Tuesday, December 27, 2005

The 70s are back!

The Pop Shoppe is making a comback, at least in Canada.

An article about the Pop Shoppe's "Rise, Fall, and Ressurection" [sic]

Monday, December 26, 2005

More flight tracking

Back in October I posted some sites for tracking commercial airline flights. I found an even better one since it shows your flight's history for about the past week in addition to the current information.

The animated videos of nationwide traffic are amazing.

Sunday, December 25, 2005


I've been thinking about over-the-air (OTA, i.e., antenna) television. AntennaWeb has this great thing where you put in address information (zipcode at minimum, all the way up to street address) and it tells you the channels you can receive (both analog and digital) and the compass heading (magnetic north!) and a map.

I haven't tried this yet, but there's supposedly a law? FCC regulation? that cable providers must give you a set top box with firewire output? Here is a forum about hooking up a Mac.

I also want to try this: MPEG Streamclip to "open most movie formats including MPEG files or transport streams; play them at full screen; edit them with Cut, Copy, Paste, and Trim; set In/Out points and convert them into muxed or demuxed files, or export them to QuickTime, AVI, DV and MPEG-4 files with more than professional quality, so you can easily import them in Final Cut Pro, DVD Studio Pro, Toast 6 or 7, and used with many other applications or devices."

And if you decide to start your own TV station someday and need programming, here are some "classic" public domain shows that you can usuall buy for a dollar or so at Target or Dollar Tree :) Also, don't forget archive.org for your programming needs.

Church or business?

The December 2005 issue of Baseline magazine has articles about "what companies can learn about managing customer relationships" from churches.

I don't think these are churches I'd be attracted to, but since one of them is in Visalia I thought I would post the links:

automobile user interfaces

The Mercedes S-class dashboard is interesting -- you can change it from analog-looking dials to night vision television.

If you are interested in such things, one of Jakob Nielsen's alertbox columns talks about VW and BMW user interface problems. The BMW idrive interface took a lot of heat.

These folks did a three-way usability test: BMW idrive, Audi MMI, and the Jaguar touch screen.

Saturday, December 24, 2005

Peer review

Simone Santini has an amusing column in the December 2005 Computer about peer reviewing and refereeing. It is probably something only a researcher would find amusing, but his underlying question is a good one: "How much damage could be caused by a peer reviewer having a bad day?"

He goes on to write ficticious reviews of Dijkstra's "goto considered harmful", Codd's "relational model of data", Turing, Shannon, Hoare, and Rivest-Shamir-Adelman's famous public key paper.

It looks like the Computer Society has it available without charge, but who knows for how long:

"We are sorry to inform you ..."

Thursday, December 22, 2005

Goals for 2006

My goal for 2006 is to hear Malcolm Gladwell and Thomas L. Friedman talk.

Gladwell is speaking at the Blackboard conference (Bb world) at the end of February, and Friedman at the Campus of the Future conference in July, and Educause in October.

If you go back to my September posts, you can listen to talks by Gladwell and Friedman. I still like listening to Friedman better than reading his stuff.

There is a nice video of Friedman at lecturing at MIT in May 2005.

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Home decorating ideas.

Turn those tires into furniture.

Or, do an Adam West impersonation: To the bat poles!

Monday, December 19, 2005

Sandia robot saves the day

I'm not a big robotics person, but this story of a robot un-sticking a can of nasty radioactive stuff at White Sands is interesting.


If you've taken CSci291T at Fresno State or ICS 664 at the University of Hawaii (both graduate human-computer interaction classes) from me, you might want to compare it to an MIT User Interface Design and Implementation class.

In general, you can find "open courseware" from many places here.

You can also use MERLOT to search for material in your discipline.

Saturday, December 17, 2005

4 or 2 engines when flying over the ocean?

Do you feel safer on a four-engine plane than you do on a twin? Since losing an engine usually means diverting, you might be more likely to have your trip interrupted on a 4- than a 2-engine plane.

Check out the graph at the end of this article (there's also good information about ETOPS).

Here's a fun great-circle mapper that also shows non-ETOPS areas. For example, here is HNL-LON.

"For want of a comma, the meaning was lost"

Jef Raskin wrote a response to Lynne Truss' Eats, Shoots and Leaves. It's interesting to see what a bright computer scientist and user interface designer says about Truss' (and Lyn Dupre's) book.

Raskin's open letter to Truss appears in the July/August 2004 ACM Queue.

Some of Raskin's work is available on line: his one-page solar system, and his explanation of the Coanda Effect. The news release of his February 2005 death is online.

Common errors in English

Pretty amusing site about misspellings, mis-hearings, and general mistakes. Interesting and painless to read :)

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

More Linus on UI

Linus posted a very telling message about his approach (or not) to usability and users, here.

Note the topic now seems to be evolving into configurability.

Linus on Linux user interfaces & windows managers

Gnome vs. KDE is getting hot.

Linus urges folks to use KDE instead of Gnome, here.

Here is the link to the Slashdot discussion.

Linus goes off on a guy (warning -- contains offensive language) here.

Sunday, December 11, 2005

More Escher-in-Legos

These folks build Lego models of Escher's works. Here is Ascending and Descending and Relativity.

Friday, December 09, 2005

A new hotel in the Bahamas

Sleep with the fishes!

Thursday, December 08, 2005

I am a little behind posting URLs

Here's a few interesting URLS:

And finally, since I am at LAX right now and people trying to get to Chicago are stranded, you can easily find operational information about commercial airports. For example,


gives you the infromation about Chicago O'Hare (ORD), and you can substitute your favorite airport codes in the URL. If you aren't up on your airport codes, here is a list.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Software cluster regional jobs initiative

The regional jobs initiative "software cluster" was briefly profiled in the local business journal.