July 27th, 2004

classic beard

Jef Raskin's Humane Interface

I finally finished Jef Raskin's book "The Humane Interface" and have promised enough people comments that I figured I'd just write a review - and livejournal turns out to be the most convenient place for me to put it up and get feedback, so here it is.

Jef Raskin's name has come up numerous times over the years, as a user interface design god - but as with many gods, he seemed distant and incomprehensible. I finally saw him speak (and demo) at EuroPython 2004, when he was opposite a talk that ended early (fame is not in and of itself attractive, at a technical conference) and discovered that he fits a pattern that I've found worth of attention before - "Everything you know about [topic] is wrong, here's what you get if you examine it rigorously instead of believing the folklore". Examples include Measured capacity of an Ethernet: myths and reality (Boggs, Mogul, Kent) (notable for debunking early myths about ethernet having a maximum capacity of 1/3 the wire-bandwidth) and ON FOOD AND COOKING by Harold McGee (notable for the definitive explanation of copper bowls and egg whites, with confirming evidence from a spectrophotometer.) He also turns out to be very clear and concrete with his examples; the book follows the same pattern.

It is definitely a book to read for anyone designing a workflow - especially if you have the opportunity to escape "modern" application toolkits. If you are stuck using rich standard libraries, you may want to avoid this book, as it will bring you moments of enlightenment that come crashing down when you try to fit them into the metaphors current systems have stumbled upon. Also, if you've ever thought "if only my work tools had interfaces as slick as this video game", this book is for you.

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classic beard

linux phone

According to LinuxDevices,

Motorola has announced its third mobile phone based on Linux and Java software. The A780 is expected to ship in Q4, 2004, and will woo enterprise and home users with features such as a PDA-like quarter-VGA color touchscreen, claimed 240Kbps GPRS data download speeds, Bluetooth networking and synchronization, PDF and Microsoft Office file viewing, a 1.3 megapixel digital camera, mp3 playback, 48MB of removable TransFlash storage, and more.

If I can get at it at a low enough level to run my own code [in particular, to put python on it], it is likely to win out over the Nokia 7610...