Archive for the ‘Stuff stumbled onto’ Category

Glad to see a technorati that articulates my complaint about UI

Monday, 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.


I’m a low multitasker

Monday, 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.

Martin Gardner

Sunday, May 23rd, 2010

One of my heroes in my days as a math major in college was Martin Gardner.  I was reading his column in Scientific American when I was in high school.  I read the column where he introduced John Conway’s cellular automata game of “Life“.  I have had a copy of his “Annotated Alice” for years.

Just heard that he died May 22, 2010 at the age of 95.

25% wireless-only !

Friday, May 14th, 2010

Yup.  Here it is. 25% of U.S. households – households, not individuals – have no landline phone.   Related story also on NYTimes Technology pages – cellphones used for data processing more than for making phonecalls!

The “Business Model” of doing things…. feh!

Friday, May 7th, 2010

Yet another piece at the NYTimes about education and NCLB. (Or, as I’ve heard some teacher-friends call it: NTLS – No Teacher Left Standing). Apparently, a book, “The Death and Life of the Great American School System: How Testing and Choice are Undermining Education”, by Diane Ravitch, is arguing that the latest fashion in high productivity education of children – namely that the “business model” for running schools is best – is not the best. (Amazon store page – and available on Kindle!) The gist of the article/book is, “… the obsession with tests and test results … is antithetical to the spirit and purpose of education.”  No disagreement here.

Another snippet in Richard Bernstein’s column that I suspect is exactly right on:

Ms. Ravitch shows that claims of improving scores on state tests have actually been produced mainly by ever-lower test score requirements, so low in one instance that many students could get to an acceptable level by random guessing.

This sounds like the predictable results of “the business model”.

Which brings me to my point – the “business model” for running anything, like say, a business, produces the soul-sucking corporatism that washes over the land of the career-pathed middle class in this country. Yes, the line of sight from students taught in business-run schools reaches directly to the Blankfein’s of this world and the Goldman Sachs debacle.  Bring ’em on – more adults trained (er, educated) to read and write contracts and construct “product” out of mathematics.  Who then shrug when asked in incredulous tones, “what did you think you were doing?!”

There was an opinion piece by Tom Friedman (also of NYTimes) a long while back, that touched on the subject of global corporatism. My rant there was about the lack of any perceived distinction between a company paying taxes to a government and a company paying bribes to what ever local political lackeys so they can “do business”.

Lose something at Disneyland?

Tuesday, May 4th, 2010

Just for fun…

LA Times article about what’s found in the bottom of the fake ponds at Disneyland when they drain them for maintenance.

Interesting claim: the water was originally stocked with actual live fish!  Of course, now no fish could live in it. Which highlights the next factoid: they didn’t drain the water to “the ocean”. I presume they mean they didn’t drain it to local storm sewer, Disneyland isn’t that close to the ocean.

Perversely satisfying … sans noses

Thursday, March 25th, 2010

This brief piece on NY Times can be seen from two points of experience: observing others, and then observing yourself. My self-defeating behavior doesn’t feel self-defeating. I can explain quite to my satisfaction why I’m not getting what I want. But observing others closely, it’s so easy to see their self-defeating patterns. But point them out to them, and perhaps I’ll be hearing my own spin (read: excuses) back at me.

Like this post about cell phones in therapy sessions, what we say/show to therapist (or to our self) may be very different than what is actually happening ‘out there’. But the same self-defeating mechanism works.

Like the Buddhist joke. How many Buddhists does it take to change a light bulb? Just one – but the light bulb has to really want to change.

It can be awfully tricky to get from “I’m being blamed” to “I’m being shown how to help myself”. As in the case of luck.

Wednesday, March 24th, 2010

Got this from my New Scientist eMag.

Again, this is consistent with the idea that all “thinking” happens only in our “brain” is very mistaken.

Time to get gardening (redux)

Thursday, March 18th, 2010

The seeds are ordered.  From Johnny’s Seeds, in Maine! I know, shipping seeds from Maine to California. Silly.  But it was the first seed place on the internet that had Kabocha squash seeds.  Had them last  year because my prof found them growing in his garden from the compost he used.  Turns out I like Kabocha squash.  It does store well.  Still have some from last summer’s garden.

Running a bit late, maybe.  Probably should have had the seeds started in pots and sprouted by now.  Oh well. We’ll do tomatoes and eggplant from starters from the nursery.

There was this link to iGrow Sonoma that came across the chatter list at work. May be interesting.

Zits wasn’t kidding

Wednesday, March 3rd, 2010

Not too long ago there was a Zits comic strip where Jeremy sits in the back of the car while his parents drive in search of a parking space.  He finds a parking space using his smartphone – to the consternation of his parents, of course.  But now there’s a story (video) on ZDNet that’s one step closer to what Jeremy did.