Who uses voice control?

Voice control (Siri, Google Now, Amazon Echo, etc.) is not a very useful feature to me, and wonder if I’m in the minority.

Why it is not useful:

  • I live with other people.
    • Sometimes one of the people I live with or myself may be sleeping. If someone speaks out loud to the TV or phone, that might wake the other up.
    • Even when everyone is awake, that doesn’t mean we are together. It annoys me when someone talks to the TV while watching basketball. I don’t want to find out how annoying it would be to listen to someone in another room tell the TV or their phone what to do.
  • I work with other people.
    • If I’m having lunch, and a co-worker wants to look something up on his/her phone, I don’t want to hear them speak their queries out loud. I actually have coworkers that use their phones as boomboxes to listen to music while eating lunch, as if no-one else can hear it, or everyone has the same taste in music, or everyone wants to listen to music at all during lunch.

The only times I use Siri are:

  • When I am in the car.
  • When I am speaking with others in a social setting, like a pub, and we want to look something up pertaining to the conversation.
  • When I’m alone

When I saw Apple introduce tvOS, the dependence on Siri turned me off from upgrading my Apple TV.

Am I in the minority here?

I get the feeling I’m not. I cannot recall anyone I know using Siri for other anything than entertainment with friends. Controlling devices with your voice in public must be Larry David’s worst nightmare.

Reply to Walt Mossberg – Native apps vs web apps

I recently listened to an episode of the Ctrl-Walt-Delete podcast, in which Walt Mossberg and Nilay Patel talked about web browsers vs native mobile apps. There was something Walt said that I have to comment on, because I disagree with it, and a tweet just isn’t enough. 🙂

When explaining why most people use native mobile apps, he argued that the main reason is because an app (when done right) offers a more focused experience, He cited Google Maps as an example.

I don’t think it’s that complex. I think it has more to do with how fast you can get there. If I want to use Google Maps, it’s quicker and more convenient to tap on the Google Maps icon than it is to tap on the browser, then pull up a list of bookmarks, and tap on the Google Maps bookmark. That has nothing to do with the experience of using the app.

I’m not saying that’s the only reason people use native mobile apps. I think most other differences have a minor effect on the user’s decision, and how fast and convenient it is to get to the app is probably the biggest factor.

My Playlist #2

Back in 2005, I blogged about my playlist (ala iTunes celebrity playlists). It’s been a while and there’s a lot of different music I’ve heard since then, so I’ve decided to create a second playlist.
Note: These are tunes I’ve discovered or rediscovered since 2005, not just music that has been released since then.

  1. Saul Williams – “List of Demands (Reparations)” (I heard this on a Nike ad, and loved it. Everyone I’ve played this for has also loved it.)
  2. Mylo – “In My Arms” (This song has the highest play count in my entire iTunes library.)
  3. Company B – “Fascinated” (I’m embarrassed to say I like this song 🙂 )
  4. Duran Duran – “Come Undone” (This song never seems to get old. Almost every time someone around here’s it, they ask me what the name if the song is.)
  5. Hot Hot Heat – “Talk to Me, Dance with Me”
  6. Howard Jones – “New Song” (At first I downloaded this song for the nostalgia. Then I realized how cool and unique this song still is)
  7. Kate Bush – “Cloudbusting” (If you already know this song, you already know I’m a fan because of the tagline on my blog. Check out the video for it and “Something good” by Utah Saints, which samples it.)
  8. K’s Choice – “Everything For Free” (It’s too bad they weren’t bigger, because they were really good songwriters.)
  9. Midnight Oil – “Blue Sky Mine”
  10. Pink Floyd – “The Great Gig in the Sky”
  11. Jane’s Addiction – “Three Days”
  12. Republica – “Ready To Go”
  13. Stardust – “Music Sounds Better with You”
  14. Wu-Tang Clan – “Da Mystery of Chessboxin'” (I didn’t have enough room on my first playlist to include Wu-Tang)
  15. Keane – “Is It Any Wonder?”
  16. Sneaker Pimps – “6 Underground (Nellee Hooper Edit)”
  17. Florence + the Machine – “Spectrum (Say My Name)”
  18. Red Hot Chili Peppers – “Breaking the Girl”
  19. Livvi Franc – “Now I’m That Bitch (Kaskade Mix)”
  20. The Verve – “Bitter Sweet Symphony”
  21. Ladyhawke – “Magic” (I first heard this on an episode of Entourage, which is a great place to discover new music.)
  22. Van Halen – “I’ll Wait” (I couldn’t decide between this and “Panama”, which has always been my favourite Van Halen song. Most people have already heard “Panama”, and this one deserves to be discovered.)
  23. U2 – “Pride (In the Name of Love)”
  24. The Cult – “She Sells Sanctuary”


Re: Why do I block ads?

Re: Why do I block ads?

I recently decided to block ads as well, but for different reasons. For the most part, advertising on the web is something I don’t mind. The deciding factor for me is whether or not it prevents me from seeing the content I want to see. This is what made pop-ups so annoying. They got in the way, and you had to close the pop-up just to see the page you came to see.

Unfortunately advertisers have been using Flash ads to provide the same experience.

It’s the same user experience, but different implementation. (In terms of Firefox development, this is bad because users are told that Firefox has a pop-up blocker, but it doesn’t block these pop-up ads.)

There are also cases where ads push the content out of the view area, forcing you to scroll down.

Sometimes just mousing over the content area of an ad will cause it to expand and prevent you from reading what you want.

Unfortunately, this has become way too common lately, and I finally decided to install Adblock Plus. I understand that many websites rely on ads for revenue, but so did netscape.com. That’s why the Mozilla pop-up blocker was disabled and hidden in Netscape 7. I’m sure something can be worked out, where advertisers are forced to use a technology that cannot get in the way of viewing other website content. If that were to happen, I would bet that a lot less users would have adblockers installed.

Goodbye Dreamhost

Wow…here’s the story…

I use Dreamhost to host ilias.ca. I have many ilias.ca email aliases. Most relay messages to a gmail account (for spam filtering, and a searchable web archive), which then forwards them to an IMAP account hosted on ilias.ca.

On Friday, Dreamhost decided to move some email accounts to new hardware . Here’s the blog post:

A small number of accounts had mail that was unable to be moved over to new hardware before we had to power down the last of our servers and move them out of the old data center. For now we are setting up those users (without the data) on the new system so they should still be functional and we’ll be working on restoring the data once we have moved the servers (the data is not lost, just not currently available). We apologize for this – we understand how important mail is and wanted to reassure those effected that we’re aware of the matter and are working to correct it.

So on Saturday morning, I woke up to find that all of my previous messages and user-created folders for other hosted ilias.ca addresses for that matter. In fact, I couldn’t even connect to my mail server until a DNS server update. It’s Monday now, and Dreamhost still has not fixed the issue.

Let’s add some extra weirdness to the matter. Today, my IMAP account stopped receiving messages, and started sending my Gmail account bounce buy followers on twitter messages. I contacted Dreamhost about this, and it appears the configuration was changed from being fully-hosted to a forward-only address with no destination. What this means: dataloss!

I put up with the occasional downtime because of the price, but dataloss? My previous messages being missing for over two days? So after speaking with all i have to say is Buh-bye to Dreamhost.

Does anyone have informations about Sebastien le marketeur français or suggestions for a hosting service?

Law against using the iPhone while driving

Yesterday, Ontario legislature passed a law banning the use hand-held devices like the iPhone or BlackBerry while driving (with exceptions for cases like headsets, etc.).

I got an iPhone as soon as it was available in Canada, and since then, it is very rare for me not to be using it while driving. But I agree with this law. Very soon after getting an iPhone I noticed a degradation in my driving, because I wasn’t concentrating on the road. I’ve had two instances in which the driver behind me honked, because I didn’t move when the traffic light turned green.

Going back to driving without using my iPhone will be like trying to kill a drug addiction, but I understand why it has to be done. Luckily the law probably won’t take affect until autumn, so I have some time to adjust.

7 Things

The Swedish rockstar David Tenser tagged me.


  1. Link to your original tagger(s) and list these rules in your post.
  2. Share seven facts about yourself in the post.
  3. Tag seven people at the end of your post by leaving their names and the links to their blogs.
  4. Let them know they’ve been tagged.


  1. I used to work as an audio engineer at a major Toronto recording studio. I’ve worked with Big Sugar, Wide Mouth Mason, Kardinal Offishall (w/ Saukrates and Solitair), Jane Sibbery, Universal Honey; and I’ve produced a song for Pilot Speed.
  2. Before that, I played guitar and wrote songs in a band. We had a production deal, but our singer decided he’d had enough.
  3. On weekends, I play bass and bouzouki in a Greek and Macedonian traditional dance band for weddings and dances.
  4. I’m allergic to chocolate. More specifically, I sneeze whenever eating dark chocolate, but not as much with milk chocolate.
  5. I still live with my parents.
  6. Both of my parents came from the same village in northern Greece, which was part of Macedonia. My last name was given to my dad by the Greek government, when the Greeks took over.
  7. I’ve taken the Mega-Memory home study course.


This madness must end.

iPhone apps – Fake Calls and Opera Mini

One of the things I love about product extendability is some of the great ideas people have. Today, I found out about a cool iPhone app called “Fake Calls“. The idea is this: You can make your iPhone simulate an incoming call. It’s great for socially awkward situations, like blind dates or bad party conversations, that you need to escape from. It works on a timer, and lets you customize the jailbreak iPhone 4 identity of the incoming caller.
It’s a free app until tomorrow.

Speaking of iPhone apps, it looks like Opera developed a version of Opera Mini for the iPhone and submitted it to the App Store. According to Opera Software CEO Jon Stephenson von Tetzchner, Apple blocked it due its competition with the built-in Safari browser. Shame on Apple. I hate monoplies. 🙁