Thursday, January 31, 2008


A feature that is very hard to explain can be worse than a bug. At least with a bug, you can fix it and it will go away. But a confusing feature will keep confusing users forever, and you will keep having to explain it over and over again.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Their Purpose

Me: [Talks about seahorses]

Friend: I don't get it. I mean, what do seahorses do? What is their purpose?

Me: Well, what is our purpose?

Friend: To destroy the Earth.

Friday, January 25, 2008

A Message Back In Time

Recently I saw a thread about what you would say if you could send a message back in time to yourself, 20 years in the past. For me, I would say something like this to myself 20 years ago:
  • Oddly, many of the bands you hear on the radio now will still have fans and still be touring 20 years from now
  • Oddly, many of the video games you are playing now will still have fans and still be played 20 years in the future
  • If this message cannot change the course of history, you will get in a bad motorcycle accident. But don't worry, you'll recover. In the long run, it won't be that bad.
  • On the other hand, if this message can change the course of history . . . slow down and veer left :-)
  • Computers get much faster and more powerful, as you might expect, but they do not get any less frustrating. In some ways they seem slower.
  • Nothing truly disastrous happens to you in the next 20 years, so stop worrying.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008


I posed a question to my brother the other night. Why, I asked, do people so readily admire the qualities of confidence, certainty, decisiveness, and charm in others? These could be good qualities, but they could just as easily be the typical traits of a sociopath. A sociopath is confident and certain because he has a delusional sense of his own superiority; he is decisive because he is impulsive and reckless, and doesn't care about the consequences of his actions; and he is charming because he is a natural liar who tells people whatever they want to hear. So these traits actually ought to be red flags that make us suspicious, certainly not things to instantly admire.

Why then, don't people instead prefer the type of person who says, "I'm not 100% certain, but from the information we have now, it seems like A is our best option. We also need a plan B in case it turns out that was wrong. And let's keep an open mind so that as new information comes in and the situation changes, we can take that into account and improve our understanding."

"Because," my brother replied, "that type of thinking gives most people the heebie-jeebies."

I think that says a lot about our world.