Archive for the 'rant' Category

Forums are so 1999

Friday, May 22nd, 2009

I cringe forums1 or message board every time I visit one.

They are usually cluttered with distracting animated gifs, elaborate signatures and tons of useless stats about the posters (novice/expert level, im status, joining date, etc.)

They are notoriously cumbersome to navigate, let alone find what you need. The forum administrators and moderators know it, so most forums use stickies as a band-aid. For the casual visitor, stickies are usually road signs that tell you where to look for certain things, a summary of important points or FAQs. Needless to say, they’re pretty effective when you compare them with the rest of the mess, but a band-aid nonetheless.

I’d blame the user interface for this awkward communication medium. It’s not so much due to its age, because I’d rather read stuff on old skool NNTP with vi key bindings than to navigate these forums. Rather, it’s the constant need for paging (displaying page 1 of 32!!), which means that you can’t effectively use the browser’s in-page find feature. Search is usually broken or otherwise less than relevant. No threading, nor ability to easily filter messages. I could go on.

Perhaps it’s just a matter of tweaking the skin and applying sane user interface design. Certainly, there are some better-designed forums out there that are less painful to use. I haven’t seen much innovation in that area in a long time, actually not since my first encounter with them. I suspect people actually like and have come to expect those cumbersome features.

Forum communities are an entire subculture of their own, and I don’t expect a shift anytime soon. Yet, I can’t help but wonder if we can do better.

1 In case you’re wondering, I intentionally used the word “forums” instead of “fora”.

Ditching RememberTheMilk

Tuesday, October 28th, 2008

I’ve always liked Remember The Milk, the “web 2.0″ online task manager that is so well syndicated over channels such as Google Calendar, Twitter, mobile apps, etc. Also, the RTM team is situated in Chatswood, Sydney which is a place that I fondly recall inhabitating while in Australia. Because of this, and the fact that no one can resist the cuteness of their moo-moo cow logo and their mascot, Bob T. Monkey, I have a natural affinity towards the service.

It didn’t take long for me to find out that this affinity is uni-directional. RTM’s seeming openness is only superficial.

The story began almost a year ago.
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Bad user – No Internet for you!

Sunday, November 25th, 2007

I don’t have time to blog, really, but this is just too scary a thought. From this Techcrunch post:

A pact between the French Government, French ISP’s and the local music and film industry will see French users who download material from P2P networks losing their internet access.

French internet users will face a three strikes and you’re out policy, according to the NY Times. Users will receive a warning for each illegal download before losing their service on the third infringement.

NO, INTERNET?! That’s human cruelty! I’ll go with decapitation, thanks!

Korean BBQ

Friday, May 19th, 2006

Had Korean BBQ with Clare and Hazel at Charcoal Mine Barbeque House — a cosy restaurant in Parramatta. Fresh food, good service and positive vibes: highly recommended. Most notably: their shoyu button mushroom (absolutely umami when barbequed!), squid (I’ve never tasted the natural flavour of squid like this), beef ribs, and the chilli sauce with a free flow of coriander leaves was simply heavenly!

Korean BBQ - Charcoal Mine Barbeque House

Korean BBQ - Charcoal Mine Barbeque House (inside)

After dinner we went back to the Coffee Alchemy roastery, I did not miss the chance to get a bag of freshly roasted coffee beans, which means I can dump the almost-stale batch that I bought before I left for my US trip. If you’re in Australia, you owe it to yourself to try one of her blends, I guarantee you will not be disappointed.

The downer of the day had to be getting a parking fine right in front of my place, which used to be a free-parking zone until two days ago when they decided to put the 2P restrictions in place. Thanks a lot, I do not remember being notified of this by post or otherwise. I’ll be sending a letter of appeal tomorrow, they will not get a dime from me.