I like Google and its services. Like is too little, I love them! Their mobile applications on the other hand—specifically those running under iOS—are horrible. The UIX is confusing and it does not follows Apple UIX design. Their choice of font is of poor taste and, again, does not match the rest of the OS. They lack of functionality and/or their functionality is limited by poor choices and, what is seems to be, a lack of common sense. I could describe and point out the problems on any of their applications, but this rant pertains to the Gmail application running under iOS.

The Gmail application is the only client the allows real time notifications of new emails, also known as Google Sync. Google used to allow that feature under iOS Mail.app, but they discontinued it on January 30, 2013 for nonpaying users (me). Such feature is the only reason to use Gmail.app. The only reason. Some of the Gmail.app flaws:

I have not encountered any bugs, but some people swear there are, and although their client on Android is slighter better, their UIX on their own mobile OS leaves lots to desire. Amazing that, even after they bought Sparrow1, they can’t come up with something better!

  1. Google bought Sparrow in 2012. Sparrow was an amazing email client for OS X and iOS, which used a simplified user interface similar of that of Twitter client.

The last of the rhinoceros

There hasn’t been an article like this for a while, that fills me with such feeling of sadness, and emptiness. For as long as I can remember, a cartoon I saw as a child started my attraction for rhinoceros. Such lovely animals!

And now, the one pictured above (CB2/ZOB/Brent Stirton/National Geographic) is the last of his kind. Who do we have to thank for that? Us. On a comment to the article, a poster under a “Gordo Granudo” pseudonym writes:

If you teach people that there are magical forces in the world, that general framework of belief will metastasize into the most repugnant superstitions imaginable.

When you believe in magic or lords or gods or wizards or spirits or spooks, then consequences of the natural world become decoupled from reality as anything can always be rationalized in some supernatural context: “… well, it must be god’s will after all …”

The fact we will all live to see the extinction of a creature as noble as this can be traced back to one, single failing in our collective human condition; superstitious ignorance. Don’t teach your children of Easter bunnies and tooth fairies. Teach them of the even more immensely magical world of giraffes and the things that can be seen in a microscope. Teach them not of the supernatural “magic” of miracles, but the real magic of science. Teach them of human history, not 2000 year old fairy tales. This rhino? This is the consequence laid most bare of the ugliest manifestation of human superstition. Perhaps it isn’t as profound as all the human suffering caused by wars, motivated by precisely the same intellectual failings, but it stands as the starkest possible reminder that we as a species have, within our power, the ability to manage our world, or destroy it through ignorance.

It could not have been said better.

When you get a control question, which is more general, envision the scariest thing you can in order to trigger physiological distress; the polygraph’s tubes around your chest measure breathing, the arm cuff monitors heart rate and electrodes attached to you fingertips detect perspiration. What is your greatest fear? Falling? Drowning? Being buried alive? “Picture that,” Williams says. — How to Beat a Polygraph Test, by Malia Wollan.

Short but interesting read. Reading so much from the NY Times lately, I am seriously considering a subscription.

Having lost many photos of certain sentimental value a few years ago has made me paranoid. Ever since I lost my child’s first four years of photographic memory I have kept copies of our family photos and videos in two different places. I keep a copy of photos and videos in our Synology NAS at home, which backup photos to Amazon S3 and videos to Glacier.

When Apple announced their iCloud plans, and the ability to keep my entire photo library on the cloud, I was one of the first to sign up. After the release of 10.10.3 I decided to try it again. What could be better than having every photo show on all my Apple devices? Little did I know I was about to embark in a wasting time journey. First struggle was importing my 80 GB photo archive into Photos.app, so it could be synchronized with iCloud. At the end of what it was a very long time, I was told that a little bit over 1,000 of my photos–out of 26,000+– could not be imported because the file format was not recognized. They were all JPEG. Since I had no way to just re-import those that failed, I decided to re-import all again, trusting that existing ones would either be overwritten or simply not imported, since they were already there. I was wrong.

Following the second import, which ended without failing, I realized many photos were repeated. Not once, but some had quadruple copies. The ultimate nightmare had happened. After having taking painstakingly care keeping my archives de-duplicated the worse was in sight. The 26,000+ photo archive became 29,000+. All of it on iCloud, and without a fix at hand.

Now, the above was not the only problem. Even if you choose to download an optimized version of your photos on your very small sized iDevices, when you have over 80 GB worth of photos on iCloud it will overflow them, which is precisely what happened to me next. My 16 GB iPhone 5S was left completely full, so were my iPads. There is no way to do a selective synchronization with iCloud, and there is no way to disable iCloud Photo Library on an iPhone in such way one can still upload my photos to iCloud (up), but not synchronize them all (down). At least, I could not figured that out–please if someone knows a way, correct me, and let me know.

I ended up canceling my 200 GB a month iCloud storage–which I was charged for– and deleting my entire iCloud Photo Library. Instead, I increased my Google storage quota. I still keep a copy on my NAS, which backs them up to S3 and Glacier, plus synchronizes them with Google Photos. Photos on Google Photos (part of Google Plus) will soon show up on Google Drive as well, which in turn I will be able to synchronize with my iMacs.

For the time being, I will not touch Apple iCloud for big data storage until they have proven to have reached maturity.