An interesting article at the Guardian on The Death of Handwriting. I have definitely seen a trend in this direction at work, especially now that wireless access is available throughout the entire campus. People bring their laptops to meetings presumably to take notes, but more often to check email, IM and do other things rather than focus on the meeting. I am a bit of an oddball in that I show up with my (paper) notebook and pen to take notes and jot down diagrams. I find good old paper and ink to be much more expressive and versatile in this situation.

I have noticed that with all of the time I have spent on the computer over the years that my penmanship has deteriorated and I am making a concerted effort to do more writing (versus typing). When I was in college I was proud of how well I wrote and even had several profs comment on the legibility and layout of written work.

I guess it is in the same vein as my using an analog watch; I find myself drawn to good ole paper and ink to capture my thoughts during the day. Or maybe I’m just getting old.

technorati tags: , ,

Instructables is an interesting web site where you can show people things that you made and share how others can make them for themselves. Definately some creative and handy people posting on this site.

We like to think about the physical world as something that is programmable. We like to think of objects or stuff you make as ‘code’. In other words, we are approaching the physical world as something that is describable and replicable.

technorati tags: , ,

Current style in web design describes what is ‘hot’ in web page design. According to the post, great sites share a common set of attributes:

* Simple layout
* 3D effects, used sparingly
* Soft, neutral background colours
* Strong colour, used sparingly
* Cute icons, used sparingly
* Plenty of whitespace
* Nice big text

I tend to agree with most of these attributes, but find some of the sites that use somewhat jarring color combinations and not enough contrast between background and font color annoying. For me, simple and clean is always better — which is a far cry from web design 10 years ago when it was all about ‘spinning logo, flaming logo’ eye candy.

technorati tags: ,

A version of the famous London tube map where the station names have been turned into anagrams is online. I have always found the original to be quite a good guide at getting around London and navigating stations and line changes. Perhaps having an anagram version of it is the only confusing bit about it.

technorati tags: , , , ,

I just discovered that you can get the ‘word of the day’ emailed to you by no less than the folks who bring the world the Oxford English Dictionary.

I find the OED a great resource to have around. We have the Compact OED version of it that has 9 pages reduced onto a single page (versus the pricy 20 volume edition). To read the entries you need to use this sort of half crystal ball magnifier that is provided along with the Compact OED. It’s a little funky, but thats part of the fun.

If you are curious as to what went into producing the OED, I highly recommend The Professor and the Madman by Simon Winchester.

technorati tags: , , ,

Here is an example of a blatantly self serving article on Publish. Running under the tabloid-ish title of ‘AJAX Poses Security, Performance Risks‘ the author goes on to make some vague statements about security and AJAX then segue nicely into a company that has a product (gasp!) that addresses the froth stirred up in the previous paragraphs. Frankly, I would strongly recommend against considering a product that ‘advertises’ itself in such as disengenuous and sensational manner.

Perhaps it should be pointed out that the security statements made in the article are generally true of any web development technology (basically, if you are dumb about securing your app, someone will exploit it) and that other fact-based explorations of the topic have shown that AJAX can actually improve performance significantly (on the order of 61%).

technorati tags: , , , ,

I am not surprised that Oslo, Norway has taken over first place as the most expensive city in the world (knocking Tokyo out of first place). We vacationed in Norway a few summers ago. While Norway was quite beautiful, it was easily the most expensive place that we have traveled to. I remember sitting in a restaurant in Bergen after having just ordered a hamburger. I calculated in my head that the burger was going to cost me over $20USD (probably even more expensive now). Oh, well, it costs what is costs. All in all I enjoyed Norway much more than Alaska (Alaska being a very poor value for the money) and would return to Norway before Alaska any day.

Of the other cities on the list, I found Copenhagen to be the most ‘affordable’ of the Scandinavian cities I have visited, London is certainly expensive (an not a great value, either). I don’t recall Geneva being overly expensive, just cold, rainy and desperately boring (it was December, granted). Commentary on Paris will be reserved until we return from a short trip there mid-February. Tokyo and Reykjavik both remain on our ‘someday’ travel list, expense aside.

Here is the list from the Guardian:

Most expensive cities
(Last year in brackets)

1 (3) Oslo
2 (1) Tokyo
3 (8) Reykjavik
4 (2) Osaka Kobe
4 (4) Paris
6 (5) Copenhagen
7 (7) London
8 (6) Zurich
9 (8) Geneva
10 (10) Helsinki

technorati tags: , ,

This Mac application really takes me back to when tubes were hot technology. Back in the day, when I was learning programming in college, I had the patience-building experience of programming on a hard copy terminal (the DecWriter) for the first year or so. Round about the beginning of my second year, they began to introduce VT-52 and VT-100 terminals with manual dialup acoustic couplers at a blazing 300 baud. There was one terminal that ran at 1200 baud that people would literally fight over (or come in when the lab opened and stay on it all day).

Anyway, back to the app: this is an emulation of an old tube terminal, including screen buldge/warp and variable brightness of pixels. Apparently, it even simulates cursor studder. Really makes one appreciate the state of computing these days!

technorati tags: , , ,