Monday, December 26, 2005

TV Remote or Space Shuttle Control

I'm sorry but this is ridiculous. How is anyone who doesn't have an advanced degree in particle physics going to be able to operate that thing? How on earth is anyone without understanding a programing language going to be able to configure the damn thing? Shouldn't the industry be working on making these things simpler? Of course Apple seems to have the right idea. The human/system interface should be simple but the software should do the heavy lifting. When I worked at Bloomberg we had a simple rule when building user/human interfaces, "Don't build a space shuttle cockpit." I think some of the human interface designers at the companies that design our TV's, VCRs, and DVD players should start designing for real people and not caffeine drunk techno-philes.

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Saturday, December 24, 2005

Slingin' Code

I had a series of flashbacks when I read this article at the O'Reilly Radar on Yahoo! Web Services now returning chunks of Javascript to eval() in lieu of sending XML to parse and traverse. We were doing this 1997 on only with Perl code. What I remember of the practice was that it was helpful but often lead to interesting debugging sessions because the Perl was almost always generated by another program. It's not very useful to serve up static Perl code fragments after all, is it? Still it's refreshing to see alternatives to XML based web services.

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Friday, December 23, 2005

Apple Pro Care Saves the Day

Two weeks ago I walked up to my Apple Powerbook and after attempting to get the thing to respond to my commands got that sinking feeling that the hard drive had gone south. A reboot or two from the system DVD confirmed my fears. The hard drive was lost. I had backups but I would have to get the system repaired. I took it to my local Apple Store in Menlo Park Mall and the Genius confirmed my diagnosis. Luckily, the machine is covered by Apple Care and even more fortuitously covered under Pro Care. The Genius initially indicated probably two or three days to get the Powerbook back into my hands. Ok I can live with that, I thought. I handed the system over to the Genius, filled out the paperwork, and headed home. Two minutes after arriving home. I get a phone call from the Apple store. They said the machine would be ready in 1 hour! According to them the Pro Care bumped me up to the top of the stack, they had a drive in house and they would repair it in the store! An hour later, I got back to the store to pick up my machine all thanks to Pro Care. Now I know all Mac users know to get the Apple Care with your machine and renew it when it expires but If you've been offered Pro Care and turned it down, think again. If you're like me and you depend on your PowerBook for business then take the Pro Care. It's worth the extra hundred bucks. It was to me. Also a big thanks out to the guys at the Menlo Park Apple store. If you live in NJ buy your mac gear from these guys. They are technically sharp, very customer focused, and a pleasure to work with even in tough circumstances.

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Tuesday, December 20, 2005

My Firefox 1.5 Mac OS X Annoyance

Jeremy Zawodny has a old rant about some annoyances running Firefox under Mac OS X. I would like to add my personal favorite Firefox peeve to the conversation. Why in god's name does Firefox 1.5 still not support reading the system proxy settings in Mac OS X. Sure, this seems like a small issue but for a user like me that travels between customers, my office, and any other place where I might get plugged into the net, the ability to set my proxy settings in one place and have all the apps recognize the change is a real timesaver. This is probably the single biggest reason I'm not using Firefox as my main browser. Until they fix that I can't even consider switching from Safari. Hey, Firefox developers if you care about user experience please add a few extra lines of code. You'll make some of us much happier.

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Monday, December 19, 2005

Find Nuggets of Joy by Digging with iTunes

Last week I tried a small experiment. I set up a smart playlist to include all songs that had not been played in 12 months. After filtering out all unplayed podcasts, the folder contained over 400 songs (about 24 hours of music). I've been playing the music from this list for the past couple of days and it's like reconnecting with old friends. I had no idea that such a significant part of my 1700 song library had gone unheard for so long.

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Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Ecto Wrangling

Sorry for the test posts but I'm dealing with an Ecto issue after recovering my system hard drive. (Oh yeah, more on that when I have a chance.)

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Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Goodbye WoW

Goodbye World of Warcraft. It's been fun but you've been sucking up way too much of my time these days. Too bad you weren't around when I was growing up but then I might not have graduated high school, or college, or got a job, or dated women, or a whole host of other real world activities. I'm not off computer gaming for good but I need to find something I can drop into, have fun, and drop out of without a monthly subscription and much lower "grind" time. Any suggestions?

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Monday, December 05, 2005

Mac OS X JVM Utility

I've created a useful little shell script that simplifies managing the default or current JVM that is used from the command line and other utilities under Mac OS X. Most people that run multiple JVMs for development and testing know that you can switch the symbolic link used by the Java JVM Framework to point to the current JVM. My little script automates manipulating this link and reports on the status of the link so you know where it is pointing. Download it and give it a try. It might be overly complicated but it beats writing the symbolic link by hand. Update: Thanks to Seth Milliken for reporting the broken link in this article. I've fixed it.

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Saturday, December 03, 2005

The promise of web 2.0

Is the promise of Web 2.0 just ajax-infused versions of the crap we saw in Web 1.0? I would like to submit as evidence Exhibit A: Mister Nice Hands. Enjoy.

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