"That which is overdesigned, too highly specific, anticipates outcome; the anticipation of outcome guarantees, if not failure, the absence of grace."
-- William Gibson, All Tomorrow's Parties
January 2, 2007

I want to write a children's book titled God, Why Does It Burn When I Pee?, but I suspect it would be far too short to be published.

The book, that is.

7:58 AM | Life
January 8, 2007

John C. Welch over at InformationWeek provides perhaps the most amusing analogy for Windows user experience that I've read in a long time. In his article, Review: Mac OS X Shines In Comparison With Windows Vista, he compares OS X to an English butler.

It expects things to just work, and doesn't see any point in telling you things are working as you'd expect them to. When you plug in a mouse, he says, the mouse just works. When you plug in a new drive, the drive just mounts. There's no "hey, your mouse works", or "hey, that drive you plugged in just got mounted" noise. When shit be fucked up, it be all up ins, though. (Either via the standard popups or in the logs.)

This behavior is present in freenix-based desktop systems as well (Ubuntu, Fedora, SuSE, etc). I've never used Solaris 10 as a desktop, so I can't comment on it.

Windows, however:

Windows is...well, Windows is very eager to tell you what's going on. Constantly. Plug something in, and you get a message. Unplug something and you get a message. If you're on a network that's having problems staying up, you'll get tons of messages telling you this. It's rather like dealing with an overexcited Boy Scout...who has a lifetime supply of chocolate-covered espresso beans.

Hey. Hey. Hey. Your display settings are funny! You have two monitors! Hey! Do you want to use them both? Huh? HUH? Hey! I found a new device! Hey! I configured the device! Hey! Hey! You can use the device! Hey! Do you want to use it?! Hey! There some icons on your desktop! I can get rid of them! Hey! Hey! I'm just going to minimize this system tray thingy okay? If you need it you can click on this button! Ok! Hey! Are you listening to me? HEY! I CAN'T FIND ANY ANTI-VIRUS OH MY GOD! HEY! Hey! I found another device! Do you want to configure it? Huh? Huh?! No? Oh well... HEY! That device I just found! I FOUND IT AGAIN! HEY! HEY! Click me!

You just want to step on the damn thing to shut it up.

kitten and I mock this nonsense on a regular basis. Pretty much whenever one of us actually has to use Windows for some ungodly reason. I only ever boot my iMac into Windows to play Half-Life, but wow. Even just using it as a straight-up application platform and interacting with the OS as minimally as possible makes me nuts. Every. Damn. Time.

It's ridiculous that Microsoft is still doing is trying to berate and conjole the user into being a good networked citizen. Via obnoxious update reminders and now UAC, it's like they expect people to jump through idiotic hoops instead of figure out how to work around the annoying system behavior. Gee, I wonder what most people will do.

Compare this to System Update on OS X, or whatever the GUI updater things in Ubuntu or Fedora are called (blah blah, standard GNOME, blah blah standard KDE). They pop up, ask to update. They go away if you tell them to. If you tell them to update, they hang around. On OS X, if it requires a reboot, you won't be able to close SU, but you can hide it or just put it in the background -- when the user is done with their work, they can go ahead and reboot.

A precept for all great software: It does its fucking job and stays out of your damn way.

2:42 AM | Software
January 18, 2007

HBO turns 'Fire' into fantasy series

Rome was reallly good. I could definitely see HBO pulling off A Song of Ice and Fire in a great way. Especially with each book being given an entire season (!).

And, hidden at the bottom of the article...

Aside from writing the most recent draft of "Halo," Weiss recently adapted the William Gibson novel "Pattern Recognition" for WB and director Peter Weir.


2:49 PM | Movies
January 23, 2007
January 24, 2007

Great video published over at Emergent Chaos.

Only in Mayberry.

4:48 AM | Linkwhore