I Really Dislike This Branding Thing

This is a canned post, written before I left for Chicago two days ago. I get back tomorrow night, worry not! All right, it’s time for another rant. This time, it’s about brand labels. I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but it seems that sometimes the label on a piece of clothing (or accessory; pretty much anything falls under this umbrella, actually — including electronics) is more important than the thing itself. It drives me crazy. Oftentimes I’ve noticed that “no-name” brands have better quality than the label does, at a lower cost. What’s up with that? I have never…

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The Sins of the Few Cause the Punishment of the Many

Finally, I’ve decided to blog about this issue. It starts in elementary school, and continues on a larger and larger scale as we go through life. I’ll start off with an anecdote. The setting is a third-grade classroom (no, this is not a reference to Blue Eyes, Brown Eyes). The class is small, only about ten students. One of them is acting up. The teacher, in an effort to get him to behave, threatens to revoke the entire class’s recess period if he doesn’t settle down. What’s wrong with this? The actions of one student could result in the punishment…

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Profile Duplication Equals Time Wasted

With the explosion of social sites, Internet users can be asked to fill out, and keep updated, dozens of profiles all over the Web. For light surfers, who use maybe three sites (say, Digg, Twitter, and Facebook), keeping things up-to-date is simple. There are only three forms sites (Facebook has a bunch of different pages for its profiles) to visit when something changes. People like me, however, end up amassing a whole bunch of pages to update. Right now I think I’m somewhere between 25 and 50 profiles, plus countless sites and profiles-that-aren’t-for-sites that I am no doubt forgetting. That’s…

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Webapp Keyboard Focus Issues

I’ve found a pretty frequent problem with keyboard-enabled webapps. Gmail, Google Reader, Remember The Milk, and a whole bunch of other services (Google Calendar, for instance) all fit into this category. It seems that nearly all keyboard shortcut-enabled webapps have one big annoyance in common (no, not AJAX): The shortcuts lose focus in certain scenarios. The three apps I’m most concerned with are, of course, Gmail, Google Reader, and RTM. I do use them the most, after all. I’ve found tab-switching to be the number one cause of focus switching. Keyboard entry is sent to the browser chrome or something,…

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Don’t Ignore Me, Reddit!

It doesn’t show up in my FriendFeed. If you try to access it, you’ll get an error. It’s invisible to everyone, including myself. What am I talking about? I’m talking about my reddit account. Yes, reddit, that other social news site. Note that the link goes to a 404 Not Found error page. I registered a while ago; it’s got to have been about a month now. I’ve sent three emails via the feedback section, each time being told I’d hear back shortly. Nothing has ever come back. As a result of the missing profile page, I have been unable…

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Google Talk Labs Edition?!

I know I’ve been for the Google Talk client (not the Gadget, not Gmail Chat; the actual application that one can download and install on a PC). I’ve been wondering for a long time if such an update would ever be issued. Yesterday, my question was answered. Yesterday, Google released Google Talk Labs Edition. It is most certainly not what I had in mind for an update. Far from improving existing features, the new release actually removes features. Specifically, voice chat and file transfers are gone in the Labs version. It adds group chat and enhanced emoticons like Gmail Chat…

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Windows Vista: Problems and Advice for Microsoft

I’ve been sitting on this post idea for a while, since about the beginning of last month, if not a few days before that. In that time I’ve tried to come up with some good answers to the question Chris Pirillo posed at the end of his “Windows Vista’s Rants” video (it starts around 16:30 into the clip). Here are my thoughts on Vista (rather than ) and, if I’m lucky, a few good ideas that Microsoft would do well to take to heart. The Complaints Don’t take this post the wrong way; I haven’t forgiven Vista in the least…

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Why I Oppose Microsoft’s OOXML

It was recently announced that the ISO has approved a draft standard based on Microsoft’s OOXML format, which was developed for Microsoft Office 2007 as a smaller alternative to the original binary-format files used in previous versions of the suite. I am personally opposed to Microsoft’s format becoming a standard. That’s a simple fact. The reasoning is more complex, and has (I freely admit) been influenced over the last several months by articles I have read on the subject. A good deal of those articles were (and are) hosted at NoOOXML, which also hosts a petition against the standard. The…

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User Actions Shouldn’t Interrupt Critical Stuff

Yes, I know that’s a rather cryptic title. I’ll do my best to illustrate what I mean in the coming prose. This was all inspired by something that happened to me last night while using the Blackboard Learning System software (it’s Web-based) to try and take an assessment in one of my courses for school. (Inspiration from homework? It’s actually happened before, like when I blogged about .) All right, down to business. Specifically, what happened last night was that I tried to perform an action on the page before it had finished loading. The tests in Blackboard (at least…

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Move to Gmail from an Offline Client?

Various methods for switching to Gmail and bringing along your old mail have been discussed to death in the blogosphere, I know. Gmail does turn four next week, after all (it was released to the public on April 1, 2004; April 1, 2008, is next week). Since its release, Gmail has added lots of features, including . Ordinarily I wouldn’t bring up something that’s already been done before (well, anything that was last posted about more than a week ago). However, the Official Gmail Blog posted a short set of tips for moving to Gmail, and I thought I’d sound…

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