At the Ref Desk (5/22/18): Got an IM request explaining in great detail (several sentences in fact) what kind of article the person was looking for. Only thing missing -- the topic. Oh well... [more...]
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Dept. of Bad Ideas

Make It Hard to Update Software? Guess What: Then People Won't

Submitted by Leo Klein on Fri, 6/8/18 (2:36am)

Drupalicon Ars Technical reports on the vulnerability of 115,000 Drupal websites to 'hacker takeovers'. This even though a software patch has been available for over 10 weeks.

All I can say is, I'm not surprised. I mean, updating Drupal software is not an easy thing. There is no link or button you can click on which gets the job done. Instead, the programmers have built a command-line interface using Drush (or whatever) thus coming up with a method which only a programmer would love. For this reason, when you go through comparisons of CMS's routinely making the rounds, 'easiness of updating' for Wordpress rates as 'easy' while for Drupal, it rates as 'difficult'.

"Difficult"? Is it any wonder then that an almost predictable result is a significant time lag before updating? This is not rocket science.

Google Redefines Email (& Your Rights) :-(

Submitted by Leo Klein on Wed, 4/25/18 (3:53pm)

So Google comes out with a number of changes to its Gmail service including "Confidential Mode". As XDA-Developers explains:

A new Confidential Mode allows you to remove the option for the recipient to forward, copy, download, or print an email. You can also make the email expire after a set period of time.

Huh? Email that someone sends you that self-destructs? Anyone see a problem here? (Ripe for deception & fraud, lack of privacy on the part of the recipient, etc.) Hello, Google, but if someone sends me a message, it's me who decides what to do with it -- not you.

Institution: 

Opps, Maybe Not the 'Future' After All

Submitted by Leo Klein on Sun, 6/18/17 (12:29pm)

newsweek_kindle_2007_647x557.jpg
Interesting how titles tend to change over time. I was going through a number of old posts and saw a reference to an article in Newsweek from 10 years ago, extolling the virtues of the recently released Amazon Kindle. The title of the article was, "The Future of Reading". Since it was a relatively old link, I clicked on it just to make sure it still worked. And it did -- only the title of the article now read, "Amazon: Reinventing the Book".

That was funny. Did I get the original title wrong? I went to my best friend, Archive.org and looked the thing up -- and sure enough, the original title was "The Future of Reading"

So between 2007 and now, apparently the Kindle no longer rated as the "Future" of reading. This is understandable. For every true 'revolution' in technology, there are always a dozen (or more) false starts. This was one of them.

Institution: 

The Post App Internet

Submitted by Leo Klein on Tue, 4/12/16 (3:47pm)

Yet another bad idea bites the dust:

At the same time, it is clear that, apart from a shortlist of popular apps, most people just aren’t downloading a lot of apps anymore. Any given person spends 80% of her mobile time using her favorite three apps, according to ComScore. And few people go looking for new ones these days.*

Ya mean, I don't need to download a separate piece of software for every website I visit on my smartphone?
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* Jessi Hempel, "Facebook Believes Messenger Will Anchor a Post-App Internet", Wired (4/12/2016).

Infrastructure on the Skids

Submitted by Leo Klein on Sat, 1/25/14 (8:58pm)

"High speed" Internet provider AT&T tells me that my connection speed sucks but instead of trying to fix it, they're throwing in the towel and lowering my monthly rate.

"About Your AT&T High Speed Internet Service - We regularly test the speed of your AT&T High Speed Internet service to ensure you have the best Internet speeds possible. Recently we sent a letter to let you know that our testing has found that your modem speed is slower than the speed shown in the AT&T High Speed Internet Terms of Service. We're moving you to a lower-priced plan more in line with your current speed, although we cannot guarantee specific speeds."

Institution: 

Design Fail

Submitted by Leo Klein on Wed, 4/24/13 (2:56pm)

I swear if I get another one of these as a design proposal for the main page of a website, I'm going to sue Microsoft for crimes against usability. (P.S. Why Microsoft? Hint...)

On the Nature of Train Wrecks

Submitted by Leo Klein on Tue, 3/26/13 (10:02am)

Matt Enis from Library Journal writes about the 'Fail4Lib pre-conference workshop' at this year's Code4Lib Conference where people talked about failed or problematic projects and the lessons they learned.

As I wrote in comments to the piece, I find the greatest cause of failed projects to be those based on received wisdom. Let’s call it, the ‘Wrong Bandwagon Effect’. Some mis-identified trend is taken up and you can’t argue against it because "everyone knows" -- i.e. received wisdom -- that it's the way of the future. Everyone knows! Only "everyone" never seems to include the end-user. But that doesn't matter since before you know it, yet another mis-identified trend pops up and nothing says 'cutting edge' like jumping from one of these trends to the other. (Classic example.)

This isn't an argument against innovation. Rather it's an argument against not doing one's homework, of coasting along without anyone ever looking back and asking, what's the record for that guru so far?

Billboard: Color TV Film Won't Oust B&W (1953)

Submitted by Leo Klein on Wed, 2/13/13 (7:46pm)

billboard_1953_07_18_short.png

Tint Talk : Color TV Film Won't Oust B&W

HOLLYWOOD, July 11. -- Like motion pictures, television will continue to use a great amount of black and white film even when color becomes a regular feature in the new medium. This is the opinion expressed by veteran TV producer Jerry Fairbanks prior to his departure for Europe where he's filming a public relations film for Miller Brewing Company.

Expense of filming in color and the superiority of black and white for certain types of productions are the factors which will dictate use of b.&w. for TV, Fairbanks declared. Fairbanks cited the motion picture industry's predominant use of black and white film despite the advent of color.

Color filming is between 25 and 35 per cent more expensive than b.&w., Fairbanks pointed out, while color release prints are between four and five times as expensive. This factor, in addition to what he termed the superiority of b.&w. for low key mystery dramas, will limit the application of color film for showing on television.

"[Source: Tint Talk: Color TV Film Won't Oust B&W", Billboard (7/18/1953): p. 12.]

An Offer I Can Refuse

Submitted by Leo Klein on Wed, 11/21/12 (1:23pm)

Sorry, Adobe but your emails offering me, 'All the CS6 you want -- just US $19.99 per month', is probably the dumbest thing I've ever heard. I'm frankly not interested in renting out software on a monthly basis.

Adobe_Students_ROICS6CCM19.99V2_300x250_img.jpg

Institution: 

The Age of One App Per Website is Over

Submitted by Leo Klein on Sun, 1/29/12 (1:40am)

While preparing for next week's presentation on Responsive Design, I tried to recall my original uneasiness over the phone app frenzy. You remember -- that short painful period only a few months ago when either you were developing a phone app version of your site or you just weren't serious. You thought it silly? So did I. But it took me a second to remember why. I mean, this was before Responsive Web Design had sunk in as a possible solution. So why the initial uneasiness? And then of course I remembered: the notion that your average user was going to download a separate app for every site -- the equivalent of taking your collection of bookmarks and downloading a separate program for each -- was a complete absurdity. Thank God, we're beyond that. It's history.

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