All the other articles list the top ten Windows Annoyances. I’m going to list the bottom ten. These are things that work, but they’re sloppy.
Maybe the programmers thought good enough was good enough. It isn’t. Maybe the programmers forgot to stress-test their work. They should have. Maybe they didn’t think about the actual work environment where their software would be running. Oops.
And perhaps, some of these behaviors are my fault—things that are particular to my machine, quirks that have developed over time as the detritus of heavy use piles up like scree at the bottom of a cliff. Whatever the case, they’re still annoying.
The problem with predicting the future is that there’s so much of it. You can predict some pieces of it because some trends are obvious, but you can’t predict how all the pieces are going to fit together, and even more difficult, you cannot predict what human beings will do with all those different pieces once they have put them together.
The smartphone is a great example. Robert A. Heinlein predicted cell phones in The Star Beast, first published in 1954. Other writers predicted tablets as well. But nobody predicted Twitter or sexting. Those were surprises.
We’re on the threshold of another leap forward in the punctuated evolution of computing technology and the first pieces are starting to appear. I think it’s inevitable that some of these pieces are going to mate, mutate, and evolve into something new.
First of all, it is pronounced noo-klee-ar. Not noo-koo-lur.
Please. If we accomplish nothing else in the next twelve hundred words, could we at least stop mispronouncing it?
Without fail, every August anniversary of the first atomic war (Hiroshima and Nagasaki), the commentariat trots out the usual Monday morning afterthoughts about the rightness or wrongness of President Truman’s 1945 decision to use nuclear weapons.
Regardless of which side of the argument you take today, we also have to consider the circumstances under which the decision was made and the thinking of the moment. With the victory in Europe secured, Americans wanted the war in the Pacific to end as well. The nation was emotionally exhausted.
The prospect of an invasion of Japan was daunting. Some military planners estimated a half million casualties or more. Soldiers who had fought their way across Europe were already being shipped to the Pacific theater. Marines who had island-hopped all the way from Guadalcanal to Iwo Jima knew how ferocious the Japanese soldiers were, and many did not believe they would survive an assault on the home islands of Japan.
From Truman’s perspective, the decision to use the bomb was dictated by circumstances.
For more about the impact of the atom bomb, and how it relates to technology, read on.
The electronics revolution is changing the nature of law enforcement. Security cameras, tracking devices, micro-chips and other anti-theft measures are making it harder than ever to steal things and even harder to profit from that theft.
Meanwhile, expanding technology is giving us near-universal surveillance, making detection of crimes and apprehension of criminals a lot easier. But will enhanced technology give rise to more sophisticated criminals with more evolved criminal activities?
Several years ago, I was in Florida for a convention and a shuttle launch. I spent a few days with one of my nephews. One night, all discussion stopped immediately after dinner so we could watch a new sitcom he had become enamored with. Suffering from an untimely attack of good manners, I kept my mouth shut and prepared to suffer through 22 minutes of inanity. Instead, I laughed out loud. The show was The Big Bang Theory, and I immediately recognized it was about me, all of my friends, and most of the readership of MaximumPC. Returning to the left coast, I set the DVR to record every episode.
With computers, total security can be achieved with absolute isolation, but if you use your computer for communication of any kind through the internet, then you depend on password security everywhere. While you have little control over how well various online communities and companies protect your password, you do have a great deal of control over the passwords you use.
The “maximum” in MaximumPC means doesn’t just mean the fastest speed or the highest ratings—it means more than best. It means pushing the envelope to be the best possible.
As geeks and nerds, we are always striving for the best possible, because we’re never satisfied with where we are or what we have. We want more. That’s everything you need to know about the forward thrust of technology—the unsatisfied human desire to have more, better, and different. In the long stumbling, bumbling, fumbling history of our weird little species, we have invented so many marvelous tools to expand the power of our muscles, but only one tool to expand the power of our brains—the computer.
As a species, for the first time in history, we have the opportunity to be more accurately informed and make wiser decisions than ever before. —assuming we use our technology wisely.
Too often, we forget that the most important component in any system is the user. We forget that we are the authors of our own choices. Even worse, we forget that we actually have a choice.
If that’s true, then the Internet is a serious pummeling by an unruly mob, with an occasional mugging mixed in.
The architects of this beating are web-designers. The best evidence of this can be found at Vincent Flanders’ website,http://www.webpagesthatsuck.com/. The theory behind Web Pages That Suck is that you can learn a lot about good design by looking at bad design. Flanders also has two similarly-titled books on the subject and his website and his books ought to be mandatory reading for anyone designing, building, or even maintaining a website.
Read on formy three rules for creating a web page that doesn't suck.
Once a month, I get together with friends for sushi. We call it ‘Sushi-Con’ and we descend on Sun-Sushi, on Reseda Blvd. in Northridge. (It’s an open invitation, check my Facebook wall for the next one. Or follow DavidGerrold on Twitter.) The conversation is generally free-spirited and meanders through such territory as favorite movies, science fiction books, ebooks, rock music, classical music, anecdotes about people not present, interesting scientific advances, current and future technologies, and whether or not the perfect cucumber roll includes oshinko.
A few weeks ago, one of the folks asked for advice on a new computer.
What’s interesting about the shift from an industrial age to a technological age is that we keep inventing new media: movies, records, radio, television, the internet, and now ebooks—and one of the things that’s most interesting about the invention of a new medium is watching it reinvent itself as it penetrates the culture.
In the study of mass communication, we see that a new medium always starts out building on the formats of preexisting media. A couple quick examples:
As movies grew up, especially in the first decade of sound, they went to novels and broadway plays for source material. (They still do. In fact, now they go to comics and TV shows too for ‘inspiration.’)
As radio spread, radio stations went to records and concerts for material to broadcast. Radio networks also went to vaudeville for performers and made stars out of Jack Benny, Fred Allen, George Burns, and others. (This is what killed vaudeville. You could stay home and listen to live performances.) Eventually radio started doing drama, mysteries, soap operas, game shows, and sitcoms.
When television began, it modeled itself after radio.
For more about what technology's history says about ebooks' future, read on!