Category: technology |

Breaking Away from the Fan’s Approach to Technology

Tech Reviews

When it comes to hardware and software, I think there is a part in all of us that really loves the critic. This is especially true when the product being critiqued is one that we don’t like or don’t think we’ll like. After all, the critic just reinforces how smart we are. They become the voice of the child in the crowd pointing out how silly the emperor looks with no clothes and we can sit there and say, “I know! Isn’t that stupid. Can you believe those silly fans still buy that garbage?” We get to feel smug and superior, and that can be a hard feeling to let go.

Of course, it’s a very different feeling when something you actually like is being criticized. Then, the critic is just wrong. They “obviously” don’t understand the product or its inherent value to you. Those silly fools are in the pocket of whatever company is supposedly competing with your product and should be ashamed.

This is what happens on every tech page and review site that I read. It isn’t all that surprising, either. When you consider how important our technology has become …

More

Revisiting Notion

A while back, I posted a critique of Notion in which I took it to task for not having an easy method of export and usability. At the time, I said I loved what Notion did as a software platform, but I felt it didn’t really give a clear option of how to migrate away if something changed or the platform became unavailable. That is a big deal to me. I don’t want to be bound to any single platform or company, and I felt that using Notion would do that.

My wife, however, disagreed. I am married to a wonderful historian who spends a lot of time working with and using technology both for the work she does and for her day-to-day life and recreation. We are both fascinated by different hardware and software platforms and spend far too much time arguing about their different affordances and constraints. In these discusssions, she is (usually) the enthusiastic adopter, and I am the tech curmudgeon. This was absolutely the case when it came to Notion. She argued that the ease-of-use of the platform, its accessibility and availability, the collaborative features it provided, and the speed at which we could …

More

LaTeX in a Humanities World

Let’s talk about LaTeX for a second. WAIT! Come back! I know we’re going deep into techcomm nerdom for this one, but I think it’s worth talking about. I’ll try not to get too lost in the details, and I promise that this isn’t going to be me telling that the way you write is wrong. I like LaTeX, a lot, but our tools have to be able to adapt to fit our use cases. I’m not sure it does that. LaTeX presents certain challenges to what have become typical strategies for writing and editing documents. This is especially true when it comes to writing documents outside of traditional STEM disciplines. Which is, primarily, what I do.

LaTeX is, essentially, a open system of tools for typesetting and text formatting. It can be a powerful resource for writers and editors. While intimidating at first, once you get a feel for it and the sense of control you have over your page, it is hard to go back. I still remember compiling my first document and thrilling at how everything was exactly where I told it to be. Then I discovered that I was just …

More

Rethinking Social Media - Engage or Disengage?

I had a whole post ready to go talking about the attempted bombings by a domestic alt-right terrorist and the role social media played in his actions. That was before the nightmare in Pittsburgh. That was before another mass murderer, his violent bigotry honed through sick communities of hate whose work is actively published on these same social media platforms, stepped into a place of worship and killed innocent people.

So here I am, revising this post as I go, but the question to those of us who still use these sites remains: what do we do in the face of an ongoing tide of hatred on social media? Is it time for us to leave these platforms?

It might not be a big surprise that I don’t interact a lot on social media. Facebook barely exists for me. Except for specific work accounts, I almost never post on Facebook, and I rarely look at my personal messages or my wall. The posts that do go to my wall only go to me. If I do respond (mostly to birthday wishes) those responses are also not shared, and I quickly migrate offsite if the messages continue. I am not …

More

Updated (November 24, 2018) - When Good Software gets Trapped in the “Cloud.”

Updated Comments

Please see the above for my updated comments on Notion and my mea culpa as I missed a key part of their feature set which essentially resolves all of the concerns I outline below.

One of the challenges of living in an era where software applications and their associated files are rented instead of owned is that there are moments when I find something that I really love that is completely broken.

I really like what Notion does. As a project management tool, it is an amazing piece of software. On a very basic level, it is a simplified document and project management system, but that is really under-selling its capacity. The genius of the software is in its simplicity and accessibility. I can build a rapid version of project tracking database in less than 30 minutes, add a documentation space, connect it to a Slack channel for regular project updates, and be good to go. Courtney and I have been using it for our game design project. I am tracking my dissertation work and my job hunt via the site, and it has been quite useful. I have no complaints on the use of the software. There …

More

© Geoffrey Gimse. Built using Pelican. All photos are my own. Other images used on this site are in the Public Domain and available from Openclipart, or have been purchased for use via The Noun Project.