27 Jun

Rolling Stone Politics – BP’s Next Disaster

Here’s what BP has in store for the Arctic: First, the company will drill two miles beneath its tiny island, which it has christened “Liberty.” Then, in an ingenious twist, it will drill sideways for another six to eight miles, until it reaches an offshore reservoir estimated to hold 105 million barrels of oil. This would be the longest “extended reach” well ever attempted, and the effort has required BP to push drilling technology beyond its proven limits. As the most powerful “land-based” oil rig ever built, Liberty requires special pipe to withstand the 105,000 foot-pounds of torque — the equivalent of 50 Mack truck engines — needed to turn the drill. “This is about as sexy as it gets,” a top BP official boasted to reporters in 2008. BP, a repeat felon subject to record fines for its willful safety violations, calls the project “one of its biggest challenges to date” — an engineering task made even more dangerous by plans to operate year-round in what the company itself admits is “some of the harshest weather on Earth.”

via Rolling Stone Politics – BP’s Next Disaster. The next place for BP to start drilling, the Arctic.

24 Jun

Dustin Curtis – The Clear War by Kevin Mattice

Right or wrong, companies who care little about the design of a customer’s experience are often thought to care little about its customers. Poor design encourages people to believe in a brand’s ham-handedness, in its cloth-eared reluctance to listen and respond. If openness, communication, and accountability are the bellwethers of clarity, then poor design is a smudge—a flaw that seems to hide rather than reveal. That was the problem with my breakage scenario: The marketing guy preferred to hide from people, withholding information and feigning incompetence rather than fulfilling what seemed to be a sincere obligation.

via Dustin Curtis – The Clear War by Kevin Mattice. A designer’s job is provide a seamless experience not to trick customers.

23 Jun

NYTimes.com – On Border Violence, Truth Pales Compared to Ideas

It is a connection that those who support stronger enforcement of immigration laws and tighter borders often make: rising crime at the border necessitates tougher enforcement.

But the rate of violent crime at the border, and indeed across Arizona, has been declining, according to the Federal Bureau of Investigation, as has illegal immigration, according to the Border Patrol. While thousands have been killed in Mexico’s drug wars, raising anxiety that the violence will spread to the United States, F.B.I. statistics show that Arizona is relatively safe.

via NYTimes.com – On Border Violence, Truth Pales Compared to Ideas. Once again perception and idealougy trumps facts.

20 Jun

Dustin Curtis – Create the Filter

There needs to be a human filter that prevents mistakes like these from becoming part of the company’s experience. The CEO, or the design director, or someone with a huge amount of power at Heinz should personally use every one of its products for some arbitrary amount of time before it is approved to be sold. If it’s crappy, or if it has any deficiency, then don’t fucking sell it. There, easy. Now, as long as that person at the top with power has some amount of understanding of what it means for a product to be awesome, your company cannot sell crap.

via Dustin Curtis – Create the Filter. I couldn’t agree more, it’s a real skill for a company to allow only the best to be created, someone has to have the ability and skill to say “this sucks, just fix it”.

20 Jun

Dustin Curtis – The Death of Files

Mere mortals don’t think of things on their computers as “files.” People think about digital representations of things the same way they think about real physical things: they think about photos, videos, text documents, articles, and people. A “file” on a computer is just a universal container for one of those things.

via Dustin Curtis – The Death of Files. Let’s throw out files and just have apps that operate on a database of files. Store the files behind the scenes and open an app to work on a file or series of files.

This is an interesting concept particularly for the more novice user and simple series of files (movies, music, documents) but does it scale to a programmer being able to manipulate a series of different types of files for a project, same thing for a movie editor or a graphic designer, that’s a different question. The basic design concept I would implement would be an OS level database of files, file types and applications.

Any new application would register with this database adding file types or registering as being able to manipulate a particular file type. The OS could handle storage of all files with applications requesting that certain files be organized together in a manner to be accessible say as a project. This would also allow the OS to take advantage of more efficient storage and backups of the underlying data. The OS could separate out core OS level information, from applications, from application and user level storage. This allows for one click backups of all these different levels of information (backup the whole computer, backup the OS, backup applications, backup my preferences and files for my user account). The iPhone, iPad and even iPhoto and iTunes are great examples of this occurring where the details of files are almost completely hidden from the end user.

15 Jun

Impressive Webs – Dear Microsoft, You Missed the Boat

You had your chance, Microsoft, and you blew it. There are enough browser makers now that care about the user experience, that care about the developer experience, and that realize what’s important in this community. Even if you did everything right from now on, there’s no amount of promotion, branding, or mock integrity that can change how developers perceive your products. It’s too late.

via Impressive Webs – Dear Microsoft, You Missed the Boat. It’s sad but in nine years the web design community has turned from being enthralled with IE to wanting it to wither away and disappear. It probably doesn’t help that most of the web development crowd has turned to the Mac and Microsoft decided long ago to turn it’s back on IE for the Mac, thus relegating it to a chore to test new designs or features.

07 Jun

hsivonen – -webkit-HTML5

The demos have three levels of obstacles for non-Safari browsers even if the other browsers implemented the HTML5 features being demoed (only video and audio; the rest is CSS!) and implemented the proposed CSS features once standardized:

via hsivonen – -webkit-HTML5. Apple promotes open standards by calling them by the wrong name and using the most closed version possible to prevent all other browsers from seeing the effects. Oh and one of the demos doesn’t even work in anything other than the latest version of Mac OSX.

06 Jun

Paul Krugman Blog – Lost Decade, Here We Come

But don’t we need to worry about government debt? Yes — but slashing spending while the economy is still deeply depressed is both an extremely costly and quite ineffective way to reduce future debt. Costly, because it depresses the economy further; ineffective, because by depressing the economy, fiscal contraction now reduces tax receipts. A rough estimate right now is that cutting spending by 1 percent of GDP raises the unemployment rate by .75 percent compared with what it would otherwise be, yet reduces future debt by less than 0.5 percent of GDP.

via Paul Krugman Blog – Lost Decade, Here We Come. Krugman on why you don’t cut government spending in a weak economy.