When your sole metric is the number of times that pages on your site are loaded (and, that those delicious and life-sustaining ads are served along with them), it becomes unbelievably tempting to start doing things that you know are total bullshit. God knows I’ve done it. Probably dozens of times. Few of us haven’t followed that siren’s song in one way or another, but hopefully you evolve. Sometimes, you don’t.
And, that is where things start turning to shit.
It takes two seconds to learn pinch-to-zoom, but if you handed an iPhone to someone who had never seen one and said “zoom in on this web page”, they’d have no clue how to do it. They would likely not even know it was possible to zoom unless you had told them.
However, once you showed them, it would immediately seem natural, and it’s hard to conceive of a more efficient way to perform zooming with human hands. Like the Newton’s “new note” separator, it provides functionality with no screen space required for controls, and provides a tactility that is extremely gratifying at what must be a very low level of the brain.
The benefit of pinch-to-zoom over previous zooming methods is so immediately apparent that it justifies the learning curve. That the learning curve is extremely small also helps. I find it fascinating that a huge portion of iPhone usability training is done via the TV ads, pre-sale. They’re both marketing and instruction.
So, if you’re going to manage to convince the world to change the way it does something, it had better have an benefit that’s immediately obvious and take no more than a few seconds to explain how to do.
As the federal government moves to institute salary caps for Wall Street executives, an increasing number of assholes are seeking employment elsewhere, a study confirmed today.
According to the report commissioned by the University of Minnesota’s School of Business, at a time when the economy needs experienced hands at the tiller, some of the financial world’s best-trained dickwads are fleeing the ship.
And if the trend continues, the study warns, Wall Street could soon be facing a “douchebag drain” as top buttholes migrate to other countries and industries.
“There is no question that our company is losing some of its most valued assholes,” says Bank of America CEO Kenneth Lewis. “I have tried to convince them to stay, but how do you reason with them? After all, they’re assholes.”
One small step for NASA, one giant running leap for Stephen Colbert.
NASA announced Tuesday that it won’t name a room in the international space station after the comedian. Instead, it has named a treadmill after him.
NASA earlier held an online contest to name a room (or “node”) at the space station. With write-in votes, the name “Colbert” beat out NASA’s four suggested options: Serenity, Legacy, Earthrise and Venture.
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On Tuesday’s “The Colbert Report” on Comedy Central, astronaut Sunita Williams announced that NASA — which always maintained it had the right to choose an appropriate name — would not name the node after Colbert.
Instead, Node 3 will henceforth be called Tranquility, the eighth most popular response submitted by respondents in the poll. The node’s name alludes to where Apollo 11 landed on the moon — the Sea of Tranquility.
NASA and Colbert compromised by naming a treadmill used for exercising in space after Colbert. NASA, itself an acronym (National Aeronautics and Space Administration), often names things so they spell out something fun. And that’s what they did with the Combined Operational Load Bearing External Resistance Treadmill (COLBERT).
The project has drawn national attention, coming after alarming reports in the last decade that up to 90 percent of the coral that surrounds many of Okinawa’s islands has died off. This raised a rare preservationist outcry in a heavily industrialized nation whose coastal vistas tend toward concrete sea walls and oil refineries.
The result has been what marine biologists call one of the largest coral restoration projects in the world, begun four years ago. The goal, say biologists, is to perfect methods that could be used around the world to rescue reefs endangered by overfishing, pollution and global warming.
They say they are using the Sekisei Lagoon Reef, which is named after the broad, shallow lagoon that it created, as a test bed for new techniques that they hope will one day make transplanting coral in the sea as routine as raising tree saplings on land.
“We have been replanting forests for 4,000 years, but we are only just now learning how to revive a coral reef,” said Mineo Okamoto, a marine biologist at Tokyo University of Marine Science and Technology, who has led development of the palm-size ceramic discs. “We finally have the technology.”
Critics, however, say the project might be wasted effort. They say transplanting is futile without addressing the problems that caused the reefs to deteriorate in the first place, like coastal redevelopment and chemical runoff from terrestrial agriculture. There is also the bigger problem of rising ocean water temperatures, for which there may be no easy fix.
Tim Smit, a Dutch student, has assembled an amazing short film titled What’s in the box? using some off-the-shelf software and a small budget. He’s already getting contacted by major Hollywood studios:
A snippet from the email apparently sent to Illuminata principal IT advisor Gordon Haff states:
We’ve all been following the events of the past week of the pirates off the Horn of Africa. Piracy takes many forms, some more violent than others. I wanted to let you know that the Business Software Alliance is launching a new campaign today “Faces of Internet Piracy” that shows the real-life impact of software piracy…
Classy exploitation of current events there. It’s like promoting fireworks safety by citing a recent suicide bombing in the news.
Next up: a request by the BSA to use the same Navy SEAL snipers to prevent you to install bootlegged software.
On Friday, EFF and the law firm of Fish and Richardson filed an emergency motion to quash [pdf] and for the return of seized property on behalf of a Boston College computer science student whose computers, cell phone, and other property were seized as part of an investigation into who sent an e-mail to a school mailing list identifying another student as gay. The problem? Not only is there no indication that any crime was committed, the investigating officer argued that the computer expertise of the student itself supported a finding of probable cause to seize the student’s property.
The warrant application [pdf] cites the following allegedly suspicious behavior:
Should Boston College Linux users be looking over their shoulders?
During its March 30th search, police seized (among other things) the computer science major’s computers, storage drives, cell phone, iPod Touch, flash drives, digital camera, and Ubuntu Linux CD. None of these items have been returned. He has been suspended from his job pending the investigation. His personal documents and information are in the hands of the state police who continue to examine it without probable cause, searching for evidence to support unsupportable criminal allegations.