Today is the day every self-employed American dreads: quarterly taxes
are due today!
Apparently Google released a new version of Chrome within the last week. I just now picked it up, as I just restarted Chrome for the first time since like, ever. This version brought some changes to the interface, many of which have the loyal userbase of Chrome up in arms.Google removed http:// from the query string
Despite the fact that the work I do is not top secret, nor do I have any enemies, I have always felt safer and better protected with the presence of security cameras. You just never know what you might pick up. Plus, I often work late at night and my office is next to a bar, and since my car sits outside, I like to be able to keep an eye on it at all times.
I use a recording program from DeskShare called Security Monitor Pro that costs $90. This software allows me to start recording on motion detection. It takes video clips, still picture, and can even email me the media or publish to an ftp server. I record my cameras at 10fps, which allows me to see enough action so I don't miss anything, while not overloading my CPUs.
Then at the core of it all is a dedicated Acer Aspire. I picked up this $500 computer from Fry's. It's loaded with an Intel i3 at 3.06GHz with 6GB of RAM and a 1TB hard drive. It's amazing how inexpensive technology is these days. I previously had a lower-end Dell recording, but it only had a single core and it choked when I tried to view and record two near-HD streams.
So for as little as $700, I have a security system that is computer-based, and actually records higher quality video than typical dedicated prosumer security rigs.
Like I said, this is a little over the top for my needs, but it's nice to be able to see my surroundings. If you're looking to set up a basic security rig, I definitely recommend going this route. Like I said, I've toyed with lots of possibilities, and since this system records high quality video with great features that lets me see what's going on when I'm away from the office, there are really no downsides.
Last night I was infuriated by the fact that I was served three consecutive ads on Hulu. I thought to myself, "this is getting to be as bad as regular TV." I tweeted my disapproval, and then followed up by saying I was going to cancel my Hulu Plus account and then write a blog about how much I now hate them. While I did end up canceling my Hulu Plus account, my bitterness toward Hulu was resolved by a few helpful tweets from @Hulu_Support, and thus, this post turns from a hateful rant about how Hulu is selling out (and how worthless Hulu Plus is, as the moment), to how much I appreciate attentive customer support. A courteous reply from a company can completely change a user's opinion
As it turns out, the fact that Hulu ran three consecutive ads during a TV show is apparently a bug, and wasn't supposed to happen. I was informed of this by @Hulu_Support. The interesting thing is how little it takes to make people happy online (at least me). All the Hulu support rep did was admit the mistake and collect some information from me so they could troubleshoot the issue. Who knows if they're actually going to do anything with the information they got from me, but it was nice of them to ask. Also another observation: Hulu Support uses your first name when @replying. I thought this was a nice way to engage users, by responding to people and not just Twitter handles. A nice touch. Great examples of customer support via Twitter: Hulu, Zappos, American Express
Other businesses should take notice of how businesses like Hulu, Zappos, and even American Express handle customer support on Twitter. I recently tweeted about Zappos, without expecting a response. As it turns out, Thomas Knoll, Community Architect at Zappos responded from his personal Twitter account, an account he doesn't typically use for customer support. This likely mindless action that took just a couple seconds on his part reaffirmed my positive opinion about Zappos, an opinion that is not likely to change based on that short encounter.
It's really kind of pathetic. One of the most noticeable and longest
lasting iOS bugs STILL is not fixed.
"More people are showing up at eye appointments complaining of headaches, fatigue, blurred vision and neck pain—all symptoms of computer-vision syndrome (CVS), which affects some 90% of the people who spent three hours or more at day at a computer, according to the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Healthy."
The above quote comes from a Wall Street Journal article published yesterday. If this is true, the only reason the percentage is so high is because people don't know the simple steps to avoid these symptoms. Here are a few things I do to make sure I never have to leave my computer...unless I really want to.
Adjust Monitor Brightness
I think the single largest reason why people have trouble sitting in front of a computer screen for an extended period of time is because their screen is too bright. Most monitors are set to be way too bright by default. Try turning the brightness all the way down. It will make your eyes think you're looking at a piece of paper rather than staring into a flashlight. (Make sure you adjust your brightness and not your contrast.)
I like to keep my office pretty dark, but it's important the ambient light in the room doesn't contrast too greatly with the physical world. For example, if my monitor is bright and my room is dark, it's going to hurt my eyes because of the stark contrast. This is why your parents always used to tell you to watch TV with a light on (at least my parents did). But an environment that's too bright isn't great either. When I used to sit in a cube all day, I had the florescents above me ripped out. Distancing yourself from ambient light in a close proximity is a good idea.
A lot of times, neck pain is caused from leaning down to look at a computer screen (this happens a lot when working on a laptop). Whenever possible, make sure your monitor is at your eye level. I would suggest that if you're looking straight out from your chair, at least 1/3 of your monitor should be above your eye level. I used to set my monitors on books. Now I use actual monitor stands that get my monitors off my desk by about 4 inches. Avoiding looking down will help reduce neck strain.
Back Support & Sitting Position
I never work in front of a computer without a pillow behind my lower back. Even actual back supports from office supply stores don't work well. I recommend an actual pillow. It helps keep the upper body back and upright. It also helps keep my head back to where I sometimes rest it on the back of my chair. This reinforces the last idea to keep your head looking straight on rather than bending forward and looking down.
Even Multiple Monitors Help!
This isn't for everybody, but...I work in front of an array of 3 or 4 very large monitors. I think doing so actually helps keep my eyes fresh and my neck from hurting, because I have to physically turn my head to the left and right to see all my screens. This keeps me from focusing in a single, small area for too long at any given time, and it also reminds me to blink when I turn my head.
These suggestions definitely aren't scientific - they're just a few bits of common sense that I've realized over my time using computers. Hope this helps keep you pain-free!
I've been using Hulu for almost three years now, and it's been exciting to watch it develop into a near-mainstream solution for watching TV online. I'm a subscriber of Hulu Plus, and while it has its own issues (missing past episodes of shows, too many ads in a paid product, etc), it's still the easiest way to catch HD TV shows online.However, there is a glaring UX mistake on the Queue page where users can stack up future videos to watch. I'm surprised no one at Hulu has caught this and fixed it yet.