2006-05-20

Adventure

An adventure is only an inconvenience rightly considered. An inconvenience is an adventure wrongly considered.

- G. K. Chesterton

The Death of the Save Icon

I noticed something strange the other day. In my text editor the icon for saving the document looks like floppy disc. A floppy disc?! I can't remember the last time I used a floppy disc. That's so last millennium. Do people still use them? As far as I know computers don't even ship with floppy drives anymore. Just out of curiosity I had to check some other programs to see what icon the use for saving. All the programs I checked, including MSOffice, OpenOffice, Adobe Reader (although their icon looks more like a zip disc), Google Skethup and GIMP, had a floppy disc as their save icon. The only exception I found was jEdit which used a pencil.

Since we don't use floppy discs anymore we need to come up with a better icon for saving. The floppy disc used to be a good symbol but in a few years it will just be confusing as people will have forgotten what it is. The question is then what icon to use. I certainly don't know. And perhaps it's not even the right question to ask. Maybe we shouldn't be saving things anymore at all. At least not manually. What if the text editor automatically synchronized the copy of the text document in memory with that on the disc? This is already happening to some extent with automatic saves but I think it could (and should) be taken much further.

But is it possible to completely eliminate manual saving? Probably no. I often download PDF documents which end up in the browser cache when I view them for the first time. But sometimes I want to save a copy of the document in some specific place on my hard drive. Then I really want to save manually. Or perhaps copying is a better word for it. Anyhow it will need an icon and the floppy disc icon is outdated. So, all graphics designers out there, I'm waiting for a better save icon!

2006-05-11

Cars in the next lane really do go faster

Since I bought myself a car about a year and a half ago I've spent an increasing amount of time in traffic jams. Sitting in a traffic jam is the perfect place for pondering the mysteries of the world. Such as why the other lane seems to move faster on average than the lane I'm in. This might seem like a logical fallacy but it is not. The time a driver spend in the slower lane is longer than that of a driver in the faster lane. This is simply because the slower lane is, well, slower.

So, this is roughly how my thoughts have been going every time I've been in a traffic jam. And I was very much delighted today when I read an article called Cars in the next lane really do go faster which confirms my theory albeit with a slightly different explanation. It turns out that this result belongs to the field of observation selection effects and which has all kinds of interesting applications. I'll be sure to learn more about this in the future.

2006-05-04

Playing with Google Sketchup

About a week ago Google released the program Sketchup for free. Or rather, they release a trimmed down version of Sketchup where you can only save stuff to Google Earth. The idea is quite nice, letting people modeling stuff for their own amusement in Google Earth and thus making Google Earth richer.

Of course I had to try this. So I downloaded Sketchup and went through the tutorial. I must say that I'm really impressed with the tutorial. After having finished it I felt like: Wow, this is SO simple! I can do marvelous 3D modeling without tears! So I had to try my own little project. I decided to create a model of the house I'm living in. Which turned out to be not quite as easy as the tutorial had been. At times it became really frustrating. One problem, or rather mixed blessing, is that Sketchup is trying hard to guess what it is that you want to do. For example it helps you making lines perpendicular or aligning various point. While this can be good I found it to be a real frustration and I didn't find any way to turn it off. But in the end I managed to come up with something that at least remotely resembles the place I live. This is how it looks when imported into Google Earth.

Note the incredibly bad resolution Google Earth has of Göteborg. Shame on you Google! You ought to buy the same maps as eniro has.

I've create a .kmz file for you to download and see Rubingatan for your self in Google Earth.