10 August 2008

You will. (or else?)

I watched the videos for the Aurora browser, and then several related videos for the same idea applied to a different problem set. In the end, they're not compelling. All of them use the basic concept that a 3D interface will make shopping easier. This is important because we all want to keep the economy strong to support the troops, but all that not-sitting-in-front-of-TV is too hard. I mean, if we were meant to have that much walking around and stuff, God wouldn't have invented liposuction.

Really, I watched videos demonstrating three different "next generation" browsers, and they all revolved around Amazon or eBay either in 3D or combined with some master database that KNOWS EVERYTHING YOU EVER READ OR THOUGHT.

First off, do west-coast farmers talk smack to each other? I grew up around farmers, and they mostly just asked each other, "How are you doing these days?" with some measure of concern, because they all had a rough enough time of it.

And the mouse-in-the-air thing? She's trading one repetitive stress injury for another. Great wrists, but her shoulder will need replacing.

In the last video, two men are discussing what to get a little girl for her seventh birthday, and they call her mother, who agrees to send a full inventory of the kid's room and a profile. Many commenters noted that it was a little creepy that Mom had a profile and did RFID scans of her bedroom's contents. What I want to know is why the gay uncle couldn't talk to the little girl and ask what she wanted, and wasn't it enough that his twink room-mate catered the event, spending all night making Spongebob characters from arugula, carrots, and melon?

There was another video where a man with a heavy accent wanted to buy a toy for (presumably) the same kid, and wanted it to last more than a week. Again, why not look at the damn thing, and see if it appears sturdy enough for that child's use. If you honestly don't know, get a gift certificate from the toy store and find a humorous card to attach it to.

Then there's voice command. (not in the Aurora videos, I'm going off on a tangent now. Sensitive viewers may wish to leave the web site) Joe Data-Entry is trying to update the catalog description for the "Sun Yellow" line of swimwear on the company web site. "Not 'son,' 'sun'," he says to his computer. He repeats it louder and slower. He sighs, then growls when the sigh is transcribed as some convulsion of letters and subsequently marked as misspelled. Now imagine a cube farm, with 1,500 people, none of whom have had proper training, all trying to convince their desktop that they really and truly know the difference between "crab" and "crap" and that they just have a head-cold, for Christ's sake.

It's bad enough that we have speakerphones but not private offices. There's always some "important" guy who not only has to use the speaker, at top volume (I mean, so that it distorts more than Hendrix's Marshalls at Woodstock) but also mutter aloud, "Let's see if my wife stayed at home today like a good girl..." I always pray that there's no answer, so that I can mutter, "She's probably off fucking some guy who has a three digit I.Q."

Back to user interfaces--I have given up on GUIs. I even gave up on mc. I have some files backed up on DVD-RW, and in one directory, there are several versions of every Amiga program ever made (apart from games, which take another entire DVD). I keep forgetting how painful GUI use can be until I double-click on that folder, and it takes ten frustrating, no, it's twelve now, unless it stops doing anything for five minutes, then it says twenty-three, but changed back to twelve minutes a second later, and finally eighteen minutes to display "thumbnails" of the contents. Why thumbnails? Is "LHA" a suffix used for pictures in Windows? I learned to use the command line for everything. I even switched to using vim and LaTeX for writing.

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