fox@fury
The Neverending Soundtrack
Wednesday, Feb 19, 2003
(or "I know a song that gets on everybody's nerves...")

I'm beginning to think that I always have a song going on in my head. True, it's not always at the forefront, but I'm convinced that a part of my head is always singing along to something. This morning, walking tot he bus stop, I noticed my iPod was on zero bars of juice, and I hoped I could at least get a few bars of music, so I could have a song in my head then thought, wait. I don't have one already? And of course I did. I just wanted something else.

I want to write a program, or otherwise find some non-cyclic reminder that asks me what my 'currently playing' song is several times a day. I want to see whether I'm ever without song, and what kinds of music my inner DJ spins for me over the course of days and weeks.

Maybe if you send me email asking me "what are you listening to right now?" I'll reply, and then post the log with times after a day or two of responses.

Just to get the ball rolling, it's 2:29am, and my inner DJ is playing "Haunting Me" by Stabbing Westward.

Somehow that just fits...

Is it Wednesday already?
Wednesday, Feb 19, 2003
Worked through the night last night, and have a lot to do for tonight and tomorrow. Sorry, my poor, neglected baby blog...

On the brighter side I spent last night coding my first 100% CSS site, eschewing tables completely. It gives me headaches, but I know it's the way to go.

Stuff to share soon... Oh, and I need yinz help with a survey. I'll post the word doc here later tonight. I'd love it if you could d/l it and fill it out.

Soon!

Snow Day
Monday, Feb 17, 2003

SNOW
DAY!

Deep Blue is to Deep Junior as Marketing is to Science
Monday, Feb 17, 2003
Garry Kasparov, the world's top-ranked chess player, speaks out on why Deep Junior, the computer program he played to a 3-3 tie a few weeks ago, is a superior accomplishment to IBM's Deep Blue, the computer that beat him six years ago.

In his editorial piece, Kasparov puts forth a compelling vision on the juxtaposition of science and cognition, and touches on the 'why' of the Turing test, instead of just the 'what'.

I just wish the article was expanded to a book. Fascinating stuff.

Apple's UI Guidelines promoting their Brand Strategy?
Monday, Feb 17, 2003
Irate Scottsman has an interesting entry on inconsistencies in UI controls amongst Apple's own iApplications.

Personally, ever since Apple started with the iApps, I've been questioning the conflict of interest between Apple's setting UI guidelines, and then breaking them in their own applications in order to make those applications feel more appealing than third-party options.

The 'chrome' UI window theme used by iTunes, iPhoto, Safari and others is the clearest example of this. It lends the applications a sense of utility and refinement above that of applications that actually follow Apple's published UI guidelines.

It goes further than that though. Back when we were implementing webcams into the mac version of Yahoo Messenger, and I was creating the interface for the webcam broadcaster, I sought to follow the play/pause/ffw designs that Apple had established. Seeing the similarity in the webcam broadcaster's utility with that of quicktime, it made sense to leverage off the media controls OS X users were already familiar with.

Quicktime controls
Quicktime Controls

I got in touch with the UI evangelist at Apple and asked where I could get the approved 'bead' graphics for the play/pause/stop buttons, and I was told that not only were those graphics unavailable for third-party use, but that they are specific to Apple, and that other applications with interfaces requiring play, pause and stop buttons should not seek to emulate these controls.

What? Beaded buttons are one of the primary differentiating visual characteristics of OS X, and Apple goes through great pains to make sure they're used pervasively in third-party applications. Yet somehow media buttons fall outside the fold.

My first thought was that Apple's software revenue is tightly focused on digital media applications, but if that were the case, I would think that they'd put more effort in keeping their interface controls consistent across their own cutting-edge apps. Instead, each iApp tweaks the standard, either slightly, by beveling it down into a chrome window (iTunes), swapping the order of the 'rewind' and 'full rewinid' controls (iMovie 2), or eventually abandoning the bead style completely, as iMovie 3 has done:

iTunes controls
iTunes Controls

iMovie 2 controls
iMovie 2 Controls

Movie 3 controls
iMovie 3 Controls

Sadly, it seems that Apple's UI guidelines are created by waterfall design. They create cool new applications, then update the guidelines to accommodate. Thus, the application designer with the keys to the Apple UI palace can innovate all they want, then declare it the standard upon release. Third-party apps rush to follow suit, but by the time they do they seem outdated and boring, and Apple's taken the next step.

It reminds me of the Microsoft light bulb joke: "How many Microsoft engineers does it take to screw in a light bulb?" "None: They just adopt darkness as the new standard, then charge customers for the right to unscrew their own light bulbs for compliance."

Weekend Update
Sunday, Feb 16, 2003
Did a lot of great work on my Game Design project. I now have a dice game that, packaging issues aside, I feel is actually ready to be pitched to small games distribution houses. All I know is that people with no vested interest enjoy playing the game enough that they really want their own sets.

In other news, it's snowing tons. It snowed about a foot in the last 24 hours, and another 6-8 inches in on the way tonight and tomorrow. Add this to the fact that the City of Pittsburgh ran out of salt. Last week they dusted the roads with cinder, and today snowploughs and bravery were the city's only salvation. With tonight's storm, the Pittsburgh weathermen are calling this the worst winter on the books. Last month's average high was around 20, compared with the 40-year average of 36.

Htet Htet, Dana, Rachel and I all went sledding down the hill at Homewood Cemetery, about 200 feet, stopping jst before the frozen pond. I have a little video I'll try to get up once I finish the considerable assignments due tomorrow and Tuesday.

I had a very nice Valentine's Day with Rachel. We stayed in, cooked, and watched My Big Fat Greek Wedding. I also had a bad crick in my neck, and the doctor said it could take 10 days to get fully better, but backrubs were the best thing for it, so I should get out of the medical center and find myself a valentine. Thankfully I was prepared.

Also, for those of you who use the RSS feed, I did a little code work on the feed, so it shows the first two paragraphs of each article on Fury, with a link and a message showing what % of the post is currently displayed, if it's longer than two paragraphs.

and amazingly, I still like the snow. I've rediscovered the wonder of more-than-four-inches of snow, when the pillowey yet nonslippery powder means you can stop being so careful with your step. Heck, I even jogged to the bus stop.

Now it's time to go to sleep. My game prof is going to mail us by 9:30 to let us know if class is delayed or cancelled due to the snow. Officially, CMU never closes for weather. But then, I wouldn't expect any less from the only institution I've every worked for or attended that doesn't observe President's Day. Apparently that's more common in private East Coast institutions. In California, pretty much all offices close (Am I wrong?).

Well, maybe Mother Nature will enforce what CMU doesn't.

Google Buys Blogger
Saturday, Feb 15, 2003
Looking back five years from now, this will probably be the single event that will have changed the face of personal communications more than any other event in 2003.

Google has purchased Pyra Labs, providers of Blogger.

Oh, and I'm not sure what my intellectual property dealio is with Yahoo, so please don't ask me why Yahoo didn't buy Pyra a year ago when I was UI designer for GeoCities and Pyra was inches from insolvency. It's a painful memory anyhow...


Okay, to elaborate more, I think Google is the perfect Pyra buyer because their user-driven mentality is right in line with Evan's mentality. Google Labs is full of cool ideas that three-person Google teams come up with, and the ones that get a lot of user attention and use get funded further and get ramped up for mainstream use. It makes perfect sense to me that Google would be attracted to the best extra-googliar example of this mentality: Blogger, the first large-scale hosted blog application.

I can't wait to see where this goes! I just wish I was a part of it.

News Quiz: Iraq
Friday, Feb 14, 2003
Sorry for all the warblogging, but this one caught my eye: Earlier this week the Arab press aired an audio speech purportedly from Bin Laden. Recalling what you read in the press about that speech, did you get a sense that he supported Saddam Hussein?

Several articles, on CNN, the NYT, and other major sites, reported that Bin Laden was supporting Iraq's aggressive military stance (Iraq-the-governmentregime, as Iraq-the-people don't really have a military stance involving biological or chemical weapons). The White House carried this ball, citing it as further evidence that Iraq-the-regime supports the terrorist activities of Al Quaida.

The funny thing is that shortly after the broadcast, MSNBC reported: "At the same time, the message also called on Iraqis to rise up and oust Iraqi President Saddam Hussein, who is a secular leader." This sentence was later downplayed in an edit to the article, and within a day was stricken completely.

Osama is striving for solidarity of the Arab people against the United States; I don't think anyone disputes that. My concern is, given that the seemingly unstoppable Bush War Machine has Iraq in its sights, what is the plan? They'fe talked about ousting Saddam and changing the regime, but to what? Theres a good deal of dispute as to what the Iraqi people think in their hearts. What I haven't heard spoken of is this war's 'win condition'.

Is the conflict over when everyone who's left alive likes us and won't try to build weapons against US interests in the next 10, 20, or 50 years? Is the conflict over when we've bombed their capacities to the point where we can wait another decade before they get close and we have to bomb them again? Is it over when we enthrone someone who has our interests at heart, hoping that they stay our friend, but happy to come back and hit 'reset' again if they don't like us anymore?

But getting back to the bigger point: There seems to be no distinction between Iraq the people and Iraq the government, when such a distinction weakens our own solidarity against them. On the contrary: if Osama says Iraqi people should rise up and take Saddam out of power, then is it smart for us to condemn that, when we've been saying the same thing for years? Maybe it's smart for us to condemn it if the Iraqi people are more hell-bent on destrying the United States than Hussein himself is. This is pretty doubtful, but if that were true, then any conflict we get in to over there isn't going to be resolved by a simple regime change, unless the government we put in place is nothing more than a hostile dictatorship designed to supress the Iraqi people.

If I had to sum up my biggest frustration, it's that the media (tv, radio, web, print: all of it) simplifies the issues into little slices of 'this is what happened today' without ever looking into deeper issues and bigger pictures. The only instances where a broader scope of time is given are in editorial pieces which are so filled with bias and, by definition, opinion, that there are already too many grains of salt in the mix to trust their view, especially when it's so different than the "other side's" (left v right) editorial viewpoint.

Whatever happened to unbiased, nonsensationalistic reporting to people with IQs higher than carrots?

Happy Valentine's Day!
Friday, Feb 14, 2003

Hurt neck (no, it's not 'call Kevin and make sure he's alive' bad, but it's more than 'oh a good five-minute massage and he's right as rain'). It's amazing that two pillows when you're used to one can cause such annoyance.

On the brighter side, I also seem to have accomplished the impossible by convincing UPS to attempt a fourth delivery after coming home to their 'Final Delivery Attempt Failed' post-it on my front door. The new TiVo will be mine. Oh yes; it will be mine.

Oh, right! Happy Valentine's Day! I hope your day is filled with joy and wonder, or at least chocolates.

Of airships and attacks
Thursday, Feb 13, 2003
After a short post about Asian-Pacific attacks on the west coast, and another post on blimp terror, it seems only fitting to note that the only direct fatalities within the US (back then Hawaii was a territory) during World War II were from a single balloon-carried bomb launched by Japan and found by six unlucky and uninformed picnicers in Oregon.

Seems that Japan launched six thousand balloon bombs over a four month period, hoping to incite terror and start forest firest in North America. In response, the US started a campaign to shoot them down off the coast, while keeping their existence a secret from the American populace.

It makes me wonder though. Ridge raises the terror alert to Orange, citing 'the most specific data yet on terrorist activity' and declines to elaborate on what the threat is beyond saying every American should have the means to seal every air-permeable crevice in their home and subsist on their own without outside food, water, or power for at least 36 hours.

  
aboutme

Hi, I'm Kevin Fox.
I've been blogging at Fury.com since 1998.
I can be reached at .

I also have a resume.

electricimp

I'm co-founder in
a fantastic startup fulfilling the promise of the Internet of Things.

The Imp is a computer and wi-fi connection smaller and cheaper than a memory card.

Find out more.

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pastwork

I've led design at Mozilla Labs, designed Gmail 1.0, Google Reader 2.0, FriendFeed, and a few special projects at Facebook.

©2012 Kevin Fox