We got a 5th generation AirPort Extreme a few months back. Until now, it had lived up to the claims of super-easy setup and low maintenance that some of my favorite bloggers (like Eddie Smith) had promised it would deliver. But recently, and pretty suddenly, the wifi connection to our iOS devices had gone to pot. Web pages barely loaded, the iOS App Store became so slow that it was unusable, and podcast downloads would time out on Instacast. Rebooting the AirPort didn’t help. Neither did updating its firmware.
Other people seemed to have similar problems, and suggested it was something wrong with the way the router automatically picks channels. Using the AirPort Utility, I found that the 5GHz band was auto-set to channel 149, and the 2.4GHz band was on channel 1. I don’t know if there’s really something fundamentally wrong with the channel-selection algorithm, but I changed both bands to be manual, and changed to channel 48 on the 5GHz band, and channel 11 on the 2.4GHz band. The speed problem seemed to go away immediately.
A quote from this article about Ralph Barclay reminded my dad of me as a kid.
From Phreaking Out Ma Bell:
"I was an electronic tinkerer for years and years and years," he says. A curious one, too: His older sister remembers Barclay plugging a bobby pin into an electrical outlet when he was 4.
I love this article on a deeply nerdy level. The telephone network has long since ceased to be this hackable, but for many years its masterful analog engineering resulted in some glorious vulnerabilities. Do not miss the links to the background info on the #4A crossbar switching system or the audio files of switching systems completing calls. Music.
In 7th grade, I had a TI-99/4A computer connected to a 5″ JC Penney portable TV, which was propped up at an angle with a plastic Metamucil can on a card table. I don’t remember how I learned about DTMF tones, but I got a printed matrix that spelled out which pairs of frequencies would cause a touch-tone phone to dial a number. A little piece of WarGames in my own room! I would hold our phone up to the monitor/TV speaker, and a BASIC program I wrote would run in a loop, playing a quick sequence of tones that would magically dial WRVQ (“Q94″) over and over, giving me at least some hope of getting through the endless queue of people waiting for an opening in the request line. I’m sure I was trying to get them to play Quiet Riot or Blondie.
As a toddler, I really did stick a bobby pin, and later a pair of metal scissors, in an electrical outlet. I suppose I was testing their conductivity. They tested well.
I wonder: If YouTube and the Khan Academy had existed in 1991, would I still have bailed out of electrical engineering in college?
Over the past year, I’ve attempted to keep a journal in plain text files in Dropbox using Nebulous Notes. The ritual was, if I thought of it at the end of the day and wasn’t too tired, I’d take a few minutes on the iPhone or iPad and write down what stuck out from the day. That was a great idea when it actually happened, but it was easy to miss the smaller nice moments that happen in between, that make up the flavor of the last 24 hours. I wanted to be able to generate a little more of a continuous thread of daily "good stuff". I wanted to put myself more in the mind of how I log things on vacation, where I use the gorgeous Momento to log the meals we eat, the places we see, and the mundane details that can bring a day back to life later. But Momento isn’t plain text, and I really like plain text as a future-proof format.
I tended to think of other ideas to put in the journal at random times, but the password PIN on the front screen of Nebulous was just enough friction for me to skip making an entry in it if I was in the middle of something else. I tried Drafts as a temporary holding place for those, but it became just another thing to remember to do at the end of the day (e.g. "Check Drafts for snippets to pull into the late-night journal entry"). Bluh.
This is not news to iOS nerds, but Drafts has an action called "Append to Journal.txt" that can shoot your latest entry to the end of a file in your Dropbox folder. Oh man.
I tweaked it a little to make that
Journal.txt file live in my
/750 words/ folder, where I follow the spirit but not the letter of the 750 Words project.
Under the Manage Actions screen, I set it to delete the Drafts entry after successfully sending the text to
Now I can quickly pop stuff into Drafts without totally disrupting the experience I’m theoretically trying to document, and I know that it’ll end up in
Journal.txt to expand on later, or just leave it there as is.
Because I am crazy and distrust very long files, I may regularly break these pasted entries in
Journal.txt into their own daily text files, or i may leave them in place and archive them to a
Journal_YYYY.txt file every year.
We saw "Happy People: A Year in the Taiga" at the Criterion. Fantastic. These Russian hunters and trappers are almost totally self-sufficient, living and working by themselves in the most remote parts of the forest of the Taiga all winter. I fell under the spell of the person they spent the most time on, Gennady Soloviev, because of his slow, meditative way of speaking. He never rushed between sentences. And he was a true craftsman. There are wonderful shots of him making his own skis from wood, all with hand tools using methods that have been passed down unchanged for generations.
Their life is hard and looks relentlessly uncomfortable. But to use their words, their happiness comes from their unique position to enjoy nature while living and working totally independently. It makes freelancing with a laptop in a wifi coffee cafe look luxurious by comparison.
I realized part of the way through the film that when these people leave for the woods in the fall, they have no contact with family until they return in the spring (except a short visit for New Year’s Eve). No phones and certainly no internet. No one back home has any idea whether they’ve frozen to death in the snow or been eaten by bears. The people on both sides of the equation are living on faith and hope for months. I can’t fathom the isolation, and the relief that comes when it’s over. Go see this on the big screen if you can.
If some or most of the new My Bloody Valentine album was recorded a decade or more ago, then listening to it is like seeing old light from a distant star, tearing through space and time to illuminate our present.
My Bloody Valentine: mbv | Album Reviews | Pitchfork
Sarah showed me this last night.
Dan Pink: The puzzle of motivation
His point is that traditional financial incentives only work when the assigned task/project is straightforward and easy to focus on. Those same incentives become disincentives when the work is complex and multivariate. Science has proven this, but the world of business is at odds with it and it maddens Daniel Pink. If you really want people to do great work, give them the opportunity for Autonomy, Mastery, and Purpose.
This reminds me of when I first started watching TED Talks and I felt my brain expanding with each new one.
Now I’ve seen the iOS 6 cellular data iCloud bug on my iPhone 4S, too. Josh Centers wrote about it and now I want to add my experiences. I feel the same way he does — like there’s nothing else I can do except hope this extra data point can exist in the world and nudge us towards a solution.
2012-09-25: I upgraded to iOS 6 on my iPhone 4S. Smooth install, no red flags.
2012-10-02: I noticed I had burned through 1 GB for this month’s billing cycle (which ends on 10/16). Normally I use well under 500 MB in a month. Read some stuff about the Podcasts app and Safari synced bookmarks possibly being responsible, so I turned those off in iCloud. Also turned off the cellular data for “Read Later” in Safari. Ended up using 118 MB by the end of the day, so I turned cellular data off before bed.
2012-10-03: I turned cellular data back on this morning and turned off the preference to sync Passbook over cellular. Installed the Data Usage app to see a daily log of… data usage. As of 11:22 a.m., the app reported 35 MB of cellular used today. Turned cellular data back off.
2012-10-05: Thought I was out of the woods this morning because cellular data usage was down to normal, so I turned it back on. By early afternoon, I had used 57 MB, so I turned it back off. Tried doing the Reset Network Settings thing to see if that has an effect. Used 61.61 MB of cellular data today after turning cellular data on and off at various times during the day.
2012-10-06: This morning, I disabled iCloud Documents usage on the Cellular menu. Checked in again this afternoon and I had used 17.4 MB of mobile data, but I was only away from wifi for 30 minutes today (editing a small Dropbox text file in Notesy and listening to some already-downloaded podcasts in Instacast). When I went to turn cellular data off again, I saw that iCloud Documents cellular data had been turned back on somehow. Turned it back off, leaving overall cellular data on. At 11:32 p.m., iCloud Documents cellular data is back on by itself. Something is toggling it–I don’t know what. I’ve used 17.52 MB of cellular data today. I’m going to call Apple to log my problem and keep an eye on this Apple Support thread in the meantime (where Adam Curry has a theory on page 4 of the discussion).