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The Bastard Child

Here are three things I have written: Are Meetings Productive? (about working in a software group). Would Kafka have kept a web journal?, a meditation on writing for the 21st century, and the Taco Stand, an anecdote that happened last week to me.

An interview with Cocky Bastard (aka John Styn) appears in Derek Powazek’s excellent book, “Design for Community.” Styn believes in the “dream of the Internet as a revolutionary, artistic, and social tool ? not just a place to buy books or auction Barbies.” Styn is a personal hero of mine, and he is always trying things nobody has the guts to. Powazek provides generous excerpts of interviews with Rob Malda of Slashdot and Matt Haughey of Metafilter.

Open Schools.org is a portal discussion site about linux in public schools. At the moment, Microsoft has offered low cost software to all public schools, which is good, I guess, but how important is it for 8th graders to do their presentations in Power Point?

Not really about technology, but the exquisite corpse is a nice web journal run by Andrei Codrescu.

Matthew Thomas’ essay about why software usability tends for open source projects tend to suck and Havoc Pennington’s essay about Free Software and good user interfaces are must reads for people who wonder about whether open source software is going to replace commercial software. On the matter of design, I chuckled at Matthew’s comment that a GUI with “preferences” menus is a sign of bad usability. Yes, yes, yes!

Thomas wrote a thorough analysis of Mozilla’s usability problems. I am not so bothered by some things as Thomas is, although I don’t find the history sidebar to be particularly usable either. The main problem with Mozilla are 1)they still haven’t fixed the bug for installing Java runtime environment, 2)documentation is lousy! and 3)I still haven’t figured out how to use the address book. Am I just stupid? Maybe so… Anyway, Mozilla’s ability to have “tabbed views” of web pages is the browser’s big selling point.

Oreilly has a cool article about Managing Images With a Web Database Application. It’s one of those articles that are cool to read about even if you never plan to implement something like that.

Can I rant about popups for a moment? I’m not talking about the doubleclick ads (which everybody hates). I’m talking about the “Select your edition” on CNN or “episode description” on TV guide or “User comments” on various weblogs or “Free shipping for orders over $50” on Amazon. Do web developers realize what a pain in the neck a pop up is? I have a 1.1 gig Athlon processor and 512MB RAM, and my browser still struggles to open up a new popup window. Sometimes it takes as long as 15 seconds to pop up, and all that time, you usually can’t read or scroll down the original window. Instead, the mother browser window will suffer as it tries to expel that bastard child from its womb. Oh, javascript, you are the curse of us alll!

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