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Comment: User experience? (Score 1) 182

by CMU_Ken (#41796521) Attached to: Craig Mundie Blames Microsoft's Product Delays On Cybercrime
Look, just because you might have had a crappy music player and some junky tablet before someone else doesn't mean you had any idea how to engage your users on the platforms. If we turned back time and you got a redo, it would end up the same way because they wouldn't "just work" for people, and therefore people wouldn't buy them.

Comment: Fatigue (Score 3, Insightful) 377

by CMU_Ken (#41776181) Attached to: Apple CEO Likens Surface To Car That Flies, Floats
I suspect Apple's dismissal of vertical touch screen usage has to do with muscle fatigue. Try holding your arms out in front of you without resting your hands on anything for 5-10 minutes, and I think you'll see what he's getting at. People want to love Minority Report-style interfaces, but the truth is that there are reasons for not using them. Is it a well-founded argument against vertical screens? I guess we'll see!

Comment: User experience issues, not aesthetic (Score 1) 370

by CMU_Ken (#40648045) Attached to: Why Is Wikipedia So Ugly?
The problem with the entire article is that it tries to hand-wave over the real issue: user experience. The article basically suggests, "If we put lipstick on a pig, the pig will look much better." This kind of thought process is exactly why there is so much shitty software in the real world... suddenly, everyone is a designer, everyone knows how to do information architecture, interaction design, and visual design. Wikipedia has a problem, agreed, but it is not just a "superficial" one. If Wikipedia was designed with a different kind of end-user in mind (average Joe vs. geeks), it really could enable folks to contribute on a larger scale. However, there's a lot more involved in improving user experience than just making it look nicer.

Comment: Re:Don't need more spectrum (Score 1) 147

by nickruiz (#37396406) Attached to: Jobs Bill Funds Safety Network With Spectrum Sale

I'm an EMT, there are 5 radios in my ambulance. I don't need more ways to talk to people. I need policies, documentation, good equipment, and most of all consistent interoperability training between multiple departments and jurisdictions. I really don't think the fix is more spectrum.

So, what you're really saying is that spectrum is the cowbell of medical response systems. (Oblig. SNL reference)

Comment: Incorrect summary (Score 1) 1014

by nickruiz (#37184488) Attached to: Evangelical Scientists Debate Creation Story

Venema is part of a growing cadre of Christian scholars who say they want their faith to come into the 21st century and say it's time to face facts: There was no historical Adam and Eve, no serpent, no apple, no fall that toppled man from a state of innocence.

This summary is incorrect. At least, according to the articles, Venema doesn't deny the idea of original sin. That was John Schneider, who taught theology at Calvin College. The summary is lumping all of these Christian scholars into the exact same theology.

Comment: Re:Same problem here (Score 1) 619

by nickruiz (#36385268) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: What To Do With Other People's Email?

I had a similar problem from a person who registered an Xbox Live account under my email address. I couldn't find a way to contact the person, so after several months of getting his Xbox ads, I decided to log into his account and contact his friends to tell him to change his email address. (Probably not a smart idea.) That didn't work. After over a year, I finally got frustrated enough that on April Fools' Day (2011), I logged into his account and changed his avatar from a "lolz im so cool look at ma slipknot shrt n shades" to "elf fairy toddler wearing flower bell-bottoms". You would have thought that he would have got the hint after having to reset his avatar 3 times in the middle of his game, but he still didn't change his info.

In the end, I just set a filter to trash his messages. Moral of the story, it's not worth tracking down 95% of these problems.

Comment: Re:I am a Silverlight Developer (Score 1) 580

by nickruiz (#36384698) Attached to: Silverlight Developers Rally Against Windows 8

Now, you may think that's insane, but what we wanted to deliver was a very rich user experience over the web that was cross platform.

Moonlight is far from Silverlight in terms of compatibility. About half of the webpages I visit (for example Ryanair's route map, which used to be cross-platform) nag me to install the Silverlight (aka Moonlight) plugin. Even after installing the plugin and restarting the entire system, the Silverlight control still nags me to install Silverlight.

I have worked with Silverlight before, so I can say that it has some neat features, but its cross-platform compatibility is sad. If Microsoft really wanted to push such a tool, they would have invested more in the Moonlight to ensure that the versions of Silverlight and Moonlight matched in capability. However, any further involvement would probably have undermined their current business direction at the time.

Comment: Re:Fraud (Score 1) 249

by nickruiz (#35442378) Attached to: Text Messages To Replace Stamps In Sweden

Coding the stamp to the addresses requires the user to key in the addresses, killing much of the convenience.

This is less of an inconvenience as more people are using smart phones with more functional address books. The right app could just export the address into an SMS or an encoding of the address that's understandable by the postal service. Alternately, a user could enter a postal code (and possibly a contact name) to isolate the range of the address. In the US, that could be a Zip+4, but Sweden does a similar thing with their 5 digit codes.

Comment: Re:Wow, that gives me lots ideas! (Score 2) 249

by nickruiz (#35440944) Attached to: Text Messages To Replace Stamps In Sweden

* Powertools will get your stone axe sharper, quicker! * Put your horse and carriage on a freight-train for greater speed! * Sending my telegrams would be so much quicker if I could just order them from my iPhone!

Until e-Cards become popular for birthdays (fat chance) and contracts are completely digitized, snail mail isn't going anywhere and thus this isn't a bad idea.

Comment: Re:Fraud (Score 1) 249

by nickruiz (#35440910) Attached to: Text Messages To Replace Stamps In Sweden

Just wait until a postman copies the code to a package of his own, and just destroys the original package.

If I were designing such as system, I would encode the string with information about the end address, the timestamp of the text message, the identity of the sender (based on text messaging registration and phone number), and the ID of the transaction. If the "stamp" is unique to the transaction and sender/recipient, then I think that it would be fairly difficult to spoof (unless you had the person's SIM card).

Overall, I think it's an interesting alternative to stamps.

Comment: Re:Just Use Google Translate or something (Score 1) 159

by nickruiz (#35345784) Attached to: Device Addresses Healthcare Language Barrier

My wife is a surgical resident. While she speaks a number of languages such that she has not had a language barrier problem, one of her coworkers only knows English. He has something on his iPhone (IIRC, one of the Google apps + the ability to have the iPhone read things out loud + the iPhone's voice recognition) that he uses. Apparently it works quite well. He speaks into it in English, it translates to Spanish, and the iPhone speaks the Spanish. His patient can speak Spanish into it, translate to English, and so on.

For simple things like "where does it hurt?" or "have you had any diarrhea?" it is reported to work well for him.

I am doing research in this kind of machine translation. Unfortunately, it is not ready for widespread use in medical offices at this point in time and can invite lawsuits. Usually translation systems need to be trained to a specific domain (medical, business, etc), because there are many ambiguities in translation. The typical (and state-of-the-art) approach is statistical machine translation, but it still suffers some flaws, because decoding has a running time in NP. There are many heuristics that are used now to speed up translation, but they don't guarantee a perfect (or correct) translation. While MT has made a lot of progress over the past few years, it's going to take some time to prove its accuracy before it is used in a place where a misdiagnosis (or a misinterpreted diagnosis) can invite a lawsuit.

Using TSO is like kicking a dead whale down the beach. -- S.C. Johnson