Monthly Archives: January 2002

Link Sections Added

There are new link sections for Astronomy (currently listing only Celestia) and Art Projects. As always, hit the resources section for loads of great links with full descriptions and books that I recommend.

Usability Articles From IBM

Here is a whole series of articles that IBM has done on the subject of usability. Usability of software is something that not a lot of people talk about. If HotSheet were much more than just a testing platform for me I’d probably spend the time to paper prototype the interface. In fact I may do it anyway because I know just how helpful paper prototypes are at smoking out serious problems in an interface with minimal work and I’ve already gotten a couple of complaints about the UI on HotSheet. BTW, some of these might sound like they are slanted only towards web usability but at least 90% of the stuff is generic to any kind of application, it isn’t just for web based ones.


Celestia has a new release out and one of the big changes in this release is that it is now usable from within other applications. So you could build a complete educational program about the solar system and put Celestia right into the program. That’s pretty cool. I also spotted a new astronomy project I had not seen before called Stellarium. It attempts to depect what you might see if you actually go outside. That is, it displays stars but it also shows the horizon line, haze nearer the ground, etc. to make a kind of “realistic” planetarium.

Collaborative Art

Recently I’ve mentioned several collaborative art projects here in my weblog and Rockelle just found another one that looks really neat. It’s called 20 things. 20 people. 20 days. It looks really cool but I worry that the skill level may be a little over my head.
The Exquisite Corpse project has assigned partners and positions for their next round of corpses and I’m in the second position on one of them so I might get my piece to add onto fairly soon. Since the only skill need for that one is a little creativity and some Photoshop skills I’m not as concerned about participating there. Hopefully I won’t embarrass myself.


Programming is becoming more like building than it ever used to be. We still haven’t reached the kind of “Software IC” nirvanna laid out in the old book Object-Oriented Programming : An Evolutionary Approach but it’s getting there very slowly. Now you can start to pick up all these different pieces when you look around and you start to see how they might be combined together. Some are tools and some are like different colored and shaped Lego bricks. There are still horrible hurdles to be surmounted because different languages don’t necessarily mesh well, there aren’t a lot of ways to call from machine to machine and from program to program but these are gradually getting easier. XML-RPC, SOAP, XML, and languages that work with a virtual machine like Java and Python are making programs more portable and making them work together better.
This is one of those pieces I pick up periodically and it just looks like it belongs in that toolbox that I’m building mentally. It’s designed to make it easy for you to build programs that pipe XML data back and forth between them for processing. No one program might be able to do everything but given enough translators and workhorse programs to sort, chop, dice, translate, etc. it becomes possible to use something like this for tons of day to day work on everything from image processing to stock portfolio maintenance and website creation. And it would all work because XML can be treated as either a very specific thing relating only to a certain problem domain or it can be treated as a simple hierarchy of elements and attributes. But a good framework to work with it is always a start: XPipe

HotSheet Project Page Upgrade

The project page for HotSheet has undergone an upgrade. This is the new format I’ll be using for all my project pages in the future so I can include the exact same ReadMe.html file in the project itself and use it on the website. That will make sure that all the data is kept together and organized together (which it hasn’t been until now) and that it is easier to get to everything, including the developer documentation, without having to download all the source.