Monthly Archives: November 2007

Are You Getting Enough?

The BBC Magazine:

“A 20-minute nap gives you an amazing boost, it’s much better than having a coffee,” says Dr Stanley. “Even closing your eyes for 20 minutes is better than nothing. “But in the UK it is culturally unacceptable for us to be found napping with our head on the keyboard. However, it’s fine to pump yourself with caffeine even though it it’s nowhere near as effective.”

I used to power nap twice a day — around 30 minutes a time to keep me going during a long work day. It did eventually get to me though, and after a year of power napping twice a day and living on five hours of real sleep, I was very jaded.

The culture does need to change in the UK and US, pumping up on caffeine and working long hours is sometimes just not productive.

Mourinho Rules Out England Job

England’s best chance of international success has ruled himself out of the managerial job. A shame, he has the strong and egotistical personality to stand up to the FA instead of being a yes man like McLaren.

T-Mobile Selling Unlocked iPhones in Germany

Caveat: they cost €999, or £719 at the current exchange rate. This is T-Mobile’s way of saying “fuck-you” to Vodafone for taking them to court.

The Future of Reading (A Play in Six Parts)

Mark Pilgrim on Amazon Kindle’s business model.

Nikon 18-55mm VR lens

Nikon has performed a veritable U-turn and announced its newest standard range zoom lens will have VR image stabilisation. The precisely name AF-S DX NIKKOR 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6G VR is the first lens announced after their new AF-S NIKKOR 24-70mm f/2.8G ED, which doesn’t have VR as Nikon believed that VR wasn’t required on short zooms.

However, the success of in-body sensor stabilisation from the likes of Pentax, Sony and Olympus, and the new, cheap kit lens from Canon with IS probably forced Nikon’s hand to compete with a cheap VR zoom. This new lens combined with the 55-200mm VR lens would make a good stabilised zoom kit on a budget.

Visual Studio 2008 and .NET 3.5

Today Microsoft released Visual Studio 2008 and .NET 3.5. My personal favourites are the new language features for C#; automatic properties, extension methods, lambda expressions and anonymous types.

Lightroom 1.3

Lightroom 1.3 update includes support for new cameras including the as yet unreleased D3 and D300, and also fixes printing issues in Leopard. The biggest news is the release of a preview SDK for exporting images, so hopefully plugins that will let you upload to sites like Flickr within Lightroom will start to appear.

A History of Photographic Tampering

Examples of photographic tampering from 1860 with before and after photos.

Windows 7 “Top Feature Request List” Leaked

Ars Technica has managed to source an internal feature request list for the next version of Windows. Some notable sensible requests include improve taskbar for multi-monitor and option to “Reopen closed tabs” in IE, as well as some less likely ones, such as backup XBOX360 games to Windows PC.

Blade Runner: The Final Cut Showing in Manchester

The Cornerhouse in Manchester is showing Blade Runner: The Final Cut on 11-13 December. Be there.

Mafia’s Ten Commandments

When police arrested Lo Piccolo, the suspected head of the Scillian Mafia, they found a list of ten Mafia commandments:

  1. No one can present himself directly to another of our friends. There must be a third person to do it.
  2. Never look at the wives of friends.
  3. Never be seen with cops.
  4. Don’t go to pubs and clubs.
  5. Always being available for Cosa Nostra is a duty – even if your wife’s about to give birth.
  6. Appointments must absolutely be respected.
  7. Wives must be treated with respect.
  8. When asked for any information, the answer must be the truth.
  9. Money cannot be appropriated if it belongs to others or to other families.
  10. People who can’t be part of Cosa Nostra: anyone who has a close relative in the police, anyone with a two-timing relative in the family, anyone who behaves badly and doesn’t hold to moral values.

Style Over Substance

Stephen Fry now has a technology column with The Guardian, following on from the style of his blog which I linked to.

He talks about the value of style and substance in a digital device:

What do I think is the point of a digital device? Is it all about function? Or am I a “style over substance” kind of a guy? Well, that last question will get my hackles up every time. As if style and substance are at war! As if a device can function if it has no style. As if a device can be called stylish that does not function superbly. Don’t get me started…

This is the exact problem I find with Windows Mobile phones. Functionally, third party applications means you can get GPS navigation, instant messaging, interactive underground maps, and thousands more. But there is one fundamental problem with Windows Mobile, after six versions and seven years of development1 its still not possible to use it without a stylus.

Those of you that haven’t used a smartphone whose interface requires a stylus won’t quite understand, but its infuriating. Its almost impossible to use one accurately when walking, so you have to be either standing still or sitting down. Even then some of the buttons and scroll bars especially are still small enough to make errors fairly common.

This leads me back to the aforelinked Why Enterprise Software Sucks. I’ve yet to come across any enterprise software that manages to blend the right amounts of style and substance. In fact 99% of enterprise software is incredibly poorly designed, and I sometimes wonder how much people get paid to write this appalling rubbish.

Some people will never get it, the kind of people who wonder why the iPhone is such a success when it doesn’t even support MMS. But they’re a dwindling minority, it’s easy to forget that such software only started to become mainstream 10 to 15 years ago, and many people are still not very well educated about it. I’m hoping that as people learn more about software, they will eventually realise that usability and design can be just as important as the functionality.

  1. And even more if you count that the first version, Pocket PC 2000, which was based on Windows CE 3.0.

Why Enterprise Software Sucks

Little late off the mark with this, but Jason over at 37signals wrote a great post about why enterprise software sucks:

The people who buy enterprise software aren’t the people who use enterprise software. That’s where the disconnect begins. And it pulls and pulls and pulls until the user experience is split from the buying experience so severely that the software vendors are building for the buyers, not the users. The experience takes a back seat to the feature list, future promises, and buzz words.

Google Android: Try Again

Steven Frank has some good analysis about the recent Google Android announcement:

A 34-company committee couldn’t create a successful ham sandwich, much less a mobile application suite. It’s going to be some half-baked turd undoubtedly based on GPE since that’s, you know, better than starting from scratch, right? (Wrong.)

Google Unveils “Software Stack” for Mobile Phones

Google has announced a new software platform for mobile phones, which means its going up against Microsoft, RIM and Symbian. The difference is that Google is offering it’s Android system for free.

No news of a Google Phone, “but Mr Schmidt would not rule out the release of a GPhone in the future.”

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