Archive for June, 2006

I have yet to face this in my development experience, but it’s certain to be on the horizon. Bob Aman had this to say about Asian-language websites

Most Chinese/Japanese/Korean websites I’ve seen lately tend to have unusually “busy” designs…I usually react with something more along the lines of, “Yuck, how do you guys read the text on a site like that?!” There’s obviously a lot of sites out there that people typically point to as examples of good web design, but the vast majority of such examples seem to use the latin alphabet.

Sporkmonger >> CJK Web Design

His repulsion at the design of many asian-language sites might be the sheer fact that the language itself is seen by his brain as a visual element.

That is, you don’t see it as text, because you can’t interpret it. Even though you might not speak Spanish or French (if you do, just play along) you still know the letters, while the characters of many Asian languages are completely outside your linguistic perception.

Therefore, you perceive them as visual elements, then you deconstruct the page into having a ton of visual elements. This leads to your conclusion of it being “busy” or “cluttered.” I would suggest that you might find the same issue on Arabic language sites as well.

For examples, you might try any of the large consumer sites in their Japanese or Korean incarnations like Sony Korea or Sony Japan or Nike Japan or Nike Korea. Not that these are great designs, but it drives home the point.

What’s even more bewildering is how we might build these ideas into the web software which can change its interface language and presentation language “on the fly.” The challenges there are truly mind-boggling and by examining what the large companies have done, you’ll see that they purpose-build for every region and language. There’s wisdom in that, if not technical ease.

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Sports announcers crack me up. No sooner had Marcelo Balboa and the other guy finished talking about how Kahn was calling the German goalkeeper Lehman “flawless” and they were fawning over his three shutouts than Argentina takes a corner kick and heads it “flawlessly” into the back of the onion bag.

Talk about the ultimate jinx. These announcers were just begging for that goal to be scored. To be fair, Balboa (who I do think does some of the best color other than Tommy Smythe) did say that Lehman had been just as lucky as he was “flawless.” That was a great moment. I look forward to seeing the replays of that. I hope the commentary is kept with it as well.

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Digg Clones

A great idea spawns a million permutations. It’s not quite a million yet, but the 3spots blog has a nice list of “all” the digg clones in existence.

They also link to some open-source software to make your own digg-style site, add tagging to any project, and do other digg-style things. A nice compilation of resources here.

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I just don’t get why Flock exists. Admittedly, I’ve only been trying the new beta for all of 20 minutes, but it is simply the same as Firefox. In fact, I had to install the Performancing plugin to post this entry as the Flock blogging client is too skimpy (no categories?!).

Can someone please tell me how Flock sets itself apart from Firefox? What is its mission? How could it not have accomplished that mission with a suite of plugins and skins for Firefox? Why “develop” a whole new browser?

I understand this is just a beta, but the only hint of the value this may have is in the integration of the photo tools and the bookmark sharing tools. These are not that compelling to me or to a huge swath of the market. The tools are very nicely done. My hope and the only logical thing is that they become a platform for building API-based tools into Flock. Hopefully, these few tools with which they’ve started are only to prove their concept and the company or third-parties can use the copious numbers of APIs popping up to develop their own tools based on these UI and communication foundations.

I don’t want to be a naysayer. I just want to see the light.

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3D Logic Puzzle

A nice puzzle which asks you to connect colored blocks around a 3D cube. It looks like a Rubik’s Cube but works differently. 30 levels of challenge. It uses a cookie to save your progress if you click the Exit link.

This will waste a good hour or so of your time. I got stuck on level 16 and took a break. The other levels were pretty easy for me.

read more | digg story

I thoroughly enjoyed the first 5 or 6 days of the World Cup. I watched a good bit of it on my computer while I worked using ESPN 360. This is the video solution that ESPN offers through a select group of broadband ISPs. So, your ISP is basically picking up the tab for the increased features and bandwidth concerns for the live streaming and hosted, taped content.

ESPN 360 was delivered by its own custom Windows app, which certainly had its negative points, but for the most part worked very well. The video streamed quickly, was clear and the app had little to no issues with crashing or memory/resource hogging.

That all changed with ESPN’s release of their new 360. It is now a browser-based app taking advantage of Flash 8.0’s new video capabilities and things have gone downhill. One of the most noticeable things is that the quality of the video is much lower. This is true of both live and recorded content. There are often stutters and hangups with both kinds of content as well.

There are further issues with the interface. There is no way to “pin” the application window to “always be on top” of your desktop. So, if you watch it while working and want it to float above other windows while you work away, it’s impossible without 3rd-party solutions. This was a feature of the previous player application with a little “pushpin” icon.

The interface also features some sort of auto-scroll thing that moves the content from left-to-right based on where your cursor is within the window. This occurs to display extra content such as headlines and other “interactive” content. I appreciate ESPN’s desire to push more of their programming and, thereby, advertising, but this auto-scroll only gets in the way.

The most egregious addition to ESPN 360 has been the addition of advertising at the beginning of every clip. As a service for which my ISP pays ESPN, I don’t think it reasonable that ESPN subject me to advertising while I am using a paid service. They’ve added banner ads to the screen, as well. This is less objectionable than having to sit through the same commercial 5 times during a 20 minute show because the video has to be restarted 5 times forcing you to watch the commercial again each time.

I used the “Feedback” feature in the player to voice these concerns to ESPN, but since the form didn’t ask for an email address, I can’t expect that they will get back to me in any way. I hope that this post will serve as a message to the developers and executives at ESPN that in striving to do the cool, new thing, they have ruined the user experience. Making these changes at a time when so many users are using ESPN 360 to watch the World Cup seems like an ill-advised move.

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Bruce Arena has buried US soccer for another 5 years. By sticking to non-producing veteran players in a 4-5-1 scheme that had failed to score a goal so far in the World Cup, Bruce Arena negated any of the young talent he had on the field. His inept management, on the field and in the press room, has set back the adoption of soccer as a national pasttime in this country for at least another 5 years.

We were on the verge of an explosion of soccer in the national consciousness, but that’s all out the window now. By not scoring even one goal in the World Cup, Arena’s US side has proven what the naysayers in this country have thought all along: soccer is boring. Arena made it that way. They won’t see the excitement and glory that the Ghanians are enjoying, but that’s another story altogether.

Landon Donovan needs to stick to the MLS and hope that he can continue to be the best player in that league, because he has no chance on the world stage. He absolutely disappeared in this cup. Sure, the 4-5-1 scheme didn’t help, but even on the set pieces, he couldn’t get the ball into the box on a dare. He and Beasley can just play kickups in the park for spare change for as much good as they did this team.

Let’s replace them with Johnson and Wolf and see what happens. Please, try anything Bruce. It’s clear that what you were doing doesn’t work.

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Losing Something

About 10 years ago, I was playing a lot of harmonica. I was completely self-taught and might have had a smidge or two of talent. My dad always encouraged my musical proclivities and bought me a sweet setup with a Shure Green Bullet mic and a Peavey Classic 30 amp.

Well, a year later the mic had been stolen, but I held on to that amp for years. I used it here and there as my musical interests waxed and waned. However, somewhere over the course of the last 4 or 5 moves (some of which have been overseas), that amplifier has gone missing.

Yes, it is a nice amplifier and worth a big chunk of change (nearly $500 street price). However, it had some sentimental value as well. It had a lot of sentimental value. What’s more is that its loss is indicative of a deeper personal issue with which I struggle. I often find that I have very little sentimental attachment to people or things. I don’t seem to give a lot of love. Damn, that sounds really sappy, but it’s been a problem in my life.

Losing this amp is just a clear indication of how little concern I seem to give to things that should be important to me.

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In the Works

It's both an attempt to keep a long-ago made promise and a nice way for me to finally truly put all this Ruby on Rails tinkering to use. It won't be of use to that many people, but it will teach me a lot of very esoteric Ruby code and will make the literature geek inside me happy. It will also help me catch bugs for my friends over at RIDE-ME.

It's going to be an online DIY concordance maker. You upload an e-text and the application parses it and builds a thoroughly annotated online concordance which you can search, further annotate, link into and out of, footnote, cite, and share. Updates are forthcoming.

The Argentinians are dismantling the Serbians. Their first two goals have been wonderful antidotes for the late-game heroics common to the last 6 matches of the World Cup.

In the last few matches, it seems that goals have come at a premium and even then only in the last 10 minutes of the game. The Argentinians are finally giving us a glimpse of the “beautiful game.” Hopefully, there’s more of this to come.

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