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There’s One Re-Born Every Minute.

Looks like our time has run out. As a nonreligious but generous individual who is doomed to eternal damnation, I’m willing to help all you rapturees have a fun and pious week.  All you need to do is sign over all your property to me, to be picked up ONLY after the rapture this Saturday. In return I’ll give you some cash to spend. It’s a great deal! You won’t need your stuff after you get hoovered into paradise!

Any takers?


New Style II

More concept art, sans humor until I can think of a better punchline.

A New Style

I’m trying to define a style for a possible comic or webcomic.  Work in progress doodles follow

Promotional Product Fun

Inside the Oakley product development department:

“Hey boss, marketing says we need special sunglasses for Mr. Armstrong”

“Take a pair off that one production line… the douchebag one. Paint it a gaudy color and glue a bunch of plastic knife-blades and fins on it and shit.”


“Drill holes in the lenses too.”

“For aerodynamics?”

“Whatever. Be sure to jack up the price.”


The Burden of Choice

I’ve always liked the idea of having a little computer to carry around which fits in my pocket and has internet access, but until recently, there weren’t any models available which had both a complete list of features and a well-designed user interface. The release of the android operating system  was a good first step, but it wasn’t mature enough to warrant the extra cost until the current version. So, after much deliberation I bought a Nexus One.  And I like it.  But with seemingly everyone else using iPhones and Blackberries, I got to thinking about design, and how it impacts customer perception.

The burden of choice is always a prickly question for a developer.  How many settings for a particular application is too many?  What level of control should the user be allowed?  Is the design philosophy geared toward specific tasks or an open ended platform?  In the context of these questions, there are two extreme approaches:

1. Create a specific device which places strict limits on allowed software and functionality, then tailor the hardware to the design of the software to reduce manufacturing costs and ensure consistent quality.

2.Create an open ended platform which will run on a variety of hardware and will run a variety of software, and allow the users both the benefits and the burden of choice in system configurations, applications, etc.

Savvy readers know where I’m going with this.  listed are essentially the Apple and Microsoft approaches, respectively.  Both companies have been very successful despite representing opposing philosophies.  Microsoft (and not to leave them out, the creators of Linux even moreso) are the advocate of choice. You’d be hard-pressed to find a hardware configuration that can’t run some version of windows, and you’d be hard pressed to find a system on which windows won’t crash.  Apple is the proponent of consistency.  Their UI design is excellent, it’s too bad you can’t get that same UI on market cost hardware. Not only is it difficult to install any Apple OS on a non apple hardware configuration (or indeed any other device that what it was originally made for), it’s also a violation of their EULA.  I don’t think either of these design philosophies in their extreme form represent the future of software and hardware design.  The second approach is faulty because it does not cater to the non-technical user who makes up most of your customer base.  the first approach is faulty because it does not cater to advanced or experienced users who are increasingly the first to develop new applications (therefore adding value) for your platform. Google’s software seems to be skirting between both these designs.  They are open source, but with limitations.  Their software is very easy to use, but has a deeper level of customization for more advanced users.  They seem to be running at a higher level of design than either Microsoft or Apple, and they’ve done it with almost no cost to the end user.  The future of computing is flawless interfaces combined with open platform support, and we’re getting a glimpse of that in Google.  They are far from perfect, but they seem to be heading in that direction faster than anyone else.

The Best Idea Ever

Fellow science fans, here’s an idea that I think would change the world:

Any time a graduate receives a PhD in any field where it’s possible a discovery or invention will named after them, they receive a mandatory name change to something more awesome. Examples follow:

“…In science news today, a new Lemur was discovered.  the Attending scientists named the animal after their professor, Dr. Horsehammer.  J.Horsehammerius is a subspecies of F.Hardpunchius.”

“In medical news, the Legbreaker vaccine has finally been approved by the FDA.  The vaccine of course is a revolutionary new cure for Mauler’s disease, named after Dr. Face Mauler, PhD, of Cambridge.


iPad: A Competely Spurious Review

So. The iPad.  It’s finally here.  We’ve all waited for a useful tablet,  and it’s all we could have ever hoped it would be. While there’s no question it will bring about another techie revolution just like the iPhone and iPod before it, let’s break down just what is so new about it.  Going to the coffee shop to read?  The iBook store allows you to download E-Books right to the device!  Casually browsing the web from the couch?  The large screen with it’s bright colors are just wonderful.  While some people have complained about it’s inability to multitask, aren’t we all suffering from information overload? One thing at a time people.  This is Steve Job’s way of saying: “You’re working too hard. Kick back. Relax.”  I for one completely agree.  What use is productivity if you’re stressed out?  The iPad truly makes computing personal.  You feel like it was made just for you.  I don’t want to bore you with a lot of geek-speak, but let’s take a look at the specifications: It’s got a blazing fast 1ghz processor (almost twice as fast as an iPhone 3gs!) and a “resolution” of 1024×768, over twice as many pixels as an iPod Touch!  But I haven’t even gotten to the best part yet.  The price.  It’s only $499!  That’s only about half the cost of the cheapest Macbook! Don’t listen to all the criticism, you need one of these.  Delay on this one folks and pretty soon you’ll be the only one without one.  And we wouldn’t want that, would we?

Disclaimer: I don’t have an iPad, and i probably won’t ever buy one, as it doesn’t meet any of my computing needs.  This is less Apple hate and more satire on hysteria.

False Associations

It’s important to completely follow a train of thought when you attempt to enact (or convince someone to enact) a policy which will affect a large number of people.  I don’t think these folk were thinking clearly.  It’s also possible they are being intentionally manipulative.  Advocates are stating that because someone was lured, via Facebook into meeting with a murder and pervert that  a “Panic Button” be created on the user homepage to prevent bullying.  While I don’t know all the details, it seems that clicking such a button would not occur to someone  who was deceived anyway.  It’s not that I disagree with providing a method to report jerks, but it’s not really appropriate to use a true tragedy like the one mentioned in the article as a vehicle to campaign for an anti-bullying feature.

Monkeys with Clothes

It’s hard not to be cynical when you read this.  Everyone reading that will probably say: “Well, I wouldn’t do that.”  I thought it myself, but the numbers say that eighty percent of us will choose to hurt and potentially kill another person for entertainment purposes.  That doesn’t give us hard data on how many people in the crowd were into it, but it sounds like a majority in the video. How can we claim progress if we’re still this easily manipulated into doing what we “know” to be wrong?   What’s the point?

Consequences, Unintended

There’s an extended debate raging in my head (or to whatever unfortunate happens to be nearby, should I feel the urge to vocalize) concerning the inherent worth of intentions.  They can’t be entirely excluded; manslaughter isn’t the same thing as 1st degree murder.  On the other hand, results speak for themselves.  However well meaning, mistakes are costly.  I was initially inclined to take a more cynical view of the subject, but am obviously biased where close friends and family are concerned, and since that view lacks consistency, I won’t insist upon it.  It’s a mystery to me why we aren’t primarily logical creatures by now.  Perhaps we’re still mostly animal, struggling to adapt to the modern world we’ve created, and use the sympathy of intentions to keep us from tearing at each other’s throats, even when the results aren’t what we want or need.  If it’s not a survival mechanism, then it must be something, but what?