Tuesday, January 27, 2015

An App Idea, an App Endorsement, and an Unrelated Music Endorsement

I'm sitting in Starbucks, whiling away some time, as is my Tuesday ritual, and want to listen to some music, probably via Spotify or Google music, and I had an idea.

The Awesome App of AirDroid

I've linked up my phone to my laptop via AirDroid, an app I cannot recommend strongly enough for those who like to links their various devices, transfer files between them, etc. It's not a new app by any means, so a ton of people probably already have it, but I've only recently come to appreciate several of its uses.

I'd originally found it while searching for an Android equivalent to AirDrop (like I expect many people did, and was its original purpose, given the name). I have a lot of drive time so like to transfer audiobooks and other large files. AirDroid does this splendidly, allowing one to connect computer & phone on the same WiFi network, but pointing a browser to a specific IP & port, or (even easier) just be snapping a photo of a QR code with the phone.

What I've come to appreciate all the more its functionality allowing control of the phone from the laptop: texting with a full keyboard, file management on the phone, and about most everything else. It's come in extremely handy.

While I'm broke and unemployed now, I've added AirDroid to the list of apps I'm happy to purchase or donate to once I have an income.

An Awesome-r App (Idea)

I've got plenty of data on my cell plan, and hate to suck bandwidth away from the other WiFi users (I'm not one to play along with the tragedy of the commons!), but I need the phone on WiFi to use AirDroid. So I thought it would be pretty damn useful to have an app that could specify which network connection to use for certain apps. I want to be able to tell Spotify to use the 4G connection, while letting AirDroid use WiFi. I'm not sure to what extent that's possible though, should the OS itself not distinguish the separate network connections well, but I seriously doubt that would be a problem, since Android is Linux-based. 

Perhaps something like that already exists, in which case I've got to get searching. If not, someone should make it! This blog gets a pageview or two most days, so perhaps if I laden it with keywords like "app idea" and "android app developer", I'll get the right person to find it. ;-) 

An Incredible Cello Artist

Finally, I decided to play Zoƫ Keating (Wikip), a cellist with a twist. I first heard of her on an old Radiolab episode, which discusses her unique method of making music, recording herself, looped digitally, and creating incredible songs as a result, consisting solely of her & her cello. Having enjoyed her music from time to time for years, I now recognize the snippets of her songs that NPR tends to play between stories. A good choice!

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Sharing Resources

I added a list of links to the right-hand side of the blog site (labeled "Misc Resources") as a spot to put some of the better various sites, guides, etc. that I find particularly clear or useful.

To start, I put up two pages I've been using heavily of late:

  • Krondo Twisted Introduction: This is a fantastic (albeit lengthy) introduction to asynchronous programming, specifically in Python and using Twisted. Dave Peticolas does a hell of a job taking what can be a very tricky abstract concept and breaking it down into digestible chunks, rather clearly explained and with a twist of humor throughout. And to top if off, he provide all of his example code conveniently organized in a GitHub repo
  • Lessons in Electric Circuits: Tony Kuphaldt churned out six "volumes" of textbooks providing a very detailed introduction to electronics and circuits, all available for free (including PDF copies). While the text is a bit excessively thorough and tedious for my purposes & interests, it's so well organized that skimming through to get high-level ideas and work towards the topics of interest to the reader is made really easy. There's an abundance of diagrams and examples, with every phenomenon and lesson very accessibly elucidated. 
I'll try to remember to add in great resources as I come across or recall them. And maybe every once in a while, I'll do something like this post, and provide a summary on recent additions to the list. 

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Random Business Idea: Scattered Mini-Work-Depots

Framing the Problem

While currently residing a bit south of Columbus, Ohio, I'm spending a day most weeks up in Cleveland. Fortunately the three-hour one-way commute is greatly eased by hours upon hours of Game of Thrones audiobooks. But with multi-hour stretches between appointments and the like, I like to dip into whatever project I'm working on at the time: watching some Coursera lectures, doing some coding, the endless job hunt...

I typically make due by chilling for a while at a coffee shop (Phoenix is a favorite, Algebra's (Facebook, G+) another). But frankly, I'm completely broke, and continually buying coffees to assuage my guilt for camping out and mooching WiFi is not a sustainable option! Plus -- though maybe it's just me -- outlets for charging one's surplus of electronic devices are hot commodities in any such location.

Oh, and I drink a LOT of water. So having to find a public restroom once an hour gets really annoying.

Work Anywhere with Workstations Everywhere!

So maybe it's overkill or otherwise solving a minor problem that doesn't bother too many people. But what if there were rather simple workstations placed sporadically in popular locations, particularly cities or areas where traveling for work might be common. Perhaps a simply monthly fee for X uses per month, or a pay-per-use option.

A small work depot could provide the simple necessities to be productive for varying stretches of time. Charging stations, of course, and WiFi access are obvious needs. But simple chair & desk, maybe an extra monitor with various common adaptors to plug in (but then not everyone cares so much about a second monitor). A place to get out of the heat or cold or rain or snow, and a bit more room to stretch than just staying in one's own car.

I have to admit, though, that this might just be an excessive solution to a small or uncommon problem which has a variety of other easy solutions. Maybe taking up a table for hours in a given coffee shop, having purchased just a $3 coffee doesn't bother most people, or perhaps libraries or other public locations are sufficient. Plus the costs of renting or creating a physical brick-and-mortar service like this, with value closely tied to an extensive existing network of locations, then adding in the costs of power, internet, ways to minimize theft, et cetera... hell, as I'm typing this the idea seems increasingly foolish.

But the idea popped into my mind and I like to work through them, because you never know when you'll end up with a really great idea once fully though-out! I have so many damn ideas like this on a regular basis, maybe I should I post them more often, should one of them spark a better idea in someone else's mind!