Thursday, June 30, 2005

Google Cool
Google extends its grip on being a cool compant with Google Earth, a 3-d perspective on cities and locations across the globe. But as well as showing you the stuff, you can annotate it, or hack it to combine wth other servies to see where the buses are in Colorado, or get to some finky club or resturant. How neat is that? This essentially puts social tagging, as seen in Fickr and citeulike and other such sites out into the real world as well, allowing users to annotate the word to reflect what they think is important. It'll be interesting to see where this goes and where it ends up.

Wednesday, June 29, 2005

iTunes - it works
Easy to criticise, hard to praise - so it's a pleasure when something works easily. I bought a song from the iTunes store the other day. Didn't think I ever would, cos the quality is not up to even CD quality and my hifi is decent - but I only wanted one track and 79p is cheaper than a whole album cost on CD.....

And buying it was simple. Click - oh, no account, set one up, direct debit (which I trust and have confidence in), and then buy it. Easy. No hassle. 79p gone, but a decent trade in my view. In fact, so easy I'd probably do it again..... which is surely the aim of e-commerce.

Sunday, June 26, 2005

I've finally found a great utility for the Mac that allows you to turn off the caps lock key (the light comes on still, but letters are in lower case). Useful on my desktop. it's a real boon on the powerbook where I'd find I'd BEEN TYPING FOR A WHILE AND LOOKED UP TO FIND I'D HIT THE CAPS LOCK KEY AND BEEN UNINTENTIONALLY SHOUTING. Install this, use it, and reduce your hassles.

And incidentally, why is there a caps lock key anyway? What applications only work with cpaitals? And why is it sooooo big- it's larger than the 'return' key for goodness sake!

Saturday, June 25, 2005

Handheld tools for creative people
I presented some of the recent work and ideas on mobile computing at this workshop in Germany last week (15th & 16th June) - discussing using mobiles to support interpersonal communication, community and shared experiences. Interesting location - ex-subway station - and interesting people - a lot I know from email but had not met before. Chunks conducted in German, which as I don't know any was strnage, but with many slides in English and a decent discussion period, it was worth going to.

Friday, June 24, 2005

Email handling (CHI perspective)
Tanks to Mathemagenic for this - but it relates to the discussions the other day from the Research Awayday - the inefficiences caused by email (summary: social as much as technological, psychological as well as practical). The CHI paper suggests that users deal with all the not important stuff, and then deal with the key things and the junk. Or you can be like others, and not deal with any of it. Me, I can't stand the time wasted in deciding if I can afford to delete it - but then I had my inbox 'helpfully archived and moved to my filestore' -trnaslation: you can't access it from home...

Thursday, June 23, 2005

Recent Tunes

Nifty little (Mac) app to publish your current listening habits on the web. Makes it easy to share more of yourself with your readers - and community building and trust is all about personal disclosure.....

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Basic usableness
This is not a discussion about usability per sey, more a comment on modern systems and their complexities. My work computer is becoming impossible to use - maybe it's because my Mac is so nice and simple and easy at home, but the Windows machine in the office is a pain.

Email: Outlook corrupts my mail file about once a month if I use it as a POP client. As an IMAP client, it can't properly connect, and then doesn't download messages at any reasonable speed so that it takes minutes per message. So I've switched to Thunderbird. Better, but I have to exit the client and restart it to get it to check for new mail. So it could be my mail setup - but whilst I have a lot of messages in my inbox, they are cut off at 3 months old and moved to a 'Received' mail folder - not that strange a situation.

Files: networked storage here seems so slow - so it takes ages to browse the filesystem to find my stuff.

Profile: damn thing. Not too much on my desktop, but I am 'Over profile space and need to delete things before I can log off'. It's all ****** config files and data files for photoshop and other apps - and thunderbird is now the main culprit - so I can sort of check my email, but not then log off.

All these are sortable. All these are not major issues with the applications themselves. It's even possible that all this is actually sensible, in some way. But as a whole, it makes the whole system less usable, in a day-to-day, want-to-get-some-work-done kind of way.

Perhaps the solution is to go home and use my Mac.

Thursday, June 09, 2005

Google maps: visual information searching and display
Associated Press has a review of Google maps, one of the newer things to ocme out of Google recently, which is complemented by the article at cheap gas prices, crime in Chicago, best tourist spots in the world. And The Map Room offers a few more - sex offenders, brothels, and info on how to hack them..... And if you wanted to know how they work, check this blog post out.

It's interesting what you can get when you leverage community and social intelligence with simple visualisation tools.....

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

Macs to be powered by Intel processors

Well, who'd have thunk it. turns out Steve Jobs and his merry men have had MacOS X running on Intel right from the very beginning, and have always designed it to be cross platform. Well, cross-CPU anyway - MacOS X will still not run on a Wintel box, thankfully. Some people are getting very nervous about this shift, and no doubt some of more committed mac-philes out there will rally against having hardware from the 'other side' in their precious machines. But ultimately this can only be a good move for Apple. They'll be able to build cheaper, cooler, smaller machines - which I think is what Jobs was really hinting at in his keynote. I wouldn't be surprised to see tablets, handhelds, and other portable devices coming from Apple once the switch to Intel is complete. And that's good. the battle for the CPU hardware has now largely over, and Intel win. But a system is more than just its CPU. I welcome the prospect of Macs and PCs with the same basic core CPUs just so we can stop arguing about whether GHz matters or not. Yes, the PowerPC architecture is technically superior, but they can't make it run cool enough for portables, and that's where the interesting stuff is happening.

Friday, June 03, 2005

Bill gives with one hand...

New version of Office to support XML interoperability

...and takes with the other

Microsoft patent process for translating between software objects and XML

It sounds good. MS Office will use open XML standards to store files, encouraging greater flexibility, and allowing other applications to easily read and write Office documents. But at the same time MS have been awarded a patent for translating between XML data and software objects. Any reasonably heavyweight XML processing will rely on this method, and so we really have to question Microsoft's real motivation for pushing XML in the new version of Office. at the very least, they might be accused of having a double agenda.

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