Wetmachine Blog: Software

Stories about software, AI, and other intangible digital stuff

Content Developers and the Cloudy Future

My wife, a graphic designer/publications gal (not her actual title), was worried by Adobe’s recent announcement that their entire creative suite will now be cloud-based.  After reading the actual Adobe press release/happy marketdroidspeak, it looks like things are a bit less dire than she feared. Designers will still be able to download and install the “Creative Suite CC.” locally, rather than depending on always having reliable net access just to use the basic tools of their trade. Adobe, of course, couches all of this in happy cloud-talk… you’ll seamlessly collaborate, shooting files off to people hither and yon, and you’ll get to show off your work (key for the many designer freelancers out there). You’ll be free! You’ll be happy!

These features seem nice and all, but not something that really sounds like it has to be tied to Adobe’s Cloud. Using Dropbox, social media, and other third-party services probably can come close, or even surpass what Adobe has cooked up. So, it’s nicely integrated, yes… but not something that is world-shattering.

What’s not mentioned in the hype is how this may dramatically shift access and ownership of a designer’s own set of tools.

The implications of this below.

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Waiting for the Godot Interrupt Vector

You know, after the robots do rise up and kill us all, then what? I mean, treading on our bleached skulls will get old after a while…  I like to think they’ll eventually turn to each other and try to strike up conversations. What I didn’t imagine is that they’d sound like some third rate Beckett existentialist knockoff…

(via BoingBoing)

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Nag, Nag, Nag

One of the software trends I’ve hated the most of the past decade or so is nagging. From the standpoint of the user, popping up a message to suggest or demand the user do something is the last resort. In my mind, it’s a flagrant violation of the law of least astonishment… basically, don’t do things that surprise the user.  Popping stuff on screen is at odds with that… it distracts the user from what he or she is doing… which is, basically, the entire point of having a computer. Getting whatever the user wants to do done.

I usually associate nagging with commercial software. I remember the first time I started Window XP: wihin a minute of first logging in, I got popups reminding me to register Windows… along with taking a tour of windows, and eliminating unused icons from my desktop (WTF… will you give me a second to go see what is actually on the friggin desktop before suggesting I blow it away?). Recently, I had to go in and decrapify my father-in-law’s Dell that had come installed with tons of foistware that was nagging him about buying it, installing updates, and the like.

I usually expect open source software to not make these sorts of stupid decisions. However, today I ran into the worst case of nagging I have seen in quite a while thanks to Firefox. I left Ubuntu udate a bunch of software this morning, including Firefox.. and here’s what showed up at the top of the browser window:

How stupid is it to have an informational message with a close button on it, which closes the message for the grand total of a few seconds? If it’s so important to constantly nag me to restart the browser, then don’t put the button there!

Also notice that the message pushes the entire page down… so if it decides to pop up just as I click a link, the stupid message will push a different link under my pointer. That’s what I call freakin’ astonishing!

Also posted in General Exception | 2 Comments (Comments closed)

Robotic Car Kidnapping (or What Happens When Your License Runs Out)

This story over at Wired starts out sounding like one of John’s worst nightmares: a robotic parking garage shuts down, trapping users cars within it. However, what underlies the story is something that we all really need to worry about with the the more restrictive and complex software licensing issues we’re facing in the future.

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More Artificial Stupidity, Coming Up…

Hey, whattaya know… they held another Turing Test, run by the man the A.I. cognoscente love to hate: Hugh Loebner. You of course know Lobner from John’s story at Salon about Loebner’s fight with the A.I. community.

And… surpise! A program that sucked at pretending to be a human being won… but as is the nature of these schemes, it was the program that sucked the least that took home the prize money. According to the Slashdot story, the bronze medal and $2000 boobie prize was awarded to ALICE, which has won three times in the past.

Also posted in General Exception | Tagged | 2 Comments (Comments closed)
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