I think Facebook may have a big bug on their hands. I just Liked the Obama computer video on Gawker. It's showing up in my stream. But it is also showing up as Liked by my wife who is on the same router. She never clicked Like on it.
Amazon.com, Inc. (NASDAQ:AMZN) today announced the launch of Amazon Cloud Drive (www.amazon.com/clouddrive), Amazon Cloud Player for Web (www.amazon.com/cloudplayer) and Amazon Cloud Player for Android (www.amazon.com/cloudplayerandroid). Together, these services enable customers to securely store music in the cloudand play it on any Android phone, Android tablet, Mac or PC, wherever they are
Wherever they are…….in the United States.
The Cloud Drive is available to everyone (5GB free storage, nice) because the AWS guys understand this stuff. The Cloud Player is of course, not.
I got very confused on Friday when our old App which displays reviews on a Facebook Page Tab just disappeared from all the Pages it is on. Then I realised that most of those Pages were only showing the default Facebook Tabs. Where the hell did all the others go? I assumed the old tab needed an upgrade but wasn’t bothered as our new tab was ready.
Today I was deploying our new Tab and ran into exactly the same problem. Then I remembered seeing a new field when setting the app up called “Secure Canvas URL”. And suddenly the reason dawned on me.
I had turned on https as my default access method for Facebook earlier in the week. It helps avoid a lot of the security issues people have run into. But if you do that, then every app you interact with on Facebook now has to be accessible via https too!
So if you have an App and you haven’t turned on https access, do so now, or watch your usage stats fall off a cliff over the coming months.
And if you are a user wondering where the hell your favourite apps have disappeared to, now you know.
Off to GoDaddy I go to get another cert.
I’m a massive fan of Zoho CRM. Inexpensive but jamemd full of features. I’ve barely scratched the surface of it. Its Goog Apps integration is the best I’ve seen. Full two-way integration with GMail.
I was looking at it today to see if it had Helpdesk functionality and found that it did. But Zoho also has a separate app called Creator Helpdek so I needed to figure out which one to use.
I started doing the Helpdesk->Google Apps integration steps and got stuck. It just sits there saying “Installing Zoho Creator Helpdesk”. But as I followed the steps I noticed a message in the Google Apps Dashboard saying that CRM wanted a bunch of new permissions. I accepted the request but wasn’t sure if it would give any new functionality.
Then I saw this:
Then I clicked on the Go button:
That’s just effing brilliant! These guys are on a roll.
I first heard about Vibram FiveFingers “shoes” via a blogpost by Robin Blandford a few years back. They seemed to be for climbers, trekkers etc and apart from being amused by the crazy individual toe-pockets, I didn’t think much about them after that.
Two years ago I busted the crap out of my ankle when walking out of ireland.com in Phibsboro. I didn’t notice that the footpath was about an inch lower than their car-park and went completely over on my ankle, hard. Worst pain I think I’ve ever had, I nearly fainted. Big swollen lump for days. Then, less than a month later, I did it again, just as bad. Thus followed months of total instability with lots of close calls on the ankle going over again.
I finally copped on and went to a physio. She confirmed that I’d ripped the hell out of everything connected to my ankle and that I needed a lot of work on it to stop it being a life-long problem. The instability and nervousness was caused by damaged proprioception – basically my foot wasn’t telling my brain where it was! I did months of exercises including the rubber band thing and the wobble board and bit-by-bit it improved and the dodgy moments on broken footpaths etc became fewer and fewer.
Then in Jan 2010 I started running. OK, 6kph isn’t technically running but it’s better than sitting on my ass. I slowly built up speed and time on the treadmill and did my first 10k in Courtmacsherry in June. It nearly killed me. I followed this with the Dingle Half-Marathon and then the Galway Bay Half-Marathon. I found the Galway one in particular to be very difficult.
All through this I had a big problem. I could run reasonably easily on grass in a local driving range but I had huge difficulty running on the treadmill. The ankle would start hurting, then the muscles in the side of my foot and then my shin muscles would seize. The shin problem was excruciating. I ended up in the ridiculous situation of slathering my entire lower leg and foot in Voltarol before every treadmill run. I did the same in the half-marathons just in case.
I’m pretty sure the Voltarol was partially placebo-related. It stopped the initial pain so I didn’t start reflexively tensing the shin muscles and was able to do the run. But it was a ridiculous scheme.
Then a few months back I started the whole standing desk thing. I now do it most days and love it. After trying a few different foot configurations, I discovered that I was most comfortable in socks standing on a thick foam mat. It works far better than runners, shoes, crocs etc.
So I started reading up and learned all about the barefoot running movement. In summary, it’s a reaction to the past 40 years of Nike/Reebok/Asics with their giant thick soles, ever more complex structures and the unnatural heel-strike mode of running. The latter bit it the most important. For hundreds of thousands of years we have run with the fore/mid part of the foot landing first. And we were fine. Now everyone is slamming down on their heels with all the related impacts working up through your leg. The Nikes of this world then try to use technology to soften the impact that they have created rather than letting the brilliant evolution of the foot do what it is supposed to do.
Short pause so you can say “yeah yeah yeah, goddammed hippies”.
One of the big arguments in favour of Nikes etc is around orthotics. It appears that all of us are so messed up; we all need massive arch supports in our runners so we can even get out of bed in the morning. I’m one of those who were diagnosed with fallen arches many years ago. For a while I did the picking up pencils with my toes silliness. I never did anything about it after that.
I was interested to see that after a few weeks with the barefoot standing, the pains in the ankle/foot had disappeared compared to the same amount of standing with runners.
If you aren’t familiar with VFFs they take that idea of barefoot running and add just enough protection so you don’t get cut/hurt or slip. They have a wide range of them but they all have individual toe pockets and are only a few mm thick. Some are completely open at the top and are more for walking. Some are closed over for running etc. They have different sole textures too, based on the relevant activity.
I didn’t want to commit to spending money on the VFFs unless I was sure they would help my problem. So I decided to try running in socks on the treadmill. I did it three times. And it was amazing! The shin seizures did not appear once! Of course I burned the hell out of the soles of my feet but it was worth it in the name of science.
Three weeks ago I decided to get the VFFs on a trip to London. I went to Sportec near Liverpool Street. They had a good selection but the youngfella did not inspire confidence on the sizing, which is different from standard shoe sizing. The Bikila, which is the general running model I wanted, also seemed expensive at £125.
So the following week I went into John Buckley Sports in Cork to get a pair. They only had the Bikila and the KSO, one colour each, surrounded by a massive selection of ASICs etc. Confidence was much higher as they took out the Vibram measuring tool. The VFFs are a bollix to get on initially as you have to wiggle each toe in one by one. They also feel incredibly weird on your toes. But I was definite I wanted to buy and was thrilled to see that they were much cheaper than the UK. With the repeat-customer discount that John Buckley gives (great business!), they were only €107.
I did have an interesting chat with the guy there. He admitted the VFFs are a challenge for traditional running shops like themselves. Their entire industry is based on Nike-style shoes with orthotics and gait analysis etc. To also be selling something which is 4mm thick at its thickest and provides zero support is odd for them.
Whew, that was some lead-up to the big question – did they work?
Yes, yes, yes, yes, yes, yes, yes, yes, yes, yes, yes, yes, yes, yes, yes, yes, yes!
Over the past two weeks I have run in them 7 times on the treadmill, racking up a thoroughly unimpressive 31km. But the result for my legs has been astounding. All of the shin seizing is gone, the ankle is fine and the pains in the foot aren’t there either. I have beaten my own average speed record on the treadmill three times since I started with the VFFs.
That’s not to say I am pain free. The VFFs force you to use different tendons and muscles. I can definitely feel tightness in my calves and other parts of my legs (both legs) but, as you’d expect, that is fading with practice. Also, my toes still find them weird.
I liked wearing them during the day too but I’ll just have to get another pair since they already stink to the high heaven from the running.
Some of the responses I’ve had to them have been interesting:
Síofra, aged 4 – “They’re weird”
Síofra, aged 4, the following day – “They’re still weird Dad. And you’re weird.”
Sibéal, aged 7 – “Hah, I can see your piggies. They are your piggie shoes.”
Sibéal aged 7, the following day – “Phew Dad, I thought you were going to wear your piggie shoes to Oscar’s Confirmation”
Brother-in-law, hard-core runner – “Nice, they should go very well with your Halloween skeleton costume.”
I was very tempted to wear them to a meeting recently but my self-confidence let me down
An open question is whether this is all placebo. I desperately want them to sort out my shin problem so they do. TBH, I don’t give a crap. If the sugar-pill works, then it works.
The big challenge is to see how I do on the road. The only road running I have ever done is those three races. I don’t think it would be prudent to do the Bandon Half-Marathon without going out at least once beforehand to see if I can handle the impact. I’m not exactly feather-light at the minute so that’s a lot of weight landing on an unsupported foot on asphalt. I’ll report back when I do.
There you have it. As promised, the essay on VFFs. I’m an absolute convert. Let’s just hope they aren’t ruined by hipsters looking for the next cool thing. I’d love if they were embraced by the hip-replacement-sters instead.
Note,these guys list all the stockists in Ireland.
I’ve written about the HDVP-2 before. It’s a lovely compact powerful media player. It handles most video formats (unlike Apple TV and many phones which only handle MP4), is small, has HDMI-out and Composite out, plays 1080p, takes an internal HDD, has ethernet, USB, optional wifi and a remote.
Overall it’s been a great purchase except for a few things. First, it doesn’t spin-down the internal HDD so you have to unplug when not using. Second, it has big AV sync issues with many AVIs and no ability to manually tweak whilst playing (unlike XBMC, Boxee etc). Third, the firmware updates are rare and finally, they seem to have stopped selling them!
I see plenty of media players on sale even in local stores. Heck even Aldi are selling one this week. One big problem is that you generally have no idea of their capabilities, particularly when it comes to handling a wide range of formats. Many of them can only handle SD content too. Very few of them can stream wirelessly from your PC. Strangely the Aldi box has ethernet but not Wifi.
I saw a mention on HDVP forums of a Patriot player and I did a search for it. I think it may make a very good alternative. It has all of the features I just listed for the HDVP-2. It only seems to be missing component video out which I never used anyway. The big advantage is that it is being sold by a large company and it is OEMed by several others so it should be supported for a long time to come.
I read a good review of it here. The other useful thing is that they sell it on Amazon UK so it may even be deliverable to Ireland for free.
My sis in law was looking for a media player recently. I told her the Boxee Box is by far the best. But it may be a stretch at the current price. This Patriot may be enough for her.
There is still life left in the old dog yet. Sure it plods along pretty slowly but to be able to run the absolute latest version of Android on the oldest device is fun.