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Archive for February, 2005

Design Bugs

Broken CRT

Certain design bugs are so common that we have become too blind to spot them. An essay titled Ten Most Persistent Design Bugs makes some excellent observations.

  • If the computer loses power for more than a few thousandths of a second, it throws everything away.
  • Designers offer no way for users to discover why a given menu or option has been dimmed (grayed out), nor how to turn it back on.
  • 15 Dec 2008 sorts as being before 2 Jan 1900

Browsers to Dominate

Web applications are a trend which perpetuates as Web technologies expand and standards are enforced. One particular problem with such technologies is that they rely on powerful browsers. It is only a matter of time until working natively equates to working on-line. The browser will then become a factor more substantial than the operating system. Make sure you follow the link for this point to be practically illustrated.

Will desktops ever become merely a gateway to applications which run on the browser?

Concentrated Coffee

Coffee grainsA lot of time can be spent re-iterating the same simple task: take a cup, take instant coffee, take sugar, add sugar to cup, add instant to cup and fill the cup with hot water. Following a programmer’s way of thinking, why not just work once at the start? Get a large bottle or jar, add sugar, add coffee (at the right coffee/sugar ratio), add a small amount of hot water (enough to get it homogeneously mixed) and store away. You now have your ‘customised’ coffee concentrate. Just add hot water and coffee’s ready. This one-time effort serves me about 50 cups of coffee.

More eccentric efficiency tips

Managing Large E-mail Quantities

Filters and forwarding make management of a large amount of E-mail easier. Based on sender/s or subject line/s, one can create and populate many separate boxes. Each box is then checked at different intervals depending on its importance.


  • A sophisticated network of filters is like having your own secretary.
  • Manage many different E-mail addresses. Messages are best discriminated by the actual account.
Separate boxes
Separating boxes is the key

Google Maps

Many on-line mapping systems exist, but Google Maps is by far more impressive than most when judged by its speed and ease of use. One can scroll/drag the map in real-time (the page is Java-reliant), search by location reliably and expect a short response time. There are no advertisements either so the screen is used to its full capacity (see below, click to enlarge)

Google Maps

The down-side: only northern America is included, as in the case with Google Local (also in its Beta phase).

Cellular over the Internet

Cellular phone

Slashdot report on Skype-ready phones from Motorola. These are devices that are designed to operate over the Internet, thereby making phonecall virtually free.

…one could use Skype for outgoing calls near wi-fi hotspots (essentially free) but default on GSM for outgoing calls in areas that lack coverage…

This takes us a step closer to communication that is purely-Internet based.

Heat up the Tub

Sun is dimming

A recent item from the BBC reports on the severity of global warming. Although it means that our children can enjoy bathing in the sea, the consequences world-wide are devastating as ice continues to thaw.

…Unless we know what we’re dealing with, I think it’s going to be pretty hard to fix it…
    Dr. Tim Barnett, Scripps Institution of Oceanography

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