Wednesday, December 31, 2003

Not working as a proper Ui designer means I do not get re-inforced in the better principles of UI design. Number one, of course, is Go Ask The Users.

For the last week I have been racking my brain for visions of users accessing enterprise data through mobile devices, so I can submit them as candidates for mobile WebServices implementations. But what the hell do I know, I am a software weenie: all I need from my enterprise is my meetings, email, person look-up, and calendar. Hardly interesting. I needed to ask people who do not do what I do.

Go Ask The User.

So who inside this software shop here in Burlington really needs or uses enterprise data? Well, HR for one -- all our files and profiles and stock options and histories are logged on our global intranet. I went downstairs to talk to the people in HR; I saw that today I had gotten email from one of them so she was in. I am on really good terms with them all, so when I asked Lauren "Could you report to me those moments that you are away from your desk and you think 'Geez, I wish I could get to this page on our intranet because...'" not only did she come up with a good one on the spot -- people ask her about their salary and time-off accounts all the time while she walks through the building, when she can least answer them -- she also offered to pass my request along during the staff meeting Thursday. This should lead to some really usable and practical proposals for implementations. HR would already be a fabulous one because of the security and routing implications.

Then during that discussion we found out I need to "find" 16 hours of vacation that I "didn't report" during the last year, or I will be penalized for being too much of a workaholic and lose a large chunk of my vacation balance.

Saturday, December 20, 2003

GPRS, Tethering

I used to be able to tell my computer that dialing *99# on whatever modem was on the other end of the Bluetooth port was a really great idea because there would be a PPP link waiting for it. My computer would try to do so, and the phone would know that what it really should do was switch on the GPRS radio, get on that network and hook up to a special datastream I had told it would be at Then the datastream should be passed back to the computer just as if it was a standard data-call. The stream would produce a PPP sequence, the computer would follow it, and find itself with an IP pipe with DHCP and all, which was actually running over the GPRS network at 56k.

Well, my phone is now on the KPN mobile network, and this still works. For about 2000 bytes. Then somehow no packets come through to the computer anymore. That is it. Since T-Mobile (the former VoiceStream) has been locking down its data access points, I can't help thinking they are responsible for us losing that facility. I asked my father for his settings and am now using my mobile phone as a straight modem over Bluetooth. Except that you can't do good data over GSM. Incredibly slow rate. Feels like 9k6. I don't even want to think about the connection charges. But I have to check my work e-mail.

Saturday, December 06, 2003

Why Doesn't iTunes...

...have a facility to fill in the artwork and information tags of the songs I ripped myself with data from the store? When I did my rips, I got song and artist, I'd like the rest too, and Apple has it. (Might it even be a way to collect some revenue?)

...have a utility that "listens" to your MP3s to fill in the BPMs, where it thinks it stands a chance? Would be very handy since it has a BPM autoplay list?

...not have a good analysis feature to suggest purchases based on your library, especially which songs got a high rating?

[cloned from my Slashdot blog]