Well-crafted website hints

I remember the AJAX evolution and the RIA craze pretty fondly myself:

A JavaScript API called XMLHttpRequest came along, originally only supported in a handful of browsers. This let a web page make a request to another URL and do something with the data — quite a revolutionary concept at the time.

XMLHttpRequest didn’t get a lot of adoption until the idea got a better name: Ajax.Jesse James Garrett’s famous blog post was successful because it (1) let people know that this technique existed and (2) gave it a much easier-to-pronounce name.

Source: The history of ‘this website is well-crafted’ hints | Holovaty.com

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Power efficiency of AlphaGo’s victory

So another decade maybe before it achieves power parity?

Lee Sedol used about 20 Watts of power to operate. By contrast, AlphaGo runs on a whopping 1920 CPUs and another 280 GPUs for an estimated power consumption of approximately 1 MW (200 W per CPU and 200 W per GPU). That’s 50,000 times as much power as the amount of power that Lee Sedol’s brain uses and the two are not quite evenly matched but it is close enough to use for comparison.

Source: Another Way Of Looking At Lee Sedol vs AlphaGo · Jacques Mattheij

Updating iOS on an ancient iPad 2 from 4.3

Recently faced an issue when trying to update an old iPad 2 from its original 4.3 OS. Back in those days even OTAs were not supported and iTunes was the only way to update. Since Apple has switched off validation for iOS versions older than 9, the iPad was going into an “Error 9” unusable state and there seems to be a lot of frustrated users out there who seem to be trying to update to iOS 9 from 4.X.X and failing to do so.

Some Googling turned up a suggestion to update to the beta version of iOS 9, and voila it worked. Unfortunately, you most likely need a developer account to actually download the iOS 9.3 beta file as the public beta is unlikely to work with iOS 4.3. Nonetheless, if you manage to get hold of the iOS 9.X beta version then definitely give it a shot.

My iPhone Home Screen for 2015

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It’s the start of a new year and it’s time to review the apps on my iPhone home screen, an exercise I started last year. Many of the apps remain the same, while a few make it back into the home screen while a couple of others for replaced due to apps getting discontinued. Here goes a brief summary of the apps starting from the top:

  • The first 6 apps remain the same as last year which are the Apple defaults.
  • Todoist: The cross platform support including desktop apps and the convenient IFTTT channel made me pick Todoist as my preferred to do manager. This slot was occupied by the location based reminder Checkmark 2 last year, but I more or less gave up on the concept due to its relative unreliability with reminders not getting triggered in the right locations.
  • Alarmed: It retains its spot as my preferred reminder and timer management app. I had briefly switched to 2Do but that turned out to be a bit of an overkill and not as easy to use for me. Moreover Alarmed finally got an update for iOS 8 notification actions towards the middle of the year to get on with the times.
  • Messages & Whatsapp: The messaging apps remain the same and with more people in office getting iPhones Messages is getting a good workout. Whatsapp also got an update for iOS notification replies and other tweaks over the year to become more convenient to use.
  • Inbox: Dropbox dropped a bomb towards the end of the year with its discontinuation of Mailbox and I promptly made the switch to Google’s own Inbox which seems to be the way forward for Gmail and has many of my regularly used features of Mailbox like swipe based actions.
  • OneNote: This is my preferred note taking app thanks to its cross platform support and I’ve been using it even more thanks to the IFTTT integration that allows me to create stubs based on triggers from other services. E.g. I have my Office365 meetings from the calendar create stubs to record meeting notes.
  • Google Maps, Uber & Ola: The must have travel related services for me. Google Maps continues to be an excellent source to monitor traffic conditions and the locations in India are a lot more up to date than Apple Maps. You can also download maps for offline use now, but that’s going to be difficult on a 16 GB phone like mine. I’ve also done my bit by editing a few places where I found inaccuracies. For the taxi services, Uber joins Ola as my go to services and I’ve been using these 2 services almost exclusively for the last 6 months for my day to day travels instead of the local kaali peeli taxis in Mumbai ever since the strikes started in June.
  • Day One: I’ve managed to continue my journal habits though I’ve toned down the mundane stuff. Not much to add over last year.
  • Safari: It replaces Chrome as my preferred browser on the iPhone due to its support for ad blockers introduced in iOS 9 (I’ve retained the copy of the discontinued Peace). Since I use a MacBook at work, the handoff and continuity features give me the cross platform browsing support I need.
  • Streaks: I’ve been using this app to maintain some habits like hitting step targets, reading a book daily, going to bed in time, leaving office in time etc.
  • Hours: A simple time tracking app for different projects. Had a bit of a buyer’s remorse when the app got a big price cut right after I bought it and then went free within a month. It’s a bit buggy as well. Still, a useful app to have to track my time distribution at work.
  • Left to Spend: A simple app to track a daily budget manually. In my case I use it to track the office food court prepaid card balance.
  • Phone: For voice calls, duh!
  • Outlook: My preferred email client for work and the new avatar of Accompli that Microsoft acquired to create the mobile Outlook app. This retains the best of Accompli’s features like the integrated calendar view and provides better support for other services.
  • Moneybook: I continue to track my expenses manually on this app. I tried a few other options briefly including switching to the Android based Mi 4 with its automated expense trackers, but end up returning to this every time thanks to the simple interface and the ability to perform simple arithmetic operations during entries. This would be the perfect expense tracker for me if only it had a search feature.
  • Camera: Tried a few replacements, but stuck to this as the default.

A few of the home screen apps from last year like Camera+, Shazam and Wikipanion have moved on to the second screen while I removed Paper and Argus due to the limited developments. I also deliberately moved away the social network apps to the second screen to reduce the time spent on them (not very successful yet). Overall, not a big change in the type of apps though I see a few apps moving around over the next year. Also looking forward to the new entries this year.