Tablet Comparison

Jerry Fahrni: "Both tablets were readable in direct sunlight, but I think the J3400 may have a slight advantage over the XT2 secondary to better viewing angles in sunlight. Either tablet would be preferable to my laptop which is nearly impossible to read while in direct sunlight; I've tried several time." - Jerry, or Jay as the family calls him, has a nice comparison of a couple of Tablet PC's. He includes some pictures of his outdoor experience with these mobile devices.

A side note. Jay is a Tablet PC FREAK! If you're in the market for a Tablet he's a very knowledgeable source. He's also a mobile freak. He evaluates handheld devices all the time, a new one ships, he's at the store checking it out. So, he's not a bad source of information if you're comparing, say, an iPhone against a Palm Pre.

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Nature as a development model?

Will Shipley: "The latter is the touchstone of great design: we must strive to make our programs require as little learning as possible on the user's part. Each little thing they have to learn about our program is another obstacle to them using it fully, another tiny chunk of enjoyment stripped from their experience." - I really like Will's take on heuristics. While we'd all rather have an algorithm solve the problem, like nature, we often find edge cases that fall outside the algorithm. I experience this each and every day at Pelco, where I work on our video viewing clients(A.K.A Decoding User Interfaces.) We just want the software to work for the guy watching the video so we have to do things to deal with different camera models, or deal with recorded video that changes recording quality mid-stream. Is it painful, why yes, yes it is, but the guy using the software doesn't have to know that. We just make it work.

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Web based diagramming

Lovely Charts is quite amazing for a web based diagramming application. I'm really impressed! If you need to do simple flowcharts, or other simple diagram types, this could be a great choice! I know, I know, I tend to rail on these sorts of apps, but this one behaves like I'd expect it to, it doesn't limit me.

Drag and Drop baby!

Lovely Charts sports a very simple user interface that reminds you of desktop favorites, Visio and OmniGraffle come to mind. Once loaded you'll notice a group of stencils, or a library of shapes, to the left that you simply drag and drop on the page to create your diagram. Yes, it's that simple.

I'd recommend giving it a spin, you may find it to your liking.

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James Robertson: "It's hard for free software to get there, because free projects usually progress right up to 'useful enough for me (the author), and no more'. Sure, there are exceptions - but they are rare. Usually, to get 'fit and finish', you have to pay." - I work with a bunch of bitheads that absolutely worship Linux. They love things like emacs and the BASH, which should tell you something. This OS is not built for real people. Open, Yes, easy to use, No. The community can't even decided on a unified look and feel, sure you can claim that's a benefit to open source, and it is a form of choice, but what about the average joe trying to get their job done?

The Linux Bithead: Oh, yes, of course you can do that, just start bash and type 'ps aux | cat | grep | more | lex | yacc | stuff', that will do exactly what you want.
The Average Joe: Huh? Where do I click?

Ultimate power for the developer, no doubt, I will NEVER that that away from Linux. But for the Average Joe, it can be daunting.

Apple has, without doubt, proven you can take the power of Unix (Mach + BSD) and make it something the average user can use. To top it off you can get to all that raw developer horse power if you so choose. The best of both worlds. Heck they even have a great IDE in XCode.

P.S. - Yes, I'm perfectly aware that 'command' I typed is complete and utter crap, but it's only for illustrative purposes, and it makes my point.

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Vista help?

Cass McNutt: "Given that last caveat, I've been thinking about either moving in more fully to Vista, or downgrading to Windows XP altogether. If I knew it could be clean, it would be an absolute no-brainer: I'd punt Vista in a heartbeat, because XP just works, and that's all I really want the darned thing to do. I'm obviously not alone in this." - Another possible downgrade to Windows XP in the works. Also, Cass, I can see how you're underwhelmed with your Mac G4 experience, the Intel Macs are amazing. In fact, they're also the best hardware to run Vista on.

Like I said in your earlier post. I don't give up a thing to run XP and Ubuntu in VMWare Fusion. I've been able to do everything I want to do, so you don't have to give up those Windows apps you rely on daily. Of course you need to do what's right for you and a lot of Windows folks have a sort of culture shock when they move into the Mac world. Yes, it does work differently than your Windows machine, but that the best thing about it.

The hardest thing to get used to, for me, are the keyboard shortcuts. I still do the wrong thing on occasion. Beyond that, it's been an eye opening experience. I won't go back to using Windows daily unless I have to. I will continue to develop Windows applications because it's something I know how to do, but if I could find a Macintosh application to develop that would allow me to make a living I'd be all over it. Yes, the experience has been that good.

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Posted by Rob at 8:52 AM | 3 comments | Click here for a permalink to this entry.

Linux for my parents?

A cute little monkey.Foogazi: "The most obvious and important reason your parents should run Linux is the security the Linux operating system provides." - I don't think so folks. The most obvious choice is Macintosh, period. If your parents already have a Windows box and $600.00 they can score a Mac mini and hook it up to their existing monitor, keyboard, and mouse. Apple pays very close attention to the user experience, everything just works. When we bought our daughter a Mac laptop she popped it open and started working day one, without Dad's help. The only reason I knew it had arrived is she called for the wireless password. I've provided ZERO technical support in a year-and-a-half. Try that with a Linux box.

The open source camp should take a close look at the Macintosh user experience and clone that instead of the Windows experience. If people want Linux to be adopted by mom and pop it's going to have to work WITHOUT configuration when the box is started, no matter what the environment. That has been my experience with Mac.

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Posted by Rob at 8:32 AM | 1 comments | Click here for a permalink to this entry.

It's about the space

Jackson Fish Market: "Thatís why I think itís OK that once in awhile we can have a small amount of healthy fantasizing about later success. For some reason, ours is never about going public, being bought, having hundreds of employees, or even changing the world (is that OK to admit?). Ours is always about office space. Specifically, itís about where it will be located and what facilities and design elements will fill it." - Sometimes, it's all about the office space. Jackson has a very comfortable, inspiring, office space. I'd like to work in their environment every day.

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Just because you can doesn't mean you should, right?

A wonderful boquet of flowers.I've been using GMail for quite some time now and couldn't be happier with it. I love the labels feature and the ability to get e-mail from other POP accounts. It's allowed me to organize things in a way that's useful to me, I like that. At one time I was a devoted Hotmail user but the new Windows Live(TM) Hotmail user interface is not quite as handy as the old classic version. Sure it's all AJAXian and Web 2.0'ish, but those changes didn't make it more useful. There are really two things I don't care for.

1) Ads - I don't mind ads as long as they load quickly. This is not the case with Windows Live(TM) Hotmail. The ads seem to load very slowly, I'm sure we'll see that change over time.
2) For some reason it always seems to be sending or receiving data, I mean all the time, no matter how long I wait on it. I usually hit the "Stop" button after about 30 seconds so it'll stop. Why is it doing this? Is it because I use Firefox?

In the GMail vs. Hotmail competition, GMail wins hands down. It's easy to navigate, it loads quickly, and I like the organization tools.

Another nifty site I've visited recently is Tafiti, a Microsoft Silverlight site. You'll need to install SilverLight to enjoy it properly but, trust me, it's worth it and the installation is quite painless. One warning, it doesn't seem to like Firefox 2.x for some strange reason, but works just fine with IE 7.

Anywho, this is another case of "just because you doesn't mean you should." Maybe I'm being a bit too critical of Tafiti? Maybe it's more proof of concept than anything else? I love it, don't get me wrong, but is it more useful that Google or Live Search? Not really. Oh, make sure you check out the Tafiti Tree View, it's pretty slick.

I think sites developed using Flash or Sliverlight can be a ton of fun, but for my day-to-day gotta get things done I prefer a site that loads quickly and is minimalist. The AJAXy sites seem to fall into the slow bucket while the Flash and Silverlight sites fall into non-minimalist bucket.

Please take the time to compare Hotmail and GMail, if you have accounts, and share what you like and dislike about both in the comments. I'd love to hear what you have to say.

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Rob Fahrni has been a Software Developer for 20 years. He's developed DOS, Windows, Linux, iPhone, and Palm based applications in C, C++, Objective-C/Cocoa, C#/ASP.Net, and, yes, even BASIC...
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