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Google Glass and the ubiquitous photo capture

I’ve had Google Glass for a few months now. I’m still very much in love with it. But, the novelty has worn off. I no long have the sense of something shiny and new. I’ve settled into it, and now it’s more like a very expensive comfy shoe. I’ve formed habits around it. It’s just a part of my life now.

Some of those habits are surprising to me. I was eager to get Google Glass primarily as a way to more easily and quickly take pictures of my two boys. I’m a stay-at-home dad, and a web designer, so the overlap seemed pretty obvious. My younger one, in particular, is fascinated with the cell phone, such that I can’t effectively take pictures or video of him with it. He just stops whatever cute thing he was doing to focus on the phone. And I do use it a lot for that purpose. It’s very convenient for taking pictures. What has surprised me is how the very convenience of taking pictures has radically changed the way I think about photography itself, and therefore the kinds of pictures I take.

Glass makes taking a picture as easy as scratching your temple. And it then takes the photo and puts it on your “timeline”, a series of images in a line which shows up on Glass and is extremely easy to flip through. When I first started to use Glass I thought of those photos they way I think of photos on my phone — I was focused on how to get the photos off of Glass and into whatever useful form I ultimately wanted to the photo to be in, that is to say, saved on my computer, uploaded to WordPress, posted on social media, loaded into a digital frame and so forth.

But, as I’ve been using Glass, I’m more and more often taking pictures only to be stored in the “timeline” so I can call it up later. In other words, I’m using photos to take “notes”. And not even the kind of notes that you file away for later. I use photos like the kind of notes you stuff in your pocket and then throw away at the end of the day. I take pictures of my car so I can remember where I parked. I take pictures of price tags in the supermarket so I can comparison shop. I take pictures of billboards and company vans so I can remember the phone number or web site of a company I want to follow up with to do business (like, a plumber, for example).

The digital camera generally revolutionized photography by making it essentially free to take a picture. It used to be that you were economical when taking pictures, because each one would cost some small amount of money to develop. At your son’s birthday party you might take a dozen or two photos. At less special occasions, you might take one or none. With digital photography, many of us moved to the process of the professional photographer of taking dozens or hundreds of photos with the idea of culling them to save one or two really good ones.

Glass has made taking photos even easier by making it not only free but making the act of photography nearly frictionless. No more pulling the phone out of the pocket and launching the camera app. Even that ten-to-fifteen second effort is gone. Specifically, it’s now even easier than jotting something down on a piece of paper or the back of your hand. And in so doing, photography becomes a new ubiquitous form of keeping temporary, throw-away information that it never was, even on the cell phone.

Uranus is a crazy sideways planet, with crazy sideways seasons.

I heard a while ago that the farthest, coldest planet in our solar system was tilted on its side. Today, my older son had a field at the Adler Planetarium here in Chicago, and I had the chance to ask a question that had been bothering me. Does the axis of Uranus’ rotation point along the path of it’s rotation around the Sun, such that it still has a normal day and night? Or does it rotate pointing toward the Sun, such that one hemisphere is in constant daytime and one in constant night? The answer is even weirder than I thought. It’s axis of rotation, like the Earth’s, is fixed, such that it seems to rotate in relation to the Sun. So, it has seasons, like the Earth does. Only, on Uranus, if you lived in one particular place, you’d have two seasons with a relatively normal day/night cycle, one season of total daytime, and one season of total nighttime. Not to mention, each season on Uranus is over twenty years long!

IFTTT, the missing link for Google Glass users

I’ve been using and enjoying IFTTT for a few weeks, and also using and very much enjoying my Glass Explorer Edition. I was overjoyed this week when I noticed that Glass had been added to the IFTTT channels.

For those who aren’t familiar with it, IFTTT stands for “If This Then That”. It’s a web service which allows users to select from a menu of inputs and a menu of outputs to create custom recipes designed to bridge the gaps in online services. You can, for example, make a recipe to repost Facebook updates on Twitter, or to email you whenever a file is uploaded to your Dropbox. Now, with Glass support, you can create recipes to notify your Glass display when one of any number of things occur in your online life. This is particularly nice at this early stage in Glass development, when a lot of apps haven’t been designed yet. The possibilities for this are innumerable. I’m mainly excited about it because I’m frustrated by my Glass being tied to very closely to my gmail account and its associated email. I’m particularly interested in setting up email forwards which will trigger ifttt and then notify Glass — for example, when my wife or a work client emails me. As a developer, this one Glass application cuts down dramatically on the number of things I wanted to hack up some code for, which is fantastic. I have plenty to do otherwise!

How to reset the title in your Tumblr blog

Today, I came across a small hiccup in the usability of Tumblr’s interface.   I had set up a Tumblr account some time ago and not configured it.   I went in today to do just that–because Tumblr works with Klout, Hootsuite and Google Glass, all of which I just started using this past month.   But, when I went in to change the default Title “untitled”, I couldn’t find how to do it.   My instinct was to go to login in via tumblr.com, which takes you to tumblr.com/dashboard, and then to click on the gear icon for the settings page.   But my instinct was wrong.   That’s a terribly futile way to change the title of your blog.   Instead, what you need to do is visit the URL of your actual Tumblr blog.   Mine, for example, is < iansmithdahl.tumblr.com >.   From there, if you’re logged in, you should see a contextual menu in the top right with two links: customize and dashboard.   Click on customize, and you’ll be taken to a page with two panes, a replication of your blog on the right and a scrolling pane with several options on the left.   One of the options there is your title.  You can click it in, edit to your heart’s content, and click Save at the top.   Voila!

First impressions of Google Glass!

After a long wait, and the thoughtfulness of a friend who knew how much I wanted to get my grubby little hands one of these, I’ve finally landed an “explorer edition” of Google Glass.   So far, it’s worked great for what I wanted it for: which is taking pictures of the kiddos.   My youngest one in particular would always get distracted by the phone, whenever I pulled it out to take a picture or a video.   He’s still aware of what I’m doing with the Glass.   But, first of all, it’s far quicker to the draw.  All I have to do is touch the side of my face and say, “Okay, Glass, take a picture.” and it’s done.   Second of all, and more importantly, it’s less distracting to the little guy.   He doesn’t usually stop what he’s doing.   So, I’ve been able to take a lot of nice, quick, even sometimes surreptitious pics and videos that I wouldn’t normally have been able to get.   Mission accomplished.