Solipsism Gradient

Rainer Brockerhoff’s blog

Browsing Posts published in May, 2003

John Gruber posts a follow-up about clickthrough. He puts the ball into Apple’s court:

Only Apple can fix this. Where by “fixing it”, I mean three things, all essential:

    Mandate correct click-through behavior in the HIG.
    Make Apple’s Cocoa frameworks do the right thing by default. Supply sufficient API hooks so that it’s easy for third-party frameworks to do the right thing.
    All of Apple’s own software needs to follow these guidelines.

Hmm… I need an “applause” smiley here…

Here’s an additional interesting tip from Sven-S. Porst:

One thing I’d like to add on the topic of click-through is that while it had been possible for ages in MacOS to drag background windows without activating them by holding the command-key while doing so, support for this background manipulation has improved in OSX. In Cocoa applications you can command-click most controls and use them without activating the window first. I like that. Click-through for the people who want and it and can handle it. It’s far from perfect, though, as it doesn’t work uniformly through all applications and doesn’t work for toolbar items either as the command-Key is used for moving items there.

The always-interesting AccordionGuy pointed me at the Blogging Archetype test. (Thanks, Joey!) Here’s my result:

You are a David Weinberger.

You are smart, savvy, interested in why people do what they do, enjoy questioning yourself and are not balding.

Very flattering. I wonder how they figured out the “not balding” part…

Joi Ito is asking for disclaimer advice:

I just got this from a good friend of mine via email.

This business with saying that you’re a shareholder in a company, or might be in the future, can we give that a rest? or can you put it on a page somewhere on its own.

It’s just annoying and offputting, and after a while it’s going to look arrogant and boastful. that’s what i think anyway.

So I guess I should make a disclaimer page. Didn’t realize that the disclaimers could be construed as boasting, but hindsight seems obvious.

I think this somewhat strange… if he doesn’t say what he’s invested in, people complain he’s biased; if he does, he’s boastful? Or worse? I’d rather interact with people who say outright what their interests are, rather than those who pretend to a godlike impartiality.

That said, perhaps The World’s Most Powerful Meta-Disclaimer may be of help…

Update: Oops, had a broken backlink, it’s now fixed…

I planned originally to post at length about another topic, but got mesmerized by Tolkien Crackpot Theories. So that’s it for today…

Thanks to Dori Smith for this link. I think.

John Gruber affirms a conviction I’ve long held, namely that “clickthrough” is usually a bad idea in Mac OS X applications. In the process, he goes into interesting detail about the Mac’s emphasis on the frontmost window, and how this differs from Microsoft’s window-centric approach.

The concept of the frontmost (or active) application is absolutely essential to understanding how to use a Mac. The frontmost application controls the menu bar and handles all keyboard input, including command key shortcuts. The concept of the frontmost window is related and similarly important. You can click on background windows (thus giving rise to the potential for click-through), but that’s it – everything else you can do with your computer is directed at the frontmost window of the active application…

Any programmer should read Hackers and Painters, an excellent essay by Paul Graham, about the similarities between painting and programming:

For example, I was taught in college that one ought to figure out a program completely on paper before even going near a computer. I found that I did not program this way. I found that I liked to program sitting in front of a computer, not a piece of paper. Worse still, instead of patiently writing out a complete program and assuring myself it was correct, I tended to just spew out code that was hopelessly broken, and gradually beat it into shape. Debugging, I was taught, was a kind of final pass where you caught typos and oversights. The way I worked, it seemed like programming consisted of debugging.

For a long time I felt bad about this, just as I once felt bad that I didn’t hold my pencil the way they taught me to in elementary school. If I had only looked over at the other makers, the painters or the architects, I would have realized that there was a name for what I was doing: sketching. As far as I can tell, the way they taught me to program in college was all wrong. You should figure out programs as you’re writing them, just as writers and painters and architects do.

I’ve finished several new books, and another box came in a few days ago…

Kiln People, by David Brin, is a very intriguing book. Brin seems to have been inspired by the Chinese terracotta warriors, which are even mentioned in the book. He posits a society where one can make nanotechnological clay copies (golems) of oneself, which carry a partial copy of the mind; the clay lasts about 24 hours, after which it begins to decompose, and the copies’ experiences can be reloaded back into the original’s mind.

The main character, a private detective, releases several specialized copies of himself to help solve a complicated case; in every chapter, the copies (and sometimes the original) narrate the happenings in a stream-of-consciousness manner. This works surprisingly well for this book, given that Brin used a similar style in his last three books (the Uplift Trilogy), where I found it a little tiresome. Even so, nearly all of Brin’s books are among my favorites.

I also read two shorter books: Outward Bound, by James P. Hogan, and Genesis by Poul Anderson. Hogan’s is a “juvenile book”, in the tradition of Heinlein’s juveniles, and quite lightweight compared to his other books; no scientific or technical speculation. Even so, it’s enjoyable. Anderson’s is probably his last book – he died a couple of years ago. Here he tackles the problems of immortality and post-human societies in his characteristic way, which recalls the scandinavian sagas. This book won the 200 John W. Campbell Memorial Award; even so, I found the book oddly unsatisfying, but can’t point at specific faults.

Dr. Robert L. Forward, author and physicist, died a year ago. His family has released a brief autobiography which he dictated just before his death. This is a must read for any science fiction reader, and indeed for anybody interested in technology.

My philosophy as a scientist has been to work on problems that other people consider impossible. I chose that philosophy as a very young man, because if you make any progress at all on that problem, it is still an advance.  When I felt I had launched a new technology, I wanted to move on to something new, different, and more difficult.

Dr. Forward wrote Dragon’s Egg and Starquake, realistic speculations about life on a neutron star, and several other “hard SF” books. I have most of them in my library. He also had 28 patents, invented the gravitational mass detector, smart structures, space tethers, various types of interstellar propulsion, and so on and so forth…

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