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Archive for March, 2005

One Joke for Easter

Laughing egg

A funny support enquiry from Samsung Electronics:

Caller: “Can you give me the telephone number for Jack?”
Operator: “I’m sorry, sir, I don’t understand who you are talking about”.
Caller: “On page 1, section 5, of the user guide it clearly states that I need to unplug the fax machine from the AC wall socket and telephone Jack before cleaning. Now, can you give me the number for Jack?”
Operator: “I think you mean the telephone point on the wall”.

Revolutionary Interaction

Apple developed a mechanism which enables alignment of windows with respect to the ground. This is done simply by rotation of the windows based on sensor data. The idea was recently taken a step forward so that it allows interaction with programs and games, simply by movement of the (PowerBook) laptop.

The Apple Motion Sensor As A Human Interface Device
Playing games by shifting CoG

Internet Explorer Breaks the Web

The World Wide Web is becoming more open, but there are still sites which refuse to accept it. As an example, Microsoft included some sick humour in the download page for .Net specifications. When entering the page with Mozilla Firefox, the download button intentionally gets a bad placement (see screenshot, click to enlarge).

.Net-1 Screeshot

Once the button is clicked, it disappears outside the screen in an animated fashion! No download is possible until the 3rd click.

.Net-2 Screeshot

Google made their toolbar available only for Internet Explorer. More recently, they were kind enough to refer to the open Google bar, which builds onto other browsers.

Google-2 Screeshot

The excellent Google Desktop is only available for Windows. A message from Google said that they work improving it, rather than porting it to work under more operating systems. *sigh*

Google-1 Screeshot

Finally, have a look at this offensive page from Yahoo.

Yahoo Screeshot

Life Without E-mail

The Public Wiki section on this domain

Some months ago I decided that only urgent messages are worth the use of E-mail. Somehow I just got fed up, even though I was spam-free.

A couple of days ago I took what I hope to be a step towards life without E-mail. I set up a Wiki where most of my correspondence will take place. Wikis are a collection of pages where content is editable by everyone, given access privileges of course. Why not use forums or bulletin boards for rapid communication? Here is a short comparison:

Wiki* Forum*
Editable Immutable once posted
Easily reversible (a la CVS) No support for versioning
Quick access Cumbersome access
Collaborative Less collaborative
Searchable Searchable
Quick back-up Quick back-up

*Dependent on the package

Flickr Rests in Peace


As some reader may already know, Flickr are among the most popular services for on-line photo sharing. A Yahoo takeover was announced yesterday.

This, in my humble opinion, will mark the end of ‘cleaner’, more decent photo galleries. It is only a matter of time until cherished Flickr will be ‘decorated’ with mugshots of Britney Spears and Ol’ Dirty Bastard. I am also worried that Yahoo will do to Flickr the same type of damage they did to Geocities, of which I was a member at the time. That acquisition, which goes back several years back, prevented me from making further changes to content and my pages were flooded with advertisements, from which Yahoo profited.

According to the sources of Slashdot:

This is the third high profile Blog/RSS related buyout of 2005. Live Journal was bought by Six Apart, while Ask Jeeves snapped up Bloglines.

One Photo, 2.5 Billion Pixels

This photo (direct link) has got to be seen for its enormous size to be comprehended. Zooming appears almost infinite, without loss in quality. The site provides the tools for viewing and interacting with the data in real time.

If this photo were printed, it would measure 6.67 m by 2.67 m (300 dpi). The photograph shows Delft and its surroundings in the autumn of 2004.

The Gigapxel Project
On the right: my illustration of the extent of magnification

Planning Ahead

Thinking dentistBig trouble lies ahead if planning is neglected before a project begins. This statement extends beyond the field of software development and reflects on situations in many aspects of work.

Spolsky who authors Joel on Software phrased this rather nicely:

Software engineers who dive into code without writing a spec tend to think they’re cool gunslingers, shooting from the hip. They’re not. They are terribly unproductive. They write bad code and produce shoddy software, and they threaten their projects by taking giant risks which are completely uncalled for.

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Original styles created by Ian Main (all acknowledgements) • PHP scripts and styles later modified by Roy Schestowitz • Help yourself to a GPL'd copy
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