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October 2013

iGoogle Closing My First Dashboard

iGoogle Closing
Screenshot of a dormant dashboard by @topgold.

I NEVER CHANGED my default home page since iGoogle was dumped into the dead pool. And now my first-ever digital dashboard is well and truly shuttered.

I'm not worried about the datastream my Google gadgets once served up to my war-torn laptop. Those gadgets kept working, but in terms of dedicated icons such as Gmail, Google Calendar, Google Drive and Google Bookmarks. And instead of the data percolating through iGoogle, the datastream runs faster through dedicated icons.

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The iCollab Flow

iCollab and MoleskinePhoto of @topgold's Moleskine at work.

ALONG WITH COLLEAGUES in Auckland, Berlin, Galway, ParisSalford, and Wollongong, I have joined an international community of practise for the purpose of collaborating with research processes involving sophisticated creative multimedia. It's hashtagged #iCollab.

I spend an hour every Monday evening in a Google Hangout with colleagues bringing unique perspectives to the project. After many of these Hangouts, I try to let the dust settle by doodling in a Moleskine. In the flow plan shown on this blog post, I'm trying to validate how the course material I organise might be enbanced when shared collaboratively online.

During this academic year, I will document how this collaborative dimension will work when viewed through browsers on desktops projected onto walls, on tablets and on small mobile phone screens.

[Bernard Goldbach teaches creative multimedia for the Limerick School of Art & Design.]

Updating Scrivener

Screenshot of Scrivener by @topgold.

I HAVE STARTED writing inside Scrivener because I want to save time and Scrivener's MultiMarkdown helps me avoid problems that might occur when publishing to different formats. So I've updated the program on my time-tested Windows laptop.

The update resulted in tweaks to the colour chips and text alignment in the Label and Status menus with more consistent displays of "No Status" and "No Label" in the outliner. There are also a few other changes to outliner options and they look nice.

I've discovered the update might cause a minor issue with Scrivener when I log onto local ethernet with a different Windows user name but expect to figure out a work-around for that.

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Liking Digipower Charger

I SPENT $30 of my hard-earned money on a Digipower rechargimg device for all of my portable devices and I am glad to carry the little guy around with me for Stateside and European duty.

It comes with slots to connect two devices simultaneously and has cables for both iOS and USB charging through an adapter that can handle 110V in the States and 240V in Europe. Its metal prongs are standard US format and they won't bend outwards to hold the unit into a worn socket. The prongs on the charger snap elegantly into the housing of the unit and the compact black plastic block won't snag on other things when stored together with other gear.

The charging cables also extend in a clean fashion downward from the unit, keeping things tidy when mingling with powered spaghetti cable clusters.

The overall output of two amps is split between two channels and that means the Digipower charger probably won't recharge an iPad. Its labeling says "iPod/iPhone" but in a rush, some viewers might think because the cable fits their iPad, the charger will suit their needs. Its one amp per channel won't connect to iPads but it will deliver a trickle charge to Android tablets like my Motorola Xoom--it just takes a lot longer to get the tablet charged.

I got the Digipower unit because I like its chunky format and I happen to have US-to-Ireland mains adapter that ensures I can use it in Ireland.

[Bernie Goldbach snapped the Digipower adapter in operation with his Nokia Lumia.]


The 26 October Crossing

I RETURN TO EUROPE with a seat pocket crammed as full as my cameraphone's memory. But more than that, I carry thoughts of an ex-pat able to see the American appeal.

I got to see how air travel has changed because it has been four years since I last hopped the pond. Today, people know how to toggle to airplane mode. In that regard, Moleskines excel. I can spot a seasoned business traveler because she knows where to find the quietest nooks with free mains power.

I now realise how wifi in the air has become an essential perk, perhaps as important as bags flying for free. I wish seat width was as accommodating. My bottom has grown broader as the airline seats have shrunk an inch. There is a seating protocol I have adopted. When I must sit in a middle seat, I look for ladies who are already in place with their legs crossed. In my experience, they don't encroach onto the middle seats.

I want to reverse direction next October, taking the whole family back for Halloween in Pennsylvania. The savings plan starts now.

[Bernie Goldbach snapped his center seat pocket on Southwest Airlines.]


The 19 October Crossing

On the CrossingPhoto by @topgold with Lumia.

BACK IN THE EARLY 80S, I occasionally crossed the Atlantic Ocean 10 times every October. This century, I'm crossing once every five years.

I miss the oceanic travel but know I will never enjoy the legroom and service I once got at the pointy end of the aircraft. My bulkhead seat today on a Boeing 777 was as cold as some copilot seats in the Lockheed C-141. But the US Airways crew wasn't as garrulous.

I packed a lot of electronics to entertain me on the journey and realise now that I have to revert to a dedicated MP3 player to ensure I have at least 20% power on my phone after an eight hour stint in my seat.

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Wary of Beforehand Surveys

The Dublin Airport SurveyPhoto by @topgold with Lumia.

THERE ARE CUTE buttons you can push on Dublin Airport survey kiosks located at the halfway point of departures to Stateside destinations. There is a reason for placing the things ahead of the preclearance scrum.

The Dublin preclearance procedure for US passengers is thorough and repetitive. The triple-checking probably serves a purpose but it is still relatively easy to circumvent if you pay for a quick queue and sit in a wheelchair. But if you have two pre-teens in tow, the proceedings could become arduous.

I used to fly sensitive cargo into cloaked destinations. In my jaded eye, a lot of what the flying sheep think can prevent terrorism feels like security theatre to me.

[Bernie Goldbach snapped the survey kiosk attached to this post. He has crossed every line of longitude during his 3500 hour flying career.]

New Flickr Experience

New Flickr Experience
Screenshot by @topgold

A BLUE BAR at the bottom of Flickr screens now invites people to “try our new Photo Experience” but power users are noticing they lose things when they click into the new experience. I lose the ability to quickly grab code like the snippet that displays the image at the top of this post.

But the photos are bigger.

On a normal laptop, a larger image now appears but some essential community functions take a back seat. I can't see comments on the images. New tags become hashtags. In a sense, I lose part of the story about my photos. That said, the new photo experience is about 25% bigger than on the previous photo page. So if I valued Flickr mainly for pixels, I get top service.

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Walking Happiness

Walking into HappinessScreenshot from @topgold's Lumia.

I TOOK JANE BOYD'S ADVICE and started tracking my happiness so I now know walking brings me happiness. If the survey tracked my jogging, it would reveal euphoria. generates three email questionnaires every day for me. My working schedule prevents me from answering the questions in a timely fashion. More timely responses increase the accuracy of results since the entire survey process depends upon spontaneity and honesty.

I am delighted to discover that I am actually happier than my dour disposition suggests. And I am surprised to see how driving finds me in my most unhappy state. I guess you could conclude that it is only normal to be unhappy when commuting--that typifies my situation when I am in a car.

[Generally speaking, Bernie Goldbach feels happy when blogging. Some year, he will return to the annual bloggers' conferences and awards programmes.]