Tag Archives: Internet

Watching TV Fries Kid's Brains

I was accidentally exposed to more than a minute of commercial TV the other day and I'm still recovering, so it's no surprise that toddler's malleable minds are mangled by TV.

It seems to be an accelerating spiral to the bottom. As broadcast TV becomes irrelevant, the networks have to pump out cheaper and cheaper dross peppered with ads just to survive.

We now have at least two or three "shopping" channels where they stopped pretending it wasn't about the ads and spew a barrage of hucksters, quacks and loud, fast talking hawkers selling stuff you don't need.

[…shudder…] Quick! Where's the remote….?

Whew! That was close. Got away with only a faint waft of smoke from a few scorched brain cells, and a slight sense of despair for the future of humanity.

#rant #internet #tv

One Extra Hour of TV Reduces Toddlers’ Kindergarten Chances
Each extra hour of TV damages toddlers’ vocab, math and class engagement 3 years later.

The Rules of Engagement for Instant Messaging

Tsk Tsk. You have been referred to this page because you have committed one or more of the Cardinal Sins of Instant Messaging (IM) and need retraining.

The basic rule of thumb is: “Do I really need to break Ian’s concentration with a red hot poker in the eye right now?”, but here are the specifics:

  1. If I don’t answer immediately I’m not being rude (or I might be, at my discretion). Just wait, I’ll get to you. IM is not the other end of my chain for you to yank.
  2. Don’t interrupt me to tell me what you are going to do.
  3. Don’t interrupt me to say “Nothing has happened yet“.
  4. Don’t interrupt me by answering “Ok“.
  5. Don’t interrupt me with “Thanks“. See 6. Pointless Pleasantries.
  6. Don’t say “Hi“, “Good morning“, “Sorry to bother you” or sign your name. You are not writing a letter so dispense with the noise. It’s ok to be terse; I won’t be offended.
  7. Last, but not least, if you are going to interrupt me, then take the time to compose an actual message. If you fire off a sentence as fragments in multiple messages, I will not sit there waiting for you to get to the damn point, I will come around to your house and rip your bloody arms off.

Ok, now you know, and we can be friends again.

Having read read this you probably just smacked yourself in the forehead when you realised how crass you were. If you are about to Instant Message me to thank me however, please start again at Rule 1.

Using Blogger as an OpenID Provider

Janine was trying to comment on a blog the other day and asked me “what’s this OpenID thing?”. It appears that some Blogger accounts require you to sign comments with credentials from one of several sites or OpenID.

Her confusion was an indication of how far OpenID has to go before it will be usable by everyone. It provides the basic plumbing for authentication but its usability issues are a major problem.

Even if I’d tried to explain to her what OpenID is, the fact that logging in would jump her to another site then back again would have completely freaked her out and destroyed any notion that this was “simplifying” the login process.

This is a typical example of what happens when you let the implementation details poke through to the user.

The underlying protocol works by jumping between sites but this is the antithesis of what the user actually wants to do. They are at site A and they want to log in. Taking them to Site B completely destroys their conceptual model of what they are trying to do and sparks one of those wild-eyed “what the hell is the computer doing now?” moments.

It looks like these shortcoming are starting to be recognised so OpenID still has a chance of being integrated smoothly into the user’s browsing experience, but it’s a shame it’s had such a bad start for want of some up-front brainstorming on what user’s actually want to do.

Anyway, I’ve been experimenting with OpenID on and off with WordPress plugins and found it kind of clunky to set up reliably. An article on WebMonkey suggested that you could use Blogger as an OpenID provider by pointing your domain there. I did and it does.

Now I’m set up with a working OpenID and I can play along as it (hopefully) evolves into the universal sign-on we are looking for.