Had to happen eventually…

I’ve read about many other Automatticians and some troubles with our custom WordPress headphones breaking, and while I was a careful as one could be, I guess it’s finally my time to join the ranks. I really loved these headphones.

Thinking an epoxy might be able to fix them, but given where the headset plastic snapped, I’m not really optomistic..


To block, or not to block – that is the question

Ad blockers are nothing new to most desktops, almost every modern browser that I’m aware of has some sort of option, plugin or extension that allows us to block advertisements while surfing the web.

An interesting topic (debate?) has emerged in the news and social media now that iOS 9 has dropped, which is the newly added feature Apple has included in mobile Safari to allow for third-party applications to filter and remove advertisements.

So what’s at stake?

For the consumer

On the plus side, you save in bandwidth, but how much is really up for debate. I have no idea, nor any way to measure, how much of my browsing is advertising versus content.  From home,  ads are blocked so it’s not a big deal.

For the website owner

It’s a negative, right? Many sites offer premium content at no charge, relying on advertising clickthroughs or page impressions to cover operational costs. I did this for a long while on a privately hosted blog to offset the costs to run the server, and the bandwidth.

This probably hurts small sites more than more than larger sites such as news publications that also bring in revenue from print and television commercials.

Conclusions and thoughts

I really hadn’t thought much about this until I started seeing discussions online. On one hand, advertisements can be extremely anoying. On the other hand, if I’m visiting a site and enjoying the content without having to pay a penny, are they so bad? As long as the advertisement doesn’t jump up full screen or start to auto-play some garbage, I think I can deal with them in support of the site.

Bottom line? With bandwidth not being an issue (and a seemingly implausable excuse) I don’t think I’ll be blocking ads on my mobile devices. I may not click on the ads, unless on accident, but maybe the pageviews alone can help.


Wired: Please don’t block our ads
NRP: With Ad Blocking Use On The Rise, What Happens To Publishers?

Actor Ian McKellen (Gandalf) on NPR’s Fresh Air

But he’s been acting in film, theater and television for more than 50 years and is so highly regarded in England that he was knighted in 1991. Among his other films are “Scandal,” “Six Degrees Of Seperation,” “Richard The Third,” “Gods And Monsters” and three “X-Men” films. McKellen, who came out in 1988, has been a prominent gay rights activist in the U.K. and was co-grand marshal of this year’s Gay Pride march in New York.

Probably best known for his role as Galdalf in Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit movie franchises, Ian McKellen gave a pretty fascinating interview on NPR today. At 76 years of age and half a century in the entertainment business, he’s led quite an interesting life. Really enjoyed listening to this, I learned a lot.

A little town where wireless really means less

Ever hear of a small town called Green Bank, West Virginia? Until tonight, I hadn’t either. It’s a relatively small community of around 140 people as of the 2010 census and is about four hours from Washington, D.C. 

What makes this town interesting is that it’s localed in the middle of the National Radio Quiet Zone, a 13,000 square mile exclusion zone where all forms of wireless radios and transmitters are illegal to use. This includes wifi, Bluetooth, cellphones, AM/FM and pretty much anything that transmits (with very few exceptions). 

The reason? Because it’s home to the Robert C. Byrd Green Bank Telescope, the worlds largest steerable radio telescope. The ground stations are described as “so sensitive that it can pick up the energy equivalent to a single snowflake hitting the ground“. That’s pretty amazing if you ask me. 

The radio morrotorium has also attracted new residents, those who suffer from a condition called electromagnetic hypersensitivity, which is basically folks who are sensitive to electromagnetic fields. 

The Washingtonian wrote a great story about the history of the area, the people and dynamics in that region if you’re interested in reading more. Time well spent. 

Print isn’t dead yet

If the book is dead, nobody bothered to tell the folks at Capitol Hill Books in Washington, D.C. Books of every size, shape and genre occupy each square inch of the converted row house — including the bathroom — all arranged in an order discernible only to the mind of Jim Toole, the store’s endearingly grouchy owner.

He has banned several words from his store, including “awesome,” “perfect” and “Amazon.”

Nice writeup by NPR about a brick and mortar bookstore surviving in the digital age, where you can read on virtually any device, anytime, anywhere.

While I am a digital convert and take my Kindle just about everywhere, much of this article resonates with me, the feel of pages turning, the smell when you crack open a fresh copy or rereading an old classic. There really is something special about holding a real book in your hand.

KeyBiner Kickstarter project

This is a pretty neat idea for keeping track of all your keys, and keeping them out of your pocket. In the past I’ve used a carabiner, but keys are noisy and swing back and forth when walking, which is slightly annoying. According to their description, noise shouldn’t be an issue:

The biggest change was the addition of a unique key retention system, that allows you to keep your keys neatly organized and quiet.


They also have this to say:

We have also added several tools to aid you in your daily chores.

Now I’m not sure if they’re referring to the bottle opener or prybar, but I suppose if you’re an alcoholic cat burglar, this would be an indispensable tool. Oh, and no noisy getaway car keys clanging around while you’re cleaning a joint out. 🙂

Six days to go on the Kickstarter page, going to go ahead and back this project. Looks promising.