Flouting user interface conventions

I remember the first time I tried a web browser with this behavior: you click once in the URL field, and the entire contents of the field is selected, ready to be replaced with a single keystroke. I don’t know for sure whether IE or Netscape for Windows was the first to do that, but I was definitely annoyed: “That’s not the way text fields are supposed to work!”

It still annoys me. But I am used to it. I know I’m used to it because Chimera doesn’t have that behavior, and it really throws me. Click … click … click click … drag … oh yeah, gotta remember, it’s easier if I use Command-L.

I’m glad the Chimera folks have decided to stick to UI conventions. (Of course, Chimera’s in beta, so perhaps they just haven’t added that “feature” yet.) It’s not as though the right way is really difficult. There are three easy ways to select the whole URL field: drag across it, triple-click, or Command-L. But it’s annoying that I’ve had several years of training in the wrong way.

Crashes …

I’ve had my PowerBook for over 3 months now. Saturday, for the first time, it crashed. (Early on, I had a few instances where it would power down instead of going to sleep, but I found out what was causing that.) Saturday was the first time it crashed on me while I was using it. I’ve got to hand it to those Apple guys: crashing on a Mac has a much better user interface than the Blue Screen O’ Death.

This morning, it happened again. Two crashes in four days. *sigh*. How disappointing.

Update: Again tonight. Time to figure out how to turn on crash dumps.

What is it about me?

I seem to have this knack: I pick up a new technology, and the very first thing I try to do with it goes beyond what the technology is capable of. It happens time and time again.

I’m using XSLT today. (It’s not the first time I used XSLT, but it’s the first time in a while, and I recall something similar happening the first time, too.) And I spent over an hour thinking, “There’s got to be a way to do this.

I finally went to the XSLT 2.0 Requirements document, and sure enough, what I want to do is in there … as an option that the working group may want to consider. *sigh*.

Google and fairness

I’ve seen a lot of people worrying lately about how fair, equitable, accurate, or helpful Google’s page rankings are. Dave is puzzled that he has an unreasonably high ranking when you search for “Dave”, and likewise an unreasonably low ranking when you search for “weblog”.

Come on, people. Google’s ranking system is based on heuristics, and sometimes those heuristics will give good results, sometimes bad. Google is a huge improvement on what went before, but the difference is just that their heuristics are better (and, incidentally, much more expensive to calculate).

Furthermore: it has to be that way. Given the weak semantics of HTML, the different ways of writing and structuring web pages, and the very different things that different people think are important, there’s no “one true way”; heuristic ranking is the only thing that makes sense.

Why do title sequences in movies jitter?

Of course, I watched the new Two Towers trailer today, just like every other Tolkien fan. And I really like what I saw.

But I noticed something I’ve noticed before, in trailers and in the full-length films. The title sequences jitter on the screen as though they were filmed by a guy sitting in a theater with a camcorder. (OK, maybe it’s not that bad, but it’s noticeable.)

Effects groups can do motion-controlled shots with live action, miniatures, matte paintings, and CG elements all merged on screen, moving seamlessly together. (For that matter, there was a translucent overlay at the bottom of the frame throughout the trailer, and it was rock solid.) Why can’t they generate title sequences the same way?

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