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December

Weblog notes
The NY Times writes their obligatory Weblog article and bloggers respond. Particularly insightful (as always) is Dan H's manifestito. "I can safely say that a year plus of doing this has excited me intellectually as nearly no other undertaking has done ..." How true. Inward journals have their purpose but an outward looking weblog makes the writer research, analyze and explain what he's found. Brad from the Bradlands "recognizes and uses a distinction between a "weblog" and a "blog". To me, the former is links to Internet resources with occasional personal commentary and the latter is the opposite, nearer a diary or journal." (quoted from the metafilter thread). The writer must try to understand the concept or issue in order to comment on it to explain it to others. This is the process that I've struggled with since day one. But this is the process that is key to the concept of KIPlog, the process of turning information into knowledge.

Dan concludes that he's not doing anything different from any other writer, he just has better tools. And of course the most important tool is the Web itself.

I personally don't have a need for a tool to help me post faster, I need a tool to help me understand what's out there faster. That tool is the network of weblogs.



Another list of links to read

Web Stuff Science stuff

Weblog notes
Things have been busy around here and its been a week since I updated and the links are piling up. Of course I'm sure you're all too busy to read stuff anyway. KIPlog has grown up a bit, and gotten itself the KIPlog.com domain, which should be up and running soon. Of course this means pointers and all that messy stuff, but such is the price of progress. And it'll be easier for me to promote this blog off the Web. You try spelling out "inemanltd.com/blog" in a crowded bar. We'll let you know when things are moving. Now for some catching up.

Links I've been trying to mention for a week

Web Stuff
  • www.fatcow.com My new Web hoster. I don't really mean to give them a plug, but at $99 a year including the domain name, I've got to recommend it for anybody needing a cheap site. I've put a few domains one it and have had no problems yet.
  • Web privacy alert: Web cache timing attacks - "Web sites could force a browser to store cache cookies without the permission required of normal cookies"
  • How Carnivore Works "Very slick, and not at all nice. A true Janet Reno production in all aspects."
  • Is Too Much Access Dangerous?
Science stuff Christmas stuff

Things I found on the web today


Weird and wacky stuff about common products
The name Scotch tape actually resulted from an ethnic slur foisted upon manufacturers of the tape -- although the product does not have any connection with Scotland or the Scottish. This and many other weird facts about common products can be found in the weird facts section of wackyuses.com Find out what latin word the word vanilla stems from, learn that Saran is the trademark name for vinylidene chloride polymer and much more. The wacky uses section tells us that yogurt can cure canker sores and sooth sunburn pain, use honey to dress wounds and cure hangovers, use tea to highlight your hair or tenderize meat.
Weekend Reading
Some stuff to read before all those Christmas parties start.
The Best Toilets
A site worthy of proving that all human knowledge will soon be accessible on the Web - Besttoilets.com. Is there any more valuable knowledge than knowing where a clean public bathroom is when you need it? Reviews of public toilets in most major American cities. The Signature Lounge, (96th Floor of the John Hancock Center). "The Ladies room has floor to ceiling windows looking south. On a clear day you can see as far south at the Museum of Science and Industry and as far west as the United Center. Beats paying $12 to see the same view from the Observation Deck! And sorry, gentlemen, but I've asked--no such view from the Men's Room."
Current Events In Science
Since I get so many hits from search engines looking for "Current Events In Science" I better keep on top of things. See my list of other sites which do a better job of reporting science news.
World AIDS day
A Day without Weblogs is meant spread awareness. So like last year KIPlog offers these timely links instead of shutting down. Hopefully I can add more as the day goes on.
Reading material
Stuff I need to sit down and read.
  • James Gleick's Site Author of Chaos posts his essays on Einstein, electronic beeps, Microsoft, the internet, those "I agree" buttons on licensing agreements and more.
  • Looking for Madam Tetrachromat ...the most remarkable human mutant ever identified. Most of us have color vision based on three channels; a tetrachromat has four.
  • Design Horror stories Do I really need to read these? I've lived enough of them.


Traffic wave physics
The Physics of Gridlock "... a small and transient increase in, say, the number of cars entering a highway from a ramp can trigger a breakdown in flow, but even after the on-ramp traffic drops to its original level (in fact, even after it drops well below its original level), the traffic jam persists." I mentioned William Beatty's Physics For Bored Commuters awhile back which noted the same effect of a small fluctuation causing a large and lasting wave.
Reading list
My reading list is backing up so I thought I'd post what I've seen lately. Its a pretty ecletic list.
Cheesecake
A friend of mine helped me out by solving one of those annoying problems we all have. I had the line of a song (My succatash wish) going through my head and I couldn't place it. He identified the song as Groove is in the Heart by Dee-lite. I thanked him by sending him my Pumpkin Cheesecake recipe. Since I wrote it up, I might as well share it with everybody. And to make sure that KIPlog is not seen as one of those journally blogs with recipes but as a serious source for Web and interface design news, you will find the Jakob Nielsen Pumpkin Cheesecake Recipe below mine.

KIPlog Pumpkin Cheesecake

Ingredients
__________________
Special Equipment

9-inch springform cake pan
low cooking pan of some kind, capable of holding an inch of water

Crust

graham cracker crumbs
ginger snap cookies
1/2 stick butter


Filling

2 8-oz packages Philadelphia brand cream cheese (DO NOT USE THE LOWFAT! What would be the point?)
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup brown sugar
5 eggs
1/4 cup heavy cream
1/2 stick of butter
tsp vanilla extract
honey
cinnamon
nutmeg
ginger
Knob Creek Bourbon
1 can of pumpkin (Libby's if you can get it)
Method
__________________
Take the cream cheese and butter out of the frig for about an hour to get soft. Mash the ginger snaps into crumbs, and if you bought graham crackers instead of crumbs, mash them too.

Spread lots of butter on the bottom and sides of the springform pan, mush the rest of butter into the mashed cookies, and press the mixture into the bottom of the pan and on the sides. You won't need to go all the way up the sides perfectly, the cake won't reach that high. Put in a 325 degree oven for 5-8 minutes just to set the crust.

Mush and beat the cream cheese, butter, sugars and cream 'til mixed. In a separate bowl, lightly beat the eggs. Add the eggs slowly, a little at a time, mixing them in. Add the spices according to your taste and mix in. I like more ginger than cinnamon and more cinnamon than nutmeg. Add a dolop of honey. Add the can of pumpkin and bourbon (a shot or so). Mix 'til smooth.

Pour the filling into the pan and center the pan on square of heavy-duty foil; press to side of pan. Put the pan in the other pan with an inch of water or so. This water step can be skipped if you want a more well-done crust.

Put in a 325° oven for an hour or until the top is light brown, the filling is set and a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.

Take it out, chill for awhile (at least an hour, overnite if possible), and try not to eat the entire cake in one sitting.



Jakob Nielsen's Pumpkin Cheesecake

Summary
Although cheesecake has its role as a dessert, the above recipe tends to discourage usability for 3 reasons: it distracts users from the actual content, it introduces problems to fundamental food interaction, and it consumes resources that would be better spent eating the content.

Cheescakes encourage gratuitous baking: Since we can bake things in a cake, why not bake things in a cake? Baking clearly has its place in pumpkin interaction. However, as my food interaction guidelines discuss, that place is limited.

Studies have shown that large numbers of ingredients tend to confuse cheesecake users and distract users from the actual content. The ingredients in the above recipe tend to serve as a 'container' for the content, which is the pumpkin. In order to allow the users to better find and concentrate on the content, the additional ingredients should be eliminated.

The cheesecake GUI also causes several navigation and accessibility problems, which are solved by separation of the content from the cheescake format.

The cheesecake format causes navigation issues such as "where to make the first cut" as well as accessibilty problems caused by the availabilty of the proper serving equipment. While the majority of eaters have a knife capable of cutting the cheesecake only 54% of Americans have a pie server, much less in other countries.

The rich cheesecake format also produces a heavy tax on eating resources. It was more than three times as common for users to limit their eating to three-quarters of a piece as opposed to eating a full piece. Even when eating the "full" piece, users only eat about 75% of the crust. Eliminating the cheescake format, allows users to 'download' more of the content faster.

If cheesecake was cheap to produce and if all food content creators could make a cheesecake as easily as they can open a can of pumpkin puree, then perhaps many of these problems would be alleviated. For now, they remain serious issues. I thus recommend that food providers interested in enhancing usability use the following cheesecake recipe.

Ingredients
1 can of pumpkin puree

Method
Open the can and spread the pumpkin puree on a plate. Be sure to spread the pumpkin around the plate in a nice big pile to allow for Fitt's law.

A minority of users will not have the appropriate fork hardware. To allow for these users, provide a text-only description of the pumpkin.




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