Posts from October, 2009

October 24th, 2009

Google Wave Keyboard Shortcuts

I’d figured out a couple of these on my own, but this is a handy reference. Otherwise, the Wave interface has you moving from keyboard to mouse and back an awful lot.

Unlike GMail, which could be used to communicate with anybody with an email address, Wave’s usefulness is relevant to the number of people you want to use it with. But even with a fairly limited range of acquaintances signed up, it’s already surprisingly useful.

October 20th, 2009

What’s next after SpamWaves, WavePorn?

Google Wave already has its first reported spammer — a marketer for POM Wonderful began flinging flack at all the food bloggers they could find on Wave.

Although at least a couple people are optimistic about Google’s technical capacity to keep spam under control in Wave, it’s ultimately impossible to prevent spamming entirely in any medium without either proactive moderation or closing account creation and forbidding user interaction.

Incidentally, if you want to find me on Wave, ask.

October 19th, 2009

Why can’t we figure out what Google Wave is good for?

Google Wave is… something. What it is, exactly, few people have been able to agree on. Google’s own PR about Google Wave is a frustratingly imbalanced information overload, their publicity effort centering around an 80 minute video of the developer preview at Google I/O, earlier this year, entirely burying their slick, short product demos.

Apple can routinely, in 80 minutes, tout its sales figures, announce three revolutionary consumer products, demo them, preview yet another devastatingly witty TV commercial starring an affable PC and bemused Mac, and have a surprise musical guest run through a number or two. Even Microsoft’s execs can put on a reasonably tight show when announcing new products. So how does Google’s new product announcement compare? It’s thorough and boring. It’s unrehearsed, heavily padded by presentation failures, presenter fumbles, and an excruciatingly long introduction by one of Google’s research unit executives.

The Wave video is a fine tech conference presentation. But it’s a lousy public product demonstration, and it’s the entirety of Google’s sales pitch. Sales pitches, product sheets, whitepapers, short demonstrations of single features are all missing from Wave’s PR. In their place is a long video of people fumbling with their demo equipment. I watched it in 20 minute chunks, because if this is The Future, The Future is awkward.

Read the rest of this entry »

October 16th, 2009

Polaroid SX-70 promotional film by Charles & Ray Eames

Compare this ten-minute film to contemporary info videos: It’s slow-moving, doesn’t pander to the viewer’s ego, lacks the usual ever-pressing urgency of new-technology promotion, and has an extended technical interlude which assumes the viewer can keep up with a detailed explanation of the optics, electronics and mechanics.

The viewer can. The Eames were great designers and geniuses at making complex things comprehendable. This is a beautiful short film about one of the most unusual and fascinating cameras ever made.

October 16th, 2009

YUI Graded Browser Support

At the core: TV distributes information. A hand-cranked emergency radio is capable of receiving television audio transmissions. It would be counter-productive to prevent access to this content, even though it’s a fringe experience.

Yahoo will have to reconsider this analogy. (some more personal anecdotes)

October 13th, 2009

@font-face and performance

A usefully comprehensive analysis of how @font-face affects web site loading time (both actual and perceived). The results are somewhat depressing.

Worst-case scenario: If a font file fails to download properly in Internet Explorer, the whole page is unviewable.

It sounds like rather than simply whacking external font requests into the stylesheet, a savvy web developer can improve circumstances by scripting the site to only load external fonts when page content requires it, and sending files compressed whenever possible. Microsoft-specific conditional clauses can help control its display problems. Some of Steve’s recommendations are of limited value to small-scale web developers.