Showing posts from December, 2004

Idea - Create Your Own Poetry Books

Wouldn't it be cool if you could select what poems you want in a book of poetry, and then have it custom printed and then sent to you? I've been looking for a book of poems that has the following:

W.H. Auden's Stop all the clocks
John Masefield's Sea Fever
Langston Hughes' Let America be America be America, Again
T.S. Eliot's The Wasteland
Walt Whitman's O Me, O Life and O Captain, My Captain
Tennyson's Crossing the Bar
Byron's She Walks in Beauty

and so on and so on. Maybe it would even let you enter in your own poems too, and then send it as a gift to a cared one.

Quote - Food vs Nuclear Power

From NewsScan today...

"A nuclear power plant is infinitely safer than eating, because 300 people choke to death on food every year." (Dixy Lee Ray)

Sometimes you're the dog, sometimes you're the fire hydrant

Funny story told entirely through pictures.

[Just Plain Weird] Dating Design Patterns

It's a bad sign when your friends send you links like this.

The true genius from the Gang of Four was not how to create
elegant enterprise software systems.

It was Trojan Proxy.
It was Encapsulated Big Fat Opening.
It was most definitely Half Bad Boy Plus Protocol.

It was Dating Design Patterns. The ultimate reusable set of solutions for a complex system. The Gang of Four's original and most ingenious work. With assistance from Christopher Alexander, whose personal dating diaries were recently discovered in a garage sale in Poughkeepsie.

[Privacy] [Ubicomp] Personal privacy through understanding and action: five pitfalls for designers

Our article on privacy just got published!

Abstract To participate in meaningful privacy practice in the context of technical systems, people require opportunities to understand the extent of the systemsrsquo alignment with relevant practice and to conduct discernible social action through intuitive or sensible engagement with the system. It is a significant challenge to design for such understanding and action through the feedback and control mechanisms of todayrsquos devices. To help designers meet this challenge, we describe five pitfalls to beware when designing interactive systems—on or off the desktop—with personal privacy implications. These pitfalls are: (1) obscuring potential information flow, (2) obscuring actual information flow, (3) emphasizing configuration over action, (4) lacking coarse-grained control, and (5) inhibiting existing practice. They are based on a review of the literature, on analyses of existing p…

Handling Errors

Good article by a fellow Berkeley alum on user interfaces and systems techniques for preventing and managing human error.


Sci-Fi author Bruce Sterling givess his view on one form of ubicomp.

One thing about makes it very distinct from earlier visions of ubicomp. This is not Microsoft Windows for Housekeeping. This is a hard, tough web that you throw down fast over dire emergencies. The key concept here is that we are finally moving computation out of the ivory tower, for good and all. No more glass boxes of the 1950s, no more clean abstractions of cyberspace. We are deploying computation at unheard-of speed, into the darkest, dirtiest, most dangerous places in the world.

It is a resilient security apparatus for emergencies. That is

Now, you might well argue that ubicomp is very invasive of privacy. That's just what my industrial design pals said about it, immediately, and they were right. It's been hard to find reasonable deployments for ubicomp in peacetime commerce and in private homes, because it is so Orwellian. Howev…

The Persuaders

Damn, missed this series on PBS about advertising and marketing, looks like a very insightful series.

Some good quotes:

Americans will live in different virtual universes. What's wrong with living in different universes? You never confront the other side. You don't have to deal with the uncomfortable facts that go against your worldview….It hardens the partisanship that's been such a feature of recent American politics.

You cannot walk down the street without being bombarded," advertising writer Bob Garfield says. "You go to fill your gas tank and you look at the pump and you're seeing news headlines in advertising. You go into the bathroom and you look in the urinal and you're staring at an ad. You look up at the sky and there's skywriting.

I've interviewed people who are brand loyalists of Saturn Car Company," Atkin says, "and they will use the same vocabulary as someone who is a…

[Ubicomp] [Tech] [Soc] Urban Renewal, the Wireless Way

Very interesting article on urban spaces and wireless connectivity.

Call it the "new new urbanism," a fusion of telecommunications technology and urban design that is at once a 21st century zeitgeist and a familiar riff on the age-old interface between cities and technology. "From an urban design perspective, a lot of technologists are just discovering public space," says Dennis Frenchman, chairman of the master of city planning program at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. "It's an old story that goes back hundreds of years." A consultant on Seoul's Digital Media City, Frenchman himself is part of a very new story. The DMC will incorporate all-digital signage, with programming capacity accessible to the public, personal positioning services, intelligent street lamps and transparent storefronts that will reveal a building's inner uses as well as real-time Web feeds from sis…

[Research] Online or Invisible? Publishing Articles Online

Articles freely available online are more highly cited. For greater impact and faster scientific progress, authors and publishers should aim to make research easy to access.

Emergency Response Wishlist

I've noticed that I've been using this blog more and more as one alternative to cool bookmarks. Anyway, here is a list of cool and useful stuff that emergency responders could really use.

[Research] CiteULike citation service

Looks cool, I'll have to try this out to see how well it works.


CiteULike is a free service to help academics to share, store, and organise the academic papers they are reading. When you see a paper on the web that interests you, you can click one button and have it added to your personal library. CiteULike automatically extracts the citation details, so there's no need to type them in yourself. It all works from within your web browser. There's no need to install any special software.

Zipf, Power-laws, and Pareto

I've always been somewhat confused by the differences between these, this is a useful link that explains the diffs.

[Privacy] Two Quotes on Privacy

It struck me today that two countervailing trends fighting against privacy are efficiency and security. Here are two quotes that summarize it quite nicely:

"My own hunch is that Big Brother, if he comes to the United States, will turn out to be not a greedy power-seeker but a relentless bureaucrat obsessed with efficiency"

Safety and Security
From Dostoevsky's The Brothers Karamazov, in the chapter about The Grand Inquisitor: "Make us your slaves, but feed us."

When Names Become Verbs

I wonder if linguists have studied how some names become verbs, like Google, Photoshop, and Xerox.

Crazy Idea of the Day - Virtual Installations

Here's my crazy idea for the day. It would be nice to be able to "virtually" install an app, say on a remote computer somewhere on the Internet. You could then try out the app on that virtual computer to see if you like it or not. This way, it doesn't screw up your regular settings if you want to uninstall.

Furthermore, you could do cool things on this virtual install, like having features that try to detect spyware (thru network packet analysis or thru an installation of LavaSoft AdAware on the virtual computer) as well as viruses. It could also detect if the app has any deviant behavior, like re-assigning what applications are associated with file extensions. At the end, it could come up with a summary of any deviant behavior.

This service might also be useful for software testers to see what it's like to install on various OS types, like WinXP, Win2K, Win98, etc. Imagine if you could say something like "do a virtual install on a 386 with a SoundBlaster ca…

Penultimate Ubicomp Class

Some quick notes:

Final Project Presentations is next Wednesday.
The project doesn't have to be completed by then,
but the presentation should have enough describing

what the problem is
what your approach is (ie what you've done)
what your results are so far

We have 80 minutes and we have 6 groups, so aim for
about 10 minutes each plus a few minutes for questions.

For this coming Monday, rather than a reading assignment,
the assignment is to do a coherent and lively 5-minute rant.
You can even do interpretive dance or rap if you want.
Bonus points if you make people laugh or start a fight.
Here are some pointers that might help:

"Ubicomp will fail in 10 years because..."
"We should eliminate privacy because..."
"Ubicomp will succeed but b/c of (smart toys / sex / ...)"
"The metric for ubicomp should not be efficiency but (smiles per hour / hugs per hour / quality of life / ...)"
"Areas x, y, and z of ubicomp sho…