Thursday, February 22, 2007

Bush's Budget

Anyone who knows me knows I'm not exactly a Bush supporter, and never have been. I do find it interesting to watch most of the traditional Republican conservatives I know, turn away from the part due to Bush's leadership. I would love to be able to sit down with my intensely conservative, late step-grandfather and talk politics.

It came as no real surprise to read this article about Bush's Budget for 2008. Some tasty excerpts:
...a budget that offers $32.7 billion in tax cuts to the Wal-Mart family alone, while cutting $28 billion from Medicaid.

Cox family (Cox cable TV) receives $9.7 billion tax break while education would get $1.5 billion in cuts.

This is ridiculous!

I do wonder sometimes though. I think the journalist behind the article does the topic a disservice by opening it with a rant about Britney Spears coverage in the media. All that does is alienate people. Either your message is that Bush's budget is craptacular or that the main media outlets are letting missing the real issues. Mixing up the two messages helps no-one.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

About usability...

Via reddit I found Tantek posted about his "Three Hypotheses of Human Interface Design". An interesting read. I've always been interested in UI design, but tend to find low-level programming more interesting than UI development. His hypotheses definitely jibe with much of my experience. They especially remind me of my trial month with the Treo 700wx. I loved the fast web interface, and easy email integration. I hated the amount of extra work to navigate to common items, compared to my Treo 600 running Palm OS.

Another example, is the Quick Launch Toolbar. I use this extensively; every app that I use daily has it's a shortcut there. On my Mac, I use QuickSilver, and I've tried some of the similar launchers for Windows, but have yet to find anything nearly so intuitive. I tried to create a simple launcher myself, but discovered how hard a task it is to do well.

As a developer, I find it interesting to see how different development tools evaluate against this new measure. It made me realize that my main annoyances with Eclipse are all related to either too-many clicks/menus or slow/delayed UI reaction. For example... since most of my Run/Debug targets are command line tools, I often have 5 clicks + typing, just to debug something:
  1. click: Debug [drop-down]
  2. click: Debug ...
  3. click: Configuration to debug
  4. click: Arguments tab
  5. type: edit arguments
  6. click: Debug
A while back I learned I could control-click on the drop-down, so it becomes:
  1. click: Debug [drop-down]
  2. control-click: Configuration to debug
  3. click: Arguments tab
  4. type: edit arguments
  5. click: Debug
But that only saved me one step. What I want is the command-line arguments on the 'Main' tab.

The 3 Hypotheses also explain why I find editing a project's properties so annoying. Lots of clicking, and sloooowwwww. Why should a simple dialog be slow on my damn fast development machine? I've never understood that.

The Hypotheses also mesh with Google's search UI ethic: Fast response, minimal effort, minimal noise. Interestingly, dropping 'fast', these are someof the design principles behind the new Office 'Ribbon' UI.

Worth pondering what sites you prefer and how that relates to these Hypotheses.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Everybody loves a Honda Civic...

Everybody loves a Honda Civic, especially car thieves. Someone stole my girlfriend's Civic from right in front of my house last week, while we were sleeping. The neighborhood is so quiet, friendly, and family-oriented you would never expect such a thing to happen under your nose. I guess those 'club' wheel locks are a good idea.

Luckily, the police had already found her car by the time we reported it missing. Unluckily, it took Natascha an inordinate amount of time just to report it stolen. The problem was primarily that the police had a 'hold' on her car. It was sitting in a towing company's lot somewhere, but they wouldn't tell her where, and the towing company was even more reticent to reveal anything.

OK. Obviously as this is a stolen car, the owner would want their car back, don't you think? Apparently the police don't particularly care. They told her that they would call her when they released the hold. They didn't. They held the car for a full week, but they only pay for the storage fees for 3 days. They could hold the car as long as they like, and the car's owner gets to pay for the privileged of not having a car! Luckily, Natascha walks to work, but imagine if your attendance at you job depended on that vehicle?

The Seattle Police just went a long way to loosing that much more of my trust.