The blog formerly known as The Dobbs Method

Operation: UI

Posted in Technology by Taylor Dobbs on 02/02/2010
Sci-Fi computer interface shown in the movie Minority Report

Gesture-based interfacing as shown in the movie Minority Report. I wish...

My newest project, and one I will probably never complete, is to set up all of my technology (MacBook Pro, iPhone, PS3, displays) so that it works perfectly to my needs and I don’t have to think about interfacing. The goal is to never have a “How do I…?” moment.

So far, I haven’t done much beyond tweaking preferences on various devices and a little AppleScripting. The big letdown I’ve had is a program called AirLock, which should make it so that my MacBook and iPhone interact similarly to a Toyota Prius and its keyfob. When I’m in the room, my mac can tell based on my iPhone’s proximity and unlocks, opening any specified programs. When I leave the room, my computer loses touch with the phone and locks up, only to be unlocked by a password or reestablished iPhone contact. Cool right? I thought so too. Unfortunately, like most bluetooth interactions, it’s extremely glitchy. This is especially true when using a Bluetooth keyboard and mouse (as is my situation) with the computer. Airlock is currently switched off, but I have hope for an update.

Obviously, I’m stuck with classic forms of interface. I can’t reinvent language input or improve upon Apple’s mousing. I’ve looked into using the iPhone to interface with the Mac, and that may work as well (more later). Apple’s Remote app allows iTunes to be remotely controlled by the iPhone as long as my computer and iPhone are on the same Wifi network. That’s awesome for when I’m laying in bed and my ambient tunes are a bit too loud for shuteye or if I lock the door and realize I’ve forgotten to turn the music off.

Lastly, my two biggest time-savers: Quicksilver and Ejector. Quicksilver is well-known to most Mac enthusiasts & heavy users, and rightfully so. For those who don’t know, it’s Spotlight on steroids. It launches apps, can be programmed to run any Applescript off of any hotkeys you give it, and it can control iTunes; those are just the functions I use. Quicksilver is run completely from the keyboard (though you can mouse if you want) and does a great job of keeping you working your Mac as fast as you can think, which is generally the goal.

Ejector is simple. It’s a menu-bar icon that allows me to eject one or all mounted drives, digital or external, without having to go to the desktop and select a box then drag the icons to the trash. It’s a life-saver when I’m late to class and need to eject both my externals as quickly as possible. It’s not for everyone (I’m pretty sure that I’m the only kid on my floor with more than one external), but for those few who do need it, it’s a godsend.

That’s about all the progress I’ve made so far towards perfecting the interface, but there’s still much room for improvement.

To be continued…

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Operation Chokehold

Posted in Technology by Taylor Dobbs on 12/15/2009

Sometimes I forget what service bars look like...

I just found this article, which explains that iPhone users are launching an attack on AT&T this Friday December 18 at 12 PM PST, 3 PM east coast, to try to bring down the data network. This comes in the wake of a blog post by angry iPhone user and popular Apple blogger “Fake Steve Jobs.”¬†After already having experienced plenty of my own AT&T fail, I will very enthusiastically partake in this campaign against the big blue (and orange) beast.

It’s simple. iPhone users are all going to heavily use data-hogging apps on the network for an hour starting at noon pacific time in an attempt to “bring it to its knees.” I see a long hour of slowly-loading YouTube videos in my future.

The only problem now is that I’m not sure if I’ll notice if the network slows down as a result of Operation: Chokehold. I also wouldn’t mind getting a T-shirt out of it.

AT&T Sucks. Also, Water is Wet.

Posted in Rants, Technology by Taylor Dobbs on 08/10/2009

AT&T recently expanded its coverage into Vermont, where I live. Being a complete geek, I quickly got myself an iPhone. Of couse, I was excited. Over time, the splendor has faded. Here’s why:

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Summer: The Screen Addict’s Dillema

Posted in Culture, Personal, Technology by Taylor Dobbs on 06/06/2009

It’s 73 degrees outside, the sun is bright, there’s a farmer’s market going on down the street. Life is good, right? Right. I won’t go so far as to say summer is bad, but when you’re a nerd like me, there are those dillemas. I just bought two new games and got photoshop with the momentum carried through by spring fever, and I would really like to be playing with them. (Of course, now I’m writing a blog post without enjoying the weather or the toys.) So as a geek and (sort of) athlete, I’ve always been very torn in the summer. Tony Hawk Pro Skater 2 or the skate park? MLB 07 or the ballfield? As things like Dr Pepper, coffee, and Monster have become ever more present in my life, and bedtime has fallen into the past, I’ve been more and more able to have both worlds. Work and outdoorsy stuff from 9-5, social from 5-9 (PM), and then games, gadgets, and geekdom from 9-5. Yeah, maybe I’m working on four hours of sleep sometimes, but I’m having a sick (the good kind) summer.

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iPhone: 5 Cool Uses

Posted in Technology by Taylor Dobbs on 04/30/2009

So, it’s been a long while since my last post, and this is mostly to blame on Killzone 2 (review to come), end-of-the-year college madness, and my new iPhone. Yes, I have an iPhone. This thing is amazing! I’ve had it for about two weeks now and the thing is just about perfect. All the common complaints are there, of course: Not enough apps switch to landscape when you tilt the phone sideways, the keyboard can be hard to use, etc. But let’s not forget, I just posted a Twitter update from my phone. It’s easy to get caught up in what this technology can’t do, but did anybody complain that Michael Jordan couldn’t jump fifteen feet? No. So let me be wowed by the amazing abilities of my iPhone. This may be old for any of you iPhone users out there, but I still enjoy it.

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