6 Practical applications of Jaiku

After the past week or so of using Jaiku(as opposed to Twitter), I have found the following uses for it, some highly personal, some more generally useful: (more…)

April 7, 2007 at 11:39 pm 2 comments

Twitter vs. Jaiku and the MySpace problem

Twitter is like standing in a room with all your friends in it, screaming out what you’re doing every now and then so everyone can hear it. Sometimes it’s useful, as in “Beer, anyone?” and sometimes it’s annoying, as in “I just fed my cat!”.

You can also hear your friends’ side of conversations they are having with other friends, which is like sitting beside someone while they talk on the phone. So in addition to the above, you get messages like “Wednesday is fine” with no context, or even “Beer, anyone?” not directed at you, but still landing in your SMS inbox.

This falls into a category my friend calls social noise. Like zoning out in a crowded restaurant, you hear lots of people talking, but without context it’s just buzz. You might as well be at home alone–it doesn’t make me feel connected, it makes me feel like I’m missing things all the time. Compound this with the fact that each above message represents an SMS to be deleted, and it quickly becomes a chore.

Twitter SMS messages all have the same level of importance, and they are relentless. You can’t tell from the beep in your pocket whether it’s your girlfriend asking you to pick up some milk before you come home(useful), or Joe telling some stranger he’ll be “there” soon(pointless). And the beeps just keep coming.

My text message inbox also serves as a loose to-do list, so general statements of la-la are somewhat unwelcome in bulk quantities. I like knowing what my friends are up to though. What next?

Enter Jaiku. Jaiku is developing passive presence. I only see what my friends are doing if I feel like it. And I don’t have to tell them what I’m doing all the time–my phone does that for me, automatically reporting my general location as I move around. My friends can go look at my “presence” in a kind of address book on my phone, but my status reports won’t be filling their inbox.

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April 1, 2007 at 9:11 pm Leave a comment

Web comics

Part Addams, part Far Side–I don’t tend to have the patience for web comics, but these are delicious, not only twisted funny, but satisfying to look at: The Perry Bible Fellowship

They’re drawn in an incredibly broad range of styles, it’s hard to believe it’s all the same guy. He’s threatening to publish a book soon too.

March 9, 2007 at 10:42 am Leave a comment

White tattoos

Update: Due to the lack of information and pictures on this subject, I created a group on Flickr where people can share their white tattoo pics. If you’ve got a white tattoo of your own, go add yours: http://www.flickr.com/groups/whiteinktattoos/

I think white tattoo ink is interesting. It’s a new color in a new medium, usually used for hilights, but I think for those who want a tattoo but don’t want to go the generic tribal/kanji route this offers new possibilities. Not much info about it out there, but here’s what I’ve found so far:

  • The good, safe kind is made of titanium oxide, which is harder than steel, which tends to wear out the tattoo needles it’s used with. This means there’s a possibility of the result not being entirely white, but slightly grayish.
  • Also, it goes UNDER your skin, so your own skin pigment will tint it somewhat. For “white” (pinkish) skin, it’s likely to go a bit cream-colored. A better bet is to place it where your skin is whitest already and doesn’t have much contact with the sun, like inside your forearm.
  • It’s hard to put on evenly over large areas.
  • People have said it looks like a scar or a brand when healed, albeit a potentially very intricate one. Sometimes it stays kind of raised (after more than one application) and sometimes it goes flat.
  • In photos at least it looks like it gives a “powdery” effect, like chalk paint on top of your skin.

All of the above are problems if you want something that screams “tattoo!”. But if you have been investigating tattoos in general, and just let the stuff be what it is, you might turn its weaknesses into strengths and come up with something truly unique. Here are the only examples I found, of which there are few and far between as of yet:

Sources I can identify: Friendster, ModBlog (NSFW).

Flower thing by Julie’s Tattoo Studio.

Snowflake by Timppa from Other Side Tattoo in Lahti, Finland.

January 5, 2007 at 10:43 am 12 comments

Women’s gadgets(not pink things)

After noting several posts on Gizmodo wondering about what gadgets will appeal to women, it occurred to me that there are, in fact, gadgets for women–but they might not be quite what you’d expect. Over the years, I’ve come across a group of products that women talk about among themselves and use, but aren’t advertised anywhere. So as a public service, I’m listing them here:

The menstrual cup: A bunch of companies sell this alternative to tampons. Among them: Keeper (natural rubber), Diva cup, Mooncup, and Lunette (silicone). (Plug: Lunette is made in Finland!) You only have to buy one at a time, and one will last you years. Aside from the financial benefit, this also means you don’t have to lug around a box of tampons everywhere you go, which can be annoying on camping trips in particular. I’ve even used one of these camping out in the African savannah among a bunch of men who definitely did not want to find pad and tampon residue around the campsite–it was weird enough for them to have a woman present to begin with. It works like this: You fold it up and stick it in like a tampon. It lasts about as long, sometimes longer. Every now and then you empty it–some bathrooms have sinks, and if they don’t, just wipe it clean with paper and off you go. If you can’t stand the idea of coming into contact with your own bodily fluids, however, this is not for you.

The P-Mate: By a Canadian company called Female Freedom, this lightly waxed recycled paper funnel allows women to pee standing up. Why would they want to? You’ve obviously never agonized with a full bladder in the woods, facing the prospect of either undoing fifteen layers of clothing and baring your ass to -25ÂșC , or presenting it as a all-you-can-eat buffet to clouds of eager bloodsuckers. Not to mention standing in the endless lines to the Port-a-Potty while men dash past to have a quick pee in the urinal around the back. So. If this is penis envy, so be it. The plastic version of this is sold by TravelMate.
UPDATE: I was reading a book called The Pirate Queen by Barbara Sjoholm(too personal-narrative for my taste, was hoping for more historical info) and randomly stumbled across a story about a Sami woman called Buks-Beret, who would go out fishing with the men, and had with her a “tissehornet” or hollowed out reindeer horn for peeing over the side of the boat on longer trips. So this is nothing new…

A TENS machine: Speaking of Technology Marching On, I can personally vouch for the use of a TENS machine during childbirth. It sends electrical pulses (which feel a lot like intense pins and needles) to your skin via electrodes stuck to your lower back during labor, which confuse the pain messages sent to your brain, which makes it easier to handle the pain overall.

Plus, if you get a model like the one I had, the Elle Tens, you get lots of buttons to fiddle with to regulate the kind of pulses it sends out, their rhythms and intensity, which for me at least gave an added sense of control, which helped immensely.

A friend of mine who knows a bit about neurology claims there is solid science to back up the claim that it works–I’d say that it could have been a placebo effect, something to have faith in and hang on to, but in the end that worked pretty damn well. And considering that if it doesn’t work, you can switch it off and immediately try something else with no ill effects, I’d say it’s a win-win deal. Other than the cost, of course. Available for rent and purchase from the UK here.

The Feeldoe: Designed for women, by a female engineer, although enterprising men may find uses for it as well. No harness needed if your PC muscles are strong enough. Happy sensation potential for both partners. This swiss army knife of dildoes comes in three sizes, with vibe and without, and has gotten rave reviews.

The Epi-No: Apparently this device helps you train for childbirth. In their words:

German medical innovation is reducing the risk of tearing and episiotomy (‘stitches’) in…women wanting a natural vaginal birth.

That sounds like a good idea to me, don’t know if it works or not, but it seems at the very least unlikely to do harm. I’ve had some friends sneer, Women have been birthing babies for millennia without anything like this.

Maybe so, although the epi-no is apparently based on an African custom of using gourds to gently stretch the perineum just before birth, and also I find the argument of “We’ve always managed without” to be rather silly: “Humans have lived for millennia without the internet/central heating/toilet paper, so there’s no need to use those things now.” There may not be a need, but these things certainly make life a bit more comfortable. Why should birth be any different? In fact, episiotomy itself is a rather new invention, and a rather unpleasant one at that, yet many women don’t give that a second thought.

Have been looking for horror stories related to this device, accusations of fraud, danger, etc, and have found none. I’ve found various references to it on midwives’ blogs and the like, though. At worst, people have said it doesn’t help/is a waste of money. At best, women have reported greater confidence going into childbirth and maybe an easier delivery. What can I say? Technology marches on. Available in the UK here.

If you know of products you think should be added to this list, let me know, I’ll add them to the post.

January 5, 2007 at 9:39 am 2 comments

The Bible Digest

I’ve been reading David Plotz’ Blogging the Bible series on Slate. He’s a Jewish guy reading the Bible from cover to cover for the first time, writing down his own synopsis with comments, analysis, and personal associations. Fascinating stuff, and lots of details that I missed when I was a kid reading the kiddie versions. For example, those of us who grew up explicitly Christian or Jewish (or watched Charleton Heston in the Ten Commandments) all learned that Pharaoh gets punished with plagues and deaths of all firstborns in Egypt, etc, for refusing to let the Israelites go. What I didn’t know was this:

(more…)

November 19, 2006 at 1:00 pm 8 comments

Linguistic contexts

My English vocabulary is melting away. The more Finnish I speak, the more clunky I can hear my English becoming–partially because I have learned to dumb it down in order to have clearer conversations with non-English speakers, and partially because my brain is replacing language associations with different environments with new ones. I was in a meeting yesterday and got all confused as my associations clashed–it was a meeting(like the Finnish business meetings I’ve been having), but it was a student-activist group atmosphere(English academia). So what came out of my mouth was a stuttering mix of half Finnish, half English, as I “vuorotellen” (see?!? I know there’s an English word there) forgot first the right words in one language, then the right words in the next. Also it’s been a slight survival strategy here to switch into English when I talk to people in official settings so they don’t think I’m “simple”, since my Finnish is basically accentless now but my eloquence is distinctly lacking.

I learned three languages simultaneously as a kid. I must have kept them separate by relating them to distinctly separate contexts–now as an adult I’m going to have to be a bit mindful of that, since living with Emma means I’ve been able to get lazy and switch languages whenever the other language seems to have a better word. Tsk tsk.

But what’s more important, being able to communicate in a beautifully specific way with a small group of people, or being able to communicate in a general, understandable way with everyone else? I mean, if you could only choose one?

November 18, 2006 at 8:45 am 4 comments

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