Example of webdesign misunderstanding

When building websites, a conflict often arises between what the owner of the website thinks is required on the site and what the visitors to such a website are looking for.  More often than not, the owner of the website has no idea of what is useful and what is not.  More often than not, the designer of the website doesn’t think about what is important and what is not.  The result – a website that even though is packed with information, is useless. An agony for everyone – owner, visitor, and designer.   This xkcd comic illustrates the situation nicely.

How cheap e-readers can go?

The Wall Street Journal asks the question – “How low will e-readers prices go?

The $99 e-reader announcement comes after Amazon’s announcement of a $139 Kindle, and after Amazon, Barnes and Noble and Sony all lowered prices on their gadgets in the wake of Apple’s iPad release. As Amazon prepares to release a $139 Kindle e-reader next month, could even cheaper e-readers be close behind?

I think they are.  They should eventually get much cheaper.   One thing that makes e-readers different from the rest of the computer technology is that they are often produced and sold not by hardware companies, but by book selling companies.  While it’s nice to get some extra cash from the hardware, the main goal of the book selling business is to sell books.  The more books they sell, the better they are.  E-reader is the device that helps them sell more books.   So if that is going to drive their business up, book selling companies can cover the big chunk of e-reader costs by extra profits.

Also, unlike the rest of the computing world, I think e-readers will remain rather simplistic.  They are domain-specific devices, with very specific needs – readable display, long lasting battery and simplicity. The more bells and whistles you put in, the complicated it becomes and the more battery it drains.  Plus, I think by now everyone already has either a laptop or a mobile device that has all the bells and whistles.  E-reader is good for disconnecting, even if shortly, from the rest of the world.

Looking back, we’ve seen a number of simple domain-specific electronics.  Such as calculators and electronic translators.  While they are mostly replaced by modern mobile phones, you can still buy them.  And the prices are very low, not anywhere near to how they used to be. Electronic translators come as cheap as $16 and calculators are from $4, via a quick Google search.  I’m sure if you look deeper, you’ll find them cheaper.

If e-readers will get any more complicated or expensive, one of the things that might happen with them is subscription business.  Similar to how it is now with mobile phones and telecom companies.  You pay subscription fees or membership or something, and you get a device with your contract.  And then you pay for some books (new editions or bestsellers) like for international calls and you get some free (public domain works, blogs, news via RSS, etc).

That’s all, of course, assuming reading books won’t just die over.  Like so many other beautiful things.

Louis CK stand-up comedy

Here is something to make you smile – stand-up comedy by Louis CK.  Funny and realistic – the kind that you might have thought yourself, but never spoke aloud. Especially if you are married.  Especially if you are married with kids.  Part 1

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O5HS65bO_Og]

Follow related videos for part 2, part 3, and part 4, and more.

Appreciate your sysadmin. At least today.

Today is the System Administrator Appreciation Day.  I wish a happy sysadmin day to everyone who ever took their time to answer a stupid question for a billionth time without resolving to violence, to everyone who ever spent a night or a weekend in the office fixing a problem that he didn’t create, to everyone who makes IT infrastructure invisible until there is a problem, to everyone who spent their own free time to make things better for the rest of the world, to everyone who despite working hard and taking a lot of initiative is often the first person to blame, to everyone who spent hours in the freezing datacenters or on pan-frying roofs or in dark and stinky basements, to everyone who’s mobile phone receives dozens of SMS messages every hour 24×7, to everyone who’s mobile number is posted on all office white-boards with the caption “Emergency”, to everyone … you got the idea.

If you know a sysadmin, take a minute of your time, go and say “Thank you”.  If you have some change in your pocket, buy your sysadmin a pint of beer.  If you are a hot girl, go give him a kiss and a hug.  Or her.  If you are not a sysadmin, you don’t have and probably won’t ever have an idea of how hard these people work to make your life easier.  It’s their day today.

If you still don’t understand what sysadmins do, have a look here.

Day in brief

Robots disallow

Andrey forwarded me a link to last.fm robots.txt file, which, as many other robots.txt files, forbids search engine bots to access certain areas of the site.  This one however does a little bit of more.  For machines, it serves as the reminder of Three Rules of Robotics by Isaac Asimov.  For humans, it provides a tiny bit of geek humor.  Here is a screenshot, in case it disappears over time.

Red Hat contributions to Gnome

Via this rant, I learned about this report, which shows who contributes the most to the Gnome project.  I knew that Red Hat was doing a lot of Gnome, but I never knew how much it actually was.

Red Hat are the biggest contributor to the GNOME project and its core dependencies. Red Hat employees have made almost 17% of all commits we measured, and 11 of the top 20 GNOME committers of all time are current or past Red Hat employees. Novell and Collabora are also on the podium.

Way to go, Red Hat!