kohaku_wind: (huge bitch)
I needed some time to work out how I felt about a subject that seemed remarkably straightforward for a lot of people. So I took it. I reserve the right to change my mind, as always.


I am happy for the victims and responders of 9/11, and their families.

I am happy for Obama, who is finally reaping the benefits of being personally responsible for everything that occurs during the presidency. (instead of just the drawbacks)

I am happy for the Muslim community, who no longer has to worry about this asshole taking over their country or turning their troubled sons and daughters into suicidal killers. (just the other assholes like him)

I am NOT happy for my government, who created him: Osama bin Laden, the CIA-trained killer. (then taking 10 years to kill him)

I am NOT happy for my media who created him again: Osama bin Laden, the Evil Villain and Enemy of America.

I am NOT happy for my country, who even now happily swallows and regurgitates the “heroic narrative” with nary a passing glance… and probably will again.
kohaku_wind: (Default)
For some reason, going to the Twitter homepage loads the "plz accept wifi plcy kthx" screen. Perhaps not uncoincidentally, it was also the page I tried to load first. Other sites loading fine.

I guess I'll just have to live without for the next three hours... le sigh.
kohaku_wind: (ruzzilla)
Merry Christmas, World! I have a present for you.

It is called Homestuck. It is probably the best thing I found this year. Now it is yours.

It is about video games, adventuring, RPGs, the Internet, and epic heroism. With sweet music.

You’re welcome, world. Now, do you have something for me?
kohaku_wind: (Default)
I made a little clay guy with toothpicks, named Teri. Teri will be used for a model for drawing things, except I can't really figure out how to make poses without the poor guy falling over. (any ideas?)

Here's Teri (a bit squashed) with my productivity-sapping Dilbert book.

kohaku_wind: (Default)
today is no caps day.

i am glad google wave is going public, but i am kind of worried that it will still be slow on low-end computers. because that means it might be slow on phones too, and that would be bad.

or am i wrong?
kohaku_wind: (Default)
So I don't know how sensationalist this is, and far be it from me to condemn too strongly without hearing the other side of the story. But if it is true? Really Not Cool.

The World does not run on search terms, m'kay?
kohaku_wind: (Default)
So for some reason I needed to play Pokemon Blue again. Like, need need. I managed to find my old GBA with the battery case falling off, and somehow everything still worked. Beat the E4 again with my Pokemon all named after random 90s anime characters before I put it down and the batteries fell out.

Pokemon Blue was my very first video game... and also my first fandom. Before I knew what fandom was, or rp, or anything. It was just me, some dudes on a proto-forum, and really bad Suefic on my part. I'd try to excuse it saying I was twelve, but I think I rewrote it several times at 13, then 15, and by that point I really should have known better.

Somehow the game kicked off a general nostalgia trip across the web, visiting old haunts. Some people I knew then are still there and it's kind of amazing to me because I don't really stay in one place for more than a few years. Others have long gone (the Chrono Trigger site I used to be at is dead... now it's just an LJ comm that hasn't been posted to for three years. I remembered a guy who did something that was similar to There Will Be Brawl except it was on GameFAQs, it was a CYOA (choose all the horrible shit that happens!), and it was based on the Character Contest so way more characters who died horribly.

My original Pokemon fansite is also still around to my utter dismay and no I will NOT give you the url (you can find it if you really try). Or delete it, for some reason. It's so old even the spambots forgot about it.

I wonder if any good Pokemon fan games have been made.


Mar. 9th, 2010 09:37 pm
kohaku_wind: (Default)
I got paid today. Not much, nor is everything fully settled, but money is money.

It's like I'm really doing this "freelance" stuff now. Crazy.
kohaku_wind: (Default)
Crack, really addicting crack, and Hetalia.

I shall endeavor to break the addiction with the new Ace Attorney game and laundry.

...Okay I admit it this whole post was just a way to get me to do laundry.


Feb. 28th, 2010 08:25 pm
kohaku_wind: (cackle)
Holy shit, reality DOES work like shounen anime!

mind = blown.
kohaku_wind: (Default)
USA won the preliminary hockey game. They get a bye to the quarterfinals. The announcers are gloating.

You know what that means. Canada, now the underdog for the gold (which matters more than anything else let's not forget) is now going to definitely win in the finals. Crap!

...What do you mean reality doesn't work like shounen anime?


Feb. 2nd, 2010 04:15 pm
kohaku_wind: (Default)
Everything is okay. Smells like someone had the mother of all barbecues in there, but there's no water damage or heat damage. Haven't tested the hard drives yet, but they should be okay as well.

Now we just have to move.

Fire update

Feb. 2nd, 2010 12:27 pm
kohaku_wind: (Default)
They've finally deemed the building safe enough to let us in to take stock and salvage what we can.

Call me materialistic and electronically-dependent, but the top things on that list are my DS and computer. Because sitting around passive-aggressively fighting over who gets the slow-ass computer here is driving me insane.

Oh, and look! We made the news!


Alas, I did not appear on TV. Just imagine me standing behind and to the right during the indoor interview with a dumb "holy-shit-it's-a-newsman" look on my face. Maybe if there were a mirror on the scene... Also not pictured: a very irritated landlady behind the cameraman.

They made it seem much more like a big deal than it actually felt, but probably about as much as it actually was. Weird.

Pictures: http://www.berwynfirecompany.org/incidents.cfm (Our apartment is not pictured. You can imagine it in the 6th picture down on the second floor and to the right)
kohaku_wind: (Default)
From [livejournal.com profile] arctangent:

1) How's the job hunt going?

Not great... nowadays I'm entirely domestic. I've given up on chasing anything that requires me to move away because of Mom (or for full-time work for the same reason) . Having applied to JET (again) I'm thinking of getting a local part-time job.

2) How's the Philly dating scene?

Having not been outside the apartment outside of food shopping and other errands, I would not know.

3) Recommend me a game to play that you're reasonably sure I haven't played that would be my kind of thing.

Pheonix Wright, or if you don't have a DS, Okami.

4) If you could resurrect someone who died in the past year, who would it be?

Hard to say. No one I knew well died last year. And despite the swath of celebrity deaths, most of them had very little influence on my life. Aside from the ones I regret because their obituaries seemed interesting... I guess I'll say Michael Jackson since if Mom knew I used a res on someone else famous who I didn't even really know much about instead of him, I'd have some 'splaining to do. =P (also there's an overdone Thriller joke in there someway)

5) What's the most interesting thing that's happened in your life I don't yet know about?

Uh... that would require interesting things to happen in my life. I guess that I'm running an online Exalted campaign (with the old group) that hasn't imploded yet...

I guess meme etiquette demand that I give questions to people who ask.

I live!

May. 20th, 2009 06:31 pm
kohaku_wind: (Default)
I've finished my work at least. Now there's nothing left to do except wait on the results of my theory exam. (boo! Hiss!)

I was technically finished last night, but it really hasn't hit me until now that I'm finally free.... to do all the things I've pushed off in favor of work and worry. Like clean my room! And take pictures of flowers! And post resumes!

My path is set. For the next week and a half. Even if I don't see it quite yet.
kohaku_wind: (Default)
It's been a while since the last one, so let me give the short version of what I talked about last time.

1) Interface bloat = bad, customization = good. (caveat: feature bloat is REALLY bad)
2) Any computer program augments your memory, rather than replace it. Attempting to consolidate your scatterbrained userbase means you have to implement multiple ways of finding and filing.

And let me add one more:

3) Accessibility is sexy. There are two basic functions of all note-taking programs: to save knowledge you've seen and to create, sort, and modify information you have. Both should be equally accessible.

The first task is easy but requires instantaneous response, from wherever a user finds data they want to save. Browser extensions are sweet here, but nowadays fairly common. Apps for mobile devices are good too.

The second task is the real problem, because it requires a lot of planning and integration of stuff I've talked about before. In addition to adding new notes, users need to modify old notes, and move notes from filing to filing (assume for the moment we've solved the search problem). This should be just as easy as creating new notes. The dedicated portion of your userbase will probably use these features more often then the ability to just create new notes. The vocal portion of your userbase (the writers) definately will, although in this day and age that doesn't mean much.

Google Notebook was king here, and it remains unsurpassed in this field. Equaled, with programs like OneNote and services such as UberNote, but unsurpassed.

Next post on the topic will be short and serve to highlight conventions that programs often use. After that will probably come the rundown, although I'm not looking forward to it (one reason why I haven't posted on this much is that I haven't made a decision on what to use)
kohaku_wind: (Default)
My laptop keyboard finally snapped and went on a rampage. And by "went on a rampage" I mean stopped registering a bunch of keys and switching another bunch. (not new problem, but previously manageable through heat-related voodoo) I have a new one now, but it only underscores the fact that my laptop is going through its last gasps.

Oh, and Thursday I'm going down to DC for the Career Expo thingy (hey look ma, a career fair that hasn't been canceled down to economic downturn... because it's mostly government anyway). I suspect I will be ready to torch the place by the end, but I guess that's why it only last a few hours.
kohaku_wind: (Default)
Shocking, ain't it? I'm actually *following up* on a crazy idea I had. Part 1 of this series is here. Part 3 should come within the next few days.

Anyway, two days ago I talked about FLO, or the rule that given limited computing power, you're best off prioritizing your tasks and speeding the high-priorities as much as you can--and even if every individual task is just as important as every other task (to you), the nature of computers means that it is best to prioritize the ones you'll use the most often.

Today I'm going to blather discuss other aspects of notebook program design, as well as the philosophies of users who choose them. It's kind of boring, but it'll lead into an actual practical discussion of actual programs at some later date.

Organization: Hierarchical vs Freeform

This is an old idea, so I'm doubtlessly retreading a lot of ground.

A History

Basically, when you're organizing crap you'd like to save on your computer, you need to be able to find it again. In the bad old days, searching was computationally expensive and searching for every fucking thing you ever saved was annoying, so your best bet was to create a hierarchical file system with a root directory up at the top and everything else as a subdirectory of that. When the user wanted to save something, he'd think of the best place to put it, put it there, and hope he'd remember it the next time he wanted it. If not... well, there were still search functions.

Even when searching got faster (mostly, caching got more practical), hierarchical organization stuck around (see, Mac operating systems). Why? Because it turns out that grouping things the way you'd see them in a hierarchical system helps people remember them. People have trouble remembering lists of things longer than a certain number (an average of four or five, if I recall the study correctly), but they are able to do so easier if they form little subdivisions in their mind and shunting the objects into those categories, or informally, "chunking."

Enter "tagging," or freeform association. This created groups that aided chunking the way a hierarchy did, but made it possible for cross-references to exist easily, and manually create hierarchies based on the intersections between tags. It also let you make nifty tag clouds.

The Problem, and the Compromise

The issue with tagging is that it requires as much management as a hierarchical format, in order to prevent "tagsplosion" or the creation of too many tags for you to handle. In addition, creating meaningful tags takes more thought than good folder names. Hierarchy provides context--without that context, it is imperative that you know what the tag means instantly, or else it is no good. Unintentional tag duplication can be a problem too, especially if you have hundreds of them and you haven't used some in months.

This is not really a problem if your categories are broad and, more importantly, your use of the system is limited to one sphere of activity. It works great for email and topical blogs, both of which provide needed context, and their limited use prevents too many categories from being created.

However, a note-taking program is often more than either of these things. There's a reason why I use the term "brain extension" seriously. The collapse of many disparate systems of thought, and spheres of activity (work, culture, play) into one tool, make a good organizational system imperative.

Defense of the Packrat: (One Reason) Why I'll Miss Google Notebook

Most of the problems that arise with both tags and hierarchies can be ameliorated with a good spring cleaning every once in a while. Throw out old things as you introduce new ones. That's a good way to reduce clutter, but here's the thing: not only are we losing something every time we do it, but thanks to cheap HD space, we don't really have to do that anymore. If knowledge is power, we are better off using it than throwing it away.

I hold to the motto "Keep Everything, And Use It Wisely." whenever I can. It is a bad habit in many cases, but in a world with virtual storage, it is significantly more practical.

One reason Google Notebook was perfect because it combined the ideas behind hierarchical organization and freeform organization, and ended up being more than the sum of its parts.

Hierarchy-wise, you had notebooks and notes. Notes were just text boxes that gNotebook automatically created for you. If you wanted to go to a specific note within the notebook, you "collapsed" the notes into the first few words of the note. You could use this feature to add titles at the top, and the result was that a fully collapsed notebook functioned like a table of contents.

You also had labels. Functionally, notebooks were just labels that were more important than normal labels. But using them in conjunction each other could be tremendously useful. Once you were in the notebook, gNotebook could show you a list of all tags *just* for that notebook. Not 200 tags for all the notebooks you owned; just 20 or so for the tags in a notebook. It tremendously increased the power of a simple organizational system, while maintaining the flexibility associated with free-form association. In addition, hierarchical notebooks provided for large groupings without having to add the same tag twenty times.

Finally, gNotebook featured nested sorting and filtering. What you could do with a Notebook (list all tags *just* in that notebook), you can do with individual labels themselves.

And there was the ability to search notebooks as well, and filter results *again* by tagging. The end result was that gNotebook made it really damn easy to find things. It also made it easy to change your organization on the fly (why that might or might not be important is a subject for tomorrow)

So that's an overview on the organizational philosophies. Next time I'll start back up on FLO, and how it applies to user-interfaces and the difficulty of developing good interfaces in feature-rich programs.
kohaku_wind: (Default)
Note: Part 1 can be found here.

As everyone who actually cares about the issue doubtlessly knows, Google Notebook was kicked out of the family about two weeks ago. Service will continue, development will not. Most notably development of the Firefox plugin which needs constant updating along with FF in order to not spiral into unusability. So, a bit of a problem. The plugin is damn useful and a large part of why I picked up gNotebook in the first place, ditching Treepad (more on that later).

This has given me the opportunity to examine what my requirements are as they pertain to these kinds of things, as well as view a great many other opinions on the matter.

It all leads to one conclusion: there is no perfect universal notetaking software, because there is no one universal user. (cue the "duhs" from the audience)

This is in part because of the First Law of Optimization (as related by one of my CS professors), which reads approximately as follows: the more important the task, the faster accomplishing that task should be. You can word it slightly differently depending on whether you're optimizing UIs or computer architectures or toaster settings but it's the same gist each time.

Optimizing note-taking software is mostly a matter of optimizing the UI. Doing so requires close attention to both the organization of the computer and the brain of the user. The FLO then becomes the following, from the user's perspective: The more frequently I need to do something, the faster it needs to be. A clever UI accomplishes this, providing an optimal fit for the user's brain, accomplishing a set list of tasks in a minimum of actions. Good implementation makes this UI possible without major delays (more important than a lot of web-designers realize)

With that in mind, there are several considerations to be made when designing this kind of software, and the issues at hand aren't always obvious. I'm giving a rundown here of the kinds of issues that are important to me.

1. Online vs Offline

There are many, many note-taking programs in both camps here. Foremost among the offline crowd is Microsoft's OneNote, a heavy duty, feature-rich monolith of corporate power and awesome (in the medieval sense of the word). More modest (and numerous) online offerings include the (mostly deceased) Google Notebook, Evernote, Ubernote, Zoho Notebook... and even more that I won't cover unless someone asks me about them.

There are two issues at play here when deciding whether to go with an offline or online service. (if one must choose; we will see that you can combine both if you're willing to spend the money). The first is data accessibility. This is an old debate: is it better to store your data on your computer or online? Storing your data on the computer invites data loss if something happens to it (preventable with backups) Storing your data online invites data loss if the company goes belly-up. Storing your data online lets you access it from anywhere you have a web-browser, whereas an offline service forces you to transfer files every time you switch computers. How important that is depends on how often you want to do that.

But that's obvious. What isn't so obvious is the second issue: User Interface Adaptability. This follows from the idea of user's FLO: common tasks (such as creating a new page or retagging a note) should be accomplished in a single click, with a single button. This isn't a problem if your program has only a few functions. However, the more bells and whistles a program boasts, the more buttons you need. Carefully designed layouts are required to ensure that the user finds the function they need with a minimum of delays and confusion. That won't be enough, eventually. Buttons become menus, which are useful for program functions that a) are needed less often and b) are easily grouped within the user's mind. What determines how functions are grouped, and how often they are needed? Ultimately, the user.

Ideally you want an infinitely customizable interface (with good defaults). However, that's not nearly as easy to do on the web as it is with a vanilla windowed program. In fact, I have not seen a single note-taking program with an customizable interface, and the closest anyone has gotten has been collapsible windows in the sidebar. On the other hand, OneNote is king here. OneNote doesn't *have* to come up with the ultimate interface, it just has to come up with a decent one and show the user how to change it.

Tomorrow (or Wednesday, or next week, or whatever) I'll look at other design choices are involved in making note-taking programs. Sometime after that I plan to give a rundown of the various programs (Evernote, Zoho, One Note, uberNote, tree-based note programs, and anything YOU use yourself), using a crazy dwarf-related task that most people wouldn't think of when they think of note-taking programs.

(Except me. Mother always said I was a "special" child)
kohaku_wind: (Default)
So it appears that someone *else* from BoingBoing turns out to be a passive-aggressive douche-wazzle. In this case, a racist one. Xeni gave a sortof-apology about the Violet Blue incident; let's see if this even garners enough publicity to force Teresa Nielsen Hayden to do the same. (probably not; this is lj after all)
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