Archive for July, 2010

Twitter Lists and Flipboard make each other unbearably awesome

July 30, 2010  |  Tags:   |  

When Twitter first introduced Twitter lists, I created one list for news tweeters such as @theeconomist, @cnnbrk, @time and @cnalatest, and another for tech news with @engadget, @wired, @newsycombinator and more. I figured I could browse these lists from time to time to pick out interesting news from these sources, without having their high-volume posts distract me from my main Twitter feed.

Of course, I then proceeded to pretty much ignore my lists. I often found it hard to tell from the tweets which articles were actually interesting enough to click through and read, and when I did click, I’d usually end up waiting a while for the article and associated images to load before realising I’d wasted my time.

Enter Flipboard, an iPad app that has exponentially increased the utility of Twitter lists for me. Flipboard creates a personalised reading experience for you by looking at your Twitter and Facebook streams, pulling article excerpts and images from the links within, and presenting them in a beautiful magazine-style layout. The app suggests some sources for you to follow (e.g. “Tech Influencers, by Robert Scoble”. Snicker), but the killer feature is using your own Twitter lists as sources. This way, you get news from sources you care about, grouped the way you want, and with enough text and visuals for you to browse efficiently.

Adding your own lists to Flipboard requires the same invite that allows you to add your Twitter and Facebook streams. Once you have it, just hit add and wait for your lists to show up in the sources. However, it’s not immediately obvious how to add someone else’s lists — to do so, when adding new sources, just type in username/short-list-name into the search field, e.g. yjsoon/tech-news or yjsoon/interesting.

Here are some of my lists. I’d love to hear if you have any suggestions for sources to add — just look for me on Twitter.

  • Interesting: The very best links, curated by @laughingsquid, @boingboing, @tputh and @kottke. I’d add @daringfireball here, too, if I didn’t already follow the RSS feed religiously.
  • News: Local and international news from @stcom, @cnalatest, @time, @theeconomist and @cnnbrk.
  • Entertainment: Comics, movies and gaming news from @joystiq, @kotaku, @comingsoonnet, @cinematical, @ign, @cbr and @newsarama.
  • Tech News: Tech news that’s generally interesting but too high-volume to keep up with — @techcrunch, @newsycombinator, @engadget, @wired, @arstechnica, @tuaw, @mashable and @macrumors.
  • Amusing: A variety of funny Twitter feeds. Flipboard’s “quote view” works really well with pithy 140-character tweets.

This changes my inclination to punch you in the face

July 29, 2010  |  Tags:   |  

Screen shot 2010-07-29 at AM 12.31.40.PNG

Not only does SingTel close pre-orders after 2 hours of server meltdown, they put up this ridiculous notice to taunt everyone who subsequently goes to their iPhone 4 info page. “This changes everything. Again. But you can’t have it.” GAHHHHH

Consider getting the most expensive SingTel iPhone plan

July 28, 2010  |  Tags: ,   |  

Are you a SingTel subscriber who picks up a new iPhone at launch every year? If so, you might want to consider getting the most expensive plan this time round. Here’s why:

As you probably know, since you’re only halfway through your 2-year contract from getting your iPhone 3GS, you’ll be hit with a $300 upgrading fee when you buy the iPhone 4 with contract. However, SingTel just sent me an email saying this fee will be waived if I upgrade to an iFlexi Plus ($95/month) or Premium ($nonsensical) plan. With this in mind, let’s see how much an iPhone with contract costs over the next year:

Formula: Phone cost + upgrading fee + monthly cost x 1 year

iPhone 4 16GB

  • iFlexi Lite: $480 + $300 + $39 x 12 = $1248
  • iFlexi Value: $210 + $300 + $56 x 12 = $1182
  • iFlexi Plus: $0 ($300 waived) + $95 x 12 = $1140

iPhone 4 32GB

  • iFlexi Lite: $620 + $300 + $39 x 12 = $1388 ($140 more than 16GB)
  • iFlexi Value: $360 + $300 + $56 x 12 = $1332 ($150 more)
  • iFlexi Plus: $60 ($300 waived) + $95 x 12 = $1200 ($60 more)

Reference: iPhone 4 comparison spreadsheet, by the excellent local iPhone/iPad blog iMerlion.

So, there we go. Apparently it’s cheaper to get the $95 plan if you’re planning to upgrade yearly, plus you get a bucketload of outgoing minutes. You might as well get the 32GB one, since it’s just $60 more than the 16GB, and you’ll be able to sell it for a lot more.

Do note, however, that you are signing a 24-month contract, so you’ll need to pay up if you need to downgrade during the contractual period. In addition, there’s no guarantee that SingTel will waive the $300 upgrade fee again next year, so you might not get this deal again, making this a somewhat expensive plan overall. Try at your own risk.

(If — ah, who am I kidding — when I inevitably cave and get one, I’ll probably go with iFlexi Value.)

“We are a Fortune 500 company, not a lemonade stand.”

  The Const Nazi →  July 18

I honestly can’t believe someone did a Downfall video (yknow, the ones where Hitler yells a lot) on const correctness. The last couple of lines cracked me up. This is going to be handy the next time I teach a C-style language…

A high school teacher’s thoughts.

Back when I was teaching, I told my students I’d accept their friend requests only after they graduated or after I left the school. So now that I’ve left, I accept all requests, and as a result my Facebook wall is full of their Farmville updates and whining about exams and other such crap. Gah.

(I kid, mostly. It’s actually rather fascinating to see how they mature over the years.)

It’s all over the internet and mainstream media by now, but I just had to link to this because watching it made me inexplicably happy. I can’t quite figure out why — maybe it’s the nostalgia evoked by the songs from half a lifetime ago, or Jewel’s thoroughly pleasant and down-to-earth nature, or that heartwarming show of audience support for “Karen”.

I also really liked that bit at the end with the elderly gentleman who was so very surprised and happy when he found out about the joke. Great close, too, with him racing off into the distance… I’d like to think it was because he couldn’t wait to go tell his loved ones what an evening he just had.

Well worth 6 minutes of your time. I grinned from ear to ear watching this.

It’s the scene where Princess Leia gets apprehended by Darth Vader and the stormtroopers, courtesy of Improv Everywhere. I also like their Ghostbusters one in a library.

A quick redesign, and new link behaviour

July 13, 2010  |  Tags: ,   |  

I’ve done a quick redesign of this blog. There are very few visually discernible changes unless you were paying attention, but I did develop a WordPress plugin along the way (perhaps not “develop” as much as “become really surprised by ending up with”).

Mainly, I’ve changed my link posts to behave more like they do at Daring Fireball – now, clicking on article titles in link posts (on the blog and in the RSS reader) will bring you straight to the linked item (this post isn’t one; take a look at the homepage for examples). RSS feeds will indicate these items with “Link” in front, and also include an extra footer with the link again and the page permalink.

If you’d like to try some of this on your own WordPress site, I’ve done up a quick WordPress plugin (which, keep in mind, adjusts your RSS feeds only), adapted from Jonathan Penn’s original WordPress linked list plugin (via Shawn Blanc).

To use, download the plugin (direct download link), put it in your plugins folder, and then activate it. When posting, you just need to define a custom field in WordPress called “linked_list_url”, which will be the link that your post goes to in your RSS feed, and it’ll behave like a link post.

A quick note, though – the plugin’s behaviour is much closer to DF’s RSS feed, in that it adds a ★ glyph for the permalink at the end of your post item, and also adds the glyph in front of your non-link post titles. Just remember, this affects your blog’s RSS feed only, so you’d have to adjust the look of these link posts on your blog yourself. You can do that by editing the template and making use of the built-in functions.

I’ll add in an option to change the glyph and toggle some of these behaviours in a future version, which I might then submit to the plugin directory. For now, it’s available on a MIT license, so do whatever you’d like with it.

More to come if I continue to procrastinate on real work.

The concept behind this 4chan prank is amusing enough, but BBC’s typically sardonic take just gives it that ounce of laugh-out-loud hilarity. Check out the captions they put under pictures of Bieber and Kim Jong-Il.