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October 2002 Archives


October 30, 2002 11:33 AM


I'm sure someone else has already thought that RSS is not exactly the most commerce friendly technology to come around. It specifically avoids the user interface needed to shove adverts in your face in the from of wildly gyrating Flash based ads, pop-under ads and most other banner based ads. Sure, the RSS 0.9 spec does have an item in there for including a url to badge of some sort, but the commonly accepted size is small. Hardly the mechanism of over commercialism that would attract dollars.

Others have floated the idea of making on of the items in an RSS feed an advert, which could be useful. I suppose it wouldn't to much to deal with as a user of NetNewsWire. You'd only see a line item in the list of new articles, and could easily be ignored. In fact, more easily than a banner ad since there's no monkey to punch or urgent Windows optimization I have to execute right now (on my Mac).

The Christian Science Monitor has recently made RSS feeds available and I wonder if the only possible goal is to drive people to the site to see the adverts there. It's a stretch imho. How can RSS be monetized? The BBC has RSS feeds and I wonder what impact, if any, they have seen from making that available.

I mentioned in my last post that I was enticed by Salon to subscribe to premium content. I only learned of the article thru their RSS feed, so I suppose that's a monetizing connection. But is that measurable? (Return on Investment requires one to measure the returns, and I don't see how a visit from an RSS feed correctly translates into subscriptions for Salon.) Sure, RSS is easy to generate, and the feeds can be pretty slim making the bandwidth needed to serve it tiny.

One thing I think we can count on is that CNN won't be making full article text available thru RSS anytime soon (unlike this site which does include the entirety of a given article in the RSS feed). It's not worth it to them based on web browser based revenue schemes (eg, you go to website using a browser, and see lots of big adverts).

October 28, 2002 4:24 AM


Why [Would] You Join Salon Premium?
Good question. I've been waiting for about 6 years for a content site to entice me into a paying subscription for access. I have a poll asking if you would be willing to financially support this site and expected a resounding 'no' to be returned, but I wanted to get a feeling for why. I don't pay for blog access, or online newspaper access and never imagined Salon would hide things behind the curtain that I'd want to reveal by throwing money at them (I don't even sign up for free access). But, they did it.

It's not like I think getting to finish reading the linked article is going to change my life or pay me back the cost of the Premium membership. It's my curiosity. Pique me, get paid.

October 26, 2002 12:20 PM


First, me and the people I work with: I've been doing a front end revamp of a web app for the last month or so and am reaching the end of a major phase of that revamp. Things have been put in their place, context is more easily deduced and real estate has been consolidated. Some of the UI is even tucked away multiple directories down in the CVS tree all set up with containers for this and that so the Perl munkies can write pure Mason/Perl code and not worry about the vagarities of alignment of key:value pairs on the front end. They just need to send it out in the UI we have previously defined. (Very cool imho)

Onto the users: To them, the UI is the application. In the case of the web app I'm referencing, the API is really the application, and the web front end is a way to get at it and turn data ore into information ingots. More ways to get at the goodies under the hood will come soon enough. For now though, within the scope of the users who have power over me, it's the web interface that is the application.

Now, the point: Do the efforts of painting a better UI picture on a robust and maturing API reveal themselves to anyone but the UI developer?

[My coworkers read my blog and will no doubt have opinions on this. Do tell.]

October 23, 2002 8:34 AM


Open email:

Hi...
Uh, Hi. I didn't know you had my email address...
Excuse this informal mailing. I'm planning on sending our a more "official" news email soon with a bunch of updates about what we've been up to. But before doing that, I wanted to send a quick note about a little project just uploaded to our own website.
Official? Um, ok, this seems pretty official for the type info you are communicating...
URL: http://www.triplecode.com/munsell
Title: Triplecode Munsell Palette

What is it? It's a color picker based on the Munsell color system... something I used ages ago when I at the MIT Media Lab. The page gives more information about Munsell - and why it's cool. It's still under development, but hopefully it'll be of some interest.

Let me know what you think.

Ok, well, I'm still trying to figure out how you got my email address, 'cause I don't think I've ever sent you email before, but the Palette is pretty cool.

October 22, 2002 10:12 AM


I play online games like any red blooded American and would love to get my Xbox online (if only to say that I can) but have a look at this set up process mentioned at Kuro5hin...
I set the system up in a fairly simple matter: cable goes to my TV already.  I split cable (you can get your local cable company to do this) so one goes to the TV, and one goes to the cable modem.  I connected the cable modem to a wireless router (I recommend SMC's Barricade).  Lastly, I plugged the Xbox into to one of the router's ports, and set the rest of my network up for wireless.  Voila.  Internet in the living room.
I like figuring stuff out and getting stuff to work. Most other techies out there share that sort of interest as well, but how many of them have an Xbox and a fast connection at home. Very little.

Now, balance that (if you can) against the line up of games available for the Xbox (live and un-live) and it ads up to a big ass yawn compared to the new Lord of the Rings game available for the Playstation2. DROOL. [December 12 update: LOTR for Xbox is now coming soon, but the fact remains the game line up for PlayStation is at least much larger, and likely, better]

My point? Compare the experience of getting your Xbox Live mojo going compared to any other gaming platform, and it doesn't look compelling (yet?).

October 21, 2002 3:36 AM


This is purely anecdotal evidence, but it's worth spewing on a blog. I mentioned to my pretty well dialed-in older brother that XML/RSS requests on this site are generally outpacing shtml requests, and he had no clue what the hell I was talking about. I explained RSS to him and he still thought my statement was meaning less. finally I said...

Remember when the web was getting really big? Well, this is sort of like that, but earlier in the process, and excluding graphics on purpose.
And it still didn't really mean much to him. I can hardly blame him too, because what really matters to most people on the net these days is the browser. It's the blog/web-addicts who find value in aggregating RSS feeds.

5 years ago I asked myself how the business community would figure out how to use the web in commercial applications. Today I ask myself the same thing about RSS and the applications that aggregate it.

[ps, it's really busy time for me right now and blog entries might be a bit slow for a while]

October 18, 2002 1:28 AM


Is the experience and process of using a shopping cart like mechanism on a web patentable? Well, yes it is, and has been, and is discussed in this C|Net Perspectives article. It's worth a read.

October 16, 2002 9:36 AM


I have yet to work on a web application or regular ol' website (including this one) where I didn't have to make a decision that wasn't 100%. To be a bit more clear, every site or app I've worked on has some feature, or bucket of content in a somewhat odd place.

As a site or app gets built and features and content buckets get added, removed and modified, odd conventions arise due to other conventions you are trying to adhere to but can't due to one bucket spanning multiple other buckets, or one feature creating value for three different outputs. Have I lost you yet? If not, you are probably a web developer or IA. Let's take out experience over to the Gameboy Advance.

Arcada Zen is a blog focusing on video gaming and human computer interaction which is, imho, a big deal. The author makes this point about the Gameboy Advance...

the unit is miserable to play except under the most ideal light conditions.

Its a complaint everyone seems to have, and yet I wonder how Nintendo could fail to understand their users' needs.

This is one of those things where two user needs are battling against each other and the blogger lost. The problem with backlighting a Gameboy is weight and battery depletion. Currently, there are two double A batteries in my (pink) Gameboy Advance (that I originally bought for my wife because she actually wanted one, but I'm the only one who uses it). Those two batteries are pretty light and moderate use of the unit eats the batteries kind of quickly. I am a 31 year old male with a good job. I can afford batteries, and I can hold up the unit with no trouble.

My nephew is also a Gameboy Advance owner (his is blue), and he has a little trouble holding the thing in the right position to play for too long (especially with the unwieldy third party lighting apparatus). Imagine adding in the gear for backlighting, and another 2 or 4 batteries to support that. This core constituency of little kids couldn't be ignored by Nintendo, who had a tough choice to make with their product based on the needs and desires of disparate users (eg, my nephew and I). Should they have added in backlighting, and make the unit bigger, heavier and more expensive to run? Or, slim it down, and lower the price of the unit?

October 14, 2002 9:48 AM


Perhaps the title of this entry is a little exaggerated, but it's interesting to see Lessig express his feelings about his appearance before Supreme Court last week (transcript should appear here soon)...

Every night since Wednesday I have awoken in the middle of the night, to spend the rest of the night reanswering Justice Ginsburg, or asking Chief Justice Rehnquist just how he could distingiush Commerce from Copyright. The kind words of so many notwithstanding, I know and have always known I am not Larry Tribe, or Kathleen Sullivan. And if, after getting this so close to the right result, I have lost this by not being them, then I am not quite sure how I will live with that fact.


October 14, 2002 9:35 AM


I work with a guy who uses Mac OS 9 and uses several applications to make it more unix like. He has a Mac OS 9 native VIM editor, a SSH terminal application and a few other apps. Sounds like the ideal person to switch to Mac OSX, right? Wrong. The file system under OSX is so different from the Linux file systems that he is used to that he shuns the switch (but he uses Os 9? Yeah.). Maybe now he'll have reason to go for it.
If you're one of the many Unix developers drawn to Mac OS X for its BSD core, you'll find yourself in surprisingly unfamiliar territory. Even if you're an experienced Mac user, Mac OS X is unlike earlier Macs, and it's radically different from the Unix you've used before, too.
Go O'Reilly.

October 14, 2002 6:59 AM


This most recent FUD attempt from MSFT is especially tickling due to its transparency and bafoonery. And since they pulled it down, you'll have to see it in cache form at Google. Now, look at the girl, and try to imagine if she would actually write out documentation in her story about switching. Oh wait, she isn't even real. She's clip art! How embarrassing for this young perdy lady to be pimped out like this.

Anyway, a slashdot poster made a good point...

You just missed the entire point of this article. Microsoft knows they're not going to convince hardcore Apple users to switch. This copy of Apple's switch campaign, is for MS users who might be tempted to switch. If a user is considering switching to Apple, then sees that some other people are switching from Apple to MS, the user might very well decide to stay right where he is. The theory of course, is that a user who is easily persuaded to try Apple could be easily persuaded not to try Apple; get it?
This is the real story.

October 14, 2002 2:28 AM


Article titles like "Apple-Linux merger powers 'Mac' switch" make for good headlines to grab page views, but that title is baseless. One of the arguments made is that Apple will 'go Intel' and thus make Linux apps more likely to appear on the Mac (and vice versa?). But, not only does the processor have very little to do with porting POSIX compliant apps, but Apple ain't goin' Intel. Period.

Basing some grandiose notion on a red herring is sad, especially when you write an article that makes a huge point, and utterly fails to stay with that point much less prove it with baseless punditry.

Fortunately, one good point was made (but has nothing to do with the main point of the article)...

A new wave of open-source applications may also appear, said Brent Simmons, a Seattle Macintosh developer: "You're looking at applications offering ways to interact and network without going through the browser." Examples: Watson and Sherlock 3 for the Mac, which pull down information in an OS X environment specifically tailored to end users without drawing on a browser.
Case in point: NetNewsWire Lite.

October 11, 2002 7:55 AM


Here is the User Agent Report from Analog for this site from yesterday...



Absolutely amazing.

October 10, 2002 7:56 AM


A Linux friend of mine sent me this URL to an interview with two UI people from Redhat. It's a pretty interesting read in terms of building a UI for a software product and how to structurally develop a UI architecture...
We can't have a situation where an application only works properly if it's running in a specific environment. (And for the most part we've avoided this problem.) Even if GTK+ or Qt went away tomorrow, we have to deal with VCL (OpenOffice), XUL (Mozilla), WINE, old Motif applications, and so on. The same is true on Windows, where I'm told there are multiple generations of the standard GUI toolkit, plus third-party toolkits such as OWL, Qt, and Swing.
The mere facts that RedHat people said that, and that they work for RedHat is encouraging. I can't agree more and is why I'm not a big fan of XUL (even tho it's a cool idea). The consistency they are aiming at is something that makes Mac OSX a good thing and why locking down the UI is not a horrible decision.

October 10, 2002 7:44 AM


IAslash linked over to an interview with Merholz and Shedroff covering user centered design. Merholz makes a point that I've been aware of since my first commercial client engagement...
The primary problem of user-centered design is that people engage in it at the expense of all else. Oftentimes, what is *most* useful, usable, and meaningful to the end-user is untenable from a business perspective, and the product, while maybe popular, is a financial failure. Additionally, UCD can often get bogged down in process, in needing to verify every design choice with users, unnecessarily encumbering progress.
I've noticed over the last year or two that there has been a lot less bullshit about completely kissing the users ass to get the best requirements and make an application or site that completely matches the users needs and desires. I tend to believe that the user often doesn't know what is best for them and an experience professional (what I pretend to be) should be able to design, create and program systems that match the business needs with the users reality. This balance is what the User Centered Designer can bring to the table.

In other cases, just making the web app you are building not look like crap is user centered enough.

[Also, it's worth noting that Digital Web magazine does not put time stamps on their articles. The only way I can figure out of this article was current was by seeing "2002-10" in the url which I'm guessing is October 2002. Forced deductive reasoning is not User Centered Design.]

October 9, 2002 12:50 PM


The thing I want out of this release is the searching functionality. This blog sorely needs a search interface because I see a lot of Google referrer URLs that go to the wrong place. Here's the changelog for version 2.5.

October 9, 2002 9:32 AM


Steve sent me this link to a guide for building your own Mac today. Apple's hardware prices are still outrageous, and building my own machine would be fun, but I have doubts that Jaguar would install on a home brew.

October 7, 2002 8:50 AM


Over the last year or so, I have become increasingly squeamish about web pages that are dynamically assembled at request time. This page you are reading right now is not dynamically assembled at request time. It's a plain old html file that is generated when I do a save or a someone posts a comment.

When a database goes down (Sybase), or when requests spike for whatever reason (September 11), the scalability of a system obviously comes into play, and pure HTML going out thru port 80 can mitigate that. Of course some applications and sites must be purely dynamic and utterly up to date, but in my case with this blog, I like the fact that you get a page back without causing database lookups.

[For what it's worth, I do use some Server Side Includes on this site, so I sort of lied about the page not being assembled at request time. But, it's a fact that database lookups do not happen when you come to this page and all of the SSI's are non-essential functionality. So, the essential content of this site is always available, and that's good.]

October 7, 2002 8:03 AM


This PHP script that converts a Google news search into RSS is pretty cool, but has one fatal flaw, it's a screen scraper. Just as soon as Google changes their page design, this script will break, but until then, it's pretty damn cool. The saving grace is that the author has made the PHP code available.

October 6, 2002 9:58 AM


Reminder: Lessig speaks to the Supreme court this week (the docket) about copyright issues. Here's a preview.

October 5, 2002 9:57 AM


Regular reader of this here blog will likely remember occasional rants about the lack of broadband (or "permanet") in my neighborhood. For those new to the story, I'll briefly recap...

Me live in Northern Virginia. Me live 4 miles from AOL. Me live within nine thousand feet of the Verizon switching office. Me live next to MANY other dot commers and technically inclined people in a nice community. Me no have broadband!

Not even the mighty AOL can help out and deliver the fat bit pipe. Maybe if we came up with some sort of microwave transmission it would work, but the chances of that are less than a $50 stock price in the next week. Even the WISP down the street from me is also powerless to help me.

Now, Speakeasy says they can offer me ADSL for $99/month with a free iPod as an incentive to sign up! As if I needed an incentive to sign up for a megabit down and 768 up for $99/month. It sounds too good to be true. I got this note from them today...

Your broadband circuit is approaching completion!
This is an automated message based on your estimated installation date, and does not account for unforeseen provisioning problems with your local phone company.
It sounds like they are paving the way for excuse making, but I always hear good things about Speakeasy. Has anyone else heard otherwise?

October 4, 2002 8:59 AM


No doubt the T-Mobile hiptop 'puter named the Sidekick has a lot of geeky drool factor built in with GRPS, email, AOL IM, web browsing, and normal PDA'ish organizational electrickery. But, Anil seems to have a problem regarding the device...
you apparently took it upon yourselves to write software to specifically fuck up my website's display on your device. Do you hate me specifically, or just the internet in general?
He goes on to note that he failed to find any documentation about the browser on the device, but as Taco notes in his review of the device, the phone is auto-updatable "...so hopefully new and exciting features will roll out pleasing users with improved user interface." Let's focus on the browser issue, and one other fatal flaw; POP email.

The Sidekick comes with 16 megs. POP email means the email is downloaded to the device. POP email means that 16 megs gets gobbled up quickly forcing you to leave your POP mail on the server and get it elsewhere. I'm guessing this is the intended use, to check mail, not manage it on the device. It seems to me that IMAP support would be way smarter since you can download message headers and not the entire message and decide what to do with it from there.

So, here's a Sidekick 1.x (2.0?) wishlist...

  • IMAP
  • Standards based browser (Gecko lite?)
  • Color screen
  • Anything else?


October 3, 2002 9:36 AM


I'm busy today and don't have anything really smart or educated to say, but there are plenty of other people who do...
  • dive into mark notes "that Google has made some major changes in their most recent update. The weblogging community was hit hard (for instance, I used to be the #1 "mark"; I am now #6). The changes appear to be the result of an attempt to stop two phenomena: explicitly selling ads based on PageRank, and Google bombing."

  • Winterspeak keeps on the Xbox issue with a few questions like "How important is it to play DVDs or CDs on personal computers (or a game console)? How important will it be in the future? Given how consumers want PCs to be open and content owners want media players to be closed, how much will these domains "converge"?".

  • More and more folks seem to be opening Terminal in Mac OSX. To wit... "The growing number of Unix-friendly Mac users is especially apparent here at the O'Reilly Mac OS X Conference, where developers and enthusiasts have gathered to discuss the company's new operating system."

    I'll tell ya, I see more and more OSX machines here at AOL every day. There's even signs in the lobby advertising the new OSX version of to the employees.


  • Is the PlayStation network adapter worth it? Kuro5hin presents an op-ed.


October 2, 2002 10:33 AM


As Dan Gilmore notes, Apple hasn't made a commitment to Digital Rights Management (DRM) technology in their hardware (yet?). Microsoft has been conspicuously pushing DRM as an 'innovation' that consumers should love, but it's not the consumer that DRM wants to help out. Apple has a history of being user and customer centric, and a non-DRM play might not last.

Congress has been consistently pushing to pass laws making built-in DRM technology the law (eg, the DMCA and SSSCA), and if that happens, and Apple needs to build DRM into OSX, then they will have to pay Microsoft. Why? Because MSFT owns patents for DRM in operating systems (patent number 6,330,670).

The part of the SSSCA that scares me is this...

It is unlawful to manufacture, import, offer to the public, provide or otherwise traffic in any interactive digital device that does not include and utilize certified security technologies that adhere to the security systems standards adopted under section
I haven't taken a very close look at SSSCA2 yet, but it contains the same language I just cited. There are implications for the Linux world here too folks.

October 1, 2002 10:48 AM


Winterspeak addresses the Xbox and why Microsoft is willing to take such a huge loss on it in the near term ("a DRM system"). I've presented my opinion before that the Xbox is a trojan, but Winterspeak makes a good point about how they will be going about executing the strategy (while referencing a Kuro5hin article).

October 1, 2002 2:03 AM


As ripped from a Usenet article...

"qwazz" wrote in message

news:EgDl9.16880$q42.795542@bin3.nnrp.aus1.giganews.com...



> So i pick up UT2K3 at Software Etc. on Saturday.

>

> The box is not the usual oversized box I usually get there.



The fact that you had to post the box size as a gripe tells me I need to

hunt you down and frag the living shit out of your ASS.



Whiny little bitch.



Jim

Hahahahaha, Usenet will never let you down in the bile department. But, like a former intern asked of me a few months ago, "what's usenet?"
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