4 Mar 2003 sjanes71   » (Journeyer)

RMS (Richard Stalman or Microsoft Rights Management Services?)     Interesting how Microsoft is picking some TLA's that are commonly associated with people. Somewhere someone in Redmond, WA is having a a good snicker. I wonder what Microsoft ESR or Microsoft JWZ might become.

Sendmail     Saw another news note about another buffer overrun hole recently published about Sendmail. I decided years ago to stop using Sendmail because of things like this, so I've been using either QMAIL, EXIM, or POSTFIX, depending on whatever was easiest to install. I do typically nuke Sendmail if I find it on a machine if I become responsible for that machine.

Leonardo's Laptop     This book should perhaps become required reqding for GNOME and KDE developers. I'm very worried about the insistence of "cloning" Microsoft user interfaces to increase acceptance of Linux. Evolution may well be a very faithful clone of Outlook, but is Outlook the best user interface for a personal information manager? One thing the book points out in "The Quest for Universal Usability" is that:

A fundamental interface improvement would be support for evolutionary learning and a level-structured approch to design (Baecker et al. 2000). Why can't you begin with an interface that contains only basic features (say 5 percent of the full system) and become expert at this level within a few minutes? Game designers have created clever introductions that gracefully present new features as users acquire skill at the first level of complexity. [...] A good level-structured design in the interface must be acompanied by levels in the tutorials, online help, and the error messages. (pg 47)

I would add that getting the computer to puzzle out your intent AND be smart about it is one of the key issues of making computers easier to use. Microsoft's Clippy was widely hated because it interrupted the user with guesses at the user's intent-- "I see you're about to write a suicide note, would you like to see a list of the most successful ways to off yourself?" What's worse, is all the work involved in making this interruption animated (eating that little bit of processor time that could be better used by everyone's instance of the Distributed Net OGR cruncher!) Open Office make this intent-help less intrusive with the little transient light-bulb icon at the lower-right corner.

Advogato Needs Book Lists     If we have ranking for diary entries, I think it would be a simple matter of programming to also rate lists of books in various categories using the same system. More interestingly, it should perhaps give you the same kind of evolutionary learning scale or level structured and could even take the existing "categories" of Observer, Apprentice, et al. for pigeon-holing books. Observer-level books get you things like "In the beginning was the command line" by Neal Stephenson, Apprentice "Learning Perl", Journeyer "Programming Perl, Mastering Algorithms in Perl, Perl Cookbook" and Master "Perl in a Nutshell". Maybe its too much work but the idea is appealing to kind of see "What's on everyone else's bookshelf?" vs. "What's on everyone else's desk?"

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