One summer when I was around 4, I told my mom I was bored. I had learned to read the year before, and had read all my picture books within an hour. I had memorized the gist of the story and the better lines. For instance Green Eggs & Ham teaches one options and the moral to take a chance and try something first before you decide you don’t like something. In the end he loves the combo. BTW: why were the eggs green?

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It’s been months since I published anything. I’ve written a lot of little bits here and tweeted there. But I just have had no inspiration to push something into the digital well for others to scoop up in a bucket, large or small and drink. Things are very different now. I’m tired, aching and a little sad. So, what is there better to do than write in your publicly accessible diary?
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Audio 66’s BTS: My new favorite headset

Audio 66’s BTS: My new favorite headset

I am almost never satisfied with a majority of electronics because I’m the type of user that pushes them to their limit. I know what technology is capable of, so I tend to try to leverage it to suit my needs. One of my “needs” is to have a lightweight hassles-free headset. I wanted wireless so I don’t have to deal with getting tangled in cables, and plugging and unplugging it. I want one that can run all day (or a few days) on a single charge. And I want the sound to be good for casual listening—not that over-compressed first or even second generation wireless audio.

Bluetooth headsets have been out for a while. But they’ve been historically overpriced for what you get. IMO, they should be no more than $20 above the fidelity level of a wired headset. So, with Sony’s $100 MDR7 series the “standard” of a good price:fidelity balance, I figure a “sports*” headset like this should be no more than $50. When I found Noisehush NS400, it was exactly what I wanted, & only $35. I was very happy with the audio quality for the price and the sports band (where the band goes behind your neck) is the perfect balance of non-intrusive & convenient — meaning you can put them on and take them off in 2 seconds. But once I got used to them, I found one more “need.” I wanted to be able to connect to my phone, my computer and iPad simultaneously. Until the Bluetooth spec update that added “multipoint,” this desire was wishful thinking. With a street price of $50, Audio 66’s Bluetooth Sport is the first device to meet all my needs, including multipoint.

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When I read Pat Cadigan’s Synners back in the early 90s I thought about what technological advances would be needed to get there. I understood basic electronics, having taken it in high school, and had been using computers since a 12″ CRT, cassette drive, analog coupler & 4K were a big deal & cost over $1000. So, I had a fairly good idea, except not knowing how we would achieve the flexible TFT screens considering they were encased in glass, and a lot of problems with power & complexity. I also read Sterling, Gibson, Rucker & Stephenson which also influenced my thinking about technical (and social) advances (regressions).

Since then there’s been many advances that move us closer to what was a pure fantasy. Miniaturization of components and SoCs as small as your pinky nail were easily predictable. Tuning audio for a room in seconds was foreseeable, and a lot of ideas I could see coming to shape right on time or even before. This digital world lives in a trans-dimensional plane that can express all possible dimensions by its nature of having no dimensions—what I think of as the “all in none” paradox that got this universe started in the first place. So, aside from imagination of what to program into it, what sort of media people would consume, the only limit was physical. New materials and chemical processes are making the fundamental plane on which our interconnected digital world more flexible and more fantastic. For a very LONG time the race has been to offer flexible displays. This year the first mass market flexible display came out. But still the device it is embedded in, is not. Once someone puts 2 & 2 together at Apple or Google, there will be a product that does to the smartphone what the tablet did to the desktop & laptop.

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Practice, Practice, Practice

When I am consulting with a client, and navigating on my machine they are absolutely stunned at the speed of me using just the GUI. I have to remind them: I’ve been using GUIs for 30 years — starting from the very first Macintosh, and using various OSes since then (from BeOS to X-windows and back again). Given my use “cross-training” and approximately 40,000+ hours (conservatively) of using practically every type of app, I’d think I would be an expert at efficiently navigating almost any app. As a side effect, I have also gotten very good at spotting good and bad UI. If I don’t know how to do something: I usually know the magic words and the search terms to use. If even I cannot find info quickly, then something about either your apps and/or your documentation is lacking.

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I don’t remember writing this, I just know it was ~8 years ago. I was cleaning up my system today and found it in an old log folder. (I tend to keep detailed notes of my problem solving process with code snippets, so I can retrace steps if I forget why I did things a certain way or how I solved them.) The politeness and care in the message made me smile. If that code is still out there, I would be surprised [edited to remove a stray link].

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We started a new streaming radio endeavor on FCCFreeRadio. Our station’s site KCYX: Radio Kill is all about the show. We are currently on Hiatus. The first show had the classic “first show” gremlins all come out in series. The second week had a new batch of technical gremlins—but such is life with live shows & limited access to equipment. The first show focused on current music with a few throwbacks to early industrial. The total of six shows might be available still, but all that is up in the air at this point.

To not spam people not into the music, I will only post things about music we play or like on the KCYX Page — it also has push notifications. This is a joint-venture between me and a long time friend. We had guests  & plan to have more guests as well. So, check it out if you like music you won’t usually hear on terrestrial radio. The last show had ManifestiV stop in to talk about their tour & future releases.

Shows (should they continue) will play current electro/industrial/goth/darkwave/post-punk/etc. (basically the alternative music that was never labeled “alternative” in its day, but gracenote doesn’t recognize the genres by their actual names).

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The commercially available GUI is now over 30 years old. We all know that what was once a paradigm altering way that communications engineers, researchers & computer scientists could interact with their machine has firmly cemented itself in the landscape of interfaces, as the mice and trackpads that came with it. Initially the GUI was called a novelty that would quickly wear out its welcome by companies that have since staked everything on their misunderstanding of how a GUI should act. Now that a more common use paradigm is direct touch. The conventions useful & familiar with the desktop metaphor have been replaced by a graphic icon collection to open an app suited to the task. Again people who’s thinking is still bound by conventions of prior use paradigms that either work poorly or not at all without alteration to fit into new paradigms is hobbling the efficiency of their user base. The base-line of porting UI to a tocuh UI has been accomplished: where it was a double click to open, it is just one tap; where it was a menu bar window, it is now a navbar & bottom “tab/panel/view.”

However, Before this current paradigm shift happened, the GUI had already been mutating between versions & various OS platforms until new conventions were tried & failed or took root. Often multiple ways to interact are allowed in most desktop OSes, & between platforms some interactions are preferred, while other are simply cumbersome. Somewhere along the way the fundamentals of UI design were forgotten & exchanged for the slickest looking UI and usability took a backseat to aesthetics because the people who placed aesthtics fist didn’t realize that aesthetics and usability are tied together.  Thus the interactions needed to perform an advanced task became unnecessarily cumbersome, and furthered the knowledge gap between the novice and the competent.

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