Friday, November 19, 2010


Powerpoint is a popular business tool for information destruction. How I dislike it. It's not even the terrible interface for interacting with it and generating content for it: It's the culture. I've never understood the preference for delivering and ingesting information of any kind by sitting through a ritual where a talking meat person is providing a television-like linear narrative and delivering an out-of-band side channel of crucial information as a gap-filler for the otherwise missing content from the by-themselves mostly meaningless outlined talking points and images presented on the screen.

The culture of powerpoint further rewards all kinds of emotional delivery attributes. The succesful powerpoint presenter has to be a grossly intrusive and persuasive salesman. I don't want that to be part of an information-delivery process.

Give me content in an information-complete format I can take with me, study and review and cross-reference even long after my feeble biological memory would have forgotten the words that came out of your yammering meat mouth during our meeting. Make it interactive, hyperlinked, indexed and searchable. Give me this content BEFORE we meet so that I may study it on my own terms and we can respect each others time and reserve our expensive, brief opportunity for synchronicity on discussing the information we by this point should have already shared in full.

Death to powerpoint

Friday, September 18, 2009

Android is interesting, but the Market is so messy right now. Many app authors work from the assumption that all phones have keypads or other features only available on some phones. I feel there needs to be a better profiling program so that apps can be categorized and listed in Market ranked according to how well it's suited to a particular class of phone or flagged as incompatible. As an example, many terminal apps won't bring up on-screen keyboards because their authors assume all phones are like the G1 and has that built in keypad.

The Hero trackball is poorly used as a joystick in some game apps. There's a port of the Frodo Commodore 64 emulator that is largely unusable on Hero - no niceties are provided such as employing on-screen touch areas to serve as joystick controls. The Hero itself, a very handsome device, was released prematurely with a tardy and ill-behaved HTC Touch UI that apparently was bloated with debug pre-release code only fixed more than a month post-launch in a firmware update. This is unacceptable for wider market adoption.

Without suggesting that Google should copy appstore and employ prissy self-serving QA nazis like Apple does, I feel they should at least tidy the Market up. The versatility of the Android platform should be embraced by users, publishers and developers, but as it is the lack of QA and insufficiently developed Market presentation there is strong potential for a detrimental consumer perception of the platform as being maddingly disjointed and perpetually in a state of beta-pre-release. And where the hell are the paid apps?

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Sealing up Nautilus side hatch

Sunday I was out at the old Burmeister & Wain shipyard taking pictures of the Nautilus project:

The side hatch of Peter Madsen's submarine "Nautilus" is welded shut in preparation for launch in a couple of days. Read more here on Half Machine's website

On Saturday it will be put in the water and towed to the M/S Half Machine off the Copenhagen "Teglholmen" south pier where the submarine outfitting will be completed.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Ligts on, Lights out

Went to the Half Machine to help out with the LED boxes to get them wired up for use on Roskilde Festival in summer.

The display boxes were fitted standard power and data connectors for daisy chaining units. Internally the boxes each have one power supply providing current for four PCBs, each controlling 4x8 pixels. Pixel data is shifted from one board to the next via a ribbon cable. In their original stadium scoreboard configuration, similar ribbon cables simply connected the last PCB from one box to the first one in the next. The new design employs plain CAT5 cables with two RJ45 connectors on each box to make daisy chaining units easy regardless of how the stacks of displays are arranged.

Today was also Lights Out day, some kind of energy conservation awareness thing where people were supposed to switch off their lights between 8 and 9pm. To promote the event, billboards and posters in town featured some sort of demented panda creature inside a lightbulb shape, which really made no sense to me. But then again I don't watch TV so I don't know what ads they might have run.

In any case I think the event probably misfired. Officials from the municipal power supply did not registe any noticable drop in power consumption, and indeed the street lights remained on in all the outer town districts as well as in many homes in midtown where also most of the shops had left their bright street facing commercial signage on, so the net effect didn't feel very dark at all. Police had supposedly upped their presence to guard against mischief in the dark which wasn't.

However, the flagstones were still damp from afternoon rain which made for a few dozen good pictures with interesting, somewhat different and moody light scapes than the usual plain looking copenhagen.

Friday, March 28, 2008

The last Hi8 tapes

I'm slowly transferring to harddisk the contents from a heap of old Video8, Hi8 and DV tapes shot over the past fifteen years. The Hi8 tapes are proving a bit of a problem. I don't own any fancy equipment for digitizing S-video, other than a now rather naff and antique Sony TRV18 camcorder which I then hookup to the Hi8 with a ridiculously overpriced Monster cable carrying stereo audio and S-video.

The low-fi, 100% analog setup

Some 8 or 9 years ago I had limited access to a Media 100 iFinish workstation, using which I converted some of the same Hi8 tapes to DV (with the same camcorder hooked up). Unfortunately much of the converted content has been lost, so now I have digitized the tapes again using the above shown solution.

Compare the footage I create this way with the old iFinish tapes, I was not particularly surprised to find the TRV18 S-video capture performing somewhat poorly against the by now antique but still pricey professional equipment. Maybe before I convert any more Hi8 material I should shop around for affordable better-quality S-video digitizers.

Started work on editing some old DV footage from the C&O canal:

This was shot on a GL1 and a VX1000. I wish I had been able to afford buying a VX back then. It was such a nice camera.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

China's Tibet

I recently joined a small upstart firm developing some pretty interesting CE products. We're traveling to Shanghai in a couple of days to meet our manufacturing partners there. I've never been to China before so I'm pretty excited about going. Not particularly looking forward to the grueling 12-hour flight down there though; already started charging all my gadgets to keep me entertained or at least distracted the whole way.

alight with the glow from charge indicator LEDs

Turns out that flying to China is a bit more complicated than any place I've traveled to before. For one thing, unlike flying to the US where you can usually get away with just signing a visa waiver while on the plane, you actually have to get a visa made at the local chinese consulate. Naturally this can't be done too simple or too convenient. 

The best way to deal with the bureaucratic rubbish is by downloading and completing an onerous multi-page application form, which when it comes down to it is not substantially more horrid than the paperwork you do when you fly into the US from Europe. 

The Chinese Embassy here has its visa consulate office in a separate building; a plain white house that looks to have been a private residence until recently. The lawn facing the street sports an assortment of trees and flowerbeds, and a half-empty concrete lined pond in which the wind causes a very old and algae covered leather football to gently drift about.

Inside the sensation of being in someone's house is underscored by a comfy couch and coffee table arrangement in front of large picture windows overlooking the garden. The wall decor is somewhat spartan, however: Numerous magazine racks each holding one copy of a glossy brochure irresistibly titled China's Tibet. The stories about Happy and Prosperous and Sensible Tibetans who Collaborate and Behave Properly are beautifully illustrated with lush photos of snow covered mountaintops and smiling children and monks. Of course. 

I picked up an informative leaflet about the evil Falun Gong movement, which to Beijing is evidently as Psychiatrists are to Tom Cruise

In the comfy consulate couches sits people completing and carefully double-checking their application paperwork. There's the sound of coins being handled: People are counting the wads of cash they are bringing to pay for the visa stamp service, which runs to about USD 180 for a visa good for 12 months. (Credit cards not accepted, sorry). There are helpful directions to a bank with a cash machine less than half a mile away.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

West Virginia country drive

Old Hi8 dashcam video made back in the summer of '99: A peaceful drive in the West Virginia countryside, from somewhere outside Berkeley Springs to Paw Paw, on a small dirt road off Route 9.

Playback speed is double of normal rate.
Music is KLF: Elvis on the Radio.

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