TechnoMagicians Blog

Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic – Arthur C. Clarke.

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Microsoft’s New Gravity Defying Magnesium

October 16th, 2012 · No Comments

Breaking News!! Microsoft invented a new type of magnesium that is lighter than actual Magnesium according to some PR bullshit:

At 1.5 pounds, the Surface isn’t the lightest 10-inch tablet. It’s not even the thinnest, at 0.37 inches. Still, Microsoft claims that it feels lighter than other 1.5-pound devices, partly because it’s made of magnesium, and partly because the battery is evenly spread inside the chassis, making for some more balanced weight distribution (from Engadget)

If you remove the PR bullshit filter what this really means is that it feels flimsy and cheap compared to decent tablets.

I like this post by Tom Reestman:

Remember, 1.5 pounds of magnesium feels lighter than 1.5 pounds of aluminum or plastic. But Microsoft engineers are working hard to make their next-generation tablets feel as light as 1.5 pounds of feathers. :-/

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Apple’s Terribe UI Design

October 10th, 2012 · 1 Comment

You won’t see this headline often as most of what Apple does in the UI area is very very good. However, I’ve had some issues with the terrible interface for the “music” app when accessed through the lock screen on the iPhone for a long time now. I’m pretty sure this was introduced in iOS5 as I do not remember it being a problem until such time. I haven’t installed iOS6 yet on my iPhone so not sure if it has been fixed or not.

But basically the RW, Pause/Play, and FF buttons are too damn close together with no good reason to be. I have small fingers and I would say about 2/3rds of the time I hit FF rather than pause or play by accident. It is extremely annoying.

This is what the controls look like on the lock screen:

iOS Music Top

and this is what they look like in the actual app itself:

iOS Music Bottom

Yes, that little difference makes all the difference in the world. I don’t think I’ve ever mistakenly hit the wrong button with the buttons on the bottom.

I think since Steve Jobs passed away some of the QA is definitely slipping. I will probably leave my rant about the iTunes podcast listings for another post. That is some seriously botched up crap. I’ve Jobs was alive there is NO way it would have ever been released.

→ 1 CommentCategory: Apple iOS · Design · General

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Why I Hardly Read GigaOM, Mashable and TechCrunch Anymore

September 28th, 2012 · No Comments

My reading habits for tech type news and such are mostly through the use of RSS via Google Reader or more precisely through the MobileRSS app on iOS that accesses Google Reader data. I rarely read anything via an actual computer monitor anymore. Some of that reading is augmented by apps like Zite on iOS.

I have found over the last year or so that the feeds for Mashable, TechCrunch and GigaOM are just too damn busy. Way too many articles published. Most anything that they post that is of importance to me now gets filtered up through Zite app on iOS and I don’t have to scan through a couple of hundred articles a day on those 3 feeds alone. It hasn’t been that hard scanning over hundreds of subjects but still, why bother even doing that anymore. Techdirt is the only one that I keep a subscription to via RSS as they don’t seem to post about just anything and everything like the others. The writing and coverage seems to be more in-depth and/or unique rather than regurgitated like you usually get on the other sites. I don’t seem to be missing any important tech news this way.

According to Google Reader I have 276 subscriptions and in the last 30 days I read 1312 items.

The reason I prefer Zite over other apps like Flipboard is that it has features to provide more news about what you are interested in and what keywords you select etc. And it seems to do a really good job at that.

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Rob Ford (The Moron Mayor) TV Show

September 20th, 2012 · No Comments

Hilarious article about Rob Ford (The Moron Mayor) TV Show:

But then I turned on the TV to find that there was, indeed, a side-splitting show, featuring a wacky main character on the loose in Canada’s largest city, surrounded by his even kookier relatives. This guy’s a bit rumpled, a bit red-faced, and he seems infuriated that he’s so permanently misunderstood. After all, he’s just trying to do the right thing. Wait, I thought: Didn’t King of Kensington go off the air 30 years ago?

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Twitter Spam

September 20th, 2012 · No Comments

Finally had to add a filter to my email to get rid of these ridiculous Twitter spam emails. These are the ones saying “Here is what is happening on Twitter” that seem to be continually being sent to me almost on a daily basis. There should be zero reason to be sending me this spam email considering I check Twitter often enough. Although I suspect it is because I hardly ever use their website or their own apps but still.

Is there an option to turn those annoying spam emails off?

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The Paper Hype

April 3rd, 2012 · 1 Comment

I might be a few days late on this but Paper is an iOS app that seems to have garnered a massive amount of hype recently.

At first glance the app does look beautiful and takes a simple approach in design and usablility. However, once you get past the beauty/hype you realize the app is basically worthless. Looks like they were able to con millions of people into paying for upgrades and not a single one of them are worth even 99 cents or $1.99 or whatever they may be.

I was almost tempted at first to grab one of the tools for $1.99 since it initially only comes with a single fountain pen. But I quickly stopped myself. Then I downloaded Autodesk SketchBook Express. Now this is a drawing program. It comes with a ton of tools to start and the upgrades seem decent. For example, you can buy a pack of 15 pencils plus 15 brushes for 99 cents vs $1.99 for a SINGLE pencil in Paper.

The Paper app doesn’t even support landscape mode and their marketing is

around notebooks. I don’t have any notebooks that only work in landscape mode. There are no layering tools in Paper. There are a ridiculously limited 8 crappy colours available in Paper. Sketchbook is virtually unlimited.

You really can’t compare the two apps. Paper isn’t even worth the free download if you ask me and Sketchbook is worth paying for the Full version or just grab the free version that is 1000 times better than Paper.

Just goes to show you that these days you can still get away with putting out some fluffy nice looking stuff and somehow get the hype machine to make you millions.

Autodesk Sketchbook

Autodesk Sketchbook

→ 1 CommentCategory: Design · General

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Microsoft’s Terrible IE9 UI Design

March 9th, 2012 · No Comments

Microsoft has never really been very good in the UI design department and over the last number of years they have been getting worse and worse. I’ve called for firing of the UI designers that have come up with the terrible design for Office 2010 that is filtering throughout their products.

Today I’m going to talk about IE 9.

I rarely touch Microsoft Internet Explorer but unfortunately had the unpleasant experience of having to fire up the latest IE 9.

I wasn’t going to be using it for more than a few minutes but the way the address bar and tabs were setup was really bugging me. Even for the few minutes of using this “software” I had to make some changes. The default layout is horrendous. What is worse is that you can’t do much to customize it either.

Fortunately I won’t be using this browser much at all.

This is the best I could do. If you want to display the menu bar that is where it puts it. Any sane, reasonable UI designer would put the menu bar at the TOP or at least give me the option to move it up there. Look at all that wasted space up there.

I can move the tabs to the right of the address bar but then it makes the address bar so small its almost useless to use.

See that command bar with the icons. I can’t drag it to the right of the menu. In fact I can’t move it anywhere even though there is a customize option.

→ No CommentsCategory: Design

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Advancement In Textbooks

January 19th, 2012 · No Comments

It is really excellent to see Apple advancing the textbook in the form of a digital textbook on the iPad with some interactivity.

I wonder how long it will be before someone hooks online tutoring into the mix.

QuikkTutor Textbook Concept

QuikkTutor Textbook Concept

Checkout the concept we had with QuikkTutor more than 10 years ago that textbook publishers couldn’t understand but I see that we were just way ahead of our time. Note, that QuikkTutor was fully functional as seen in this rough presentation demo. It was just the link from a standard textbook that was the concept. The presentation only makes sense if you run it in presentation mode due to the audio and video embedded.

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Delicious Firefox Extension

September 29th, 2011 · No Comments

I rely heavily on the Delicious Firefox extension for daily use as a way to store/search bookmarks and it also provides me with my standard quick links at the top of the browser. Maybe one day I’ll go into how I use that and how it is setup.

In any event with the recent changes at Delicious the extension was somewhat busted in that it wasn’t updating any longer and/or only showing a subset of bookmarks. Which made using the bookmark search feature useless and also made my quick toolbar links worthless as well.

I am not going to get into the changes they made and the features they removed for no good reason.

Anyway, on their beta status blog they have instructions on how to get the extension working again. I really only had to perform 2 steps rather than the heavy handed steps they suggest:

  1. Delete only the Delicious cookies. One can do this by going to options -> Privacy -> show cookies -> and search for Delicious. Then just delete the Delicious cookies.
  2. Log into Delicious within Firefox.
  3. You should then see an automatic re-syncing of Delicious bookmarks. At least I did.

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Heads Or Tails Update

January 27th, 2011 · No Comments

Looks like my Heads Or Tails gameshow idea (original post Jan 13th, 2007 here) made it to a scene in How I Met Your Mother (Season 6 Episode 12).

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