Archive for January, 2010

Does Donald Norman Have An iPhone?

I was dusting my bookshelves last weekend – which some could argue must only be a yearly event for me – and found myself waxing nostalgic over Donald Norman’s “The Invisible Computer“. Written in 1998, I thought it might be interesting to re-read what he thought the personal computer needed and whether his wishes/predictions have come true 12 years later.

I studied under Dr. Norman for my Cognitive Science degree at UCSD. His POET (Psychology of Everyday Things) manuscript was the text for his Human Factors classes, which later became the book “The Design of Everyday Things“. “The Invisible Computer” is his followup which bypassed the analysis of door handles and cooktops and instead focused on the need for “information appliances” in this high-tech age.

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Back in the early 90s, I was managing the NCR Scripps Ranch smail hub on MP-RAS Unix, a sendmail router on SVR4, a Compuserve CIS dialup, a Network Courier gateway for StarLAN, a cc:Mail gateway for Novell 3.11, and a UUCP gateway on my Mac at home. I jokingly had a slogan/motto posted on my wall (from a Usenix member – need attribution):

“My goal in life is to send and receive email through as many gateways as possible.”

I just came across this quote that I should plan to have engraved on my tombstone:

“I have reached an age where my main purpose is not to receive messages.”
— Umberto Eco

Is Your Hosting Provider Destroying Data?

My hosting provider is knowingly destroying “my” data, and I was livid when I found out. But it turns out that this is normal practice for many (if not all) shared-server providers, even if they do not immediately disclose it.

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The Telephony Decade

Many end-of-year articles tagged the “Ought” decade as “The Internet Decade”, citing the emergence of Google, FaceBook, YouTube, etc. I have too much love for the Internet to wedge it into a decade. The Internet is an era, an epoch, a revolution. The Internet began in the 60s. The web, as many people use synonymously as the Internet, technically started in the early 90s and began to push into commercial consciousness before 2000. Even Google itself actually began in 1998, though its stock value did not go meteoric until after 2002.

And while the Internet undoubtedly played a huge role in all those retrospective choices, many of the other catalysts attributed to the Internet actually had a lot to do with the telephone, and  more specifically, the cellphone. This might make the 2000s more appropriately “The Telephony Decade”.

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I’m a PC, and man, I’ve really let myself go…

Is it just me? The “I’m A PC, And Windows 7 Was My Idea” commercials seem to feature doughy, greying men that flash back to some Windows 7 feature epiphany where they are always younger and decidedly more fit than their current appearance. I’m not sure if the underlying message is that people have a much more flattering view of themselves in their own minds, or that it took Microsoft 20 years (and 20lbs) to get the operating system right!


Patrick Gray touched off a firestorm of controversy (at least in the TechRepublic world) with a posting about “The Biggest CIO Challenge of 2010“, BYOT – Bring Your Own Technology. The idea is that IT organizations should get ready to support a hodge-podge of user-supplied, user-purchased, user-selected technology. He even rattled off a couple big name companies that were embracing it, implying that everyone should.

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New Year, New Toy

I have to admit, I never really resonated with “the blog”. To me, it seemed like a very public “Dear Diary” that you really had no idea who was reading. Not to mention the very idea that you are egotistical enough to think people are interested in what you had to say in the first place! MySpace and “the Wall” of FaceBook is a bit more natural, since at least you know who your audience is, but the open blog was a stretch. Sure, I got the whole business/marketing angle which works in many cases, but some people were using it as personal expression, and I am introverted and guarded enough for that idea to be a completely foreign one to me.

So now that I’ve trashed the blog concept, why am I trying one? Simple. LinkedIn is my new drug, and they have a WordPress widget. This is an egregious and wholly unnecessary attempt to have a blog so that I can test the LinkedIn tool that ties to it.

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