Immediately Inspired

I am immediately inspired. (It took a considerably long time to think of the word ‘inspired’…I hope my brain is not too out of shape.) See, I have never been able to get into the world of blogging. I have been invited, of course many times, and often I am called back to give it another go. Hopefully this time it will be more fruitful. First let me explain how my first two attempts have come and gone:

  1. My initial attempt at blogging could be classified in the standard ‘journaling’ realm. The goal was to discuss my goings-on with myself, really. Though written in a style that was mildly entertaining for others, the point of this was to let myself know what I was truly thinking…writing has a way of doing this. You would think that since this task was pretty much all about me, I would be motivated to continue to keep it up to date. Well, you would be wrong; it died after only two entries.
  2. The second stab at starting a blog was halted nearly immediately. While the work I completed this second time around was relatively high quality, the quantity was severely lacking. In fact, I only completed a single entry. Sad. My goal this time was to write a weekly column about some topic in the field of HCI , but I guess I didn’t have anything to comment on, other than voting machines. To tell you the truth, I really do have a lot to say about this field and the topics therein, but I guess I just was not motivated enough to continue to write.

Well, this time I’d like to start to write more. I can use the practice, and I do enjoy reading my own work (selfish as it may sound). The thing is, I don’t want to make any promises. Don’t get your hopes up, but I’ll try my best. Perhaps one day I’ll have children who will find my blog up on some dusty old internet site, with dated design and crusty old words which I thought were “cool” at the time. All I need is some motivation…

One more shot at blogspotting…

One more shot at Blogspotting…

I haven’t been here in a while. Blogger is looking a little refreshed. I have to say I like and dislike the new interface. While it seems minimalistic and easy to use, I have been encountered with errors from the outset of my current endeavor. 2 of 5 stars on the “red4tr400 Usability Scale.”

Anyway, let’s not talk about me today, and perhaps also in the future. I’m not going to make this commentary public until I really get into the swing of things, which will hopefully be in a few weeks. My vision for this commentary is to create a forum for me to discuss topics relating to the Human-Computer Interaction, Cognitive Science, Usability, Philosophy, Robotics, and perhaps some other related topics. I will attempt to leave the mundane aspects of these sciences for the researchers to figure out, and instead will tackle the everyday applications of the topics I discuss. Basically, I’ve got stuff on my mind, and want a place to dump everything I’m thinking, and at the same time get a little practice at writing for fun. Let’s get to it…

Electronic Voting:

If you haven’t heard or read about the Diebold voting machines, start here. I was hearing a lot about this last week on San Diego’s NPR Station and thoughts relating to usability came to mind. I would like to point out that none of the complaints about these voting machines have anything to do with the interface. In fact, one reporter claimed that many people reported a better voting experience than ever before. Apparently a lot of attention was paid to the interface on these machines. This is great news, especially after the bruhaha that was the 2000 presidential election. Hanging chads, butterfly ballots, and other such error prone pieces of voting technology will soon be a thing of the past.

Like it or not, electronic voting is the future. I would like to submit my votes via e-mail. It’s not that I’m lazy, I’m willing to go to my local polling place, but voting online would be extremely convenient, and would perhaps incite others to get off their lazy, apathetic, or forgetful butts and take part in a big piece of what it means to be an American. Truth be told, we’re a long way from e-mail voting, but computerized voting is good enough for now. I commend Diebold for their hard work in creating a usable interface for voting. It was a priority that deserved to be at the top of the list.

However, after getting the user interface right, Diebold managed to completely nullify the good qualities of the machines. It turns out that sometimes the meat of the software is more important than how it looks. While I firmly believe that good software can only be considered high quality if it has a usable interface, I do not believe the inverse is true. That is, a usable interface does not mean the software is high quality. For example, compare this Slashdot to this Slashdot . If you can’t immediately tell, the former is real and the latter is fake. At first glance these are both high quality and interactive web sites, but when you delve deeper you realize that only one of these sites is the real deal. The actual quality of the material on the real Slashdot may be doubted by some, but this is not the issue I wish to discuss.

My point is that Diebold created horrible (but usable) software, and passed it off as a high quality tool. Shame on Diebold for making the User Interface Designers of the world look bad. Shame on them too for fooling voters into thinking the system was secure. Diebold should have realized that kinks in the system are not allowable when it comes to electronic voting machines. The system should have been perfected before it was released. A delayed release date beats a horrendously flawed system any day of the week, especially in the case of voting machines. Now this company is done, fini. Good riddance, Diebold. Your system tricked people into thinking it was completely usable. How do we expect people to trust our computer systems when companies with ethics like this are still in business? Diebold, your system is a traveshamockery.

Next time: GMail

La Deuxieme

Welcome back…this is number two, numero dos, la deuxieme, etcetera etcetera. Feel free to give feedback on whatever I say: or Red4tr400 (screenname). Group dynamics are very interesting to me. For example, when I told people I was starting a blog there were two very distinct answers I received: “Dude, you’re like the last one…” or “Dude, what the hell is a blog?” Practically no one stood in the middle. Either you know or you don’t. All I have to say is that to all you experienced bloggers, I hope my blog stand at least a little chance against all the others you’ve seen. For you newbies, welcome to the world of blog, and feel free to join in.

Thoughts of the day:

+ Running feels good, so does fried chicken.

+ Don’t pour water down somebody’s back unless you are willing to pay for it…sorry Jason.

+ If you do, repercussions could be dire…if you don’t, repercussions will be dire.

What I’m listening to:

+ Counting Crows: Across a Wire, Live at the Ten Spot

Random Randoms

+ Big shout out to Karen, who’s off to Paris in two days. Am I:
Jealous: yes

Vicariously living: yes

Still lucky: yes

+ Second shout out to Orly, who’s visiting Karen in Paris.

+ Pictures should be up on the site within the next few weeks.

+ This edition powered by Red Hat Linux.

+ I won’t be cutting my hair for a while…at least on top.

+ When buying electronics do you go cheap, or drop money for name, quality and features? I swing both ways.

+ I finally figured out how to put my home videos onto the computer…then I figured out how to change them to Divx! Next step: quicktime, then you’ll be able to get some free entertainment.

+ So, i’m quite the nerd, but i’m okay with that.

+ What’s your favorite soda? Non-caffeine: Sprite, Caffeinated: Dr. Pepper

+ Damn Motorola…now they’re charging $10 for an antenna that breaks due to their bad design! 🙁

+ Countdown to my birthday: 23 days

+ I’m going to SLO for Spring break…what I need is relaxation and outdoor fun…that’s the goal.

Last Words: As they say in France, “C’est tout. Maintenant je veux un sandwich.” (That’s all, now I want a sandwich.) Come back soon now, ya hear…I’ll be updating here and there. See ya.

My First Blog

My first Blog…wow, what a step. Hopefully this will be entertaining for you, and if not, at least it will be entertaining for me. Ok, so I have to set up a little rhythm so this becomes easier each time I come back. (Simplicity is key.)

Thoughts of the day:
+ Simplicity is key.
+ It’s important to get in shape by doing the things you enjoy doing. Sometimes you just need to get outdoors. Man, am I gonna be in pain in the morning.

What I’m listening to:
+ Brand New (that’s the band name): Jude Law and a Semester Abroad
+ Lisa Loeb & Nine Stories (I can barely believe it too…): Rose Colored Times
+ R Kelly (I know he’s disgusting, but the music’s still good): I Believe I Can Fly

Random Randoms:
+ The end of the quarter sucks. The weather never fails to perk up, and there is so much to do. This is going to be a huge HuGe HUGE week. I don’t want to bog you down with my worries though. It will turn out fine, it always does, just gotta spend the hours and get it done.
+ What am I doing this summer? Chock full of semi-options. There are certain things i’d like to do, then others that I WANT to do. Get the difference? Hopefully I’ll set it up so I can get a whole bunch done. Sometimes the easy way out looks sooo inviting. I feel like this is the sort of thing that goes through the domino effect. Once I figure one thing out then a whole mess of stuff will get figured out with that. I’m just antsy…
+ Did you know that the six degrees of Kevin Bacon are more like the 3.42 degrees of Kevin Bacon? It’s been proven mathematically…and it turns out that others are waaay more linked than he is, such as porn stars like Ron Jeremy…
+ These books are on my to-read list: Linked, Emergence: The Connected Lives of Ants, Brains, Cities, and Software, Being Digital, How the Mind Works…among others
+ Books you should read: Youth In Revolt by C.D. Payne, The Tipping Point by Malcolm Gladwell, and The American Heritage College Dictionary (it’s stunning…)
+ Countdown to my birthday: 28 days
+ Toad the Wet Sprocket rocks! Why didn’t anybody tell me?
+ If you were buying a digital camera, which one(s) would you buy?

Last words: So that’s a blog. Hope you liked it, come back soon. I’m e-mailable at:, and IMable at the screenname Red4tr400. Talk to me soon…