Showing posts from May, 2006

CNN - Making Cell Phones Simple is Hard

As the universe of people who want a cell phone and don't already have one gets smaller, wireless carriers are counting on advanced services to generate the bulk of new revenue in coming years.


That has providers working hard to make their devices easier to use -- fewer steps, brighter and less cluttered screens, different pricing strategies -- so consumers will not only use data functions more often but also be encouraged to buy additional ones.


"IPod was not the first MP3 player on the market, but once they figured it out (the user interface), they became the predominant one overnight"

SATs poor predictors of performance?

From the Chronicle of Higher Education

According to Human Capital Research, a college-admissions consulting firm, rated on an index from zero to one, SAT test scores predict a freshman's grade-point average at 0.03 to 0.14. "I might as well measure shoe size," the firm's president, Brian Zucker, was quoted as saying in "The Best Class Money Can Buy," one of a series of thoughtful articles on the admissions process that appeared in the November 2005 issue of The Atlantic Monthly. Zucker argues that the SAT's have "made schools lazy and stupid at the same time." The opportunity costs involve "looking past literally millions of kids who would do a great job."

Java 2 AJAX

Google has just released a web toolkit that lets you convert Java GUIs to AJAX.

I proposed something like this as a class project for SAUI (Software Architectures for UIs), and even thought about doing this as a long-term research project. I'm now glad I didn't because I would have been seriously scooped.

Whole Food Watermelons

Whole Foods' watermelons are simply amazing, the best I've ever had. That is all.

Rainbows End

I'm about halfway thru Vernor Vinge's new book Rainbows End. What's really amazing is how he ties together a lot of technology trends in a single coherent story, including:

wearable computers with contact lens displays
sensor networks
augmented reality
new biomedical therapies (I'm sure there's a sexier name for that)
silent messaging (I'd love to know how people could do text entry that fast!)
paper displays
autonomous vehicles (self-driving taxis)
holographic displays
digital libraries

There's a funny section early on where the protagonist, who has missed the last decade due to Alzheimer's, is asking where all the robots and flying vehicles are. Vinge also does a good job of tying things to our present world by forecasting how existing entities such as Bank of America, Google, and Homeland Security fit in.

Vinge also seems to subscribe to Brin's notion of a transparent society, where everyone can easily find almost any piece of informati…

Anatomy of a Nigerian Email Scam

Very interesting look at Nigerian email scams, takes you thru one person's story (who has a PhD in psych, no less).


The scammers, who often operate in crime rings, are known as “yahoo-yahoo boys,” because they frequently use free Yahoo accounts. Many of them live in a suburb of Lagos called Festac Town. Last year, one scammer in Festac Town told the Associated
Press, “Now I have three cars, I have two houses, and I’m not looking for a job anymore.”


When I asked Worley what he wished he had done differently, he didn’t answer directly. Instead, he spoke about hoping that the Abachas would get back in touch with him. However, before they could resume work on the multimillion-dollar transfer, he expected them to send the six hundred thousand dollars that he needs for restitution.

Phishing Scams up to $1000

All right, the phishing scams have moved up from $20 for surveys to $1000! Now that's progress!


• The Washington Mutual Bank Online department kindly asks you to take part in our quick and easy 5 questions survey. In return we will credit $1000.00 to your account - Just for your time!

Web 2.0 and Research

I've been chatting with many of my friends and colleagues about an issue that's been bugging me for a while, namely whether academic research has any role to play in the emerging Web 2.0. I've been slowly coming to the conclusion that the answer is not much.

I had a similar discussion with other researchers at HotMobile a few weeks ago. When the web first came out, pretty much every systems researcher ignored it because it was so ugly. The web was not very sophisticated in terms of distributed systems, HTTP lacked elegance, HTML conflated many different ideas, and so on. There were also not any really new ideas with the web, as evidenced by the fact that Tim Berners-Lee's first paper on the Web was (probably rightfully) rejected from an ACM conference on hypertext.

I'm sure one thing that really irked researchers about the nascent web was that it completely ignored the large body of work in hypertext and distributed systems that had preceded it. Even in 1997, as the …

Six cool Quicksilver plugins you might not know

I can't take any credit for it, but two of the six that this person lists were developed as part of the Software Architectures and User Interfaces class I taught last Fall.

Just a quickie to bubble up some novel Quicksilver plugins that are new-ish or even a bit esoteric.


3. Abracadabra triggers - Associate a mouse gesture with any command. Seems especially cool for people using pen and tablet. (more)
4. Constellation Menus - Love it, hate it, or just find it wildly geeky and beautiful, this is kinda A1c0r’s version of right-click on graphical steroids. (more and more)