History of the BASIC family of languages

Saturday, January 14th, 2006

This is one of the funniest things I’ve read in a a long time (or at least since Scott Adams’ Devil blog yesterday morning.).

Five miles uphill in the snow both ways

Friday, January 13th, 2006

My main Mac just warned me that it was running low on space on the startup disk and I should clear some. It seems I have only 239 megabytes left. My first computer’s hard drive had less than 20% of that amount of space completely empty. The first computers I worked with (Apple II’s I think, but maybe Commodore 64s) had no hard drives. I’m not sure how much space there was on a floppy back then, but it was probably about 360K or so. In fact, I remember at least one computer I worked with didn’t even have a floppy drive. You stored programs on audio cassette tapes that recorded the modem tones! You young whippersnappers don’t know how good you have it. :-)

Atom Podcasts

Thursday, January 12th, 2006

John LeMasney asked a good question during my RSS and Atom presentation last night to the Princeton Linux Users Group that I didn’t know how to answer. Do Podcast clients, especially iTunes, support Atom Podcasts yet? I know Atom has the necessary elements but do the clients recognize them?

Copy protection steals Speilberg’s BAFTA

Wednesday, January 11th, 2006

The Guardian explains how copy protecttion is now even befuddling and bedeviling wealthy movie producers. When are people going to realize this stuff is more trouble than it’s worth? It’s not like I can’t go out onto the streets of New York City right now and find a pirated copy of Munich. Copy protection only hurts the honest, who in this case include people who might have otherwise voted for a Munich for a BAFTA award.

Exploring Editors

Wednesday, January 11th, 2006

I’m investigating external Weblog editors. I’m surprised there are no simple plugins for BBEdit or jEdit to handle this, and there doesn’t appear to any real open source software.

Thoughts on the Keynote

Wednesday, January 11th, 2006

Apple’s posted yesterday’s MacWorld keynote address in QuickTime format.

Objectively the announcements were pretty major. Subjectively, they managed to completely uninterest me. I’ve never liked iMacs (I prefer separate monitors and computers) and I don’t need a new PowerBook (excuse me, MacBook). I was hoping for an Intel-based Mac Mini, but that was nowhere to be seen. And of course there was no BlueTooth Mighty Mouse. Oh well. maybe next year.

The one piece that really impressed me was the new magnetic connector for the power cord. We’ll have to wait to see if it actually works and holds up to daily use. However it sounds like a really good idea, and exactly the sort of thinking different that Apple’s famous for. Without any extra effort or thought on the user’s part, the computer just works better. Problems happen less.

The typical computer company response to a problem with users accidentally pulling a computer to the floor is to ignore it and blame the user. Many won’t even cover the damage under their inadequate warranties, even though it’s their design flaw that led directly to the damage. Most users agree and blame themselves. I think from this point forward any time you trip over a cable and pull a stack of routers and hard drives crashing onto the floor, you should ask yourself why that had to happen. The short answer it didn’t have to happen. Devices should be able to be unplugged at any time for any reason including clumsy users. And of course the sheer number of cables should be kept to a minimum. Design is a usability issue.