Technology

ClickToFlash - dumb-is-good

Clicktoflash screenshot

A while back I made a decision to stay away from using any Flash in building this web site...

I am deliberately avoiding the use of Flash. The misuse of flash in web sites is responsible for some of the most ridiculous, frustrating and avoidable usability issues. So, dumb-is-good could be the motto here.

So I was pleased to see the new ClickToFlashplugin for Safari today and tried it out straight away. It elegantly blocks those shitty flash impositions all over the web. You gotta be happy with that.

Because NetNewsWire on the Mac uses WebKit, the plugin also works there too - twice as little flash trash has got to be even better.

I guess it's not Flash that's the problem really, it's the crazy overuse of it ruining user interaction that gets me. I know there are sites that are totally Flash driven that will just be blocked but then I generally loose interest in them in a few seconds anyway. I'm sure in a few days I'll find a number of situations where having Flash blocked will be a pain... but I'll give it a go.

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NetNewsWire 2.0 for iPhone Unusably Slow

NetNewswire iPhone app icon

I recently upgraded to the latest version of NetNewsWire for the iPhone. Like many out there, I had been eagerly awaiting the new version 2.0 that would sync with Google Reader. Having my desktop feeds back in sync with the iPhone was going to be one of life's small pleasures

...it was not worth the wait.

In short - NetNewsWire 2.0 is unusable.

The software has numerous design flaws and seems to be faulty in many ways. The biggest issue is the time it takes to load feed data. It's so long my short attention span has moved to other things (like watching paint dry in the shade) before the first blank screen has refreshed. It's a huge step backwards from the previous version in my opinion. When I say slow - this is on the iPhone 3G over 802.11g wireless.

Of course it's free so you'd be a prick if you complained too much but they are trying to flog the no-adds version for a couple of bucks and this is not making me feel inclined to cough up.

Issues I have with it are:

Faults

  • the unread badge count doesn't work - mine has been stuck on 940 for a few days
  • slow as all fuck in many screens
  • the Show/Hide Feeds takes for ever to show up
  • Show/Hide Feeds doesn't work - after unselecting numerous feeds and going back to the feeds list it starts to download everything again. Sometimes they stick sometimes not.
  • it has crashed a few times
  • and when it crashes the feeds are all selected on next launch - which in turn takes for ever
  • when selecting or de-selecting feeds in the Show/Hide Feeds, feed icons seem to come and go from the left, not just the one being clicked.

Design issues

  • no sort order for feeds - in particular the sort-by-attention option
  • no unselect or select all button in the show hide feeds
  • Show/Hide Feeds is a flattened list of all feeds - why not follow the convention of many other iPhone apps of having an edit button, leaving the hierarchy of feeds and their folders in place and adding the delete, hide, add option in that view?

I could go on...

Admittedly it's easy to slag things off in a blog after minimal testing. I have tried a few times to limit the number of feeds in my list (82) on the iPhone to see if performance improves but even that has been difficult to achieve with it crashing and turning them all on again.

It leaves me with the impression this is one of two things

 - either a rushed job by good developers whose work got compromised by some crazy deadline promised by the boss 

- or they don't care about this product any more but felt they had to knock some crap together to keep the punters off their back.

Let's see what transpires.

I'll be looking for a new feed reader, perhaps the google offering will do.

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Apple Address Book - Snow Leopard - One Step Forward Two Steps Back

Apple Address Book screen shot

Apple have updated Mac OS X in all sorts of great ways in their latest Snow Leopard update 10.6 but here's a backward step - in fact a backward step from what was a pretty weak starting position.

The Country field in the address book has for a long time had the somewhat-lame and counter-intuitive auto-fill feature where you could type Option Escape to be presented with a list of options to auto fill from.

This has always been an odd pair of modifier keys to me - in fact why not just offer the drop down items automatically as the Google search field in Safari does or any number of other examples. The Escape key seems like a poor choice to me.

That aside, when using Option Escape a list of countries previously entered in the address book would be offered in the drop down. In Snow Leopard it now seems to offer words from the dictionary as showing in the image - what bloody use is Aubergine or Auckland to me in the Country field?

Update: 2009-09-12

I've been moving this blog from Blogger to Movable Type. The following comment got caught between technologies...

Anonymous said... "The best part is it does that for every field. I put in S and then option-esc and I get S., S.'s, S.Dak., etc. You have to scroll before you get to a word. I used to use it all the time to keep my entries the same across people to make the smart groups work well. While I agree option-esc is probably a poor choice, especially since it really isn't documented anywhere, this is definitely a step backwards."

Update: 2009-09-12

On thinking about the address book a little more I can see that the drop down list has benefits. It allows me to populate items that are not pre-existing in my address book. I guess its coming from some system wide clean-up and I will learn to appreciate it - I guess.

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iPhone, WiMAX and Unwired - a love in?

Apple Newton

Okay, finally I think apple have caught up with themselves with their new iPhone. I may have to officially retire the Newton. Although I'll be fully convinced when I can use a WiMAX iPhone on the Unwired network in Sydney. Let's see how long that takes. By the way the image on the screen of the Newton is a drawing I did at the Singapore airport of a weary traveller with his head in hand.

Drawing on Apple Newton of a man at Singapore airport

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The Big Daddy Blues

Since establishment of the web site, I have been keeping a keen eye on Google’s index to see if and when the site gets picked up, so I’d like to give a big welcome to Big Daddy who’s been sniffing around since 7 Feb 2006 - do drop in any time - I’ll try to keep things the way you like ‘em…

Google indexing graph

Apple Newton MessagePad 2100

The Apple Newton MessagePad 2100 with the Newton Keyboard attached. Perhaps Apple will catch up with themselves one day soon. I used this set up extensively for some while for email, calendar and to-do items. I carried around an Apple LocalTalk kit as well with a LocalTalk to Ethernet adaptor. It all worked well but the Newton synchronisation software on the Mac was no end of trouble.

Apple Newton MessagePad 2100

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