a guy with keyboard

mostly tech talk | a temporary home until I roll my own

December 8, 2012 at 1:11pm
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Reblogged from parislemon

The Christmas gift for someone you hate: Windows 8 →


Phillip Greenspun on his experience using Windows 8 on a regular PC (not a Surface):

Confused about how the tablet apps work and want to Google for the answer? You go to a Web browser in the desktop interface and can’t see the tablet interface that you’re getting advice on how to use. Keep your old Windows 7 machine adjacent so that you can Google for “How to use Windows 8″ on the old computer and have the pages continuously visible.

Greenspun also can’t figure out how anyone could give this OS an even somewhat favorable review:

Given how misguided the whole design of Windows 8 seems to be, why have tech journalists given it basically positive reviews? My theory is that journalists love anything new, different, and complicated. Windows 8 is all of those things.

[via John Gruber, who notes Greenspun’s history of anti-Apple rhetoric]

I do not understand what "Greenspun’s history of anti-Apple rhetoric" has to do with anything. Yeah the guy can’t use Windows 8, that is fine, but he never says that Apple’s products are better or worse. Why does everything has to be compared to Apple’s stuff even when there is no mention of that at all. Crazy shit.

November 30, 2012 at 11:17pm
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why the concept of facebook is flawed

UPDATESo I did some more digging and found this: http://www.facebook.com/help/200538509990389/

Apparently I was wrong about a few things. You have some control over your stream, but it’s still algorithms and stuff. People still can’t choose what is important and what is just daily blabbering.

There was this post on Medium, about why twitter is better than Facebook (for the author at least). And it really got me thinking. I feel pretty much the same. Twitter is a constant source of news and thoughts from people whom I find interesting. I chose to follow those people. So basically if my stream is full of shit, it is me and only me who is responsible for that.

Facebook is an entirely different case. It calls an acquaintance a “friend”, but that is only the terminology of the site. 90% of my “friends” on Facebook are really just acquaintances from different phases of my life. They are are reconnected classmates from high school or even primary school. Or just a random person who I met at a party or while traveling abroad. These people matter, but I’m really not interested in their daily life. I would like to keep in touch and be informed when something big happens (e.g. marriage), but that is all.

So why Facebook is flawed? Because it was designed to keep someone in the loop in a college environment. And it does a great job in that with the status updates, pictures and stuff. With a sane amount of friends it is a great tool to organize events (pub crawls FTW) and share little musings about life and college.

However it was not designed to reconnect with almost forgotten friends from the past. Yeah, sure I want to keep in touch, say hi once in a while, but I just do not care about their 100th baby picture or how drunk they were last night. It is just too much information.

The biggest problem is that I have very little control over my stream. More accuratly I have inefficient control over it. I can make lists, but that is a lot of work and I have to maintain them as well.

Let’s say I took the time and effort to make them, but now I’m stuck with separate streams I have to look through. And a list is just a slice of the big stream that I have. I probably will never look at the lists with people from my past who I don’t care for anymore.

A list still not solves the main problem: I want to hear about big events, but not about the daily stuff. A list is basically a collection of daily lives of people I shoved in a category. Not good. And who the hell would want to maintain and follow a lot of streams. Usually one is overwhelming enough.

Let’s drop the lists, it is a dead end. How can I customize my one stream then? I can ignore people, that is certainly an option, but then I would fail to see if something big happens on the outer rim of my social circles. Facebook provides an option to show only the important posts. It looks promising at first glance, but who defines important? An algorithm based on likes, comments and alike? I tried it with a few people but it basically shut them out completely. I haven’t seen any posts from them since.

Let’s look at this from the other side. When I update my status I can’t say it is important, so it won’t pop up in the streams of friends who chose to see only important stuff from me. I have control over who might see my posts. That is all good, but what about the people who are only interested in a more coarse story of my life. Probably they want to know that I got married, but not that I had the time of my life yesterday at the local bar.

Facebook is evolved to something bigger over the years, but failed to rethink its core concepts. It is the same social site for college kids that was in 2004, but now with one billion users.

May 23, 2012 at 11:39am
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I Was a Warehouse Wage Slave →

As if Amalgamated couldn’t bear to lose a fraction of a percent of profits by employing a few more than the absolute minimum of bodies they have to, or by storing the merchandise at halfway ergonomic heights and angles. But that would cost space, and space costs money, and money is not a thing customers could possibly be expected to hand over for this service without huffily taking their business elsewhere. Charging for shipping does cause high abandonment rates of online orders, though it’s not clear whether people wouldn’t pay a few bucks for shipping, or a bit more for the products, if they were guaranteed that no low-income workers would be tortured or exploited in the handling of their purchases.

It is sad that when you order from Amazon a lot of people get explioted, but it’s foolish to think that people are willing to pay a cent more if they know warehouse workers will be treated better. I certainly won’t and not because I’m a mean person. It is because ordering online is much cheaper and it is cheaper because of the exploitation of poeple who make things happen in the background.

Altruism on this level is an utopistic idea. Not everybody has the luxury to pay more only to be fair to people. Wild capitalism is a harsh thing.

May 13, 2012 at 12:09am
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free is misunderstood

The price of “Free”

This is quite an old article, but the issue hasn’t got any less relevant. The only problem is that the article is not right. Free is not actually free, but it isn’t harmful either. One of the comments says it all:

If it’s free for you, you probably are not the customer.

There is no such thing as free software. In an ideal world maybe, but not here and not now. Somewhere, somebody always pay for it. I think it is a good trend that services are “free” for the end-user. Would you use Facebook if it wasn’t free? Would you use any kind of social network site or geolocation based app if it wasn’t free? Probably not. And that is perfectly right. In case of these services the user is the product. It cannot be said enough times. People must understand this. 

May 7, 2012 at 10:57am
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This is all your app is: a collection of tiny details.

— Wil Shipley

May 6, 2012 at 9:28pm
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best practices should be used

Best Practices Exist for a Reason

Here’s the thing about best practices: at the point at which you become sufficiently experienced, you understand why they are good and so can choose to not use them as the situation allows. Your understanding of the language or the ecosystem or the particular problem at hand has allowed you to view the problem from the same vantage point of the people that came up with those best practices; and so you are free to discard them if the situation merits.

It started out pretty good, but after the above paragraph it went south. It could have been a great article about why best practices should be used more and more, but instead it was a long rant. It’s a pity.

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customer care done right

I signed up for BugSense to try it out for one of our projects. I set it up, I integrated it to our app: it was a piece of cake, thanks to the dead simple API. The new version of the app is not yet released, so obviously no data was sent to BugSense. A few days later (actually on a Saturday) I got an email from the company asking about if I had succeded to integrate the service, because it seemed that we hadn’t sent any data.

That is what good costumer care means to me. When I’m not just a customer amongst the millions, but I’m the customer. I like it when companies pay attantion to me and to what I’m saying. This is how it should be done. 

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It changes the rules of the game,” he says. “You can’t trust that your developers’ machines aren’t compromised. You can’t trust that your support machines aren’t compromised.

— Wired

May 5, 2012 at 9:51pm
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changing the way you consume the news

My google reader is always full. I cannot keep up with the flood of news everyday, and then I feel kinda guilty. I subscribed to a lot of feeds because my hunger for information is infinite, but it led to an unmanageable number of posts. I haven’t even subscribed to the biggest news sources like TechCrunch. I chose a smaller (tech)news site, but it’s still unmanageable.

I find myself skimming through only the titles. I don’t even bother to read the excerpts. I only click on a title if it really catches my eye. And most of time I’m spot on. In 80-90% of the times I get what I want by looking only at the title. It led me to the conclusion that you only need the titles in your feed reader.

Actually you don’t really need a feed reader if you can find all the headlines at one place. Techmeme comes in mind, but its not good. It is overcrowded. Too many unrelated news and shit on the site. I’m not interested in ads or “sponsored posts” or upcoming events. I want to skim through headlines as quickly as possible. I don’t want to spend my precious and quite expensive time on content that does not interest me. And Techmeme only shows the “Top news”. It’s too opinionated for me. I want to select the stuff I read. I don’t want other people to pick it out for me. And it took me a few minutes to find where I can go back in time and read yesterday’s news. The site maybe about the now, but I don’t have the time and opportunity to be online all the time. I like to read back.

There are quite a few other news aggregator services but none of them can do the  trick. Every one of them is too stuffed. I need clean design. I need big titles and nothing more. I don’t even need a summary of an article. Only the title. And one more. It should be a web site. Not a mobile application, not a desktop client. A regular web site with a good mobile site. That’s it.

Maybe a few social features would be good. Really just a hint. Not like heavy duty facebook integration. Something lightweight. Maybe self-contained. I might just build a service like that. 

April 12, 2012 at 10:07am
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try to explain it to the user

Back-End Engineers Are the Unsung Heroes of the Tech Industry

It’s hard to explain to consumers why the battery in one phone lasts longer than the battery in another phone. All they care about is the fact that they missed a call from their Great Aunt Susan, because they had played half an hour of Angry Birds and watched a single YouTube video. Try explaining to someone, why they can’t download a game on their iPhone, and watch the expression on their face as you tell them that it’s because of something that’s used by a device that they’re not even worried about. Then duck, because something is going to end up being thrown.

It says it all. Users are shallow in that matter. They care about the looks and usability and that’s it. They do not care about how you manage to get things work. It’s painful to realize and even more painful when you have to face it.

When you try to expain it to the client how awesome your solution is to this super difficult problem, the client only asks one thing: “Does it work?” Boom! There goes your self-confidence and self-assurence that you did a good job, because the answer is “Not yet.”