Glad to see a technorati that articulates my complaint about UI

April 1st, 2013

Found this through Hacker News:

I don’t know who Timo Arnall is, but he/she gets it that I am so annoyed by user interfaces that leave me guessing what the f*** is going on with whatever device/app I’m using. My experience with my Android smartphone is well articulated by Arnall – having been a past programmer, I mumble curses under my breath so many times when applications (and they’re not limited to just small-screen smartphone apps) are touted as having “intuitive” UI’s, when what they really have is inscrutable UI’s. I swear, today’s UI designers are only talking to themselves and not to the hoards of users who are left looking at peculiar icons (tiny ones at that) wondering which one is safe to tap. Or, even worse, the inadvertent gesture that causes the UI to go into some strange unwanted mode (yeah… I know, ‘mode’, sorry, but it is a ‘mode’) that I have no idea how to get out of or how to avoid getting into again.

I totally see the point about ‘folk theories’ of technology. As designers create these evermore magical UI’s they induce evermore magical thinking into people’s minds about what their device is doing. Clark’s famous quip, “Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic” seems to have become the inverse goal: if your application seems to work ‘by magic’ then it must be ‘advanced technology’. Feh.


SOMA camp – it’s coming!

December 13th, 2012

SOMA camp is a production of the Sonoma County Mycological Association – a club known hereabouts as “SOMA”.  Yes, not only does that mostly cover the initial letters of “Sonoma County Mycological Association” it’s also a reference to SOMA, the “divine mushroom of immortality”, as described in R. Gordon Wasson’s book.

SOMA camp is a great production. It’s on three-day Martin Luther King, Jr. day weekend, the next one is January 19-21, 2013. There are activities for all mycological interests:

  • Cultivation (i.e. growing mushrooms)
  • Cooking (i.e. picking and eating edible mushrooms)
  • Crafts (i.e. dyeing, papermaking, and other things)
  • Collecting (i.e. going on field trips to actually pick mushrooms)
  • Photography (i.e. taking pictures of mushrooms you’ve never seen before)
  • Identifying (i.e. all the different ways features of mushrooms are looked at)

It’s a great 3-day weekend. And if you’re interested in mushrooms, it’s even better!


GIS Day 2012

September 25th, 2012
GIS Day, November 14th, 2012

The North Bay GIS User Group is proud to host GIS Day at Santa Rosa’s Finley Center.

GIS Day is a FREE event and open to the public. Come by anytime between 9:00 p.m. and 3:00 p.m. to see for yourself how GIS is being used in your community and at local schools.

November 14, 2012
General Public: 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.
Santa Rosa Finley Center
2060 West College Ave
Santa Rosa, California, 95403

More information


Local Wendover lunch

January 26th, 2012


If you’re passing through Wendover, UT on your way across Interstate 80 and you’d like some lunch and you don’t want to give your money to the casino robber barons of Wendover, NV – you can get a great meal and support the locals at “Garlic and Onions”.

The carne asada tacos with rice and beans were fresh. The lettuce was crisp. A family friendly place. Very reasonable prices.

Open 10:00 am – 9:00 pm every day but Wednesday. The walls are decorated with photos of Bonneville racers. If you want a beer it’s BYOB. Credit cards accepted.

Get off the main drag and relax!

Elk Mountain – head in the clouds

January 20th, 2012

The top of Elk Mountain is in the clouds

Elk Mountain stands out south of I-80, east of Rawlins. This stretch of the highway is reknown for snowing over. The state has installed miles of snow fences in an attempt to reduce the amount of snowfall drifting onto the highway, with only small effect apparently.

With the tailwind as I head east, I’m getting great mileage – almost 50 mpg. Road conditions are pretty good. The signage warns of “slick spots”, but have not seen anything serious (yet).

Salt flats in January.

January 19th, 2012

Looking across the freeway to the north side.

The tourist traffic is clearly reduced this time of year. Interstate 80 isn’t the ribbon of cars traveling east and west.

The salt flats are brown and soft. The brown is a fine powder that might be from the blowing dust. It’s been a dry winter. But they are soft when walked on. Footprints are easily left in the surface. It’s about 50°F this afternoon. Only a few truckers stop in to use the restroom and then get back on the road. The sky is a pallette of greys. The mountains to the west are snow capped. The foot wash faucet is, of course, turned off.

Nevada evening sky on I-80.

January 18th, 2012


Storm is blowing in as I head east on interstate 80. The bands of clouds rolling across the sky are sharply delineated. Temperature about 54°.

Chickens help make beer

December 27th, 2011


Making a batch of ESB, The chickens loved eating the spent mash. I set down the screening colander and they all gathered round and dug in like feathered pigs. They were funny to watch. They’d snarf down a bunch and then take a few steps away and stagger off a few feet or so. Then they’d turn and see their flock still eating and they’d walk back and chow down for some more. The lure of food was so strong. The sticky grains would stick to their beaks and they’d pick them off each other while eating.  I was a bit concerned that maybe I should take the ‘punch bowl’ away before they make themselves sick.  I’m not sure what nutritional value is left in these spent brewing grains. But I let it go and eventually they got their fill and wandered off elsewhere.

It’s now the next morning and they seem fine.

I’m a low multitasker

June 7th, 2010

According to the little test application referenced in this article, my scores are the same as a low multitasker. I would have predicted that. Despite my use of technology – I’m aware that I don’t do well juggling many tasks simultaneously.  It is one my peeves at the way the current work environments have evolved – we’ve created the expectation that productivity goes up the more things you do simultaneously.

Chorus concert – season finale

June 6th, 2010

This weekend was the 2 concerts of the chorus.  Haydn’s “The Creation”. With soloists and orchestra.  It was fun and I sang well and the event got a blurb in the local paper. The blurb doesn’t mention Christa Pfeiffer, the other soprano that sang the part of “Eve”.  She was stunning. Very expressive  both vocally and in her presence. Her duet with “Adam”, sung by the bass John Bischoff, was so sweet and delicious it got people in the audience wanting to applaud when it was over despite the usual tradition of waiting to applaud until the end of the entire piece.

Since long stretches of the music are when the soloists are singing, the choir sits down – on the risers – while they sing, and then gets on their feet again to sing the choral numbers. Rather clumsy looking, but hey. Sitting there, behind the orchestra, I get to watch the musicians in the orchestra.  I was closest to the bassoon players.  They constantly fiddle with the reeds on their instruments – soaking them, licking them, adjusting their position in the instrument, swapping them with others soaking in little vials of water clipped onto the music stand.  Watching them play I see them dance, as well as possible while playing, when they do their parts. Shoulders move, heads bob slightly.  The flutist is very good – she has a good sense of musical line and brings out the flavor of the music.  The most bored-looking people were the trombone players.  Not that I blame them.  None of the brass get to play much except when the full chorus is singing, and even then they’re asked to keep it down.  It doesn’t take many trumpets and trombones to outblast a 70-voice chorus.  I guess being behind the wind section, I see all the slobber that gets dealt with as breath passes through instruments. Horns and their spit-valves with a splatter of spit on the floor beside each player.  Little vials of water for all the players with reeds soaking and dripping. There was an english horn player who kept her cleaning rag on the floor (!). She’d pick it up off the floor and pull it through her instrument after each section of playing and then drop the rag on the floor again. (kinda ‘yuck’, if you ask me).

The end-of-spring picnic is tomorrow at the director’s house.  Kathie & I will go.  Maybe we’ll hear the barbershop quartet that the director is part of.