2009-12-22

GGUI

My dad's user interface has really progressed in the last two days. Screenshots to follow.

2009-12-11

Privacy

Google's Eric Schmidt apparently said in an interview

If you have something that you don't want anyone to know, maybe you shouldn't be doing it in the first place.

I almost agree. I'd add that "You should probably accept the possibility of it being made public. I don't mean in a "is it worth the risk", but just, while it's convenient that the whole world doesn't know, you should have an idea that you could tolerate its becoming public. I mostly thought of this after trying to evaluate how I felt about Jason Fortuny's Craigslist Experiment. I suppose I feel: if it's real, it exists in the world and its existence will challenge concealment.

2009-12-09

Browsers

So, a lot of churn, not much improvement.

Firefox doesn't work well when I have 50 tabs open. Yes, I do want 50 tabs open. Or, I want to maintain a working set of around 50 things to read eventually. No, I don't want to use bookmarks. What would be nice is if Firefox could even refrain from loading tabs until you've clicked on them. I mean, my session is restored when I open Firefox again. That doesn't mean it needs to download several megabytes that I still do not yet intend on handling.

Anyway, Firefox with 50 tabs gets slow and slows down my system. The CPU is running near constantly at 100%. I'd like to think it's due to stupid Flash and JavaScript. Regardless, using multiple threads in a single process doesn't allow for very complete or clean separation of memory and CPU usage between sites. I don't imagine Firefox getting better. Instead, I have to try to deal with tabs that are not yet convenient to deal with. Triaging. Joy.

My other options are Epiphany and Google Chrome (now in Beta for Linux). Epiphany just changed from Mozilla's gecko to webkit (as seen in Konqueror and Safari). Consequently, tab handling, downloading, and the caret in this text area as I type are all messed up. I am amazed that Fedora thought it was good enough to include. Yikes. I mean, with the default settings, you cannot download anything: it's set to try to download to /! Users don't have write permission to root. Did the developers working on this do so under root?! Ugh. A ridiculous download manager appear for the duration of a download and then disappears, stealing focus. At least with Firefox's, it doesn't auto-disappear, and you can keep it in the background so it won't annoy you anymore. Yay.

Tab handling in Epiphany is busted as well now. I click "Open in Tab" and there's a 50/50 chance that it will open in a new window. Sometimes, I have no way to open a link in a new tab, it will only do it in a new window. And vice versa. It's a probabilistic target? I don't know what the deal is with the caret in this text area, though. It's leading its expected position by 1/2 to 1 full character width. Characters still appear where the expected caret should be, though. Yay?

Google Chrome Beta for Linux was short-lived on my computer. I do want its process separation of sites, but it froze on me 6 times in the first 20 minutes of use (arguably, I was trying to install extensions at the time), its extensions are all somewhat annoying (I mean, the ones for Google Services are all crippled or very limited, making them all very useless to me). I will try it again in 6 months or so.

I think the biggest obstacle for me in using a non-Firefox browser is the absence of this fundamental feature: vertical tabs. For some reason, modern browsers seem to mostly take a cue from 1995 window lists: horizontal, and the more you have, the smaller they get, and the less you can read of the window/tab's title, until it's useless! Meanwhile, vertical lists of tabs or windows allow something wonderful: consistent width, consistent size of tab/window name, and a much larger number of items can be added vertically, since the names are orthogonal to the list. Yay!

Google Chrome does have two extensions for vertical tabs, but both in the stupid form of a button that shows you a dropdown (even Epiphany has their Tab menu built-in), and Google Chrome's horizontal tabs are not hidden by either of those. Ugh. I don't hold out much hope for an extension being able to actually move those to the side, but I can keep hoping. Epiphany doesn't let me hide the tab list either, come to think of it.

Oh, and the fonts in Google Chrome! I couldn't readily find a way to shrink the default font size. I'm sure it's there, I just couldn't find it.

So yah, here's looking to the future. Perhaps Firefox 3.6 will go beyond advertising speed/efficiency improvements and actually implement some. Then again, life could be worse: I could be stuck using IE!

2009-12-08

Receipts?!

Paper receipts are getting to be kind of ridiculous.

You see, I keep meticulous possession of all my receipts. They have a flow: through the wallet into the repurposed cereal box, which when full is taped shut and then piled atop my other receipt boxes to seldom be reviewed again. It's a good and worthwhile system. it means that I have a collection of evidence of my history. I can pop open a cereal box and search for the memory cues buried within. "Wow, we did buy a biodegradable cup of cherries at Granville Island in 2007! That was cool."

However, these receipts, when considered as given out to everyone as a record of every monetary transaction, indicate a MASSIVE CONSUMPTION OF PAPER THAT RARELY GET REVIEWED OR REUSED! I wonder how great the recycling rate is for them. Hmm hmm hmm. It clearly makes oodles more sense to receive electronic receipts, which can reveal your purchasing habits to even yourelf in ways only meticulous transcription and analysis would previously. It will also save oodles of paper.

I know banks already over you records of totals for each transaction, but they don't even offer that as an eternal history. I can only get my information back a few months, and then back a few more for a fee. It's outrageous. I worked for a company that also dealt with similar records that said "we don't want to become a data warehouse" to which I think: Yes, you do! Total and complete records are so very much more valuable than partial ones. I feel sorry for Google who must bend to privacy concerns and limit the peroid information is retained for. At least recency ends up being a bigger factor for them?

So yes, here's to digital receipts: their standardisation and omnipresence can not arrive soon enough.

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I am aeronautical, vanship-style.  I am olympic and mythical.  I rest on my laurels.