Thursday, July 19, 2007
That was over a decade ago. The sad part is that the case in question (I'm too lazy to find and reference it) involved a deliberately defamatory reference. A good former employee, a spiteful former supervisor, lies and a lawsuit. There is little to no case law, AFAIK, for a good-faith reference causing a lawsuit. Nevertheless, the No References practice has become common policy.
It does seem like the actual observance has been weakening in recent years. People have figured out that former colleagues and even supervisors will typically give positive references, and may even give some degree of negative reference, perhaps in "code". I see LinkedIn accelerating this work-around, since it makes it SOOO much easier to find "backdoor references".
Friday, July 13, 2007
Thursday, July 12, 2007
Tuesday, July 10, 2007
Maybe the is a server-side performance benefit is also keeping this alive?
Anyway, it was drizzling as we parked, so the family and I were huddled under umbrellas as I essayed my transaction. I swiped my credit card, the display blinked briefly, but nothing else happened. No selection menu, no confirmation screen, no ticket spitting out of a slot in front of me. Thinking it had been a mis-read, I swiped it again. Still nothing other than a transitory flash of the display. So then I tried a different card, same result. Finally, I closely read the instructions. They said something about "open the door and remove your pass from the drawer at bottom". So I slid open the door, and of course I found three passes. So I had effectively triple-charged myself for (3) $10 parking fees (adding insult to injury, about the same time, my kids spotted another lot, slightly closer to the event, charging $5!).
I will cop to a bit of "dumb user" error, but only a bit. Every other self-service machine I have ever used has some kind of intervening event between swiping your card, and completing the transaction. At a minimum, there is an "Are you sure? Press YES, and your card will be instantly debited for $10". Or they push out a ticket--in front of you, not behind a window, where you can't possibly miss it. For extra points, they don't permit a new transaction till the ticket has been removed.
(Postscript, not relevant to the main useability lesson: Anyway, I scoured the website if IM-Park, and utterly failed to find a number for reaching a human, so I resorted to calling their corporate switchboard, and two calls later, was able to leave a message, which actually was returned fairly promptly, with another message to me, instructing me to fax in the copies of the tickets; so I am guardedly optimistic that I will get a refund without further ado.)
Friday, July 06, 2007
Think about anywhere you see a graphical user interface that isn't attached to a PC -- kiosks, high-end TV remote controls, touchscreens, ATMs, cell phones, digital cameras, VCRs, DVRs, GPS systems, set-top boxes, computer monitors, televisions, elevators, the Toyota Prius, medical equipment, Point of Sale systems, the "cash registers" at McDonalds -- everywhere, really.
In each case, the user interface was probably developed by a specialized team for specific hardware. The team may have limited training in GUI design or usability, the interface may not be portable across new device models, and the development tools may not be very evolved, which would slow the GUI creation process.
Flash potentially solves all those problems AND creates new opportunities.
Flash is well understood, and the development environment is highly evolved and therefore efficient. There are many experienced Flash designers, so the pool of available talent is potentially much larger. GUI design can be done by people who don't require intimately specialized knowledge of the underlying hardware. GUI elements would be portable across device models and even device categories. Think how the right-facing triangle of the "Play" button started on tape recorders, moved to VCRs, and is now on CD players, DVD players, DVRs, iPods, and any hardware or software that records or plays back content.
GUIs would evolve much more quickly and cost less to create. There could be standard interface libraries for all types of uses, and the similar GUIs would lower the learning curve for users. Talented interface designers would be in demand. User interfaces would be potentially upgradeable. More interesting, GUIs could be user-specific: the same cell phone might have a "Grandma interface" for one user, but a very different GUI for teens. And there's no reason why that should stop with cell phones.
Yes, I could just leave them there, but that's messy, or I could delete them, but that seems like a violation of the core philosophy underpinning Gmail (never delete information). After all, 3 months down the road, I will find myself thinking "I swear I sent that email saying I didn't want to be chairman of the golf fund-raiser next year". Instead of searching for it and failing to find it, it would be nicer if I could search, and find it in an un-sent state, thus explaining why my memory was deceiving me.
Thursday, July 05, 2007
The most recent example I stumbled on myself is the no-heat dry option in the dishwasher. I'm not sure, but I think only more recent dishwashers even have this option. Anyway, I have been using it, and it works very well. Glass and ceramics dry almost instantly. Plastics are slightly slower to dry, but only slightly. I would say that no-heat dry works 95% as well as heated drying. Ergo, the wastefulness of heated drying seems about as extraordinarily wasteful as "warming up" a car to run the defroster in order to get rid of some slight condensation!
Tuesday, July 03, 2007
This is a great observation. I think an area where this principle exerts a bad effect is electricity--there is such a disconnection between consumption and billing that many people just don't internalize the value of turning off lights, let along replacing incandescent with CF, or easing up on the A/C.
A few months ago we upgraded our phone service not so much because we wanted voice mail, or digital phone, or anything else, but because it was part of Comcast's three-fer $99 deal. So we got voice mail, but I immediately disabled it, prefering to stick with the answering machine.
Then the answering machine died (possibly due to that cat kicking it off the table), and in the interim, I decided to activate voice mail. I don't like it much, for three reasons. One, it is not as obvious as the flashing light on the answering machine (probably solveable with a more expensive, integrated handset). Two, it is much less convenient to access, compared to the "one-click" access for the answering machine. Three, we only get 1 mailbox, AFAIK, versus the 4 on the answering machine. Seeing as Beth gets 10x the messages I do, once we moved to the multi-mailbox answering machine, there was no going back to a shared mailbox for me.
All these objections are solveable, and probably have been solved in some implementations, but until they are there for me, ready for the taking, I'm sticking to the digital answering machine.
Monday, July 02, 2007
Yet, AFAIK, this feature is pretty much unknown in homes. Perhaps many systems have some way to do it, but if so, the infrequency of use suggest there must be a learnability/useability bug with it. It needs to be very easy and very obvious to do.