Have Faith In Me

DSC_0729I wonder when the world in general and online forms in particular will learn to have faith in me and begin to trust in my ability to enter my email address correctly.

I don’t have to enter my mobile phone number twice either, or my street address, or my name or vehicle registration number. Email has been around for a while, and my email address changes as much, or even less, than any of the other details the form asks for.

Don’t you think it is time to stop that nonsense?

Not In Vain

fig-1Nice to know that my pretty drawings weren’t done in vain. We’ve been published at http://www.controleng.com/single-article/prototyping-peer-to-peer-applications-for-the-industrial-internet-of-things/73ec533ccc5868e71d7af61241f41dca.html, how nice.

A good drawing is more than 1000 words, they say. If it isn’t worth at least 1000 words, I usually add, it isn’t worth having. I love diagrams which provide a wealth of information, if one only takes the time to look at it.

Scratch That

DSC_0764When is the last time you watched a 12-year old using Scratch?

I had my first (and so far last) opportunity just a few days ago. In conversation, it turned out that one of our visitors, a 12 year old boy growing up in a household with very limited technology awareness was familiar with Scratch, the MIT’s programming tool for kids: http://scratch.mit.edu/. So, I took the boys upstairs, and gave them access to a mouse, keyboard, and a Raspberry Pi running Scratch.

It was for them to take the front row and time for me to step back, occasionally leaning over their shoulders for a better look.

This programming tool is obviously easy to understand and comes with a very flat learning curve, and is made to stimulate. Can you make it eat the monster? or when they hit the tree, they’ll die or other creative ideas were shouted out by the younger of the boys, while the eldest solved practically every task thrown at him in this manner. He didn’t always know how to do it, but looking around and browsing the available programming building blocks, we’d soon find a way.

After a very short time, he had a cat and wing-flapping bats chasing each other, scoring at certain events and exhausting their lives at others, messages were sent and received, sound was coming from the speakers, environmental factors changed, and he even sketched together his own character. Rough and primitive as it was, the total was just very impressive and awe-inspiring.

I had heard of Scratch before, but seeing it in action used by children is something different altogether.

Excellent stuff.


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A Global Issue

DSC_0458It used to take months, weeks maybe if the winds were good and the Panama Canal was already open, to reach the US west coast. Today, a direct flight between London and San Francisco takes approximately 10 1/2 hours, and seems unbearably long.

Worst, of cause, if the person next to you (or me) is one of those iPad fetishists who need to whip it out every couple of minutes. He marvels at the desktop with the simulated raindrops (drops which would be immediately wiped away, if they were real and on the outside of the glass), then delights in the fact that no new email has arrived 35,000 feet above Greenland. Because there is nothing else to do, he pinches out and zooms in, in and out of nothingness (such as the system settings) and delights in a prolonged series of slide right, zoom in, pinch out, flip-over and slide-elsewhere finger gestures. Then he stashes it away for a few minutes, before the whole spiel repeats itself.

I know a lady how types on her iPad with such a joy that you think she gets an orgasm with every key activated.

These are two individuals, but serve for a much larger crowd of people who simply lost their minds over these devices.

Don’t get me wrong. I like my tablet, and I know Apple’s are really nicely done, too. That should be the end of it. Behaviour often displayed by many iPad enthusiasts, for example in waiting areas or aeroplanes, is nothing short of indicative of a global mental health problem though.


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DSC_0577I never noticed this in the past, but over the last couple of weeks, it happened several times: The person in front of me at the supermarket check-out removes the last item from the belt, accepts the total, inserts the payment card. After a few seconds of modern-age meditation (during which both the cashier and the customer look at their respective displays in a trance-like state), the cashier prompts the customer:

Enter your pin, please.

On several occasions now, I could not help overhearing the customer replying with the number, or speaking the digits as they were typed in: One-Oh-Nine…

Funny that.

I wonder if it also has a serious side. As we all got accustomed to the chip-and-pin process, the whole thing becomes a daily routine (many times per day for many of us). I think that we might subconsciously relax our own security levels because it no longer is an extraordinary thing to do. Is it time for the next best secure cashless payment scheme?

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Evolution On Steroids

DSC_0458With modern technology a major part of every day life, we all got used to thinks unknown not too long ago. Starting with the use of computers, the web, 24 digital TV channels covering the Olympics and a three-button mouse over general lingo and typical artwork.

We came used to think of a left-pointing arrow not as a symbol for Go Left, but Go Back, and learnt that an arrow pointing to the right implies Go Forth. A circular arrow means “try again, reload,” a triangle pointing to the right means Play. A cross doesn’t indicate a forbidden route, but a tool to stop things. A little house means Home, and we even learned the meaning of home in computing (and by computing, we mean web browsing). We even learned the difference between one’s home page and a web page’s home.

Some of these newly acquired abilities are somewhat logical choices, but how is it that we came use to think of a stylised magnifying glass as a symbol for Search, not Zoom in, Magnify?

I wonder what  today’s children think when they find a real magnifying glass.


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