My breakup with Google+

It’s not me, Google+, it’s you (or: in which I break up with Google+).

It's not me, Google+, it's you.

I had such high hopes for Google+ when it came out a couple of months ago and when I got my invite to the service. “Finally,” I thought, “a service that’s sort-of like Facebook but completely not evil.” As a technophile, I am completely fine with this. The idea of circles to share content with specific people is absolutely genius. Or hangouts, which are live in-the-browser video chats with our friends. Or editing posts after I’ve posted them (as I’ve done with this post…three times!). There is so much potential here.

But there are times when the point of social media is that social aspect; more specifically, I want to create a conversation and dialogue here. (Ideally, I’d like to take that conversation and move it offline into a face-to-face setting. But that’s just me.) Of those in my circles, the last person posted something here over 36 hours ago. The last person to comment on one of my posts was three days ago. And it’s not that I care or that I demand comments to what I post. But sometimes, it’s nice to know that people are reading, internalizing, reflecting, and acting on what they’ve read.

And it’s that lack of communication here that have caused me to break up with Google+ for the time being. It has such great potential to be something absolutely so amazing but it seems like Google is hampering its development. Where’s our API so we can update G+ or see others’ posts from other applications? Why are you still playing around with Buzz? Where is integration of the “+1” buttons that are starting to dot the Internet? What is your compelling reason to use G+? Are you seeing it as a profile page? Or as a new way in which people can share content with each other?

Anyway, I’m not going away. I’ve started a tumblr blog, “#dtphx musings,” in which I post photos and share content that my friends have posted to their own tumblr blogs. It’s at — and I still tweet with great regularity at @edwardjensen.

I am not a robot. I am a unicorn.

Well, I guess we have answered the question of what happens when two computers start talking to each other. They talk down to each other.

Well, I guess we have answered the question of what happens when two computers start talking to each other. They talk down to (and occasionally insult!) each other.

Thank goodness that IBM’s Watson, the Jeopardy!-playing computer, had a much nicer disposition. And credit to Crave, CNET’s gadgets blog, for first posting this video.

The Lion roars on my Mac!

After playing around with the new OS X Lion, I have to say that I’m pretty okay with it.

After playing around with the new OS X Lion, I have to say that I’m pretty okay with it. The new iOS-like features are new, and although I’m not sure how to use them now, I’m sure I’ll figure that out later. I’m not sure what to make of the new Dashboard and Mission Control: They’re like Exposé but they’re kind of not like Exposé. Grin.

Screen capture from my Macintosh of OS X LionAll of the programs I had running under Snow Leopard still work well, including MS Office 2011, Firefox, Thunderbird, Spotify, Picasa, Skype, VirtualBox, and Sibelius 6. Connections with my network drive seem to be a touch faster in Lion than in Snow Leopard. I did try the revamped Mail, iCal, and Address Book apps and I still don’t like them. I’ll stick with Thunderbird since that has true Gmail integration. Also, battery life seems to be a hair better, but that’s just based on my gut feeling, not actual science.

If you have a trackpad, you’ll find that the scrolling gesture is different. It’s like that on iOS devices, not traditional trackpad gestures. The default Lion scrolling gesture is counter-intuitive, in my opinion: to scroll down, for instance, you move your two fingers from the bottom to the top of the trackpad. If you don’t like it, it is an easy change in System Preferences but it’s just a bit annoying at first. Also, there are a few new gestures that are enabled by default that take place of some gestures from Snow Leopard. Again, an easy change in System Preferences.

While I wasn’t originally thrilled with the App Store-only delivery of Lion, I was thrilled that one could easily create a recovery DVD based on a disk image hidden within the installer app. To test it out, I actually formatted my Macintosh’s drive and installed Lion from the DVD I created. Also on the recovery DVD is Disk Utility so that’s great. The Lion installer creates a recovery partition on the local disk but I’m not a big fan of on-disk recovery partitions since I have had far too many hard drives fail on me.

The only issue I have discovered thus far is that I have to get Boot Camp to recognize that I have Windows 7 installed on the “BOOTCAMP” partition on my computer. I suspect that if I did an in-place installation of Lion, I wouldn’t be having this issue. If I run the Boot Camp Assistant, it would have me reformat the drive to reinstall Win7. I’ll have to do a bit more digging to see how to get Lion to recognize that partition. Also, because I did a clean install of Lion, I need to install the iLife suite from my Snow Leopard disks. But that’s a trifle since I don’t use iPhoto, iMovie, and GarageBand.

So there. From those who installed Lion in place over their Snow Leopard installation, the installation was very easy. I took the more difficult route because: 1. I’m Eddie and that’s just what I do, and B. I wanted to start my computer over from scratch just because it had gotten a bit slow.

Phoenix debates land use near light rail stations

The City of Phoenix is holding a forum to get citizen input on land use planning near light rail stations. For the Camelback/Central Ave light rail station, the forum is being held at the Days Inn at 502 W Camelback Rd on Thursday at 6:30pm.

[cross-posted from the Downtown Voices Coalition blog]

Camelback/Central LR station public artThe City of Phoenix is holding a forum to get citizen input on land use planning near light rail stations. For the Camelback/Central Ave light rail station, the forum is being held at the Days Inn at 502 W Camelback Rd on Thursday at 6:30pm.

State law requires cities, towns, and counties to update their general plan every 10 years and this is the first revision of Phoenix’s general plan after the development of METRO light rail.

Phoenix is amending the city’s general plan for land-use planning near light-rail stations and is asking residents for input.

A public meeting to discuss the station at Central Avenue and Camelback Road is at 6:30 p.m. Thursday at the Days Inn, 502 W. Camelback Road.

The general plan is a blueprint that outlines land-use and policy guidelines on how the city should grow and redevelop for decades into the future.

State law requires cities, towns and counties to update the plan every 10 years but legislation the state passed last year extended the deadline to 2015 to give budget-constricted local governments short on planning staff more time to update their general plans.

Attendees will discuss a general range of appropriate building heights for future real-estate redevelopment.

By having stakeholders identify what they want to preserve, promote and will accept in advance, the general plan can better guide future real-estate development.

The meetings are not about property ownership, existing zoning or uses, city officials have said.

Properties along the light-rail route are in a transit-overlay district, which means less space is dedicated for parking due to the proximity to the train.

Read more here.

If you go, the nearest light rail station is 7th Ave/Camelback Road (Melrose District). For more information, call 602.256.5648.

Living carfree is living carefree

I’m not worrying about the upcoming “Carmageddon” in Los Angeles this weekend. But not for the obvious reason you might suspect.

The I-405 just north of Los Angeles. And one of many reasons why I'm happy not to have a car. [photo credit: Wikipedia]So much has been made in the news about the closure of I-405 in Los Angeles over this weekend. If you haven’t been paying attention:

They have a name for it: Carmageddon.

They have a plan: Stick close to home, if at all possible.

And they have this: no idea what really will transpire when a 10-mile stretch of Interstate 405 in Los Angeles is shut down for 53 hours starting tonight for a road-improvement project in the ultra-busy Sepulveda Pass in the heart of one of the most car-centric cultures in the world.

“Allow me to be blunt: It’s going to be a mess out there,” Los Angeles Councilman Zev Yaroslavsky posted on his City Hall website.

“For those of you who think you can outsmart this potential mother of all traffic jams,” he added, “my advice is simple: save your gas.”

[via the San Francisco Chronicle]

It’s reasons like this why I’m reminded why it’s so nice not to own a car. I don’t have to worry about massive traffic snarls like this. I can just hop on Phoenix’s light rail or bus and get to where I need to go with relative ease. And when I add a bicycle to my transportation arsenal, then that range is extended considerably.

And even if my commute could be shorter by taking a car, there’s one big benefit to not be driving: I don’t have to worry about the driving. I can do things that everyone who’s driving a car shouldn’t to: talk on the phone, text, read a book, listen to music, check email, post something to Twitter, and so on. It’s quality time.

Some thoughts on this from the Vancouver, B.C., blog Price Tags:

My travel time is far too valuable to waste actually driving. Talk about distracting. I don’t know about you, but I find when driving that I actually have to pay attention to stuff. Like other vehicles. And stop signs. And even cyclists.

Given a choice between a faster trip driving and a slower trip on transit, I’ll take the latter, so long as (a) it’s not too much slower; and (b) I can read or listen. If I can plan the length of my commute with accuracy and dependability, then time spent moving productively is more valuable than time spent moving quickly.

[read more]

So you’ll be catching me on the light rail or even the bus. And if I move to a different city, the big criterion for a good city is its mass transportation system. Because my time is valuable.