Thursday, December 20, 2007

So bad, I want revenge

Today I experienced something out of the ordinary wich made me think for a moment, about something I take for granted more or less every day.

A Google search failed on me. Horribly.

I was, for some obscure reason in need of a quick fix for a urgent need for a throwaway WYSIWYG editor on a windows box.

As I did not have a clear preference I selected one of the top 4 links that looked promising (everybody does that 90% of the time), and that particular link sent me over to a software offering that turned out to be completely unfit for the task.

It's not so much the mediocrity of the software, whose selling points was that it was free, cross-platform and, well, an WYSIWYG-editor. Because it was. But it was clearly not something that would do the job I wanted. It did not have support for editing external bloody style sheets, and holy Spaghettimonster, that is something that's something of an dealbreaker for me. The non-intuitive UI was horrible, but nothing extraordinary (I'm getting used to that feeling after several encounters with Office 2007).

What was most offensive, was the fact that they had the balls to put "all your Internet needs in one application" on their web-page and the fact that Google served up that particular url as one of their top recommendations for my exact search words. This caused med to not drop this app as the steaming pile of crap, but spend several more minutes trying to figure out what the fuck I was missing out, since I was finding my Internet needs NOT getting particularly satisfied.

I'm still at a loss for words to describe my level of dissatisfaction. All I want right now is 20 minutes of my life wasted on by a websearch that failed me completely. I think Google really, really would benefit from a feedback-system with 'Kill, with fire' as an option. Because that is about how bad I feel about this particular misfire, right now.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Microsoft: "IE7 's good". The web: "not impressed"

I put up a comment on a brief article on MSDN IEBlog noting the 1-year anniversary of the IE7 release. The main thing that impresses me, is the sheer volume of negative energy they're met with.

From the post:

Your arguments about volume of adoption are nothing remarkable, all they show is that people use windows (this also seems to be your main strategy in IE development: "they'll use it anyway, so let's not bother too much..").

I cannot for the life of me come to understand how the current (embrace-and-extend + institutionalized arrogace)-strategy on web technologies are going to be a net asset to your company when it spawns so intense dislike.

What really strikes me, is that Microsoft is acting very in a very, at least to me, counter-intuitive way. The discussions about Microsoft's complete lack of, shall we call it.. tact, regarding web standards, is why I feel Google's motto, Don't be Evil is squarely aimed at their Redmond competitors.

One thing that would help Microsoft out of thist mess is to adopt a new and fresh strategy; "Don't be Microsoft"

Saturday, October 13, 2007

The science of choice

Malcolm Gladwell on variability. Not much to add, except that it is more to it than you'd think at first.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Albedo, and why energy won't be easy

The fun thing about changes on a global scale, is the insight it brings, the earth is not big enough. You could look at this two ways, either we're causing the changes by excess introduction of trace gases into the atmosphere (a theory subscribed to by 97% of all scientists) OR we're unfortunate spectators of some freak variation in nature (this appeals more to the last 3%, and as a bonus a very comforting viewpoint).

Either way we're poorly equipped to handle a worst-case scenario, should this come to pass. Nice reading material on this topic would be James Hansen, a merited professor in NASA's employ (they've been to the moon and back, wich is more than you can say about Exxon Mobil, or Royal Dutch Shell).

Funny language like

Multiple positive feedbacks accelerate the process once it is underway.

The global mean temperature three million years ago was only 2–3 °C warmer than today, while the sea level was 25 ± 10 m higher

proves interesting for sure.

The whole reason this is surprising, is that Hansen, maintains that this is a posibility that we see climate along the lines of this once again, within the immediate future(that being 5m in about 100 years time). This is an estimate that is about 10 times more dramatic than IPCC have proposed(58cm, at most), and not at all satisfying to think about.

Consider this; where are you at 5m higher sea level? And your immediate infrastructure, and your national and international economic system. It's long story short a challenge of impossibly big proportions, and a perfectly natural human reflex is to shy away from problems at this scale. And then we're not even talking of the consequences of the new and exiting weather pattern.. It just might be time to grow your own potatoes again.

Why the big difference in numbers? IPCC have to be 110% sure of any statement they put out, so naturally they're vague about effects that they do not have a good predictive model of. Possible rapid dynamical response of the ice sheet, is one of the factors that are impossible to estimate with a high level of confidence, and are therefore not included in the IPCC models. Wich is a shame.

Saturday, March 24, 2007

The Beauty of a Fresh OS

The most fun & exciting experiences I've had with software from Microsoft have consistently been the joy of logging into a fresh install of Windows.

The sheer joy of it, lack of clutter, the responsiveness (my computer routinely feels one year younger after a new install) are all things that will wear off quick enough, but I'd hope Microsoft engineers got around to do more to preserve this feeling, as I find the blank desktop really difficult to dislike.

From the untouched, virgin desktop it's exceptionally easy to set out to do real work. A new browser, downloaded in less than 3 seconds (Gigabit downstream is one of the things I will miss from studying), new developing framework in less than 60 seconds, crisp graphics drivers in less than 2 minutes.

If they're really serious about improving Windows, the pristine look and feel of a fresh install is what they ought take a look into..

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Love, hate and genius. Connect the dots.

"- If everyone exposed to a product likes it, the product will not succeed. The reason that a product “everyone likes” will fail is because no one “loves” it.

The only thing that predicts success is passion, even if only 10% of the consumers have it.s" - Scott Adam

I'll just quote Kathy Sierra's take on this insight.

And I could not agree more. Pushing for excellence, will take you away from the safe 'middle ground', some will hate it, but if enough people really love it... It'll be hard to fail (think: global trend cascade).

If the product is objectively better, the mass market will move along and embrace the new product, but not because they really care, but because the default option gradually lose ground.

This mechanism is what keeps super-size corporations from doing all the product development by themselves. Sometimes loveable products come into being in less restrictive environments.

"We aim not to please, we aim to sweep you off your feet."
Any organization that doesn't have room for thoughts like this, is by default incompetent in making at least some of the best innovations of the future.

Sunday, February 04, 2007

Hypertext. It's still beautiful

mwesch have done a brilliant narration that captures some of the important ideas of how hypertext (that is, the internet) is interesting and important. I also love the Matrix-like hinting. Kudos!

Friday, January 19, 2007

IE conspiracy redux

I just realized, visiting the launch page of MSN 8.0, that the IE conspiracy is even more insidious than previously imagined on my part.

It's common knowledge that the company with the biggest development budget provide a browser that's definitely flawed. Time after time. It'd be a little ironic, the problems Microsoft seem to have, making a set of readily available standards, even with numerous open-source implementations (it's possible to sneak a peek, if the going gets tough). Even with heckloads of cash it seem MSFT is unable to come up with a product that performs well in the face of competition. It'd be (sort of) fun, if it were plain old stupidity that caused this. Alas! It's very unlikely that this is the whole cause of all the standards-trouble.

Being market leader with a de-facto-monopoly status,(monopolies are on a theoretical basis assumed to be detrimental to both quality and price. Microsoft would have trouble to argue that this ain't true in practice.) open standards, and thus a playing field open to all, is 100% un-desirable for someone who've grown accustomed to not having real competition. The mangled support for web standards in the most popular browser family have slowed development of open web technology incredibly much.

The question for me have been; what is their alternative? Open standards should be a 'natural development' of web technology if they prove to be useful. Right. Right?!

Not so. What you can see from the MSN-launch page, is that whenever the PR-dudes at Microsoft wants REAL WORK(tm) done, they go for Flash content. For those of ou who fail to see any significance in this consider the following. Microsoft guys have slowed down the development of open standards on the web single-handedly, and when they want to do a high-profile page, they choose not to use the exact standards other people have problems implementing in a sane way, and instead go for the Adobe (nee. Macromedia) Flash format.

Now they've created a incredible logical bypass of everything open and free, and right on to another proprietary standard. That'd be a very fine maneuver to extend internet functionality, after the Internet Explorer embrace have been on-going for nearly a decade.