Twitter versus Television

I happened to be off work yesterday, and found out about the Boston attacks on Twitter, and got all of my information about it from Twitter. I didn’t turn on a television, I didn’t turn on a radio, I didn’t even go to CNN.com or any other web site or RSS feed. Everything I heard came from Twitter status updates.

This morning, I started the NBC Nightly News audio podcast as I often do in the mornings. Of course, the Boston attacks led the news, thankfully bumping North Korea and whatever other random unimportant nonsense they usually talk about out of the spotlight.

Even over the opening theme music, you could hear people screaming in the background. There was a tagline “Terror in Boston” or something like that after the date. Brian said a few hyperbolic words. Then they proceeded to play what I assume was video of the explosions happening, but of course all I heard was a boom (repeated many times) followed by thousands of screaming people. It sounded exactly like that unnerving scene in Titanic after the ship sank and everyone was drowning in the water. I turned off the podcast before the first reporter got far into their story.

It was interesting to compare my reactions based on the way the news was delivered. My reaction to the news on Twitter was something like, “That’s awful, I hope everyone’s okay.” My reaction to the audio podcast was something like, “This is a disgusting exploitation of a tragedy that happened to occur on live video and I have no desire to support this.” I learned absolutely nothing new from the little bit of the podcast I heard. I got all of the information that was available from Twitter in a handful of 140-character tweets within an hour of the event: Two homemade bombs were set off at the finish-line of the Boston Marathon and there were a lot of casualties. As I write this, it’s noon on Tuesday, and I still don’t see much more than idle speculation in the regular media.

So I guess it’s true that Twitter is better at delivering relevant news in an efficient manner. And television news is so appallingly sensationalistic that it’s impossible to feel any connection to the news it reports.

Android Calendar Date Entry Sucks

calendarSo I was entering an event into my Android calendar, which reminded me of something about Android that really annoys me. In what world is it easy to enter a month and day using these stupid radial spin dials that you have to flick through?

It reminds me of every kitchen timer you see now. You only get “up” and “down” buttons to enter a time. You never see timers with a keypad anymore, because some bean counter won’t let their manufacturer put 10 buttons on a device when you can get away with 2.

Does that linear model really have to extend to the Android calendar too? It doesn’t cost anything extra to put a keypad with buttons labeled 0-9 on a screen! Imagine a world where you can enter a date into a calendar app by going *taptaptap* and done! instead of *flick* *flick* *flick* *flick* *flick* damn overshot it *flick* *flick* damn missed again *flick* damn didn’t register my flick *flick* okay month entered, now for the day…

North Korea Trollololol

Kim Jong-un, youngest son of North Korean leader Kim Jong-il,  listens to an official speaking during a parade in Pyongyang

This daily hubbub about North Korea is getting kind of ridiculous. Is there really nothing else to sensationalize in the world? No circus trials? No elections? Nothing?

News media seems to think that war from North Korea is inevitable, if one is to believe the continually-escalating scary reports we’ve been subjected to of the escalations happening there.

In this NBC News story they say, “North Korea’s standing military, according to the best U.S. and U.N. intelligence assessments, is the fourth largest in the world, at 1.1 million members.” I’m assuming this is supposed to scare us into thinking they could actually do some serious damage in an invasion. We’re to imagine wave after wave of men pouring over hills, screaming, shooting, blowing up everything in their path, perhaps like going “over the top” in a World War I charge.

I’m not a military expert, but I’m pretty sure wars aren’t fought that way any more. In fact I could easily imagine a U.S. commander looking at a field full of charging men with rifles and cackling gleefully about calling in airstrikes to wipe out the entire enemy army all in one afternoon.

I think nowadays the men in an army mostly serve to operate the vehicles and machinery of war. And given North Korea’s desperate poorness, I doubt they have much of that. If they do, it’s all old hardware, and we saw (twice) how Sadaam fared with old military hardware against a modern military.

Speaking of which, does anyone else remember similar statements about Iraq’s military before the Gulf War? I’d swear I remember we were told they had a frightening million-man army back then, too. Let’s just say it didn’t really work out for them.

On Feedly

This is another followup on my search for a news reader. I want to like Feedly. I really do. But I just can’t get a grip on this interface. It seems like something completely random happens whenever I hit buttons I think should do predictable things. It’s usually when I click on the > button, which I think is going to show me the next page of fresh items to read, after I have marked the current page as read. Sometimes it does that. Other times it takes me to one random feed from which it’s hard to get away. Other times it does nothing. Other times it goes to an empty front page with items on the side. There’s too much confusion! Up is white! Black is down!

Google+ No Good As A News Reader

This is a followup on my last post about news readers.

Google+ sucks as a news aggregator. It only shows you maybe one in ten stories from each news source. I don’t know if that’s a feature of Google+ itself or the fact that people don’t post much on Google+. But it’s like this: You’re following ABC, NBC, CBS, CNN, Fox, a dozen tech news sites, and then you go look at your Home feed after an hour, and there’s maybe one or two or three posts to look at. That’s messed up. There should be like a hundred posts from all those sites.

I’m looking at Netvibes right now. My initial hit is, “Wow, this is a neat idea, but slow and poorly implemented.” I like the idea of building a “front page” that has Twitter and RSS on the same screen. But the UX feels so … 5 years ago.

Maybe this is another case where I just need to build my own reader. Of course I don’t have the time to do that. Anyone want to write it for me? 🙂