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Comment What about the Foam? (Score 3, Insightful) 160

My wife and I toured the museum of stuff that blows up (Bradbury museum?) at Los Alamos on our honeymoon (the site does say "news for nerds", right?).

One of the displays said that special styrofoam-like stuff that holds reactive parts of some in-stockpile nuclear weapons in place has a service life of 10 years, but the weapons using it are 25 or more years old. Meanwhile, they've lost the recipe to make more foam.

I wonder if they're able to refurbish these nukes (and what happens as the foam ages if not).

Comment Re:Bigger bugs afoot... (Score 1) 275

There's an exchange client that will lie for you for $10, but the interface - ugh...

Could start railing about "there's no task-list sync on Droid" or "ActiveSync doesn't sync notes", but only those who use both obsessively (as I do) will understand why these are huge gaps.

Am starting to realize that the REAL problem with a task-list is building a sane interface - have yet to see one better than Franklin-Covey, with Palm and Outlook coming in for a tie at second.

Comment Bigger bugs afoot... (Score 5, Interesting) 275

Honestly, autofocus on the just-so-so camera is the last of my worries:

  • Can't sync with Outlook (the phone doesn't have on-device encryption that would satisfy Exchange policies). Only calendar works, not contacts or email.
  • Can't hands-free voice dial (have to touch the phone to unlock it, touch to turn on voice dial, speak your choice, touch the choice from the menu of likely suspected contacts).
  • Locked phone's touch-screen comes on in pocket when answering with a headset, causing much mute/disconnect/speakerphone hilarity.
  • Turn-by-turn navigation is way off, literally by miles. Wrong 4 of 4 tries so far (in metro Atlanta and DC).
  • Immature bluetooth won't support HCI (portable bluetooth keyboards).
  • Rotating the phone after checking email checkboxes unchecks everything
  • Can't order contact list by last name (fixed in first name order)
  • Can't charge it with ANYTHING but the included AC adaptor (over-draws USB power from my old USB car and wall chargers)

Really, fix the camera sometime down the line. But make the phone dial hands-free. Make email work. Make the navigation something other than worthless. Make "lock the screen" really lock the screen.

Someone at Google should use one of their own phones for a while and see how (s)he likes it.

It's a wonderfully powerful platform, but clearly not as well-thought-out or fluid to work as iPhone/iPod Touch

Comment Re:Would appreciate it if instead... (Score 1) 406

Actually, no I didn't.

Since it's a top-of-the-line smart phone, and VZW's new flagship smart-phone and "iPhone killer", I didn't think to ask "hey, this can do the same must-have Outlook sync through a cable thing that your freebie and $30 phones do, right?"

It's not quite a smart phone if it won't sync with Outlook. Stupid phone, more like it. (and before you snark at me, I'm a Mac owner, user, lover (though not a Macolyte). I just have to use Outlook at work, and that makes Outlook sync (not through GMail, sorry) a _necessary_ feature).

When a phone will voice-dial, and when it will take a Bluetooth headset, I don't automatically think to ask: "Wait...will this phone voice-dial through the Bluetooth headset? No? Why the fuck not?!??"

What the hell good is voice dialing if you have to swipe to unlock the phone, pick an app, talk to it, then confirm your choice by tapping the screen?

Maybe the general question I should've thought to ask was: "Hey, are there things about this phone that suck? What are they?" But knowing VZW salespeople as I do, I'd have no confidence in the answer.

These are a couple of the WTF items for Droid. Another is: if I need to use a static IP on one of my WiFi connections, the phone tries to use the same static IP for ALL my WiFi connections. The static IP is bound to the phone, not to the connection. #fail

Yet another: If I have the phone locked, and I take an incoming call from my BT headset, the touch screen comes on on my pocket and mutes, disconnects, puts me on speakerphone. Wait a minute, I thought I had the phone LOCKED!

It's a wonderful hardware platform, but there are a fair amount of problems yet. I hope the real-world feedback (particularly anger over Outlook and the lack of BT voice dialing) will snap their heads around.

I bought the phone expecting a certain amount of early-adopter pain. I wanted to go on the journey with this product. But the Outlook and voice-dialing things just make my head want to explode.

Comment Re:Resigning Issue... (Score 1) 221

"I'd be glad if someone can come up with a fashion that looks decently "business like", is practical and doesn't involve ties and zillions of buttons."

Ever watch a show called "Star Trek"?

Get out there and get the trend going. We'll join when folks stop pasting "kick me" signs on your back.

Comment Dual-battery config? (Score 3, Interesting) 246

Wish they'd do one battery for the radio components and one for the CPU/etc. That way your CPU (MP3, gaming, PDA) requirements wouldn't be a slave to your talk time on the phone - and vice-versa.

Ever have to get some data off your mobile but couldn't turn it on because you've been talking all day and run it down?

Comment Re:But will devs listen? (Score 2, Interesting) 757

I do usability studies as part of my job.

We do a one-on-one facilitated session with a user in one room, have an observer session in another room watching in real-time.

You want to have developers in the observer session, and part of the point of this is to change developer minds, and give them unfiltered feedback on what users are doing with their work. I've watched this in action many times, and it has a profound effect on developers.

Most developers write UI and processes for other developers to use. One example: 'you have to create a row or data entry object for a database table before you fill it out with data values' - developers and DBAs think like this, but most other humans think that the filling-out of data creates the row or object. for them it mimics the real-world concept of writing a note on paper; they don't think about creating the paper first. If developers want people in the real world to use their programs, they need to make them work in the way that regular humans expect, and the best way to convince them of that is to show them humans behaving normally...that is, not like developers.

It was odd to see Shuttleworth quoted as wanting "User Experience Testing". This is almost certainly a misnomer or misunderstanding of "Usability Testing" - which is part of (some would say tangent to) User Experience practice.

One important thing to know about usability testing: It's reactive. It's not generative. It can tell you what's wrong with your project, but it can't create new ideas about what project to create.

The latter goal is the domain of User Experience practice. User research, surveys, ethnography, rapid prototyping, shadowing studies at customer sites, JAD, search, site and other analytics (and yes, Usability Studies) all go into the User Experience (UX) practice. It's bigger than usability testing.

Comment Re:Livescribe Pulse pen. (Score 1) 176

Yeah, I'd agree to that: the Livescribe Desktop software is not good.

In addition to the fact that the data isn't portable Mac <=> PC (the real sin in my eyes):

  • The software is very modal, and you wind up having to switch screens to do simple, related things
  • It can't do simple management tasks like multiple selection for deletes or OCR.
  • Can't do multiple selection at all, much less multiple-discontiguous selection for any purpose.
  • Won't allow you to do any kind of editing (you leave the pen recording for an extra 30 minutes by accident at the end of a note-taking session - no way to cut off the :30 of dead air...).
  • Won't allow you to lay back better-recorded audio from elsewhere to a note session.
  • The OCR is a Windows-only add-on (that comes with the 2GB pen, but you still have to download it, and it's not integrated with the Livescribe software).
  • The software is very closed-end, and prohibits lots of innovative uses without hacking (and you accept a clickwrap that says you won't hack it).

None of that stops the software from being incredibly useful. It's a worthwhile tool - I just wish they'd open it up (and I suspect that the Anoto firm that owns the dot pattern intellectual property is the real villain here).

Comment Livescribe Pulse pen. (Score 2, Interesting) 176

I've been using the Livescribe since June of this year in my meetings, and it'd be perfect for this use, particularly if you're the lecturer (vs. listening to the lecturer in a large hall).

Livescribe records your handwriting and your audio, synchronizes them, allow you to play back your audio from any point in the recording by touching the spot in the notes later (on the notebook, or on your computer), and allows you to upload the notes and audio to a community site. It does a really good job at recording your voice, and there's room for many hours of it on the pen. It's a good writing instrument (much better than the cheap-ballpoint tip in the "Fly Pentop" which uses the same handwriting technology, but doesn't record audio, isn't as polished an experience).

You'll want the pen, and a few of the hardback journals (so they provide something solid to write on as you pace or stroll).

the 2GB pen (vs. the 1GB) is $199, can find it at any Target, and comes with one Livescribe notebook (you'll need to use Livescribe's special paper, but they offer a number of good, flexible and classy options).

Much lighter than a pentop, and arguably less fragile, less of a theft target.

Only downsides:

  • The pen is completely round and will roll off your podium if you don't tend to it. When it hits the floor, it will break.
  • If it does so prior to a synchronization with your Mac or PC, you'll lose whatever's on it and not-yet-synced.
  • You can't move pen content back onto the pen.
  • You don't have any control over line weight. If you sketch a lot, you'll have to double- or triple- stroke lines to add weight, learn to crosshatch for shadowing and filling.
  • You'll run out of ink before you run out of paper - keep spares around.
  • Finally the Mac and PC software uses different data models, and you can't exchange data between the two, nor move from one platform to the other.

These things don't stop the pen from being quite useful. More info at Livescribe site.

Comment National Cryptologic Museum outside the NSA (Score 1) 435

I loved the National Cryptologic Museum just outside Fort Meade in Maryland.

The facility isn't flashy, but they have real Enigma machines, a cipher that may have been owned by Thomas Jefferson (they can trace it to near Jefferson during his lifetime - he described something similar in his writings), the US "Cryptographic Bombe" used to break Enigma 4-wheel machines after Bletchley Park initially cracked the code, Super Computers, government crypto gear, and displays on US missions involving cryptology.

We were fortunate to get a very helpful dosant who was ex-NSA. Best way to see it

If you're in DC, you'll see ads for the "Spy Museum", which is interesting, but half fluff. The National Cryptologic Museum is the real thing.

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