Tag Archives: tech

DoodleArting

Do any of you guys remember DoodleArt? Those crazy old posters that took about a bajillion hours and sixteen packs of felts to fill in? If not, you missed out on some childhood awesomeness, my friend.

Deciding the first mark is the toughest.

Moms faced with life’s most difficult decision – where to make the first mark.

Apparently first appearing in the 1970’s, my earliest memory of colouring in one of these behemoth posters was circa 1986, when my best friend brought home a “Dolls” DoodleArt poster from (if memory serves me correctly) Vancouver’s Expo ’86.

I loved colouring in that freaking poster.

So imagine my joy when I found an App for that on iTunes for my iPad. So much joy. They had the same posters available that have always been available – including the very same doll poster I remember from nearly 20 years ago.

You can download the app for free and monkey around with a couple of partial posters before you buy any full posters (for $0.99/£0.69 each). I decided to go ahead with just monkeying around before I bought, because you never know: Some apps that are grand ideas are not always executed in the best possible way.

Unfortunately, this was one of those apps.

Queue sad music. I was devastated. All I wanted was to colour in a freaking electronic version of a childhood memory. But the stupid thing… the colours kept  fading and bleeding into each other. I hated that when I used to colour with felts; I didn’t expect to have to hate it when colouring with pixels.

I was unhappy enough about it that I did two absolutely unheard of things for me: 1. I actually left a review on the App store and 2. I wrote an email to the company.  Because internet angry is the best kind of angry.

To my surprise, my email was answered by the CEO of  the company. He asked me if I would provide steps to reproduce the issue, which gave me nightmarish memories of the last project I worked on. But I wanted to help, so I agreed to help if I could. In going through the steps (over and over again) to reproduce the issue and write it up properly, I actually figured out what the issue was: Essentially they were having a problem with the “undo” function of the app.

To thank me for my help in pin-pointing the issue, Andrew (the CEO) sent me three posters – real life posters – to thank me for my time. How rad is that? I gave one to my moms (who also fondly remembers colouring these posters back in the day) and the other two I will take with me to Korea to colour in with the kiddos.

Three minus the poster I donated to my momma.

Three minus the poster I donated to my momma.

I think the most awesome thing though was that Andrew is obviously passionate about the product (and therefore the app) and was so responsive. He worked closely with me and then the development team to get an update to the App Store.

With the update, the app works great. I’ve now purchased the dolls poster (helllloooOOOoooOooo nostalgia!) and have already wasted a great deal of time colouring it in. Loads of joy there.

So if you are looking for something to do this long, cold winter and you have yourself an iPad, definitely check out the DoodleArt App. At least with the app you get all the fun of colouring in one of these intricate posters without the frustration of the yellow felt picking up every other freaking colour on the poster. Awesome.

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Top 10 of Your Top 10 Top 10s

Great comic today over at The Joy of Tech about Top 10 lists. I find it particularly  funny because so many “How to Improve SEO” or “How to Drive Traffic to Your Blog” articles advise using top 10 lists (about nearly anything) to get people to read your blog. That nugget of wisdom is usually number 1 on their top 10 list of “Get Moar Blog Followers” posts.

I have a better idea. Write an interesting post. Leave the SEO wanging and other ‘tricks’ aside. I suppose if you are writing just to make some money (which is a wee bit sad) or for popularity (ditto) then you should be following those sorts of tips and tricks. Otherwise, just write some cool shit.

Grumpy Old Machine

My computer is growing senile.

I’ve had the poor thing for awhile now – since 31 December 2007 to be absolutely specific. I remember the date because it is the last time I used that credit card, ever.

It’s served me well, my poor little Dell Inspiron 530S. Sure, it’s up and shit the bed for no reason on more than one occasion and required some tough love to get it going again, but overall? For a PC? For an OLD PC? It was doing fine.

Tonight though it decided to be extra dinky and weird for no good reason. Got four nasty beeps on post – the BIOS equivalent of the computer flipping me the bird. HOW RUDE. It’s a sure sign that the hardware has decided enough is enough. Most likely the RAM or where RAM meets motherboard.

So I pulled it all out and turned it on with no RAM in it at all. Two beeps on post, which is a good sign. Pulled it out again and put in two of the RAM sticks. It turned on fine. Another good sign.

Then I stuck in the other two… and the computer went batshit. Kept turning itself on and off, like it was having some sort of fit. What a drama queen. So I pulled the power and it settled down.

::SIDE NOTE::

Wouldn’t have been weird if it had kept turning itself on and off after I unplugged it? Just sayin’. Weird.

:: END SIDE NOTE::

Anyhoo… swapped the RAM around and now it is fine again. WTF, Computer? You are losing the plot.

I need it to hang on for a bit longer; I really cannot afford to buy a new machine right now. I just worry because it’s Senior Moments are growing more and more frequent and more and more extreme. It’s a good thing I keep everything on an external drive and on the webskipops. Seriously.

Wunderlist: Part Two

As some of you already read in my earlier post today, I was having some extreme issues with Wunderlist this morning. The login was balls and then the site went down.  Not a good start to our relationship.

So I passive-aggressively complained here on my blog and sent a tweet about the site being down. Nearly immediately, @wunderlist tweeted back with an update. Which helped control my rage. It was rather interesting how just a little personal response went a long way; I was at the point where I didn’t care if I logged in ever again (I have other lists, right?) and got turned back around to being willing to give them another go.

And then it got a lot more personal.

Kirsty Lee, Social Media Manager at 6wunderkinder got in touch directly. It would appear that she had read my earlier blog post and was also aware that I had spewed forth my frustration on Twitter.

Not only did she reply in the comments to the earlier post, she also emailed me directly to let me know that a) they are working on some soothing salve to decrease the ball-ache of registering via Facebook (sadly, not by killing Facebook but rather with updates to the app) and that the site was down because the servers went down.

I am appeased.

After just using the app today, I can’t yet feedback how useful I am finding it. But after today I am happy to tell the interwebs that the team behind Wunderlist obviously cares what their users think. They obviously care what I think.

They care even though they don’t charge people anything (did I mention earlier that the service is free?). Even though my blog is mostly read by my moms and a few other people who clearly hate themselves and wish to be punished. Even though I’m not a “power-user” or whatever grotesque “you deserve our attention, money-spender” category companies lump people into. They still care.

Kirsty’s actions today (personalised and timely) made all the difference with how I feel about their brand. Instead of focusing on the issues I had this morning, when I tell others about Wunderlist, I’m going to tell them all about the solutions. About the really positive experience I had with the company.

Why aren’t all companies working with their customers/users like this?

Thanks, Kirsty. Tell your boss you deserve a raise.

Wunderlist

People think I’m an OCD, type-A, highly organised person with bountiful energy for putting everything into it’s right place.

This isn’t entirely accurate.

I’m actually kinda lazy, which is why I’m so organised about my stuff. I can’t be arsed to look around for things: My keys, a t-shirt, lipgloss, my next highest priority task, whatever. So I put always put things exactly where I can find them.

At work, I always write down what I need to do and/or remember. I’ve just always found it easier to get those things out of your brain and somewhere else so you can use your brain for other things. Having the “Oh yes, I must remember to X” thought again and again (where X remains constant) is a waste of brain juice.  So I write it down and I don’t worry about it anymore. It’s the equivalent of putting my thoughts where I can find them again with less effort.

This habit means I am constantly searching for the best way to capture this list of things to do or remember.

I often go back to paper, but that’s not always the best way: It means your stuff is only in one place and losing the notebook or post-it means you’ve lost the list. Bad news.

So I’ve been trying multi-platform electronic capture systems.

At work, I’ve been using Evernote for awhile now. I use it on and off – it isn’t a perfect to-do list, but it is extremely flexible and has other uses.

I signed up for Orchestra, Asana and Strides recently – but I think that they will be better for project task capture – where multiple people are working on one larger goal. I haven’t played with Asana yet, but the quick play I had with Orchestra and Strides showed that Strides has the potential to be the better system.

I also use Epic Win – but until it goes multi-platform (I WANTS IT IN A BROWSER) and allows me to organise my tasks into lists, it isn’t going to be the best use for me. I refuse to let it go for my personal to-dos though, it is simply too fun to “level up” for getting chores and such done.

Today I decided I would try Wunderlist after hearing so many good things about it. Available across all platforms, free, beautifully designed and easy to use.

How I feel so far?

What a fucking ball-ache to get it working on my fucking iPhone.

They need to get this sorted.

I signed up using “Register with Facebook”. Now, I rarely do that, Zuckerberg already knows too much about me. But I’m starting to hate all these different logins so I thought “what the hell”. Two clicks later (had to authorise it, innit?) and I was in.

Had a play, loved the interface. Created a “get WL app” task and got right on doing that so I could check that off as done.

Not so fast, cowboy.

The app needed my username and password. Um, whut? I logged in with Facebook, you douche. I don’t know what the sweaty fuck my username and password is for Wunderlist.

So back to the website. Looked like my username was potentially my email address. So I tried that. But what about the password?

I had no idea, so I tapped “Forgot password” on my phone. The app immediately went into a never-ending “thinking about that” cycle. raR.

So I went on the interweb and googled “WTF, Wunderlist?” (or, more probably, something about the issue I was having). Turns out that if you retardedly register for the site with Facebook, you have to reset your password to get a password.

Sigh.

So I go to the website and do that. Which was simple, to be fair. The interface is rather intuitive. Got my new password via email, back to the site, changed it to something I could remember.

Back to the phone. Put in my email address and newly minted password.

Back into the abyss of a never-ending thinking cycle. Fuck you, app.

Turns out that there was a cross-over of “I forgot my passwords” (one from the phone, which I didn’t think worked because I had to kill the app to make it stop fucking around) and another from the website.

I finally got the password to work by repeating the steps above and then trying the app again.

Now that I’m in, it looks cool and we’ll see if I actually use it or not. But what a fucking ball-ache to use if you try logging in with Facebook.

The lesson in all this is: Facebook is evil.

I’ll let you know if I actually use the fucking site now that I’ve gone through 30 anger-filled minutes trying to get it to play nicely with my phone. Now to check off “Write blog post of how fucktarded FB registration on WL is” from my list.

UPDATE: And now the app is unavailable. THIS ISN’T HOW YOU WIN MY LOVE, WUNDERLIST.

Competitive nature + gamifying fitness = Captain Lazyass gets off the couch

Last week xkcd posted this comic:

Which made me laugh. A lot of fitness tracking websites (I use Daily Burn and Runkeeper) miss out on some of life’s best activities. I probably would have had a chuckle and left it at that… but it was the mouse-over text that caught my attention. It was:

“I felt so clever when I found a way to game the Fitocracy system by incorporating a set of easy but high-scoring activities into my regular schedule. Took me a bit to realize I’d been tricked into setting up a daily exercise routine.” 

“I’d been tricked into setting up a daily exercise routine.” That interested me. So I rocked over to Fitocracy to check it out.

Fitocracy (www.fitocracy.com) is still in beta and you need an invite code to check it out. Fortunately, they were excepting “xkcd” as an invite code the day I wanted to try it (I don’t know if they still are).

It is exactly the kind of thing I like. You get to level up when you are active and there are unlockable achievements. There is a lovely sense of humour underlying the site. For example, the quest to run a mile in under 10 minutes is called “Someone is chasing me!” There is an over abundance of zombie references. I joined a group called “Getting Fit for the Zombie Apocalypse”. Not even kidding.

It seems to be pretty nerdcentric, but that also suits my temperament. I need something to motivate me to get away from my computer and out into the wild. And if I find that motivation on a website that will give me “points” for doing so… well, I have no business commenting on the other nerds rocking the site.

There is only three things missing from the site right now that would make it better. The first is a mobile site and/or iPhone/Android app. Apparently the mobile site is in the works, which would be rad. The second thing is that it doesn’t (yet) connect with my Withings scale. All things should connect to my Withings. But that too is apparently in the plan.

The final thing I’m missing is people I know who’s asses I would like to kick. I’ve joined a few groups (such as the aforementioned zombie training group) on the site, but being better than a handful of strangers is not nearly as much fun as kicking the asses of people I know.

I have ten invites (apparently) that I can give away. If any of you would like to give Fitocracy a try, let me know. I’ll send you an invite and start following your ass. And then I’ll start kicking it.

>Fashion Failings

>I used to check out other girl’s shoes.

I’m not an overly girly type of girl and I never know what to wear. I mostly dress like I’m a six-year-old boy. So I look at what other girls are wearing to see if I might want to adopt any of it. I usually don’t. Fashion gives me hives.

These days I don’t bother checking out what other girls are wearing. So I dress like I’m six. I’m okay with that.  I’m sure everyone else is okay with that. Why would I want to wear a pair of Uggs with leggings and something that could either pass as a shirt or a dress anyway?  Not my lack of style, babies.

My new habit is much more nerdtastic: I now check out other people’s gadgets.

I almost wish that was a euphemism for something more interesting, but it isn’t.  I check out people’s phones and laptops and cameras. I sometimes feel superior. Sometimes I feel envious. In that way, it is a lot like checking out other people’s outfits.

Every month I wonder where my money goes. I certainly shop a lot less than other girls. But I’m beginning to realise that the new external drive and Windows 7 I’m scoping out this week are much more expensive than a couple of shirts at Primark.