knowledge is power Last updated - May 3

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 Archive - March 2001

     
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Some reading material


Argus and Information Architecture
Argus Associates ceased operations last week. These are the guys who literally wrote the book on Info Architecture. These smart people have a long list of successful projects, unlike many other internet consultants, and will no doubt find excellent opportunities. Comments from other IA leaders can be found in: Information World Mourns passing of Argus. Cristina Wodtke of Elegant Hack is quoted: Wodtke dismissed companies cutting spending on information architecture as "really stupid... Chrysler could stop drawing blueprints before they build the cars, but what kind of cars would they get?"

We have two clients who are moving into projects while attempting to circumvent the information planning stages. This avoidance is not so much about the extra line in the quote, but more about bringing the user on board to make decisions. I'm trying to build up strong arguments against the "design first" process. This process was enforced by Web designers of the past whose job was to put the company's identity online. We showed the company designs on boards, colors and logos and let them decide. They liked that because it was all hip and exciting to decide between a pastel or a hot pink navigation bar. Now we show them user flowcharts and wireframes and ask lots of questions that we should be asking the user. Whether it's the extra line in the quote, time constraints or the unwillingness to hear the users input, we have trouble getting those questions answered. Until we get those answers, we're still designing for the company's "internet team", and not for the user.

For more on what to show at the next internet team meeting, read Boxes and Arrows: Defining Information Architecture Deliverables by the aforementioned Wodtke. In addition to telling us what sort of pretty diagrams we can show the client, it might actually help us plan for a site that'll work for a user.

For some more meat on the subject, see my "to read" page, where I'm collecting some heavy-duty reading on IA, and other Web subjects.


I can't take it anymore
This is not doctoredI was going through some receipts in my wallet and at the bottom of one from Home Depot it said: All your base are belong to us. That's it. Stop it already. This page is very close to coming true.

The ultimate cyberfraud
How NYPD Cracked the Ultimate Cyberfraud. An amazing story of a Brooklyn busboy who stole the identities of 200 of the 400 Forbes' Richest People in America including Steven Spielberg, Martha Stewart, George Lucas, Oprah, Ross Perot and many more. "The NYPD is still trying to unravel a voluminous electronic trail to determine exactly how much Abdallah allegedly stole. They fear it could be well into the millions. " The story ends with some exhaustive police work and a detective jumping into the sunroof of the fleeing suspects Volvo.

Some Web news


Quark
Quark has made it a little more official about its plans for XPress 5.0. We will just have to wait and see how good a Web publisher it will be since they've stopped taking requests for the beta. They mention XML (some existing xtensions export style-sheeted content as XML) but there's no sign of CSS in their info sheet nor on the wishlist.

Cable modem at home
For anybody interested, I got the Airport network running: an iBook and a G3 Powerbook sharing the same cable modem via the Airport Base Station's built in IP sharing (DHCP and NAT). Anybody trying this at home, with @home - make sure you update to Airport 1.3 and be careful what you install off the @home disk they give you. Mine had the defunct MSIE 4.5 and an out of date encryption certificate updater on it.

Math
I admit, most math is beyond me, but the math discussed in this New Scientist article about Gregory Chaitin, is really mind-boggling. Chaitin discovered a number that has shaken attempts at unified theories. Omega, a number that is infinitely long and utterly incalculable (reminds me of some college algebra) "infects the whole of mathematics, placing fundamental limits on what we can know."

Cable modem at home
Well, I got my Apple Airport Base Station and it works great. I have a fast wireless Web connection. Except - I can't get or send mail anymore. It worked but now it doesn't. And I started entering all kinds of configuration combinations while I had a flu and a fever and now it's probably beyond repair. It wasn't the Airport that broke it. It was something to do with setting a new @Home email or switching the DHCP between two machines. Either way Its beyond me at this point.

New Web Weblog
I was wondering when they were going to start this: "Welcome to WebTechniques.com Daily, where select editors and industry experts keep you posted on the latest developments in Internet technology, design, and strategy. " This Web Weblog has got some meat on it. And while I'm mentioning Web Weblogs, if you build Web pages (that's build, not design and let Dreamweaver build it) you should be reading bluerobot and rudeparrot, you might learn something, I did.

Cable modem at home
After a day of playing with my new cable modem, I haven't had any complaints except that they only gave me a 6 foot ethernet line, and I expected to get my Apple Airport Base Station by now. Apparently there's a real sortage of them. Every Chicagoland dealer and Mac Catalog I called has them 'coming in this week', and they all have a back-order list of more than a hundred people. Anyway I dug up a 25 foot Cat 5 cable from work for the meantime. The connection is very fast and really shows when downloading big files.

Web stuff
  • Elegant Hack points out this immoral IA The RealPlayer registration hides opt-in preferences below the fold of a scrolling window. Had I not seen this, I would have fallen for it when upgrading a Powerbook yesterday.
  • Wanted Compass & Sextant Macaddict's Codebitch on L-shaped navigation.


Cable Modem at Home
ooooh, aaaaaah.

Science News


Knowledge
The 4th Princple of Technorealism "Information is not knowledge. All around us, information is moving faster and becoming cheaper to acquire, and the benefits are manifest. That said, the proliferation of data is also a serious challenge, requiring new measures of human discipline and skepticism. We must not confuse the thrill of acquiring or distributing information quickly with the more daunting task of converting it into knowledge and wisdom. Regardless of how advanced our computers become, we should never use them as a substitute for our own basic cognitive skills of awareness, perception, reasoning, and judgment."

This week's list of links
This time with credit!
Amazing Caves
I got a chance last night to go to a special screening of the IMax film Journey into Amazing Caves. Some awesome photography. The film features two female cavers, including Dr. Hazel Barton, who was at the screening. IMAX camera crews followed them into a cave on the wall of the Grand Canyon, down into an ice cave in Greenland and into underwater caves in the Yucatan. I wish they had focused a some more dry caves, but this is definetly worth checking out if it comes around near you.

Some science stuff
  • Pushing the Envelope on Robots Robot Dinosaurs! "Dino carries everything aboard needed to control itself - power from a bank of 55 sealed lead-acid batteries, three electric motors to move each leg, a Pentium 700 megahertz processor for each leg, and a central computer that receives commands, loads appropriate software from the onboard memory, and coordinates each leg's response."
  • Cia Uses "Data Mining" Technology to Find Nuggets "The Office of Advanced Information Technology (AIT), part of the CIA's Directorate of Science and Technology, is focused on finding solutions to the 'volume challenge.'" The article goes on to describe some heavy duty transcription and voice recognition programs.
  • The Secret History of Lead The Nation - March 2000 "Odorless, colorless and tasteless, lead can be detected only through chemical analysis. Unlike such carcinogens and killers as pesticides, most chemicals, waste oils and even radioactive materials, lead does not break down over time. It does not vaporize, and it never disappears."


Weekend reading
(Yea, like I have time)

Digital Art/Photography
Dvorak, Writing for MacWeek, points us to the amazing art of Bert Monroy. Photorealistic art, done in Photoshop and Illustrator. He's got a book on how to do it. I wish he'd share a secret or two with the rest of the Web.

For some heavy-duty Photoshop lessons check out this list of Dan Margulis's Articles and posts. Margulis is the author of the Makeready column in Electronic Publishing, which is something I should be reading every time he writes one.


Stuff to check out
Some backed-up reading and other stuff I need to jot down so I can look at with more time later.
  • Traveling Light A beautiful gallery of pinhole camera travel photography. In this day of instant digital images, it's good to see the worthwhile fruits of ten minute exposures and hand processed negatives. These images are amazing.
  • Citizen of the World: Reflections on the Murder of a Young Journalist "Sander Thoenes was a Dutch journalist, and young man of conscience, killed on assignment in East Timor on September 21st, 1999. He died trying to find out what was happening. And that is one way of telling his story."


Weblogs (inside stuff)
Zeldman with some very 'inside' jokes about Web celebs , Cam thinks Metafilter is ruined. Neale is back - Oh wait that's fiction where his blog should be, maybe not, and if I see one more All Your Base ...

Oh, here's one more thing that 99.99% of the world's population won't understand - Memecrash



Older stuff

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