Sunday, September 25, 2005

Malcolm Gladwell

I thought some of The tipping point and Blink were interesting, but I prefer listening to Malcolm Gladwell. You can listen to his talk at the 2004 Pop!Tech, or listen to his talk to the Commonwealth Club, or listen to his talk to SXSW2005. Or read an interview with him on


You should be reading the monthly Harper's Index. If that's not enough, take a look at fun facts from the US Census Bureau.

More? How about statistical reports about the California State University system.

Thomas Friedman on Comedy Central

I think he talks better than he writes (The World Is Flat is too long :), but I like listening to Thomas Friedman. You can watch his interview on The Daily Show, or listen to his talk on Science Friday.

Saturday, September 24, 2005

Tom Hanks is at it again

Apollo 13, then From the Earth to the Moon, now Magnificent Desolation, an IMAX 3-D movie. You can enter a not-very-difficult trvia contest to win swag:

Some techie stuff to listen to or watch

Here's some stuff you can have playing in the background...

  • In 2001 SDM had a conference of software engineering pioneers (Wirth, Parnas, Fagan, Guttag, and more). You can watch streaming video for most of the talks. All are in English except for Parnas' talk!
  • Dr. Dobb's has archived webcasts (audio and video) of talks by famous people such as Don Knuth, Marvin Minksky, ...
  • Terry Winograd's HCI Seminar at Stanford has a talk every Friday. Here is the course homepage.
  • It looks like the stuff that used to be on the Multi-University Research Laboratory (MURL) Seminar Series website is now on the the Research Channel.
  • Listen to three experts on usability being interviewed on NPR's Science Friday. Don Norman and Henry Petroski and Michael Graves discuss the design of computers and potato peelers.
  • An interesting and amusing article on building Apple's first computer mice. Some video clips of Douglas Engelbart demonstrating video conferencing and shared workspaces back in 1968. More Engelbart and mouse pictures
    and information.
  • Some talks from the 2005 Usenix Technical Conference. Here's a link directly to the mp3s.

"Battling Google, Microsoft Changes How It Builds Software"

An article from the on-line Wall Street Journal.

Some things to listen to or watch

Here's some things to have going in the background. These are mostly non-techie stuff:

  • Clay Jenkinson does the weekly Thomas Jefferson
  • The University of California has UCTV on line.
  • The Commonwealth Club has
    speakers from politics, entertainment, and lots of other areas.
  • I'm not a big Prairie Home Companion fan but sometimes I listen to the archives of their annual "joke shows".
  • NPR lets you listen to All Things Considered and Morning Edition. Science Friday sometimes has Computer Science and technology people as guests.
  • You can also listen to NPR's Justice Talking and stay up on current events.

Friday, September 23, 2005

If you've lost a spacecraft,

check the field guide.

You can also read the transcripts of all the communications from the surface of the moon.

Rocket launch last night

We watched a satellite launch last night just after sunset.

The LA Times has a nice picture gallery.

Sokal and Snow

I was skimming and
was reminded of the postmodern essay generator:

At the end of that page it takes about
Alan Sokal's hoax article that was published.
In the one and only end-of-semester "convocation"
(like graduation) speech I've done I
referred to that. I also cited C.P. Snow's "two cultures".

Nominate a classic computer science book!

"ACM is launching a new initiative to revive classic, out-of-print, computer science books and make them available to members"

USGS earthquake maps

Thursday, September 22, 2005

Open source usability and misc links

Election usability

From the Bush-Gore election:

Norman, Petroski, and Graves

You can isten to three experts on usability being interviewed on NPR's Science Friday. Don Norman and Henry Petroski and ` Michael Graves discuss the design of computers and potato peelers. Since the interview, Michael Graves was paralyzed and uses a wheelchair. WIll this change the way he designs?

Interfaces for household appliances

Consumer products: when software bugs bite.

Informal usability test

This amusing video shows examples of usability tests. Click on "View the video".

Fisheye menus

This video shows the design and use of fisheye menus.

Celebrating 20 years of the Mac

Audio archive of a NPR story:

Emotional design

Don Norman was interviewed on The Screen Savers show on TechTv (now called G4TV). High and low bandwidth version of the video are available. Click hereto see Don Norman talking about "Emotional Design".

You can also listen to an audio interview of Don Norman discussing "emotional design".

Alan Kay interview

Alan Kay was interviewed in February 2004 on NPR's Science Friday after receiving the Draper Prize:

Knowledge Navigator

Alan Kay is the "father of the Dynabook". While Kay was an Apple Fellow and John Scully was CEO, Apple produced a video showing what could be done with a Dynabook-inspired "Knowledge Navigator".

You can watch two brief clips from the video at

I believe this was done in 1987 (pre-WWW) so it is remarkable.

Doing with images makes symbols

Alan Kay uses tennis lessons as an example of a human-computer interface. You can watch the entire 97 minute video at (Part 1 and Part2),

Usability and elections

The Department of Elections in San Francisco has usability as one of its goals. Note also their definition of usability, at the top of the page:

Programmers are people too!

The latest edition of ACM's Queue magazine contains a very interesting article about using human factors and HCI techniques in the design of programming languages and APIs: includes way to go back in the past through the Wayback Machine. Lots of images (still and moving) and audio to legally download. I found out about this site at a meeting where someone told me they'd watched a movie from 1927 teaching people in Fresno how to dial a telephone.

iCal (internet calendar) and WebDAV specifications

Two RFCs: about the internet calendar iCal specification, and about the WebDAV specification for "Distributed Authoring and Versioning".

Treemap interfaces

Interesting user interfaces at flickr and SmartMoney (click on Map of the Market). Both are examples of "treemaps".

clocks that tick very slowly

The Long Now Foundation (which includes several famous computer scientists) are building a clock to last 10,000 years. It "ticks" once per year.

They also have an interesting speaker series for you to listen to.

Tufte on Powerpoint

Edward Tufte is an expert at displaying information. He's legendary in the computer graphics and human-computer interface world. In a recent Q&A section he talks about PowerPoint and how it can degrade the quality of decisions. His example are slides from NASA briefings related to space shuttle problems.

Flying Linux

The talk is called "Flying Linux" and was an invited presentation at the latest conference. The talk is wide-ranging (from real-time operating systems to digital fly by wire to ...) and is sure to include something that you will disagree with or be offended by. Nevertheless, the URLs are below.

One thing that I found interesting was his discussion of interfaces to vehicles like segways ( Note that Segways don't have steering wheels (like cars) or reins (like horses -- or the Phelps tractor!). Here are the slides and movies and the talk.

CSci department chair interviewed on TV

Our CSci department chair, Dr.Walter Read, was interviewed on local TV news about whether someone can "listen" to you keyboard and figure out what you are typing.

Here is a link to the story and video:

The academic paper that started this discussion is: