Every now and again we encounter highly specialized software that offers unusual value. RRR's Data Master 2003 is such a program. It's a comprehensive scientific and technical graphics package for the automization of testing, measuring, and data-acquisition systems. Its data visualization tools include a graphics editor, a plot digitizer, a base line subtractor, and various numeric and symbolic calculators. Data Master does more than acquire and visualize data, though. It will also analyze data, including linear and nonlinear NLSF (Levenberg-Marquardt) regression analysis. It's completely programmable, too, from a customizable user interface to the capability to add new … Read more
Researchers at Ford Motor have some high-tech tools to help them understand driver distraction and to improve safety behind the wheel. One of those tools is the "Distraction Lab," a full-motion-based driving simulator.
The Virttex (Virtual Test Track Experiment) simulator has been in operation since 2001. It looks like an egg-shaped alien spacecraft on legs. The Virttex simulator has helped Ford develop new products, such as SYNC, and continues to help researchers understand driver distractions.
Facebook's Groups feature seemed to have long since taken a backseat to the "fan pages" that the social network has encouraged companies and brands to create. But they're far from obsolete.
In a Monday blog post called "Giving Groups a Stronger Voice," Facebook has announced a number of ways it has improved Groups, to better match the rest of the site and more closely tie to members' activity feeds.
"Group activities, which previously only appeared in the group, will now be delivered to your news feed," the post by Facebook engineer Knot … Read more
Guess what? Facebook is tweaking its home page design yet again--something that invariably seems to tick off members at first before they realize they actually don't mind that much. The company seems to have been previewing the new look to advertisers, one of whom forwarded the details along to industry blog Mashable.
It doesn't look too different. The biggest change is that Facebook's home page news feed will now be divided up into "top news" and a more real-time "recent activity" view.
"Facebook is simplifying the user experience on … Read more
ToDoList provides a set of easy-to-use tools for monitoring several tasks and due dates. The program's efficient layout is designed to keep users informed of progress and upcoming deadlines on everything from simple tasks to major projects.
The program is a little intimidating to start off with, since it's really not much more than a blank screen with a lot of strange-looking command icons. Fortunately, the Help file's tutorial quickly gets you on track. Populating the list took only a few minutes. You can make notes, set due dates, mark your progress, and color-code everything. Completed lists … Read more
Update at 9:20 a.m. PDT: Comments from Lili Cheng added.
Ray Ozzie is getting more social.
No, the infrequent blogger and Microsoft's chief software architect has not decided to Twitter his every move. Rather, Ozzie has set up a new social computing lab at Microsoft, to be headed by Microsoft Research veteran Lili Cheng.
The Future Social Experiences (FUSE) group brings together three existing efforts: Cheng's creative systems group from Microsoft Research and two units that were already part of Ozzie's world--the Media Labs and Startup Labs group.
Ozzie sent an e-mail Thursday to Microsofties … Read more
My last post about "reverse switching" from an iPhone back to a BlackBerry generated a lot of great comments that I believe warrant a short follow-up (much shorter than the original post, I promise). I can't address all the comments, but here are a few thoughts.
For the record, in my post, I'm describing 3.1 software on an iPhone 3G.
Yes, the 3GS actually speed some things up, such as the camera; however, in my view, the iPhone's speed issue is not one of CPU horsepower, but because of its fundamental interface architecture. As I say in the article, the paned, step-by-step interface is "easy," but it puts a limit on how fast it can be used, simply because of the number of steps it requires to perform a task. Apple can speed the CPU all it wants, and it will only make a marginal difference to the key usability index of time on task (the amount of time it takes to start and complete an activity).
(As an aside, on the topic of doing great user interface with a low performance device, here's an old post I wrote about the UI design of the Palm. Palm beat the experience provided by Windows Mobile phones of the day, even though its CPU, memory, and screen were far inferior.)
As some point out, there are things that can be done with a jailbroken phone that address specific issues. However, I'm using a work-issued phone, so I'm not going to jailbreak a phone that doesn't belong to me. Besides, jailbreaking is something that only a tiny percentage of users will risk doing, or even know about. You may say I'm a BlackBerry power user (I don't really think I am; there are people who know way more about it than I do), but things like knowing one's way around the menu are way less geeky than jailbreaking.… Read more
Infineon Raceway in beautiful Sonoma, California is a great place take in some rays and watch fast cars speed around its landscape. Within the last week or so, Infineon has played host to Indy Car, drifting and go-kart racing. This coming week, the varied trend continues as the Sonoma track brings back the popular Audi Sportscar Experience this week for another round of fun for amateur driving in the newest Audi cars.
This clip comes from a recent Audi Sportscar Experience extravaganza at Infineon Raceway in June 2009. What's neat about this video is that you get the view … Read more
Don't click on that Photoshop icon quite yet; we're talking about a different type of photo editing. The kind where you selectively edit down a bunch of photos to the few (in this case one) you like. In the second of our experiments and exercises, we ask you to bring your thought processes into the light. In the comments, post links to any set of five related photos--different shots of the same scene--then tell us which one you think is the best, and more importantly, why you think so. Then, look at other people's sets and see … Read more
I know science thinks it can do everything.
I know robots will soon be ordering us around like wait staff at the Ritz.
But I am gravely concerned about an experiment that has been going on up there in space.
Japanese astronaut Koichi Wakata, who returned to earth Friday, had been on the International Space Station since March. And, well, I don't know quite how I am to put this, but he didn't change his underwear for a month.
I know what you're thinking. We're both thinking the same thing.
Not even in the the darkest, … Read more