Quarter Life Crisis

The world according to Sven-S. Porst

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Random Rants

1369 words

Just all the random things crossing my mind in the past few days.

Steffen pointed me to this nifty bit of utter uselessness. Isn't Versiontracker fun. You've just got to love the comments. Strangely the release day is April 3rd rather than 1st.

John Siracusa writing once more on the spatial Finder. I fully agree with his main point that things have to stay in place on the desktop and you simply want to identify the folder with its window. They don't do in the current incarnation of the so-called Finder in OSX, though. While windows mostly open in the place you can have several views on a folder and the position the window is scrolled at is not remembered. This is particularly grave as the OSX Finder still delays the display of folder contents until it has loaded all the icons (could someone please send a book containing words as multi-threading and asynchronous to 1 Infinite Loop?). If you can rely on things being in place you can use this delay to move to mouse over the right bit of the window and click immediately once the icon appears. Currently, though, you'll have to wait, look, scroll and then click. Very clumsy. I can't really see how the latter ideas in the text with different 'browser style' Finder windows is going to work elegantly, though – but that doesn't invalidate John's other points at all. One thing I'd still love to see is having E-Mail integrated into the Finder, as it was in PowerTalk's mail folders. Not holding my breath, though – at all.

John Gruber recently interviewed Brent Simmons, programmer of NetNewsWire. An interesting interview, with many good points. I don't understand the point about the price though. Looking at the program's full version reveals that it has two parts as mentioned in the interview. One is for reading RSS feeds. And, in my opinion, it is simple and elegant as well as well executed and almost perfect (sometimes keyboard navigation seems a bit random to me, as well as scrolling). This part is very useful and enables me to enjoy RSS feeds. Best thing is: It's free, in the form of the Lite version.

The other part is for editing weblogs and taking notes. As I pointed out before, the quality of that part of the application is rather deserving when it comes to usability. Ironically, this part of the application comes at a cost – and with US$ 39 quite a steep cost. I can see a couple of points, like nobody paying for a read-only app and there being a lot of potential once the UI is straightened out – but right now, it just doesn't figure. The reader may be worth €10 or even €15 and the other part at most half of that, given that the time you save by using the weblog editor over other methods isn't anywhere as much as that of using the reading part. Also the notepad thingy doesn't look very done and I'll happily stick to Stickies for the time being. Finally, the total price is very high – it doesn't add up from the numbers I gave above, does it? With US$ 39 the price is well higher than that of GraphicsConverter, which comes at US$ 35 (or even as little as €25 if you're in Germany) and, unlike NetNewsWire, it is tried and tested, has an enormous feature set, has been the best tool in its area for years now, undergoes constant improvements, etc.

Doc Searls writes, once again, expect light blogging. I've seen this a couple of times now – and apparently he isn't all alone doing this. Every single time I saw it, I wondered whether this is really necessary. It doesn't seem plausible to me that any reader is really going to worry about some blogger's well-being if there are no posts for a short while – particularly if the person in question announced that he'll be travelling.

I have seen people worry about others they only knew from newsgroup after they had been AWOL for a couple of months and thought that was a nice thing... and a completely different thing from being off-line for a couple of hours.

Erik Berzeski writes about language being distorted by technology. A good point – someone should tell people making ads for supposedly 'cool' products. And NSLog(); is a cool name for a blog. Just the kind of thing a sad person like me finds funny. But then, I also liked people using Description forthcoming. as a signature for their news posts.

I read a nice article on retro-games the other day. An interesting point made there is that old video consoles were more like appliances. You switch them on, play your game and switch them off again. No 'intros' or annoying people with logos or animations, just quick and clean fun. Quite unlike these days where games have a specifically designed 'experience' to them.

Dan told me about the band Mew, saying that they were cool and a bit Sigur Rós-ish. The music is OK but I am not enthusiastic about it. Also, while I think I understand the motivation for Dan's comparison, I disagree with his assessment. The sound may be similar in places, but the music is different. I saw Charlotte playing a Mew video on Fast Forward yesterday, so they're probably not too small. In fact, looking at their web site, they have too much money on their hands to waste on excessive Flash animations and Windows Media files. It seems to me that I've seen an increase in Flash usage in band website recently. Annoying.

Many people have blogged about TrackBacks in the past weeks – an interesting feedback mechanism. Sadly it isn't used by everybody. Also sadly, there isn't a good way to integrate it with the comments on web sites. Leaving a comment on a site will force to go to that place again to look for answers to your post. Having trackbacks for those would be good.

While in Coventry, Vicky burnt a CD for me. She did it using some very colourful incarnation of Windows. Sure, it sucks – but you'll forget about then when you see people being really happy that they're able to make compilation CDs now. They'll say things like 'sometimes I can't select all tracks, perhaps I don't click correctly' but they won't care and try again. At times, even bad software and bad UIs can help people do things they couldn't do otherwise.

Other things noticed on my holiday: (a) It's the underground transport system that makes the difference between towns and proper towns. Just walk down the stairs into that particular foul and warm smell and you'll know you're in a proper town. (b) While waiting for my plane at Torp airport, I noticed that they used Bang & Olufsen TV sets for every single public display they need in the airport. Quite an expensive way to display an airline logo at the checkin desk.

(c) Writing postcards takes a lot of time. I wrote almost 20 during my holiday. While it probably makes people more happy to receive a postcards, CC-ing an e-mail is not only a lot easier, but you don't get bored of what you're writing either. Perhaps this is just a sign that I know too many people?

As I noted before I start worrying about those TV series as Alias or 24. The way that they constantly send U.S. government officials abroad with guns to hunt people in other countries, disrespective of any laws is worrying. So is the matter-of-fact way in which they talk about 'sending people to Guantanamo' or get any information they want. At least the latter doesn't seem to be true in the real world – considering how clumsy intelligence of the Iraq invaders seems to be in comparison to those TV series.

Other links: Photos of the Haldern festival that Dan and me visited last year. Magnetic Powerbooks, Halley Suitt on killing people in other countries in a globalised worlds.

April 4, 2003, 1:23

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