu 40 lei mai scump. Altceva, mai apropiat la pretul initial,  nu aveau asa ca am cerut sa imi inlocuiasca vechiul echipament cu cel nou de care dispuneau.
Si aici vine marea supriza. La casa ma pun sa platesc cei 40 de lei diferenta. Din cate stiu eu in contractul de garantie magazinul se obliga sa imi inlocuiasca echipamentul defect cu acelasi model nou, sau cu un model asemanator si cu aceleasi caracteristici.

Inaccepbil!!!
Raspunsul angajatului a fost mai intai sa asteptam pana trimit din tara, de pe unde mai au prin stoc, acelasi model. I-am comunicat lui cu rugamintea de a ii transmite si lui sefului ca daca mai astept o zi fac plangere la Protectia Consumatorului si ii dau si in judecata.
Mi-au oferit apoi posibilitatea sa iau 2 routere, care impreuna sa valoreze cat cel achizitionat initial. Le-am multumit frumos dar varianta asta nu aveam de ce sa o aleg. Nu aveam ce face cu 2.
Dupa alte discutii cu seful, care nici macar nu a avut curajul sa vorbeasca cu noi direct la telefon si a preferat sa se ascunda in spatele angajatului au zis ca ne dau banii inapoi.

Inaccepbil!!!

In lipsa altei variante, am acceptat banii inapoi dar m-am decis sa nu mai cumpar niciodata nimic de la ei.
Am luat banii dar cine ma despagubeste pentru timpul in care am stat fara a beneficia de un echipament pe care l-am achizitionat cinstit? Imi platesc ei cumva abonamentele la modemuri wireless? Imi platescu cumva benzina pana la service si pana la ei in magazin? Nemaivorbind de neplacearea de a tot fi amanat si de a fi pus in postura sa astept pentru ca niste incompetenti sa isi dea seama ca nu mai pot repara un lucru abia dupa 35 de zile de investigatii amanuntite.
In mod normal, cand stii ca un client e dezamagit de serviciile tale, are dreptate si poate sa te reclame ii dai cat mai mult numai ca sa il multumesti. Poate data viitoare cumpara tot de la tine.
Da nu, nu si Media Galxy. Ei prefera sa ia peste picior clientii si sa incerce sa iasa in profit din orice situatie. Sefii lor sunt atat de lasi incat nici macar nu accepta o discutie la telefon.
Daca imi luam un frigider si se strica, ce faceam? Stateam mai bine de o luna cu el in service si duceam mancarea pe la prieteni si vecini?
Inaccepbil!!!

Probabil ca am eu asteptari prea mari de la o firma care nu a evoluat cu nimic si are aceleasi mentalitati ca o  firma de apartament de prin Piatra Neamt. Care nu stie sa produca nimic si doar face profit din adaosuri comerciale si buna credinta a cumparatorilor.
Sincer pentru mine domnii de la Media Galaxy ( si o sa ii includ si pe cei de la Altex aci, ca tin de aceasi companie) nu sunt diferiti de samsarii de legume din piata. Te duci la taraba (Mall in cazul de fata), achiti si daca te trezesti acasa ca produsul e stricat, daca esti norocos si faci scandal iti primesti banii inapoi.
Inaccepbil!!!