Monthly Archives: May 2001

Joel on Software

By the way, whenever usability experts point to Microsoft Office products as an “example” of horrendous usability, they are usually being disingenuous and just pandering to the crowd. In my opinion they're just attacking the products with the biggest market share because most of their listeners will have experience with some Microsoft UI problem. The dishonest part is that they never seem to offer any specific improvements. Designing UIs for a program as complex as Word or Excel is extremely hard and the very best designs are still often difficult to use, and that applies to any program with a reasonable level of complexity. Before you hand-wave about a bad UI, explain what you would do differently and tell us why that would be easier to use. When Jef says “… everybody knows that Microsoft Word, Excel, and other popular programs can be maddeningly frustrating …” he reminds me of Scott McNealy telling really stupid jokes about Microsoft at Sun developer conferences because it never fails to win applause. Good for you, children. Now say something interesting without just making fun of the fat boy. [Joel on Software]

Geek house

Salon.com Technology | Geek house. Patrick Deutsch has turned an average Vallejo, Calif., condominium into a 21st century Taj Mahal. Using motion sensors, infrared transmitters, cameras and dozens of other products that communicate with each other via a protocol known as “X-10,” he's created a hip bachelor pad that's extremely, well, sensitive. [Privacy Digest]

Rendering Effective Route Maps

Rendering Effective Route Maps: Improving Usability Through Generalization | “Route maps, which depict a path from one location to another, have emerged as one of the most popular applications on the Web. Current computer-generated route maps, however, are often very difficult to use. In this paper we present a set of cartographic generalization techniques specifically designed to improve the usability of route maps. Our generalization techniques are based both on cognitive psychology research studying how route maps are used and on an analysis of the generalizations commonly found in handdrawn route maps.” [xblog: Visual Thinking]

Python: The one-size-fits-all programming language

LinuxWorld: Python: The one-size-fits-all programming language “I don't mean to rekindle the Python versus Java wars that raged a few years back. Each language has its place. Neither is perfect for every need, although Python is closer than Java to being a one-size-fits-all language. But I happen to be as big a fan of Java as I am of Python. And I am drawing the comparison because you would do well to consider both if you're about to embark on a new Web application project. You just might find that Python is more appropriate than Java for your particular task.” [QubeQuorner]

Perl Program Repair Shop and Red Flags

O'Reilly: Perl Program Repair Shop and Red Flags “Most years, I have to slave over new tutorials. But this one almost wrote itself once I found the right examples. I'd start with someone's 71-line Perl program, and go over it line by line. Each time I came to a line that was unnecessary, I'd take it out and write a slide about it. The result? 39 slides and a 32-line program.” [QubeQuorner]