UI hall of shame: Samsung NU8000 onscreen keyboard

April 10, 2019
Last December I bought myself a Christmas gift, a lovely 65" Samsung NU8000 television. (I miss my old projector, but given my space, this is the smallest size that still feels like a billboard, and Wirecutter likes the low-lag mode of these for videogames)

Overall its UI is pretty grand - much better than the older Samsung my mom has - all the apps are easy to get to and most are of good quality, and the shortcuts from the main screen generally make sense (and I'm not TOO worried about the data collection I'm sure this beast is running on me.) But the onscreen keyboard they use for some of their setup/config is THE #&$#(*$@& WORST, especially for entering a password.

It's kind of a standard "use the cursor up/down/left/right, select the letters via an onscreen keyboard" (laid out like a normal typing keyboard) that video game console owners have put up with for a decade BUT -- 8 letters or so into typing a minium-length-8-character password, say -- once you select a letter, the space immediately to the left of the character you just typed becomes a checkbox, a short cut to "I'm all done".... so if you're bopping along, trying to efficiently enter your password, and it starts with "ireallyreally" in it... you enter the r of second really, that's the eighth character - meaning you've meant the minimal wifi password length, so then when you go to move the cursor to the left, you're not over the "e", you're about to select the "I'm all done" checkbox.

And you hit the center of the button thinking you're on the e, and the thing thinks you're done, and takes away the screen to try out your (of course incomplete) password, and you have no idea what is going on, but you're on a totally different screen entirely, and you don't know what the hell happened, so then maybe you repeat this dance two or three times, because it's such #$#(*@ STUPID HALF-BAKED DUMB@#$#@ INCOMPETENCE in trying to make a "helpful" - yet fundamentally unpredictable -User Interface

A core of "Tao of Programming" is the "Law of Least Astonishment", i.e. a program should always do that which surprises the user least - and this is a FLAGRANT violation of that very simple principle.

Of course, even once the user has overcome the surprise of a barely-useful shortcut showing up where there wasn't one before, to REMOVE the "helpful" checkbox you simply go select another letter and the checkbox goes away- but it comes back, so for the rest of the text entry if the next letter you wish to type happens to be to the left of the one you just entered, you have to wiggle the cursor around to shake off the dang uselessly premature checkbox.

Programmers. They need to learn the difference between "can" and "should"

(Mercifully, the searches on the various apps like Netflix and Amazon Prime implement their own keyboards, free of this half-baked-crap.)
Yesterday was a weirdly bad, Mercury-in-retrograde technology kind of day - sometimes by fate, sometimes by design - dev servers that were oddly recalcitrant, gnarly technological problems from labyrinthine code bases, laptops needing rebooting, phones needing rebooting, earbuds needing rebooting... and a TV that dropped its wifi connection (set months ago) and wouldn't regain it (even after I successfully wrestled its idiosyncratically terrible UI "helpfulnes" I rant about above) and I had to resort to an ethernet cable.

It's the kind of day that makes me glad I don't need a pacemaker!
As I go through and groom old blog entries and see just how many broken links predominate, how the old geek vision that "urls can be forever" is almost completely unrealized, but sometimes I can use a search engine to find a replacement for a yanked Youtube video, I realize that one purpose of Google is weeding out the underbrush of fallen sites, if search wasn't a constantly renewed process and we relied on old archives we'd be choked in a forest of dead wood.
Things I came darn near to forgetting: once upon a time I had and enjoyed this LCD game:

Success is never final; failure is never fatal. It's courage that counts.
John Wooden

April 10, 2018

Quick take: In my experience there's a disconnect between the tech story reporters spend the most time covering (privacy invasion) and the related tech story people are really worried about (social media and video game addiction). They're both important stories. I just never hear anyone talking about the former in real life, whereas I constantly hear people worrying about the latter.
(One of the best email newsletters out there.) I agree with his sentiment - I know I'm less sensitive to privacy than many (advertisers just wanna group you into categories! It's not like they care about you as a person, get over yourself) but it's addiction, and I'd say also the constant hammering of "if it bleeds it leads"-style propagation of the most lurid bullshit that's actually the disruption.
Cleaned out my inbox, mostly 2K+ message gmail didn't think were "Important". I'm gonna renew my effort to hit Unsubscribe... in the meanwhile pretty greatful for gmail's discernment, which is pretty darn accurate. Not sure how much privacy I gave up for that but it feels like it was worth it... (not to mention the 4K of messages representing 30 days worth of spam...)

April 10, 2017

My high school best friend Mike Witczak had a piano at his house, though his younger brother Martin was the one who actually played. One day, in the summer between high school and college, the three of us collaborated with a tape recorder and made Leavin' You Blues a long (over 20 minutes) jam on the most basic of blues riffs, with (badly) improvised vocals and tuba by me, Mike on the Alto Sax, and Marty employing the tiniest fraction of his his keyboard talent, except in a few parts. (around 8 minutes in)

The rest of the tape Mike and I filled with walking through a much of basslines he and I would jam with on the Euclid High School bandroom piano or with our horns in small group settings. It's telling that my urge for archiving, even the awareness I would forget much of this, was present even then. And now it continues, as I transferred the entire tape to my computer, broke it up into tracks, and provided titles and a little commentary...

There's a lot of adolescent, goofy chatter and commentary throughout, mostly me, that I kept in, as painful as it is for me to hear now.

Without further ado: '92 Blues and Basslines

It's a E. Bishop "One Art" kind of day! My work laptop at home this morning (buried under some clothes for good will), my eyeglass case as I leave the parking garage (actually on my person, the old 'past self pranks present self by putting something in idiosyncratic pocket' gag) and then my wallet, lost outside of a restaurant but mercifully found by a kind person who happens to work at the Athletlic Club I go to for yoga.

New slogan for Delta Airlines - "We May Cancel 3,000 Flights, But at Least We Don't Beat You Up About It!"

(heh, wait, is the slogan for United really still "Fly the Friendly Skies"?)

April 10, 2016

Your thoughts are not your own in a hospital; your thoughts belong a little bit to the nurse who is coming to check something.
Katie Roiphe , "The Violet Hour: Great Writers at the End".

April 10, 2015

A funny set of Golden Age Superhero parodies by Kerry Callen...


April 10, 2014

April 10, 2013

One weird, ugly detail about considering putting a pet to sleep: remember all those time they *hated* going to the vet? This last time makes all the previous vet fear and loathing somehow justified, retroactively.
It is human nature to look away from illness. We don't enjoy a reminder of our own fragile mortality.
Roger Ebert.
Kinda poignant for today. (2019 update: this was about the day of his death.)

deckchairs on the titanic

April 10, 2012
For your meta-metaphoric amusement and utility, ladies and gentlemen it's the legendary deckchairs on the titanic!

--via kottke, with a bunch more photos of the famous ship. In related news, you really should see XKCD's side view infographic of lakes and oceans
We need fewer lawyers and more inventors, and stopping patent trollage is a crucial part of that.
Latest dev thoughts: semantic web and html5 fans want html to just be the "M" in "MVC". That seems quixotic to me: the basic page flow, the order things are listed, influences the look of the resulting page to a huge degree, and you can't push all of that into CSS land without committing even worse offenses.

photo catchup

April 10, 2011

You want to know something? We are still in the Dark Ages. The Dark Ages--they haven't ended yet.

heheheheheh - Buffalo Bill's Brewery Alimony Ale IPA: "It's Irreconcilably Different!" (via http://www.thoughtviper.com/newest.html )

New Blender of Love Digest!

Glad to see Pigmeat Markham getting his props @cracked: 6 Songs That Were Decades Ahead of 'Groundbreaking' Music: http://bit.ly/h6v7L6

coshocton and salamanca: you can't go home again

(1 comment)
April 10, 2010

samson earns two cookies

April 10, 2009

--Nice little piece by Ranjit and his dog Samson.

All human beings should try to learn before they die what they are running from, and to, and why.
James Thurber.
Though I'd add "...though it doesn't help"
Early AM Dream: for some reason I wanted to overlay the soundtrack to every Atari game into one cacophonous mess.
WBUR always has local news for the second part of the top-of-the-hour headlines, but I wonder what I'm missing on the national broadcast.
Boston, sans Globe, just the Hearld? The concept alone is kind of horrific.
(after I mentioned an interview that went well, with me providing a possible explanation for a Google SEO/SEM correlation)
EB: i've been geeking on robotics recently (TED presentation on war-bots)
EB: I now have vision of a warbot with "Ask me about my pagerank" painted on its chassis, standing over a torched web developer.
Running Windows on a Mac via VMWare Fusion. Was feeling physically cramped by "alt" key; realized my fingers were expecting it to be next to space. Used SharpKeys from http://randyrants.com to swap the keys and the sense of physical relief is almost tangible; kind of like what I get using a mouse after working at a desk with a touchpad.
The backsides of old printouts: not just good mousepads, also nice for jotting down TODO lists.


April 10, 2008
Just reread: The Screwtape Letters, C.S. Lewis

My UU "Science and Spirituality" group, as part of to push the balance away from the former part of its name, took on this book. I had previously read it in high school, and just retackled it today (it's a quick read). I was a bit surprised by the later addition "Screwtape Proposes a Toast", an almost Ayn Rand-ian rant against over-egalitarianism in the name of "not being undemocratic".

It was interesting stumbling over some overlap with "Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance" (TANGENTIAL RANT: why are all of Firefox spellcheck's suggestions for "Maintanence" variations of "Acquaintance"? It's such a little a+e swap that I don't see how the program is lead so far astray. This must be the fourth time I've made the same typo and been irritated by the results) -- the limits of human cognizance and the "Western Logic" view of the world.

There were a few nice turns of phrase, or of concept. "Humans are amphibians -- half spirit and half animal" is richly evocative. I suppose the logical mapping would be of the physical world to the aquatic, and the spiritual to that of the air. Also: "the union of change and permanence which we call Rhythm" is a lovely thought.

The form of the books, letters from a senior devil to his nephew who is charged with the tempting of one man during WW2 is rhetorically powerful; in particular C.S. Lewis is able to cast his opponents (Christian and otherwise) as food for demons. And some of the devil names are great: Screwtape, Wormwood, Slubgob, Toadpipe, Slumtrimpet, Triptweeze, Glubose along with clever inversions like the diabolic authority being the depths of the "Lowerarchy". Overall the book makes some good and deep points about how to live a Christian life, even if the format gives broader authority to the author than might be otherwise warranted.

Video of the Moment
And now for something completely different:

shimmy and shake

(1 comment)
April 10, 2007
If there's one thing I learned through the power of astute observation, it's this: if you value your dignity, don't use those powerful shiatsu-ish massage recliners in a public place, like, I dunno, Jordan's furniture, or Brookstone.

Video of a Previous Moment

--The secret behind the Bush presidency. I guess this explains his previous assault on German Chancellor Angela Merkel; clearly some internal German political feud.

Quote of the Moment
"I remember saying things, but I have no idea what was said. It was generally a friendly conversation."
Associated Press reporter Jack Sullivan
...as quoted by Chuck Klosterman as a preface to his book, who says Sullivan was "attempting to recount a 3 A.M. exchange we had at a dinner party and inadvertently describing the past ten years of my life".

stretch the world

April 10, 2006
--The world as stretched by incoming tourism... linked to by cellar.. this and many more at worldmapper

Aside of the Moment
Previously I had kisrael'd my preference for Dunkin' Donuts over Starbucks, framing it as kind of a classwar thing. It has another angle as well, as I discovered in Washington DC, where it was either Krispy Kreme or Au Bon Pain as my main morning options... I really prefer the way DD will have their people add the milk and sugar for you. I find something satisfying in be handed a cup of ready to drink coffee, rather than something I have to take over to a little counter, open up, open the pack of sugar, add it, find the right kind of cream or milk, add it, stir, and seal it all back up.

The former feels more like buying a finished product rather than just handed a blank cup of coffee, and I'm not so sensitive about the "perfect" amount of cream or sugar that I feel the need to micromanage it.

Judging by their radio spots, McDonalds hs figured this out as well, because they're giving "we add the cream and sugar for you!" as a selling point.

marlboro man

(1 comment)
April 10, 2005
Photos of the Moment
So, yesterday I went hiking with Ksenia, Shawn, Ellie, Ash, and Andy. While The Marlboro Trail on Mt. Monadnock is considered not too tough, the snow and ice made parts of it really challenging...especially descending. Especially while descending in the twilight! We got a late start and then the newbies took longer than expected going down, so it was dark by the time we were halfway down the trail. Luckily three of the experienced people had flashlights, and looking at the stars from this one plateau made it pretty much worthwhile. Still, it was like a seven hour hike...my knees were killing me.

So, the experienced hikers all brought those "trekking poles", like skipoles but for hiking. I got to use one for a big part of the hike and it was a huge help. Someone who knows what they're doing and using two can make incredible progress, they're like 4-footed beasties.

Incidentally, Shaw has a site, UpHillTrek, about the climbing he does with Ellie. They're pretty serious about it!

You can also see more photos from the day.

Thought of the Moment
My knees, which have been pretty much fine all my life..the left one started giving me some pain after messing about with some jogging over the past few weeks. And then yesterday both started killing me. But you know, ibuprofen really helped my knees once I got home. It's funny, I always thought of Advil and Aspirin and Tylenol and all that stuff as little more than placebos, but for certain problems they're really good stuff.

thanks, great-grandma

April 10, 2004
Dialog of the Moment
"Condoms have been around for a long time. When condoms were made of lambskin, my great-grandmother would hang them out on the clothesline to dry."
"How do you know this?"
"My mother tells really inappropriate stories."
Andy and Me at the latest Jim's Weekly Psychotronic Movie Night.

Site Feature of the Moment
I added a IM section to my best of kisrael.com page, the first subject- rather than year-based page in that. AIM chats that I bother to put up here are usually pretty funny, but still I divided them into "best of"/"second best of". Worth checking out I think, good for a quick giggle.

Cartoon of the Moment
Awesome. They've put all 20 episode of the Clone Wars 20-part microseries online...with optional director's commentary! And what's great is these episodes are so kinetic and action-based--though without forgetting about the characterization--that you might not mind the commentary even your first time through. (I ended up switching to a lower screen resolution temporarily, so the fixed-size movies were a bit bigger.)

Each episode is around 5-6 minutes long. The format works wonderfully-- not surprising when you consider how Star Wars had some of its roots in the old black and white serials, Flash Gordon and what not. If you're in a hurry, I'd suggest episodes 12 and 13, though it's all really good. The only part that really struck me as stupid is--ok, I can accept bad guy "knights" on speederbikes. Even with lances, they show how they use them to take out larger vehicles. But, then, the good guys have their squadron of speederbike guys? Fine, but with lances? And the detailing of their bikes looks a bit like their helmets? Corny, like Samus' ship in Metroid. Despite that, the cartoons had some tremendous vehicle and character design, you can glance at some of that in the main UI.
You end up wishing that the prequel movies were as good as this series. It is blatantly obvious that the fan boys take much better care of the franchise than Lucas, that they care about it and understand the appeal of it much more than good old George does.

the supremes and the soldiers

April 10, 2003
Links of the Moment
Sometimes it's interesting to be able to go back straight to the raw source, even if that's a lot of reading. Cases in point, this Supreme Court site has good search and browse facilities on all of the opinions of the court. You can read some of the famous cases or browse on subject matters that interest you. And the other night Gowen mentioned the official Pentagon site, where you can see direct transcripts from all the briefing, as well as other new releases.

Funny of the Moment
"The infidels are being crushed by our noble falling-statue forces! Soon our mighty desecrated posters of Saddam will expel the invaders!"
Speculation on what the Iraqi Information Minister will sayfrom the latest page of Get Your War On.

more than ben franklin and cheesesteak

April 10, 2002
So Ranjit mentioned PhillyClassic, a video game convention (with a classic gamer bent, though not limited to the golden oldies) I think I'd like to go to that, but would prefer not to shell out $90 for a hotel...are there any Friends of Kirk in that general area who might be willing to put me up for a night? (Friday the 26th)

Kirk Trivia: I was born in Phildephia, but only lived there for 3 months.

Koook of a Past Moment
Cleaning out my harddrive (clean harddrive, clean life) I found this program Donald D. Woods sent me on floppy, when I was about to graduate from college. It was a DOS-based text viewer for his weird rants...I think he was trying to enlist my help on something, or hire me, it was never quite clear. Anyway, once I realized The Legend & Mythology of the Seventh Son was online, I felt free to discard this little bit of kookware.

rude mood nude dude

April 10, 2001

Link of the Moment
Last night I caught the end of an HBO special on the making of Spencer Tunick's Naked States exhibit. He went across the United States, taking a picture of someone unclothed in each one. The shots are really well-crafted, and over all there's an interesting message about how we deal with body image in this culture. The documentary was interesting, the artist sounded a little whiny and neurotic.

We're such prudes about nudity in this country. I've heard people say "well, in Europe they have these topless beaches, and it's totally not a sex thing". Well, actually, no, it is about sex to some extent, and that's ok. A little dose of public sexuality is not a terrible thing. If it was, our country would be in bad shape, because the mass media is soaking in it. (And considering it's almost exclusively the pretty people who get naked on television, it's not surprising so many people have such body image issues... of course, our relationship with food doesn't help that either.) Anyway...

Quote of the Moment
"So much ouch to this life. So few Band-Aids."

I often dream about falling. Such dreams are commonplace to the ambitious or those who climb mountains. Lately I dreamed I was clutching at the face of a rock, but it would not hold. Gravel gave way. I grasped got a shrub, but it pulled loose, and in cold terror I fell into the abyss. Suddenly I realized that my fall was relative; there was no bottom and no end. A feeling of pleasure overcame me. I realized that what I embody, the principle of life, cannot be destroyed. It is written into the cosmic code, the order of the universe. As I continued to fall in the dark void, embraced by the vault of the heavens, I sang to the beauty of the starts and made my peace with the darkness.
--Heinz Pagels, physicist and quantum mechanics researcher before his death in a 1988 climbing accident
"Birds can fly, unless they are penguins and ostriches, or if they happen to be dead, or have broken wings, or are confined to cages, or have their feet stick in cement, or have undergone experiences so dreadful as to render them psychologically incapable of flight."
--Marvin Minsky (dealing with the problems knowledge systems face.)
Enjoyably, [Greg] Critser describes fast food restaurants as the bathhouses of the childhood obesity epidemic, "the places where the high-risk population indulges in high-risk behavior."
--Suck, 00-4-5
Ambition is a poor excuse for not having sense enough to be lazy.
--Charlie McCarthy
What a strange machine man is. You fill him with bread, wine, fish, and radishes, and out comes sighs, laughter, and dreams.
--Nikos Kazantzakis
A few nights ago I was thinking about the idea of New Love, or maybe more specifically sudden romance with a stranger. I haven't had that since...Jen, really.