November 26, 2005

November 24, 2005

ahah - So that's how it's done

The wiki has a discussion about AHAH (Asychronous HTML and HTTP) that describes an interesting approach to building dynamic pages - but I can't help wondering why the browser developers (like the WHAT-WG) just don't implement client-side includes? Something simple like <div src="latest.html" /> This avoids the need for client side script and ensures the browser can correctly manage connections, caching, authentication, etc.

November 18, 2005

Pricing Rules

How very interesting. I hadn't thought about price in this light before.

From Joel on Software
The answer is that pricing sends a signal. People have come to believe that “you get what you pay for.” If you lowered the price of a movie, people would immediately infer from the low price that it's a crappy movie and they wouldn't go see it. If you had different prices for movies, the $4 movies would have a lot less customers than they get anyway. The entertainment industry has to maintain a straight face and tell you that Gigli or Battlefield Earth are every bit as valuable as Wedding Crashers or Star Wars or nobody will go see them.

Now, the reason the music recording industry wants different prices has nothing to do with making a premium on the best songs. What they really want is a system they can manipulate to send signals about what songs are worth, and thus what songs you should buy. I assure you that when really bad songs come out, as long as they're new and the recording industry wants to promote those songs, they'll charge the full $2.49 or whatever it is to send a fake signal that the songs are better than they really are. It's the same reason we've had to put up with crappy radio for the last few decades: the music industry promotes what they want to promote, whether it's good or bad, and the main reason they want to promote something is because that's a bargaining chip they can use in their negotiations with artists.

And Apple? Apple wants the signaling to come from what they promote on the front page of the iTunes Music Store. In the battle between Apple and the recording industry over who gets to manipulate what songs you buy, Apple (like movie theaters) is going to be in favor of fixed prices, while the recording industry is going to want variable prices.

November 17, 2005

A link is not a widget

Oh, this is so wrong...
Ruby on Rails makes it easy to "do a link via post" : see
Ajaxian: Ruby on Rails uses Ajax to simulate POST links.

This hack is purely to make a button in the user interface not look like a button. The problem is that most of the operations this is intended to be used with are 'remove' or 'delete' type of operations - actions that a user really really should know about ahead of time. More than once I've seen a link for "delete this picture" - just clicking causes the data to go away (Flickr is guilty of this). While I sympathize with a page designer trying for a spartan look and feel, it is important to realize that a link is not a widget. This breaks the explore-ability of Web applications and exposes destructive operations to utilities and tools that pre-fetch data - links should cause no harm.

To really get the job done, Web designers should do the work to define the CSS necessary for a form to fit within their design. Keep links safe - just say no to 'links via post'.

November 07, 2005

Amazon Mechanical Turk - Recognizing US Government in Seattle

The Amazon Mechanical Turk is a cool system (a friend works on it). So I went through to see what it looks like.
One customer is A9 - they have visual Yellow Pages and need the community to vote on the best image among several for business storefronts.

I was suprised that my third HIT was a request to pick the best picture for "US Government Seattle". My choices were either a collosal two layer cement highway section, surrounded by rubble or a tree. I chose the tree.
US Government in Seattle, according to A9

November 05, 2005

The Boy Who Heard Music

So, Pete Townshend is writing science fiction - a dystopian saga with disturbing scenes and juxtapositions. The Boy Who Heard Music

South Park ├╝ber Alles

I just found the South Park Studio - create SouthPark avatars of yourself and cow-orkers. Just perfect...