Welcome to the fifth installment of Queer Your Tech with Fun, Autostraddle’s nerdy new tech column. Not everything I cover will be queer per se, but it will be about customizing this awesome technology you’ve got. Having it our way, expressing our appy selves just like we do with our identities. Here we can talk about anything from app recommendations to choosing a wireless printer to web sites you have to favorite to any other fun shit we can do with technology.
Header by Rory Midhani
Every so often I want to point you guys to interesting articles on technology. But I realized if I do that, I should probably talk about reading on your technology first.
I much prefer reading real, physical books and magazines. I will say that right now. I love smelling books, I love the way they feel in my hand, I love the way they look on my walls. But there are four reasons I read on my iPad or on my computer:
1. I must have this content RIGHT NOW! No, I cannot plan a shopping trip. No, I cannot wait for the book to ship. I JUST READ THIS ARTICLE AND NOW I MUST HAVE THE MISEDUCATION OF CAMERON POST RIGHT THE FUCK NOW.
2. I am going to be traveling and this is reading material I am purchasing or saving specifically for traveling. I love physical books, but I read fast. If I’m going to be away for a week or two, I don’t want to bring three books for all that time I’m stuck on planes, trains and automobiles. Because then I have to lug those three books. Plus I’m probably going to buy books during my trip because I can’t help myself if there’s a good bookstore around. So yeah, lighter is better and weight wins. On the e-reader they go.
3. This content is only available digitally. What about things like Autostraddle? All the stuff in Riese’s Things I Read that I Love? A lot of the stuff I’m going to point you to at the end of this article? Plenty of quality content is only available online or in e-pub, and e-readers and reading apps grant you access to that quality content. This is what I’m going to be talking about today, the kind of stuff that you pull from the internet to read.
4. I am at my day job and I want to read smut on my lunch break and I don’t want my co-workers to see the cover of the dirty book or see the website on the computer. Phone out, headphones on. Don’t bother me.
I feel like everyone already knows how to read books on their technology, though, so I’m not really going to talk about Kindle or iBooks today, even though I feel like the dispute between paper and e-reading does include them. I’d be happy to do an entire separate post on e-readers and pros and cons of buying e-books. But as mentioned before, this is a post all about pulling amazing material from various places around the interwebs. And then I’m going to give you a fuck ton of awesome to read on the interwebs.
When it comes to reading on my technology I use two apps and two apps only.
Alright, guys. Don’t make fun of me, but I bought Pulp because it was pretty. Even as a complete nerd, I still believe pretty counts for something. With its stunning interface, Pulp makes it easy and attractive to keep all your blogs in one place. Every time you launch the app, all the latest content from the feeds you’ve added gets pushed right to your device (this means you need internet access to get the latest stuff.) Pulp makes your own person newspaper and you can customize how you view your favorite RSS feeds with unlimited tabs and one, two, three and four column layouts. You can save articles to quickly reference them again and read without internet access (I wouldn’t do too many though, because then you do what I did and you can’t find anything and you have a nightmare tangle of things you want to read and probably never will.) My favorite feature is the Magic Reader, which pulls all the content into the app and leaves the ads out. If that doesn’t work, there’s a convenient internet view button that will show you the whole webpage. Plus Pulp syncs over iCloud, which means all the same information you have on your Mac will be on your iPad and vice versa. You can get it for Mac at a cost of $9.99 or iPad for $4.99, or both for the complete syncing experience. And guys, I know it has a price tag, but just fyi, you will be supporting an independent design studio in Canada (Acrylic) with your purchase. It’s, legit, two guys. This is mindful consumerism.
I started using Pocket when, as I stated above, I saved way too many things and now I can’t find anything that I saved. Pocket, which used to be Read It Later, isn’t a feed aggregator at all. Its actual purpose is to save things for reading later, as its original title may suggest. This means that, yes, you can save things to read for when you don’t have an internet connection. But it also means you tag and organize your articles and then even archive them when you’re done, so they’re still there when you want them but they’re not cluttering up your whole life. It also works with videos that you’d like to watch later, and really pretty much anything you find online. It also syncs the content you save across all your devices. And it’s integrated with Pulp! You can save to Pocket right from Pulp by tapping or clicking the share button and presto, you have a way to organize the more long form stuff that you do want to catch up on when you have the time, but perhaps not the internet connection. Pocket is seamlessly integrated with your web browser: you can install a little button that will allow you to save to Pocket as you’re browsing the web. You can email Pocket to save things as well. And, just like the integration with Pulp, there are a ton of apps (over 300) that will allow you to save to Pocket from within the app. Pocket is available for Android, iOS, Kindle Fire, Mac or in your web browser. It is totally and completely free.
This is just my dynamic duo of awesome, the two apps I use in conjunction with each other to create my world of internet delivered to me at a tap and catalogued to my liking. Of course, there are other apps and devices out there. Please explore and let me know what you find. If you want to use Pocket but not Pulse, a good place to start would be here.
Now For A Ton of Stuff To Read on The Interwebs About Technology
Now try out your new tech skillz on these articles I’ve read recently that explore the techosphere in interesting and unique ways.
+ One Click At A Time, by Gaby Dunn for Tomorrow Magazine. About hosting AA meetings virtually.
+ Speaking of Tomorrow Magazine, there’s also Terminally Chill by Tess Lynch. The tagline reads “In defense of internet procrastination,” and I feel like she’s defending my whole life.
+ How Quantum Computers Work by Kevin Bonsor and Jonathan Strickland for How Stuff Works. I found this article while listening to a How Stuff Works podcast called Stuff You Missed in History Class when they did a three-part series on my namesake, Alan Turing.
+ Are you really nerdy? The Always Up To Date Guide to Building a Hackintosh is over on lifehacker and is basically about building a computer from parts and then installing the Mac operating system on it. May the force be with you.
+ Unraveling The Internet’s Oldest and Weirdest Mystery on The Daily Dot. This sentence is all you’ll need to keep reading: “Was the Markovian Parallax Denigrate a message—a cipher hiding a deep government secret?”
+ When The Nerds Go Marching In, by Alexis Madrigal for the Atlantic. The tagline: “How a dream team of engineers from Facebook, Twitter, and Google built the software that drove Barack Obama’s reelection.”
+ Unmasking Reddit’s Violentacrez, The Biggest Troll on the Web, by Adrien Chen for Gawker. My favorite quote from this article: “Under Reddit logic, outing Violentacrez is worse than anonymously posting creepshots of innocent women, because doing so would undermine Reddit’s role as a safe place for people to anonymously post creepshots of innocent women. I am OK with that.” This was also linked to in a TIRTL, but it’s worth looking at twice.
+ The Lost Steve Jobs Tapes, by Brent Schilender over at Fast Company. This is about the time that Jobs wasn’t with Apple, and it’s my favorite period of Jobs’s life to read about.
+ And finally, in the ultimate of being meta about this, The Year Of Reading Differently by Edward Stourton over at the Financial Times. This is about reading books on your technology. So basically, you’ll be reading about reading on technology on your technology because an article you read on technology told you to do so.