Why not social?

I recently had a conversation with an engineer at a very large technology company, pitching me on their project for the mother of all social networks. I didn't have the heart to tell him that what he was proposing sounded like a exercise in futility since they are intending to supplant both the existing enormous networks like Facebook and Google+, but also to build in applications that compete with smaller sites with social components, things like Yelp or TripAdvisor. Yes, he was proposing a single monolithic system, and building it with a few dozen engineers. Instead of arguing I politely smiled and nodded.

Later I was thinking about why the social space is so bland for me and why I was so bored by his pitch. One reason is that I use social networks like Facebook and Google+ very lightly so I cannot imagine myself being really excited about working in that field. It's not relevant for me so it's not something that would make me jump out of bed in the morning. But more importantly, I've already built one.

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While I'm ranting about MacOS... as much as I appreciate multitouch, drag is a little broken. It registers drag-stop as a set time after you lift your fingers off the touchpad, and that's wrong. Here's the sequence of events:

  • I multitouch (three-finger) drag-select a piece of text.
  • I lift my hand off the touchpad and start typing, replacing the text with my own
  • Then a split-second later, and as far as I'm concerned after the drag-select is over and done with, the drag timeout triggers the complete drag-select, it re-selects between the drag start and drag stop, and causes me to overtype the first half of what I was typing!

It took me a few weeks to realize that this was what was happening because it feels like the machine just loses it's mind and starts deleting your text. It also manifests itself in weird and unpredictable ways with the autocomplete such as you'd find in a browser bar.

This bug effectively punishes fast navigators (very bad) and gives a sense that the UI is acting in a random manner (unacceptably bad). The only real solution being to slow yourself down and pause after multitouch drag-select before moving on with typing (or hitting CTRL-V/C/X, etc). I still haven't managed to train myself to slow down long enough between drag and typing and I'm pretty sure I never will.

An easy solution would be to make any keydown trigger the end of the drag-select before registering the keydown. That would prevent someone from doing key presses during a multitouch drag, but I'm not sure I can even think of a use case for that.

I'm hoping this is fixed in 10.8, if not I will be submitting a bug immediately.

MacOS X 10.7 Was A Turd

The progression from MacOS 10.4 -> 10.5 -> 10.6 was amazing. It seemed that with every iteration the OS got smaller, faster, and more capable.

And then 10.7 dropped, and ever since I've been plagued by this kind of thing:

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How does the Leap Motion device work?  According to a recent article at The Verge they use "a number of camera sensors to map out a workspace of sorts".

The Kinect uses a micro-lithographed diffuser with an infrared light source to spray tiny  IR dots all over your living room.  The Kinect's camera then analyzes this image and reconstructs the 3D space.  I find it hard to believe that Leap Motion is using this technology, partly because they must've made amazing improvements to the tech on their own, but also because they claim that using an better camera sensor (than the Leap's VGA sensor) is all that it would take to make the device's capture field grow from 3 cubic feet to "thirty feet, or three hundred."

My guess?  They're using a light-field camera for their design.  That, plus some great software, would work well as well as scale.

BARTMAP

Jim Wiscarson was the man's name. And that's pretty much all I know about him.

In the 90's my friends and I wasted far too much of our young adulthood blowing each other up with 3D Realms' Duke Nukem 3D. It was a tremendous amount of fun, and no other networked game has really felt quite as good to play to me as it still does. Even now, every few years when the opportunity strikes we'll fire up the modern ports of the game and drop right back into the fray, cackling with laughter long into the night.

What really kicked off the marathon Duke sessions was the discovery of FTP sites that had user-authored maps. Some were designed for one-person playability but most were for death matches, which was perfect for us. After downloading and trying out over a hundred of these maps, we noticed that we gravitated toward a set of maps with the filename "BARTMAP1.MAP", "BARTMAP2.MAP", and so on up to "BARTMP11.MAP". Despite the name, I had nothing to do with their authorship.



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