a glob of nerdishness

May 22, 2010

The right Orwell

written by natevw @ 12:39 pm

I’ve sneered at Apple for calling the iPhone, iPod touch and iPad “revolutionary” when their App Store’s economic model seems a bit outmoded. But the devices are impressive, and while Orwellian comparisons referencing the 1984 ad are fun I haven’t been totally convinced of the analogy. Thought control is really more Google’s goal: knowing the world’s information and making it universally adsensable. All Apple control is the means to publication (German: Publikationsmittel) on their revolutionary new cropland.

Orwell’s 1984 wasn’t about a revolution and its metaphors are more apt for pervasive, world domination type situations. Orwell did write another book, however: a much funner read that just happened to be all about a revolution. So without further ado, I present:

The Animal Farm SDK Agreement

I wonder — what will be this revolution’s “Four legs good, two legs better” moment?

May 19, 2010

HTML 5.0 Transitional

written by natevw @ 9:18 pm

Today I officially accepted a full-time job as “Web Application Developer and GIS ExpertJourneyman” — employee number seven — at &yet. Since meeting &yet (when it was just Adam Brault) a little over a year ago, it’s moved in my regard from “cool local website company” to “top-notch team” to “dream employer”.

To be honest, though, the job offer was mostly unexpected and I’m still adjusting to the task of becoming “dream employee” instead of an independent contractor. Writing shareware for Calf Trail was a chance to explore all my ideals. Especially the one about money not being important. Working with &yet is about combining diverse talents and perspectives into one team that shares responsibility for breadwinning — and fantasticmaking, of course.

I’m deeply grateful that I’ve been led to and then given this opportunity. While desktop software still interests me as a hobby, times were shifting and I’d already chosen the open web over giving 30% ownership of my livelihood to a corporation who squish liberty like bug. Joining &yet mostly means a much greater chance of success in this next stage of life.

We’re still working out the details, but the basic gist is that I will be moving all my paid geo, web and technical writing services to &yet. Calf Trail will remain, for the time being anyway, but mostly as a home for some desktop and photo management experiments. (More about that later, and I’ll be posting the official “Calf Trail” plan on the company blog when Calf Trail has an official plan.)

So, yeah…uh…that’s today’s nerdishness news. DRAMATIC CLOSE

May 7, 2010

Multitouch usability

written by natevw @ 9:15 pm

An interesting comparison of the iPad to the Kindle with respect to accidental button pressing reminded me to share some observations and a link about the “naturalness” of multitouch gestures.

I let Tobias hold my iPod touch occasionally. He’s at the age where flipping it back to front and back is plenty fun and his curiosity is mostly towards how it might taste. He’s not very interested in interacting with it, but I think he could be if it were a little closer to his normal experience.

Tobias holding an iPod touch

Of course, with the glass screen he feels no relevant tactile feedback. So there’s a significant abstraction right up front. Furthermore, since my iPod is the first model, it doesn’t have a speaker for regular apps to use. So he rarely hears audio feedback. But the issue that I noticed most is that, typically, he doesn’t even get to see any visual feedback. The touch gesture he is paying attention to simply doesn’t work.

Since Tobias can’t “palm” the iPod (he just turned ten months old) he’s typically got one thumb smeared across the screen just to hold it. In this situation, most software just ignores the actual touching of his free hand [okay, it's more like slapping, but...]. Software that does handle multitouch often fills its corners with hot areas that activate settings instead, which is even less interesting than interface he might otherwise start figuring out.

I don’t entirely fault the software; most of it is designed well for adults or at least children who can talk and follow verbal instructions. It’s just been food for thought, making me even more embarrassed that Sesamouse (my utility for enabling real multitouch gestures on the desktop via a Magic Mouse) doesn’t even recognize gestures when they start in the top part of the mouse.

Multitouch is still a new field to most developers, and gesture recognition is not without challenge. I suspect that as more designers and more programmers are given more time to use and think about handling multiple fingers through multiple frames, multitouch software will become more sophisticated. Not in the “draw a squiggle with your index finger while tapping your pinky up and down” sense (as even many simpler gestures are neither intuitive nor discoverable) but in the “it just works” sense.