Fixed a small spelling mistake that Christine pointed out.
Fixed a small spelling mistake that Christine pointed out.
For those of you who don’t know what Fitts’ Law is, all I can say is that Fitts’ Law maintains that “movement time” can be mathematically expressed as a function of the distance travelled and the size of the target. More specifically,
MT = K log2(A / W + 1),
where K is a constant of error, A is the “amplitude” or distance travelled between the two centers, and W is the width of the target.
Now the above equation isn’t Fitts’ original 1954 equation, but a modified equation by MacKenzie (1992)—which seems to be slightly more accurate.
So what’s this thing about MaxMenus, and what does it have to do with Fitts’ Law? Well, Fitts’ law has a huge impact on Human Computer Interaction, as UI designers use it to model mouse movement across the screen. MaxMenus pin the menus in the corners because they are infinitely deep, or rather, they have an infinite width.
In plain words, you can throw your mouse pointer in the direction of the corner, and eventually it will wind up on the menu. That is very clever.
From the “Let’s all sing a long” Dept.
I was trolling through the web—NO, I was NOT surfing for porn!—and I found this site that catalogues the 20 Best Corporate Anthems. Too Funny! Actually, I have to wonder: “What were these people thinking?”
My personal theory is that there was a bit of “Keeping up with the Jones’s” happening here.
Company A: “Let’s make a theme song.”
Company A creates a simple theme song.
Company B: “I hear that Company A made a theme song. We can do better right?”
So, much like the cold war that ensued at Club379 (and still continues today between Kevin and I), companies began making the crap that you’ll listen too if thou are brave of heart.
From the “noitpyrcnE dna ytiruceS” Dept.
That’s “Security and Encryption” backwards if you haven’t gotten it yet.
Salon.com has a great article on message encpryption and OpenSource developers. It highlights the GnuPG movement, an OpenSource project with design goals similar to the now defunct PrettyGoodPrivacy.
I find it interesting, because Phil Zimmermann [inventor of PGP] gave some interesting commentary for the low uptake and use of encryption: “Ease of use is critical. E-mail encryption is used by only a small segment of the population of e-mail users largely because of ease-of-use issues.“
While GnuGP works, it requires command-line use; not difficult for me, but time consuming for those not comfortable on the command-line.
Eric S. Raymond, president and co-founder of the Open Source Initiative, says in the article, “Much of the open-source community is still weak at end-user UI. Most hackers have not yet assimilated the knowledge or the attitude necessary to serve [normal] end-users like these.“
Got to love developers. I suppose that’s why I work in the field that I do.
From the “I Love Fitts’ Law” Dept.
What MaxMenus does is that it glues contextual menus (like the ones you see when you “right-click” your mouse) to the four corners of the screen. This is one of the only times I’ve seen Fitts’ Law applied properly in Human Computer Interface Design.
I won’t ruminate on the advantages of this, but for those who know about Fitts’ Law, they’ll understand why I’m so excited.
From the “Taking an interest into what Jen, my GF likes” Dept.
For Jen’s Birthday, I bought her tickets to Garth Fagan Dance at the Harbourfront Centre yesterday. He is a Tony Award winning choreographer (his most recent success being the Lion King) from NY State University.
When Jen and I went to see Les Ballet Jazz de Montreal, she expressed interest in the Garth Fagan troupe, so I bought tickets. That made Jen happy.
Unfortunately, the entertainment didn’t live up to my expectations (which were rather positive after having seen the Jazz Ballet). Among the 5 ensemble acts, the beginning and ending of the show, was great. The third episode was good, not because of the dancing, but rather because of the music (composed by Wynton Marsalis) had some interesting moments—in particularly a nice, syncopated base-line that would change scales on the OFF-beat rather than the ON-beat. Act 4 was utterly b o r i n g. So boring, that I nearly fell asleep.
The final act had a lot of African undertones. It was a great crowd pleaser (especially the woman behind us yelling, “I can feel it, Baby!” over and over again—she sure could feel something at least…), but I was too tired by that time to get my energy back up to fully enjoy it.
Again, the dancers were amazing athletes, but on the whole, it was too abstract and didn’t suck me in like the Jazz Ballet did.
It was nice to see some different sized dancers too. When people think of dancers, they think of tall, slim-built women, and very fit men. Some of these dancers were short and stocky; one even had a pot belly. Nice to see that some people can be successful and amazing while not having to “fit-the-build”.
From the “I just don’t understand my Father” Dept.
Just want to remark about an incident that happened today, but in order for you to best understand what I’m going through, you’ll need some background about my family.
My Parents moved here in 1973, they’ve worked hard to ensure a reasonably high quality of life for my brothers and I (which I am ever so thankful, of course). For those who don’t know, my Dad is a 3rd generation Watchmaker, and my Mom works at a linens’ factory. We’ve never been rich…never really wanted to be rich.
However, I think some of the hardships, financially speaking, have warped my Dad somewhat.
Case in point (and the reason that I’m writing this):
Last week, I received a call from the local branch of Cerebral Palsy Canada. They were doing their bi-annual clothing drive, and were asking for my support. “No problem,” I said, “I’ve put out clothing for the last 4 years.”
After several reminders to my family, I bagged up a rather large and dense bag of clothing and left it outside my house for pickup.
My mom is has been on vacation this week, so I’ve been helping her clean the house, do some home repair work, etc. Guess what I find while cleaning the house?
Four bags of clothes that was suppose to have gone to CPC.
So I guess this is what transpired: For the past five years, my Dad has been surreptitiously taking the clothing (that had been meant for Cerebral Palsy Canada) and hiding them back inside the house. Very sneaky.
I’m not exactly sure why he’s been doing this for the past 4 years, but I’m positive, that in order to do it this year, he had to drive back during his lunch hour to pick up the clothes; I was home all day.
The clothes are out of date, and there is no possible way that he could fit in them….
So my Dad is a pack rat. I admit it.
Hell, he even keeps expired calendars, because you never know, when you’ll need that Farside/Dilbert calendar from 1999 again.
From the “Design and ERGOnomical” Dept.
Just wanted to spread the word about a few things that I have been reading of late. The first is a good article in Business 2.0 by Robert Partks entitled ““Great-Looking Product (Too Bad Nobody Wants It)—Why good design is not always good business”. Interesting read whereby he lists three rules (citing real-world examples) that companies often make when designing and bringing a product to market.
They are as follows:
While the article has some valid points, it is rather limited in scope. I think it neglects to mention some obvious tenets of design: “Does the product work? Does it work well? Does it enrich the user experience?” If there isn’t a need in the market, why bring a complicated, unusable product to market?
Example: The CueCat
In this interesting piece of hardware, a company known as DigitalConvergence, mailed out thousands of these small, cat-shaped barcode readers to a random sample of magazine subscribers. The company expected users to plug in the scanner and aimlessly scan barcodes while sitting at the computer. Internal software would read the barcode and send the user to the product’s website or a special website whereby users could compete for prizes. Not much of a business plan, but the company would also keep track of what users scanned, creating an index of products for marketing research. Needless to say, the company no longer exists and it is currently in receivership. Ironically, you can still find articles proclaiming the sheer brilliance of this product on the Internet.
The second article is about the passing of the encryption program PrettyGoodPrivacy (PGP). In a telling analysis of the demise of the PGP encryption unit, Gartner analysts Vic Wheatman, John Pescatore and Joyce Graff hit the bullseye on why PGP failed:
Gartner believes the failure of commercial PGP likely resulted from Network Associates’ [the parent company of PGP] past organizational problems…..most importantly, Network Associates’ failure to make PGP easier for enterprises to use and manage.
Ideally, all Internet messages, be it email, VoiceIP, or instant Messaging, should be encrypted—especially in the workplace. However, in most cases, email encryption is often too cumbersome (via the use of Public Key Infrastructure (PKI) solutions offered by such companies as PGP, Verisign, or Thawte) for most people to user efficiently. By that, I mean Easy to use, fast, and hard to screw up. There is also the risk that the receiving party may not be able to decode the message—but that’s another story that I’m not too clear about. Here’s a telling quote, “The entire process—assigning, distributing and managing keys and finding compatible software for both ends of the exchange.“
Finally the last article I read is on a really cool technology that aims to make reality more palatable. It’s called Augmented Reality, and the best way that I can describe it is to imagine a contextual overlay ontop of everything we see, hear, taste, touch, and smell.
I would love for this kind of stuff to be available, but it’s obvious that careful design is needed for this to work. Not only is there a huge Information Overload threat, but the computer would have to be context sensitve. Whether a computer can successfully determine the type of information that I want to see, and whether or not it knows when I want to see extra information….wow.
From the “Wrestlemania” Dept.
It’s 4:20 am in the morning, and I needed to write down my experience at this year’s Wrestlemania (my first major wrestling event) at Toronto’s Skydome.
The match of the day was the Rock againstHollywood Hulk Hogan. I wasn’t expecting much to be honest. The Rock is, and I quote, “The most electrifying athlete in sports entertainment,” and Hollywood Hulk Hogan is a 48-year old former superstar; a man well passed his prime.
In fact, the match was billed as The Battle of the Icons.
Two men. One of them a hero of the 1980s, the other known to us as the “Bhrama Bull”. The last time Hulk Hogan wrestled in TO was when he lost his WWF Championship Belt in 1990 against the Ultimate Warrior. It was a time when a body slam, a rake-to-the-back, a boot-to-the-head, and a Leg-Drop could take down the toughest of opponents.
FACT: The 1990 Wrestlemania at the Skydome was also the first time the “double clothesline” was debuted.
Times have changed in the WWF. Hogan was old. The Rock was young.
When Hogan walked down the ramp, we booed. Everyone knew he was going to lose to the Rock. How could 1980s wrestling possibly beat the “RockBottom” and the “People’s Elbow”?
The Rock’s music played. We stood up. Finally, the Rock HAD COME BACK TO TORONTO! It was glorious. The MILLIONS and MILLIONS of fans cheered world-wide.
The two gladiators looked at each other and girded themselves for battle.
The locked arms and the bell rang.
Something changed in the crowd at that moment. It was as if we remembered and tasted some of the greatness that was once Hulkamania. We remembered that he would come down in red and yellow to Survivor’s “I am a Real American”—could we ever really forget? All the prayer, all the vitamins—then it happened:
With one push, Hulk Hogan launched the Rock to the ground.
Then he “hulked up” [flexed].
We erupted to shouts of “Hogan, Hogan, Hogan…” We booed this man called the Rock, an imposter trying to touch the greatness that IS Hulkamania. Who was this pretender?
If I could only articulate the energy in the stadium during that match….
Oh, how we cheered when Hulk Hogan raked the back of the Rock! Or how we stood up and shook the rafters when we saw the boot-to-the-head! How we knew that victory was within reach when the Mighty Hulk Hogan laid the Leg-Drop across the Rock’s chest.
“1!” we yelled across the arena.
“2!” we screamed as the referee’s hand went down against the mat again.
And then the rocked snapped up after the 2 count.
Hogan picked him up, threw the Rock against the ropes. Then he “Rock Bottom’d” the Rock. Another Leg Drop!
Yet the Rock would not go down.
He never did.
Needless to say, the Rock eventually pinned Hogan with the “People’s Elbow”.
But if you all could have been there. Let’s just say that if I could have bottled up some of the stuff floating in the air during that match—WOW. Talk about a can of liquid energy.
It was a great vibe. Everything that Wrestlemania was suppose to be.
The last two matches (the women’s bout, and the Jericho and Triple-H match) were a yawn. A fifth of the audience had left after the Hogan vs. Rock match.
I’ll stop ruminating now, and leave you with this question:
Whatchya gonna do, when Hulkamania runs wild on you?
From the “I am so Dumb” Dept.
Warning: The contents of this blog are highly technical
My weblog was down for about 12 hours lastnight and today. This morning I went into my webjournal admin page to edit only to find this:
CGIWrap Error: Execution of this script not permitted
Execution of (investig8) is not permitted for the following reason:
User not Privileged.
Local Information and Documentation:
Contact Name: AdministratorContact EMail: admin
- Server Data:
- Server Administrator/Contact: admin
- Server Name: www.pixelsandwidgets.com
- Server Port: 80
- Server Protocol: HTTP/1.1
- Request Data:
- User Agent/Browser: Mozilla/4.0 (compatible; MSIE 5.5; Windows NT 5.0; T312461)
- Request Method: GET
- Remote Address: xx.xxx.xxx.xxx
- Remote Port: xxxx
- Extra Path Info: /xxxxxx/xx.cgi
So out comes some command line goodness via terminal to check the user permisions. I was looking at the CHMOD (CHange file MODe) values and they all seemed correct (Column 1). Lo and behold, all my files have the same properties, or do they?
However, what I failed to notice, was the “Investig8” moniker in Column 3. I apparently had lost ownership.
Dumb, Dumb, Dumb!
Yesterday I deleted an old user account that I didn’t use. Since the files no longer had an owner, they had no reference as to who could use it. If you know unix, you know what I mean, but if you don’t, I’ll try to explain.
Every file in a unix file system requires a specific set of permissions: Read, Write and Execute. These permisions are repeated 3 times in hiearchical fashion, beginning with the OWNER, then the GROUP that the file belongs to, and then Other people. When you upload a file, the FTP user account that you use becomes the owner. When I had deleted the old account (pixelswidget), I deleted the owner of those files (all my cgi-scripts). The result was that the files, having no owner, could not determine which group it was associated with (hence the site410 in column 4), and hence had no bearing as to how to execute when a user outside of the owner and group tried to execute the file.
It’s interesting. It was so basic of a mistake, I didn’t realise it.
From the “Cleaning my Closet” Dept.
Started cleaning out my closet just after lunch.
Some of the things that I found:
Some Diamonds in the Rough:
There’s still a lot of stuff in the closet….DAMN!
From the “ERGOnomical” Dept.
In a recent blog called Remembering the past few days; a retrospect, I mentioned my satisfaction with a newly redesigned controller for the Japanese version of the X-Box. I recently found out more details about this new controller, and to my surprised, Microsoft has decided to sell these controllers in the US.
The Japanese Xbox controller (or Controller S) addresses virtually every problem that I have with its US counterpart. First off, the whole thing’s much smaller, and its dimensions feel a lot more in line with other modern console controllers. The D-pad has a more well-defined cross on it, which feels a lot more comfortable to these old gaming hands. The four main face buttons are circular and flat-topped, instead of oblong and raised like the buttons found on the US controller, and are positioned in the familiar diamond pattern.
Hooray for good Design!