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Comments

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"Microsoft Killed My Pappy"

gilgongo The greatest single disaster in computing history (742 comments)

I'm going to go out on a limb here and say that comparisons to the Holocaust and world wars are in fact quite appropriate when discussing the magnitude of what Microsoft did to the history of computing, and by extension to human history overall.

The reason for this is simple. The effect of the Microsoft monopoly lasted so long and was so stultifying that it meant we will never know what a different word processor might be like. We will never know if spreadsheets or email might be more usable or efficient. We will never know (at least not in our lifetime) what an operating system or software might be like that doesn't use the conventions laid down by a company that had no incentive to make anything better, no need to design anything more than barely adequate, or to listen to its customers. Yet all these things are of fundamental importance to our lives - far, far too important to have suffered under a brutal, money-grubbing monopoly.

Despite (very) small innovations, Apple was not and is not a counter-balance because they were forced to ape the conventions that the Microsoft juggernaut had laid down with it's 95% market share. Jobs knew as well as anyone that it would be suicide to create anything that the market place was not already at least partially familiar with.

In the final analysis, the Microsoft era was a massive failure of free market capitalism that left us all driving Trabants while thinking they were the best that we could have. The blame lies of course with politicians and industry regulators who had no clue what an immense influence personal computing would have on society until it was too late. But it is too late. The die has been cast for personal computing for generations to come, and that is an utter and maddening tragedy for all of us.

The issue is of course far bigger than just one man, but holy mother of god do I hate what Bill Gates did to all of us.

about 2 months ago
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AOL Reverses Course On 401K Match; CEO Apologizes

gilgongo OT: Creative Commons fame (123 comments)

Nice to see my mum's allotment garden on /. :-)

about 2 months ago
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Slashdot Tries Something New; Audience Responds!

gilgongo Re:And that's exactly what I asked for. (2219 comments)

Use the Slashdot poll for something useful for a once.

Looks like Beta has hidden the comments on the polls. Coincidence?

Joking apart, putting up a list of features to vote on will just be chaotic. Better to put a list of high-level principles up first. For example:

1. Slashdot is about commenting on stories.
2. Slashdot is about finding out about new stuff in tech
3. Slashdot is about creating a community of like-minded people

etc.

Which one of those gets the most votes sets the direction for any re-design. Discreet functions like "mod up" or "quote OP" would just wear everyone down I think.

about 2 months ago
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IE Drops To Single-Digit Market Share

gilgongo Re:More reprsentative stats please (390 comments)

"My companies websites (Insurance) have an IE share of about 40%."

I concur. W3Schools is completely unrepresentative of a normal web demographic and I never know why people take their reports seriously. I worked for 5 years at a multi-national online travel agent operating in 48 countries. I posted some stats on our browser usage about 18 months ago as part of a similar rant about some loons called StatCounter claiming that Chrome was now the majority browser in the UK. There is no way in hell that IE has declined over 40% since then:

http://webtorque.org/?p=1802

(BTW the differences between China and India on weekends is quite striking though)

about 3 months ago
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ChipSiP Smart Glass Specs Better Than Google Glass?

gilgongo Re:Features != Capabilities (129 comments)

"You are confusing features with capabilities. The problem with features is mostly about complexity and interface."

No, you're confusing good UI design with bad UI design. That's a different thing to what I'm talking about because in your example features can be rendered easy or hard to use by the way they are designed into the interface. Put it another way, you can have great features poorly executed, or poor features well executed - and in both cases the outcome is fail. Features are neutral until executed (AKA designed).

Instead, what I'm talking about is the knee-jerk reaction of product managers (as opposed to designers) who immediately start listing "better features" in order to compete with a rival. They don't realise that what they need to do instead is list customer needs, then come up with features from there. That's much harder to do of course. Who cares if I have 1080p video if I don't need to record any video?

 

about 3 months ago
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ChipSiP Smart Glass Specs Better Than Google Glass?

gilgongo Features != UX (129 comments)

"detect speed, altitude, temperature, light and position. It has built-in GPS, Bluetooth 4.0 and a microphone. ..."

OK. It'll fail.

When will product managers understand that trying to compete by stuffing features into products does not a better product make? Has the tech design industry learnt *nothing* from the likes of Apple?

When Google's "inferior" product completely crushes them, I bet these idiots will be crying to their mystified managers that they didn't "market" it hard enough.

Muppets.

about 3 months ago
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China Creates Air Defence Zone Over Japan-Controlled Islands, Issues War Threat

gilgongo Most of this will be about internal politics (519 comments)

Far east Asian foreign policy is even more about playing off internal factions than it is in the West. I bet this is just a case of the Chinese making nasty noises in the hope that a) somebody will be placated, and b) Japan will know this and just play along until things die down.

The chances of nukes and bang bangs over this are very, very low. See also North Korea.

about 5 months ago
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Object Lessons: Evan Booth's Post-Checkpoint Airport Weapons

gilgongo Re:So, time to scrap TSA/airport security checks (208 comments)

It is true that they may now start to resort to tactics that were not imaginable just a few years ago, ...

The sooner you realise that your attitude to a minuscule terrorist threat is actually the problem here, the better.

I would suggest you are suffering from a form of mental illness similar to that of obsessive compulsives who refuse to touch door handles for fear of picking up "germs". You cannot see the obvious facts for what they are: there is no significant threat from terrorism, and there never was one. The fact that you are willing to drive around in cars, or ride on the subway when a) there is a far higher risk of you dying from non-terrorist causes doing that (and pretty preventable causes too, given TSA-like funding) and b) terrorists could just as easily attack those as well, is plainly deluded when the price you pay in return for "safety" on a plane is so utterly disproportionate.

The sheer Owellian nature of what is going on in the minds of Americans like you is amazing. Land of the free? Don't make me laugh.

about 5 months ago
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Bill Gates's Plan To Improve Our World

gilgongo A reasonable critique of Gates's philanthropy (445 comments)

This is worth a read:

http://newint.org/features/2012/04/01/bill-gates-charitable-giving-ethics/

TL;DR

Gates's and others' philanthropy prolongs poverty by sowing as it does the seed of more inequality (in Gates's case, through the formation of health policies in the third world that make it easier for Western drug companies to open up markets for treatments there). They give away the fruit, but never the trees.

As Oscar Wilde observed of the philanthropists of his era: ‘They seriously and very sentimentally set themselves to the task of remedying the evils that they see in poverty, but their remedies do not cure the disease: they merely prolong it.’ Then and now, as Wilde said, ‘the proper aim is to try and reconstruct society on such a basis that poverty will be impossible.’

This is really the question that needs to be addressed: why is poverty still possible - and why can it even get worse - after 200 years of Gates's capitalism? Surely by now if capitalism was the answer, we'd not be where we are today.

about 5 months ago
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Stop Listening and Start Watching If You Want To Understand User Needs

gilgongo Re:And a pony. (161 comments)

You'll get back great useful answers back like: "It should be "better", cost a dollar, have all possible features we could ever possibly use, but we only really use 5% of them, but it has to be so easy to use nobody needs training, and a pony".

Generic and conflicting requirements that are frankly useless.

As a developer, would you like to deal with this reality? If not, let a designer do it because what you regard as "useless" is part of the raw material of improvement for them - they are paid to make sense of "make it better".

I would wager there are not enough hours in the day to research and interpret user needs AND write code. Designers are there for a reason (and if they're not researching, observing and interpreting, then they are shit). Whenever developers ask me to get them more involved with the people who will use their software, I always warn them to be careful what they wish for. But they usually only turn up to the first couple of research sessions :-(

about 5 months ago
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Stop Listening and Start Watching If You Want To Understand User Needs

gilgongo Re:Mobile app observation. (161 comments)

Hi - I'm a designer. What you describe is a property of computer interaction called "feedback." In principle (and design principles are important), you should always try to provide feedback to any input, regardless of whether that input is "useful" to the user or not. It means the machine is paying attention. That you have observed an unexpected input is a nice discovery. If you want, you too can build an entire career on doing this - because that's what I've done, and now I'm generally too busy and wealthy to read /. any more. But this story caught my eye.

about 5 months ago
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Student Project Could Kill Digital Ad Targeting

gilgongo "Vortex isn't available publicly" (177 comments)

From the article: "Vortex isn't available publicly or even in a closed beta form..."

As vapourwear goes, it would seem rather vapid then.

about 9 months ago
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As Music Streaming Grows, Royalties Slow To a Trickle

gilgongo Re:There is this thing called a Union (665 comments)

MOD. PARENT. UP.

Really. If we were taking about nurses, or teachers, or even miners or ship builders, the urgency of this issue would be a thousand times more intense. But in the grand scheme of things? This is - I am afraid to say - JUST MUSIC. It's music. Fun if you can write a nice tune, great to listen to. But frankly, not worth our angst here. You don't make a living making nice music? My commiserations, but perhaps you should not be expecting to make one any more than I do in my profession (UI design, if you must know).

about a year ago
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What Early Software Was Influential Enough To Deserve Acclaim?

gilgongo The Clipboard (704 comments)

Not so much software as software tool, but if you're looking for the most influential and important thing in software, the clipboard probably wins hands down. Without it, most of the web would not exist, for one thing.
It also has the distinction of being invisible - out doesn't even feed back. Nothing comes close to it for ubiquitous power and influence.

about a year ago
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Telepresence Robot Rundown

gilgongo Re:Innovative? New? (51 comments)

Yeah, but it's such a cool idea!! Like video conferencing - sooo groovy! Never mind that it's been marketed and failed over and over an over again (most recently by Apple with Facetime, but also by just about every single large tech company in the past 40 years). VCs will never tire of throwing bazillions at it.

about a year ago
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Twitter Launches Political Index

gilgongo Re:Why would news outlets CARE if it's manipulated (86 comments)

engage in actual journalism or something, instead of echoing press releases

It's far worse than that. Almost all "news" is worthless, speculative, time-wasting trivia. Either that, or poorly-informed, badly thought out "opinion pieces". If you're bored on a weekend, try buying a "quality" newspaper, and cut out every article in it that you might honestly be able to say is important for you to know about or that contains reasoned argument supported by verifiable facts. Years of worthless "news" indoctrination makes this a tricky exercise. You might be tempted to think that knowing whether Michelle Obama has visited a school in the Bronx is important, or that a man who got drunk on board a flight to Norway is "news." No. It isn't. It's useless trivia. So friggin' what if Vladimir Putin is riding a quadbike? Why should I care? A self-important "editorial journalist" thinks family life has been eroded by video gaming because a single study funded by Families Against Video Games says it does. Are they proposing any further research on the subject to further test this hypothesis? Are they themselves an expert in the field? No? Then why the hell should I care about their personal opinion? Really - they should just fuck right off and the fact that they are even in print is an insult to anyone buying the paper.

I guarantee you that you will not be able to cut out more than five articles in any newspaper that actually answer the description of informative, actionable, relevant information about things that directly affect your life, or things that you might be able to affect should you choose.Yet we have conditioned ourselves to treat things like who wins an Olympic medal as more important than welfare reform. We're mesmerised by shit like whether Sylvester Stallone's son was a drug addict or not - as if it were something even remotely worthy of our attention. It's not - it's garbage. A total distraction. And a lot of storied that should be in the news aren't because of that.

about a year and a half ago
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Tor Project Experiments With Funding Fast Exit Nodes

gilgongo Re:Why would anyone ever want to run a Tor exit no (96 comments)

For the last few years, I've run one of the faster exit nodes in the UK. I think I've had two, maybe three, complaint emails forwarded by my ISP in that time. I just send them to my standard boilerplate, CC the ISP, and never hear back.

Bottom line: anyone wanting to do something really nasty won't use Tor - they'll use something much more suitable for their task, like a botnet for one thing.

about a year and a half ago

Submissions

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What do you call people who "do HTML"?

gilgongo gilgongo writes  |  about 5 years ago

gilgongo writes "It's more than 10 years since people started making a living writing web page markup, yet the job title (and role) has yet to settle down. Not only that, but there are different types of people who write markup: those that approach the craft as essentially an integration task, and those that see it as part of UI design overall. The situation is further complicated by the existence of other roles in the workplace such as graphic designer and information architect. This is making recruitment for this role a real headache. So, how do you describe people who "do HTML" (and CSS and maybe a bit of JavaScript and graphics manipulation)? Some job titles I've seen include: Design Technologist, Web Developer, Front-end Developer, HTML/CSS Developer, Client-side Developer and UI Engineer.

Do you have any favourite job titles for this role?"

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