Category Archives: Everything Else

Dropbox for Apps, Box for Everything Else

One problem I have with cloud storage apps is that they are by-and-large the same core service repackaged with different branding. If there’s an actual behind-the-scenes difference in how Box vs. Dropbox vs. Skydrive works, it hasn’t been effectively communicated to consumers.

That leaves consumers to select on two criteria: price, and ancillary features such as app integration. Dropbox is the dominant player on the latter. Most apps for mobile devices that use cloud storage will use Dropbox (Byword and Drafts, for example.) But Dropbox is among the pricier cloud storage services: once you max out the various free storage add-ons, Dropbox jumps to $99 a year. Granted, some people will never hit the free minimum, but if you store your entire digital life in the cloud because of the redundancy, those photos add up quick.

Box, on the other hand, does not have the same kind of integration, but the current deal for 50 Gigs of free space to users of its iPhone and iPad devices make it currently hard to beat. Even once the deal expires, Box offers 10 gigs of space, somewhat higher than Dropbox.

I’m wondering if we will see at some point an app or service that merely does directory listing and searching for the various cloud storage services: a meta-cloud storage app that looks for files in your Box, Dropbox, Bitcasa, Skydrive storage lockers. If it exists, a quick Google search didn’t find it. Until then, my plan is to use Dropbox for apps and Box for everything else.

Irish gentleman attempts to drink a 1-gallon Shamrock Shake

I haven’t finished the article, but I have a feeling that this will not end well.

For St. Patrick’s Day this year, I was trying to drink one gallon of McDonald’s Shamrock Shakes. Yes, one gallon. 128 fluid ounces. In one sitting. Why? Well, besides the obvious wiseass retort of “Why not?”(usually good enough for me) there’s also the burning urge to refute the stereotype that we Irish are all about alcohol. I’m here to prove once and for all that we can binge drink anything, not just booze.

Happy St. Patrick’s Day everyone!

Irish gentleman attempts to drink a 1-gallon Shamrock Shake:

(Via Boing Boing)

Resurrecting the Blog: Part 2

Obviously, I’m not starting out so hot. I’ve yet to post to the blog this week. But, fear not, I’m still here, and I know I’ll sometimes fall off my goal. Nothing to do but just get back up and try again.

At any rate, I know one of my problems is knowing what exactly to blog about. As you can see on the left, the scope is fairly generic. I want to move away from blogging about my life and more towards blogging towards a specific topic. I don’t watch enough TV or see enough movies (shocking!) to blog about them.

But what I do want to post about more is the interesting tidbits and knowledge that I come across in my life: sometimes this will take the form of trivia, other times it will be new vocabulary words, or a surprising statistic. Occasionally, it will be a how-to or fact related to computer engineering, which is not just a hobby, but my current job.

Since philonoist means “a lover of learning”, this fits with the theme of the blog as I originally planned it out. I might, and I mean might start up another wordpress installation with more personal stuff, but that’s very doubtful, as I don’t post that much and I’ve tried it before and it doesn’t work.

Let’s see where this goes…

OpenTable Appetite Stimulus Plan



In addition to supplying free restaurant reservations (somehow if you earn enough “points” you can get a dining certificate), OpenTable.com is sponsoring a mini Restaurant Week, cutely named the Appetite Stimulus Plan. Running through the rest of the week, it’s a pretty nice way if you’re near a major city to eat at one of those fancy restaurants. Many are open for an even cheaper lunch as well. If you’ve never done one of these before, one caveat: you won’t get to order off the main menu, but a limited selection list.

Link for the restaurants in Boston, check the website for other cities. Not really Olin-related, but there might be some old Planet Olin lurkers who will want to take advantage.

The creepy side of science

Remind me never to be a test subject of Dr. David Pritchard. The good doctor, an immunologist-biologist at the University of Nottingham, is researching whether or not hookworm parasites in the human bloodstream can be beneficial. By lowering the body’s immune response mechanisms (thus making the hookworms’ new home a little more hospitable), the parasites can reduce the effects of autoimmune conditions such as seasonal allergies, hay fever, and asthma.

While Pritchard’s ultimate goal is to understand the processes the worms use to “turn down” the immune-system, I think I’ll stick with my rescue inhaler and wait for those same processes to be in pill-form. Without creepy-crawlies involved.

Of course, this kind of science toes the ethical line (introducing known harmful agents into the human body), so in Barry Marshall fashion, Pritchard started with the nearest subject he could find: himself.

In 2004, David Pritchard applied a dressing to his arm that was crawling with pin-size hookworm larvae, like maggots on the surface of meat. He left the wrap on for several days to make sure that the squirming freeloaders would infiltrate his system. [From Scientist at Work - David Pritchard - Scientist Studies Whether Hookworms Can Protect Against Allergies - NYTimes.com]

Yikes.

Bases Loaded

Like many a New Englander, I usually get my iced coffee from Dunkin Donuts. I know, I know, it’s a a chain, and I agree it’s not the best (which, by the way, is at Sarah’s Market at Huron+Concord in Cambridge.) My commute takes me by a Brugger’s Bagels, Au Bon Pain, and Dunkin Donuts, so of the three, DD wins, ok? Don’t judge.

Anyway, it appears Dunkin Donuts is running a new contest later this month. Standard instant-win stuff, get a code from any participating retailer on any applicable iced drink, go to the website, type it in, ???, PROFIT! I know this only because my iced coffee had just such a code today.

Couple of things:

1) The film and paper holding the code to the cup is pretty abysmal. It holds water (you know, like the condensation from the iced coffee?) so the paper coupon meant to make me feel like a winner does no such thing.

2) Since it was new and shiny, it was on my mind when I got to work this morning, so I went to the website. Pretty slick business, with a nice job of having a “wait for it” screen up and going.

3) Since I was here, it’d be nice to know what I’m playing for. The official rules are more than happy to help me out.Every entrant gets entered into two pool prizes: one nationwide, and one based on your zip-code. As is obvious from the screen above and the title of the contest, the regional pools roughly correspond to major market baseball teams: Baltimore, the New York Yankees, the New York Mets, New England (BoSox), Philly, Chicago (no distinction), and Tampa Bay.

But here’s the kicker. Despite it being a baseball-themed contest, despite being sponsored by MLB 2K8, despite Boston being both home of the hottest team in the American League and the holy land of Dunkin Donuts (like pharmacies in Florida, on every corner), the New England regional grand prize? Four (4) tickets to Six Flags New England. Talk about a bait-and-switch and destroying your official donut shop of the Boston Red Sox goodwill.

That’s bad enough, right? Guess what the prizes for the Baltimore, NY Yankees, and Tampa Bay regional pools are? Yup. Tickets to a game. Suite tickets to a game. Suite tickets to a Baltimore, NY Yankees, or Tampa Bay game (respectively) IN BOSTON. With airfare and hotel accommodations included.

To sum up: if you’re a lifelong Bostoner and grew up bringing Munchkins in for your birthday at school, you get a chance to win a trip to drive your ass out to Agawam and ride Superman: Man of Steel. If you live in a different state with a different zip code, you get to win a chance to see your local team play in one of America’s great ballparks (in a suite!), with roundtrip air and hotel.

Here’s the section of the official rules, copied:

National Prize Pool Prizes (850): FIFTY (50) GRAND PRIZES: Sharp AQUOS® 46″ LCD HD TV. Approximate Retail Value (“ARV”): $1,799 each. ONE HUNDRED (100) FIRST PRIZES: Microsoft Xbox 360® Video Game System and the Xbox game title: Major League Baseball 2K8. ARV: $410 each. ONE HUNDRED (100) SECOND PRIZES: Digital camera (brand, model, and make determined by Sponsor in its sole discretion). ARV: $200 each. SIX HUNDRED (600) THIRD PRIZES: Major League Baseball 2K8 video game. ARV: $30-$60 each.

Baltimore Prize Pool Prizes (52): TWELVE (12) GRAND PRIZES: Two (2) suite tickets to a game in Boston to watch the home team on the road, air transportation and hotel (airline, hotel, game date and seating determined by Sponsor in its sole discretion). ARV: $2,326 each. The actual value may vary based on airfare fluctuations and distance between departure and destination. FORTY (40) FIRST PRIZES: MLB.com gift card. ARV: $200 each.

Chicago Prize Pool Prizes (25): TWENTY-FIVE (25) GRAND PRIZES: MLB.com gift card. ARV: $200 each.

New York Yankees® Prize Pool Prizes (49): FOUR (4) GRAND PRIZES: Two (2) suite tickets to a New York Yankees® away game in Boston, air transportation and hotel (airline, hotel, game date and seating determined by Sponsor in its sole discretion). ARV: $2,326 each. The actual value may vary based on airfare fluctuations and distance between departure and destination. FORTY-FIVE (45) FIRST PRIZES: Two (2) tickets to a New York Yankees® game (game date and seating determined by Sponsor in its sole discretion). ARV: $60-$187 each.

New York Mets® Prize Pool Prizes (45): FORTY-FIVE (45) GRAND PRIZES: Two (2) tickets to a New York Mets® game (game date and seating determined by Sponsor in its sole discretion). ARV: $140-$236 each.

Philadelphia Prize Pool Prizes (25): TWENTY-FIVE (25) GRAND PRIZES: MLB.com gift card. ARV: $200 each.

Tampa Bay Prize Pool Prizes (50): EIGHT (8) GRAND PRIZES: Two (2) suite tickets to a Tampa Bay Rays® away game in Boston, air transportation and hotel (airline, hotel, game date and seating determined by Sponsor in its sole discretion). ARV: $2,326 each. The actual value may vary based on airfare fluctuations and distance between departure and destination. FORTY-TWO (42) FIRST PRIZES: Two (2) tickets to a Tampa Bay Rays® game (game date and seating determined by Sponsor in its sole discretion). ARV: $42–$44 each.

New England Prize Pool Prizes (100): ONE HUNDRED (100) GRAND PRIZES: Four (4) tickets to Six Flags New England Amusement Park (valid during the 2008 season only; terms and conditions apply.) ARV: $200 each.”

Injustice, thy name is Dunkin Donuts. I don’t think I’ll be buying coffee from you anytime soon.

Oh dang.

Lost pet Anaconda, Beacon Hill Area-reward $1000
Reply to: craigslist.org
Date: 2008-02-10, 1:08PM EST


We are located on Myrtle st, on Beacon Hill area. This morning around 10am, we found out that our pet snake ran away from his cage. We believe that he can’t be too far away. Please, please, please….Anybody that can offer any help is urged to contact us, or the Animal Control. We offer $1000 reward. Do not approach the snake, or try to make any contact. It is not people friendly and his reactions can be unpredictable.



* Location: boston
* it’s NOT ok to contact this poster with services or other commercial interests

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Planet Oliners, you may have noticed…

That embedded YouTube videos don’t appear in Planet Olin’s feeds, or on PlanetOlin.com. I usually include the link to the YouTube video in the post somewhere, but you could save some serious time by subscribing to Philonoist.net’s RSS feed independent of Planet Olin. Saves you a click, gives me an exaggerated sense of self-worth when I log into feedburner and see my stats.

You know, if you’re actually interested in the videos I find. Just sayin’…

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