Android Wear Customization With Zooper

One of the things that I really like about the Android ecosystem is the degree to which you can customize it to suit yourself (and not what some designer in Cupertino thought was good enough). This extends to the newly released Android Wear devices (I opted for the Samsung Gear Live).

I just discovered a new widget app called Zooper Wear – Square Wearables that brings useful aggregation to Wear notifications. I really like having a consolidated view of the number and type of alerts all on one screen. Throw in current temperature and battery level and I am sold.

 

Algorithm Maps The Most Beautiful Route To Where You’re Going

I would love to see (and use) this in more locations. Sadly, it will likely be quickly perverted to route visitors to/near shops and other unattractive locales.

If you want to find the most scenic route to get somewhere, there may soon be an app for that. Daniele Quercia and colleagues at Yahoo Labs in Barcelona have come up with a way to create a crowd-sourced measure of a city’s beauty, and made an algorithm to find the prettiest way to get from one point to another. “The goal of this work is to automatically suggest routes that are not only short but also emotionally pleasant,” the scientists told Technology Review:

Quercia and co begin by creating a database of images of various parts of the center of London taken from Google Street View and Geograph, both of which have reasonably consistent standards of images. They then crowd-sourced opinions about the beauty of each location using a website called UrbanGems.org.
Each visitor to UrbanGems sees two photographs and chooses the one which shows the more beautiful location. That gives the team a crowd-sourced opinion about the beauty of each location. They then plot each of these locations and their beauty score on a map which they use to provide directions.

 

Books Everyone Starts But Don’t Finish (And Is That Bad?)

This topic has been getting a lot of banter lately. I like the Guardian’s perspective on the topic.

Picking up a book is gratifying: look at me, not reading dumb listicles on the internet! Finishing a book, however, is a challenge. Which of this summer’s top-selling books have the highest reader attrition? Dr. Jordan Ellenberg has a semi-scientific way to find out, using buyer-generated info from Amazon to identify this year’s most unread book.

It’s a charmingly simple (if not entirely rigorous) method: Dr. Ellenberg cruises the “Popular Highlights” listings for each title, which shows the five passages most frequently highlighted by Kindle readers. If most folks make it to the very last page, those passages should come from the front, the back, and everywhere in between. If everyone drops off in Chapter 3, the most popular passages will be focused in the first few pages.

Should you finish every book you start?

…But this funny business of the Hawking Index, a lighthearted attempt to work out how far people persist in reading books, as indicated by the passages they highlight on their Kindles, has got me thinking. And it’s made me realise that my view has changed. I used to believe that if you really weren’t enjoying a book, you should toss it to one side and move on to something you might find more rewarding; essentially, it was born of an insurmountable fear of the sheer number of books I wouldn’t get round to reading before I died.

But things have changed. Clearly, I’ve got older and realised that I was a fool to see world literature as a mountain I had to scale, but more to the point, I’ve seen the threat that endless distractions and a wussy, don’t-like-it, bring-me-another attitude poses to our reading culture. I know I risk sounding po-faced, but the best books are a medium of thick description, painstakingly built word by word to produce strange and unexpected effects in the brain and heart; they deserve more than being treated like a passing bit of entertainment that hasn’t quite lived up to the reader’s exacting standards.

 

Google’s Dart Language Is Now An Official ECMA Standard

Interesting development, but even Chrome doesn’t support Dart by default.

Google’s Dart[2] language is now[3] an official ECMA standard with the catchy name of ECMA-408[4]. ECMA[5] may not be a household name, but if you’re reading this, your browser is using ECMAscript to render at least some parts of this page. That’s because ECMAscript[6] is the official standard body behind JavaScript. In the past, the organization has also been behind the specs for JSON, C#, the Office Open XML format and various CD-ROM specs.

 

The same old thing with a new twist (aka my personal infocloud)

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OK