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Comment Re:HTML forms (Score 1) 153

On the other hand, the *lack* of a standard WIMP GUI toolkit for web pages has also let loose a few creative ideas for what a UI could be. The standard desktop GUI toolkits make it easy to write mediocre and somewhat boring UI's that get the job done but not very elegantly or ergonomically, and which all look exactly the same.

Web apps are not really a blank slate... but they could be close once you decide what parts of the HTML/browser framework you intentionally *don't* want to use and step around.

(HTML5's Canvas is also more literally a blank slate... so will be interesting to see what happens with that.)

Comment Re:Two Sides to the Coin (Score 1) 126

Thank you, this is very insightul. We really do need to be careful about what we are claiming an online virtual world (VW) can and cannot do.

One role I do see VWs being good at is simulation of *processes*, if not specific physical skills -- processes of communication, sequences of action, decision making, etc. A high level simulation like this can present students with a set of circumstances on a more abstract level, to let them figure out how they might deal with it in RL. When it comes to learning how to actually do exams, surgery, whatever, you then certainly need to get into a real hospital.

This is how the armed forces have been using "games" of various kinds (just recently using computer games) for a long time-- to try out and practice strategic and tactical possabilities.

In a large scale world (like SL), you can even try to model lots of aspects of a complex system like a hospital, everything from scheduling of shifts and personel assignment, to how supplies and medications are stored, ordered, transported, and delivered, to physical layout of the rooms and placement of machines, phones, whatever, and more, and see how they interact.

But we need to remember always SL is *not* Virtual Reality.

Comment There is hidden utility in imperial we overlook (Score 2, Insightful) 901

The only real valid arguments I've ever heard for using metric are that (a) it's easy to learn the conversions, and (b) everyone else uses it for all science and egineering.

(b) is the reason that NASA should just use metric... And anyone else in the world doing any kind of science or engineering.

But for everyday life, imperial or American units turn out to have a lot of utility that most people aren't aware of, because most of us of the younger generation have just relied on calculators doing decimal calculations for us most of the time. If instead you picture fractions in your head, imerial or American units are quite handy. They also often match real world objects a bit closer. If you're dividing meters into centimeters, you can really only talk about tenths, hundreds, etc. If you're dividing yards into feet and inches, or pounds into ounces, etc. you have thirds, 16ths, 12ths, and all kinds of other useful fractions to use to think about the divisions. Find a carpenter who is good at this to see what I mean. Same with volume and weight; if you do a lot of cooking and modifying quantities in recipes you can get good at those conversions.

Comment external resources in HTML pages (Score 3, Insightful) 106

The number one slowdown I see on pages is linking to all kinds of external resources: images, flash movies, iframes, CSS, bits of javascript. Each of these requires at least another DNS lookup and a new HTTP connection, and often those external servers take a really long time to respond (because they're busy doing the same for all those other websites using them). Why is this going on in each users browser? It should all be done behind the scenes on the web server. Why would you put the basic user experience of your users or customers in the hands of random partners who are also doing the same for competing sites? It takes some load off your server, but I think the real reason that people just link in external resources as images, objects, etc is just that it's easier than implementing it in the back end. If you really want to offload work, then design a mechanism that addresses that need specifically.

We've ended up with a broken idea of what a web server is. Because it was the easiest way to get started, we now seem to be stuck with the basic idea that a web server is something that maps request URLs directly to files on the server's hard disk that are either returned as is or executed as scripts. This needs to change (and it is a little bit, as those "CGI scripts" have now evolved into scripts which are using real web app frameworks.)


Submission + - Anonymously check your neighbour's income

Xemu writes: "A new website has been launched in Sweden that makes it possible to find out your neighbour's income at the touch of a button. The site makes it very simple to find out the income details of a person or company. All you need is the name. It allows the searcher total anonymity, writes the Local. The person whose details are revealed will not be notified. Of course a site like this could be used by shady elements to check out potential wealthy targets. Should details about people's income be freely and anonymously available on the net?"

Submission + - James Kim's Body Found

An anonymous reader writes: James Kim's body has been found. Cnn story

It's a sad day for his family, friends, and fans.

Submission + - EMI Selling Unprotected Songs. The end of DRM?

engtech writes: "Digital song sales have stalled at the ~137-144 million mark and EMI has launched an experiment in selling songs in unprotected MP3 format through Yahoo (WSJ).

Nicholas Carr writes that "the writing's on the wall: The existing model of digital music sales is losing momentum."

From the article: "But won't selling songs as unprotected MP3s lead to rampant illegal copying? No. Because there's already rampant illegal copying. Most unauthorized copying is done either through online file-sharing networks or by burning CDs for friends. DRM schemes have little effect on either of those. All new songs are immediately available on file-sharing networks, DRM or not.""

Submission + - Wil Wheaton's Holiday Gift Guide for Geeks

Helen Suicide writes: "There are just seventeen shopping days left until Christmas, and the holidays are now officially up in our shit like a drunken co-worker at the office Christmas party. Shopping at this time of year can be difficult at best, and shopping for geeks can be downright miserable. We speak a language not a lot of people understand, enjoy things that seem weird to most normal people, and the places you'd go to shop for us can be a little . . . scary. So, as a public service, I present Wil's First Annual Holiday Gift Guide for Geeks, featuring things you can buy from the comfort and saftey of your own home, right off the Internet."

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