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Exploring the Future of Computing
Updated: 1 hour 38 min ago

The post-Mac interface

Monday 3rd of August 2015 09:28:28 PM
In 1996 Don Gentner and Jakob Nielsen published a thought experiment, The Anti-Mac Interface. It's worth a read. By violating the design principles of the entrenched Mac desktop interface, G and N propose that more powerful interfaces could exceed the aging model and define the "Internet desktop." It's been almost 20 years since the Anti-Mac design principles were proposed, and almost 30 since the original Apple Human Interface Guidelines were published. Did the Anti-Mac principles supersede those of the Mac? Here I reflect on the Mac design principles of 1986, the Anti-Mac design principles of 1996, and what I observe as apparent (and cheekily named) Post-Mac design principles of 2016... Er, 2015. Quite a read, but definitely worth it.

A company copes with backlash against the raise that roared

Saturday 1st of August 2015 11:12:17 AM
Three months ago, Mr. Price, 31, announced he was setting a new minimum salary of $70,000 at his Seattle credit card processing firm, Gravity Payments, and slashing his own million-dollar pay package to do it. He wasn't thinking about the current political clamor over low wages or the growing gap between rich and poor, he said. He was just thinking of the 120 people who worked for him and, let's be honest, a bit of free publicity. The idea struck him when a friend shared her worries about paying both her rent and student loans on a $40,000 salary. He realized a lot of his own employees earned that or less. Yet almost overnight, a decision by one small-business man in the northwestern corner of the country became a swashbuckling blow against income inequality. Whether you support his actions or not, ask yourself this question: what does it say about our society that a young man slashing his own salary to increase that of his employees draws more ire than a CEO raising his own salary to 70 times that of an average employee? Most mystifying of all, though, are the employees leaving because their coworkers got a pay raise to $70000, while they themselves already earned $70000. I don't understand this mindset. You still have your salary. You still get your $70000, except now your fellow men and women on the work floor also get it. Is your self-worth really derived from earning more than the people around you? Is your sense of self really dictated by how much more you earn than Jim from accounting or Alice from engineering? Maybe I'm just too Dutch and too little American to understand this mindset, but I firmly believe this world would be a massively better place if more CEOs cut their own salaries to raise that of their employees.

How does Voxel Quest work now?

Saturday 1st of August 2015 10:49:49 AM
If you're interested in the intricacies of game engine development, you should definitely keep track of Gavan Woolery's Voxel Quest. The latest blog post deals with a whole bunch of new stuff implemented in the voxel-based engine. The fact that VQ has undergone three tech revisions over two years probably seems a bit ridiculous, and maybe it is. Something like this would normally kill a game. That said, the point here is not just to make a game (plenty of people are doing that already), but to make a unique engine, and that could not happen in a vacuum. All I know is that I am finally happy with where the engine is at in terms of performance and flexibility, and I couldn't have gotten here without knowing everything I've learned since the start. So the most common question I get, of course, is how does this stuff work? It is actually simpler than it might seem. Voxel Quest is more about developing a unique game engine than it is about developing a unique game, but its developer wants to release the engine as open source so that others can do cool stuff with it too.

Why Microsoft is giving away Windows 10 for free

Saturday 1st of August 2015 10:43:38 AM
When Microsoft released Windows 95 almost 20 years ago, people packed into stores to be among the first lucky buyers to get their hands on this cutting edge new technology. Microsoft had an iron grip on productivity software in the enterprise, but even ordinary consumers were accustomed to paying hundreds of dollars for software. Two decades later, Microsoft is releasing Windows 10. But most people won’t have to rush out and purchase a copy. Anyone with a copy of Windows dating back to Windows 7 can upgrade for free, a first for Microsoft. Whether we're talking tiny smartphone applications, or entire operating systems, people now expect software to be free. It's a reality that, obviously, hurts software makers the most. If you'd told me only a few years ago Microsoft would adapt to this new reality this (relatively) quickly, I wouldn't have believed it.

Unsurpsingly, Android M Developer Preview 3 has been delayed

Saturday 1st of August 2015 10:39:29 AM
With Lollipop, Google did something that developers had wanted for a while: a dev preview of the upcoming Android build. With the M release, it made that even better with OTA updates for the first time... But that hasn't gone quite as smoothly as we'd hoped it would. I'm not going to make the joke about Android updates.

Microsoft said to consider funding Uber

Friday 31st of July 2015 10:45:16 PM
Microsoft Corp. is considering an investment in Uber Technologies Inc. at a valuation of about $50 billion, a person with knowledge of the matter said. The WSJ confirms the report. I'm not so sure what to think of Uber. They are disrupting the horrible, horrible taxi market with a clearly superior product - I loved using Uber when I was in New York late last year - but at the same time, they are incredibly slimy. Not sure I would want to be associated with a company like this.

Improving Facebook performance on Android with FlatBuffers

Friday 31st of July 2015 10:37:30 PM
The Facebook application for Android isn't exactly, shall we say, best-in-class for a multitude of reasons, but at least Facebook is trying to improve it. This is their latest effort. In our exploration of alternate formats, we came across FlatBuffers, an open source project from Google. FlatBuffers is an evolution of protocol buffers that includes object metadata, allowing direct access to individual subcomponents of the data without having to deserialize the entire object (in this case, a tree) up front. Might be useful for other Android developers as well.

Windows 10 installed on 67 million PCs as of this morning

Friday 31st of July 2015 10:33:04 PM
A Microsoft employee who wishes to remain anonymous to the public has informed Windows Central that as of 8 AM this morning, the Windows 10 OS has reportedly been installed on a massive 67 million machines. Even more interesting is the claim that Microsoft hit a max bandwidth of 15 Tb/s, topping the previous record of Apple's 8 Tb/s during their last OS push. Microsoft has reportedly reserved up to 40Tb/s "from all of the third-party CDNs combined". These are pretty insane numbers.

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