April 17, 2015

The first Tizen smartphone isn’t an “Android killer”—it’s a bad Android clone

Tizen is the Highlander of the mobile world. The Linux-based OS is an amalgamation of every other failed or aborted Linux smartphone platform. If it’s Linux-based and not made by Google, there’s a good chance it’s been rolled into Tizen at some point. Tizen’s family tree includes Moblin, Meego, LiMo, and Bada, with large chunks of code written by the Linux Foundation, Intel, Samsung, and even the pre-Microsoft Nokia.

I laughed.

David Chase on creating the final scene of The Sopranos

Eight years after it aired, the finale of The Sopranos continues to be hotly debated. David Chase explains how he created the excruciating tension of the last scene. What he won’t say is what happened at the end.

A great piece on how the scene was shot. I remember it being really intense but couldn’t quite explain why.

A Bank Website on WordPress

There’s a thread on Quora asking “I am powering a bank’s website using WordPress. What security measures should I take?” The answers have mostly been ignorant junk along the lines of “Oh NOES WP is INSECURE! let me take my money out of that bank”, so I wrote one myself, which I’ve copied below.

Hear, hear. I am so tired of reading the same bullshit about WordPress and security.

April 12, 2015

Layer Cake

It’s been over a decade since it first saw release, but I only got around to watching Layer Cake a couple of days ago. A gripping British crime drama with one of the best performances I’ve seen Daniel Craig give. Highly recommended.

★★★★★

April 11, 2015
April 10, 2015

Glossary of auto-antonyms

One example: egregious, which can mean “outstandingly bad” or “remarkably good”, depending on the context.

April 9, 2015

Stack Overflow Developer Survey 2015

26,086 people from 157 countries participated in our 45-question survey. 6,800 identified as full-stack developers, 1,900 as mobile developers, 1,200 as front-end developers, 2 as farmers, and 12,000 as something else.

Always a good read.

April 6, 2015

The case for e-ink information radiators

The term information radiator was coined by Alistair Cockburn was back in 2000. His book Crystal Clear (2004) gives the following definition:

An Information radiator is a display posted in a place where people can see it as they work or walk by. It shows readers information they care about without having to ask anyone a question. This means more communication with fewer interruptions.

Radiators are commonplace in the IT establishments I’ve worked at. Having one or more large, always-on displays conveying information to development teams is extremely useful. Build statuses, test coverage percentages, usage analytics—these are just some examples of stuff that can be surfaced to everyone’s benefit.

Radiators are clearly useful to devs, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t useful elsewhere. My building has a radiator in the lobby that shows bus schedules, trading hours for nearby shops, and maintenance notices.

I’ve been thinking about setting up a personal information radiator in my flat. As yet, I haven’t. Why? Well, let’s think about what makes a good radiator. A good information radiator (Alistair’s take):

  • Is large and easily visible to the casual, interested observer
  • Is understood at a glance
  • Changes periodically, so that it is worth visiting
  • Is easily kept up to date

Hardware-wise, just about any old LCD/LED display will get thee job done, provided it’s big enough. But if we think about what we really need, and specifically what we don’t need, I’m convinced that LCD/LED displays aren’t the optimal solution:

  • Information radiators are typically never shut off. Modern LCD displays are relatively efficient, but they still draw a non-negligable amount of power.
  • The, err, information displayed on an information radiator doesn’t need to be refreshed that often. Periodically, yes, but at sub-second intervals? Not really. I’m not playing Crysis on the thing.
  • Being able to display millions of colours is overkill. Content needs to be able to stand out, but we don’t need millions of colours to achieve that.
  • Almost all displays suffer from burn-in when static content is displayed for long time. Depending on the situation, information radiators might display content that is static for hours or even days. Every single radiator I’ve seen has permanent burn-in, be it in the form of a company’s logo, the outline of a clock, or something similar.

Using large e-ink displays as information radiators would be the perfect solution. E-ink displays don’t draw power when they are not refreshing, saving electricity. Text looks looks sublime with non-existent aliasing. Photos and graphics look great. And in cases where a grayscale monitor won’t suffice, an e-ink display with a handful of colours is enough to cover practically every need.

What I want is a 20″-24″, thin, plug & play e-ink display to use as an information radiator at home. Hell, give it a nice frame and I could use it to display artwork as well. As far as I can tell, there are no technical or financial reasons why displays like this couldn’t be offered to consumers. If there are, let me know—the solution makes too much sense otherwise.

April 4, 2015