Why open standards are the future of consumer electronics.
The New York Times reports about changes to the White House email system that make it less user-friendly. After reading the article, I decided to take a look for myself and here are a few things which could help improve the system: First of all, a progress indicator should show how many more pages are required in order to complete the email. This would allow people to quickly understand that this may be a lengthier process than they expect and give them an indication of how close (or how far) they are to completing their communication. The mention of I want to write a supporting comment/differing opinion as the first item is a bad approach. While I understand that it will make it easier to quickly assess the level of support or dissent on a particular issues, the approach likes granularity and inspires instant suspicion of darker motives. A better way to approach this would be to include this as a later step in the flow, asking whether the writer supports or opposes the policy or other (the other category allowing for people who are not fully in support or dissent on a policy to offer suggestions). The next issue…Read More
Over the past few days, I’ve been doing some research for an easy-to-use web-based open-sourced content management system. The basic system needs to be usable by several people and needs to be simple. In the process, though, I have learned that simplicity is hard to do. The main challenge comes from the fact that most software developers are too knowledgeable to really create easy to use system. As a result, new features are created daily for open source tools but little attention is being paid to making the overall tools easy to use. The challenge is that simple interfaces are hard to design and largely present a challenge that is woefully underappreciated. A good interface is one that is so in tune with user expectations that it becomes essentially invisible. As a result, the balance in product development always happens between fewer features with an easier to use interface vs. large feature set with increased complexity. Weblog tools seem to manage a careful balance between the two but are unfortunately tied to a particular model, based on entries and list of entries. More complex sites, with different sections and other functionality do not fall well within that mold. Let me…Read More
For the past few weeks, I’ve been experimenting with OmniSky’s new wireless service for the Palm V and I have to admit that it has affected my wireless usage. Running over AT&T’s CDPD network, the service allows Palm V users to get full access to the net at speeds of up to 19.2kbps. Priced at $300 for the modem and a $40 monthly rate for unlimited access, the service is still not cheap but it is starting to approach the reasonable area once you realize how much you can do with it. The basic software package comes with some of the same clips that are available on the Palm VII and a few extra programs like a full mail package which allows you to connect to your POP3 server. However, I decided to get rid of that piece of software once I discovered Ptelnet, a small telnet client for the palm. This allows me to access a Unix server on which I not only have an email client but also a Usenet client, as well as a web browser (lynx) and an FTP client. As a result, this telnet client works as the perfect on the road kit. For more…Read More