Freebase Parallax

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A year ago - reminiscing

This was written a year ago on 23.10.2009 on myPGR blog.

Is 4 am, so excuse my language Great Britain!

End of September 2009.

We were on a boat (a small one) with friends having a lunch just two days before my flight to UK. This is something we do once in a while. We sit on a boat in the middle of a bay in the north of Adriatic sea, eat lunch and drink a beer (or two). Once in a while some of us feeds a seagull but we don't talk too much. It's really nice to listen to the sea and enjoy the sun. So there I was, thinking about my journey for the next three years and not really paying attention of what was going on around me .... and I fell of the boat. The sea was still decently warm at the end of September. But my phone, wallet and glasses did not agree :).

Three days later I was walking down the Market street with one of my bags over the shoulder and the other one slowly following me a meter behind me. It was drizzling so I thought to myself: "Is not even that bad. I was wet three days ago and I gonna be wet for another three years". No one around me had an umbrella. And you know how it goes "When in Rome ...". So I didn't take mine out either just to bleeeeend into the new environment. This was a great start of my journey. I found my room two hours later and took the rest of the day off - IN BED.

To my surprise I woke up in the sunny morning. Good morning Tuesday! The Fresher's week. Societies, Colleges, introduction lectures, Beer, Food, brochures, Beer, welcome lectures, induction lectures, Beer, more lectures, NHS, registration, papers, beer, library, ISS, services here and services there, MyPGR, travel information, walk, BBQ, Beer, bank account, money and management, ResNet, WiiNet, Xbox 360 (where did this one came from) ...  At the end of each day my head was full of information that was not going to be categorized because there was simply not place for it. I probably looked really miserable. A french girl came to me and said with a really charming french accent: "You seam to be lost as much as I am". Thanks, that was kind of reassuring me that I took the right path in my life. But I got me a new friend with a charming accent!

I found a lecture in my Guide titled GETTING USED TO LIFE IN GREAT BRITAIN. This should get me going. I sat down on a chair in George Fox and turned myself in one big ear. There she was talking to a bunch of international students about how this society is build on individuals, how kids get independent when they are 18, how failing to complete your studies is not such a big deal, that we should visit pubs as they hold a lot of social activities and that British students drink a lot of beer. But the best way to fight a cultural shock is to start doing things the same way as locals do them and then she added: "When in Rome do as the Romans do". A  smile came to my face and I mumbled: "We are all gonna be drunk for the next three years" :). I'm gonna like it here.

The third week is over and I start enjoying my life here. I bought a second hand bike. I got my British bank account and no money on it (I still have a fortune on my home bank account). Been to the city in pubs, cinema, theater and salsa dancing lecture (with my Mexican roommates). I visited a pool few times (got to keep me fit) and Grad Bar a few times (got to get my belly growing). Had a friend from Oxford over. I even met four other students from my own country (we are only 2 million and my chances to meet someone here were less than 0). So things do not differ much from my previous life. And at the end of the journey I'll look over my shoulder and I'll whisper to myself with a sigh:

Somewhere ages and ages hence:

two roads diverged in a wood, and I --

I took the one less traveled by,

And that has made all the difference.

(by Robert Frost)

Operating sliding door

This doors can be found on (I think Pendolino) trains of a certain train operating company. They have nice big buttons which are nice to play with too (ask kids!).

One thing that bothers me is the distance between the warning button on the top saying "door locked" and "door unlocked" and the lock L button. The warning button is on the top because it has to be in the sight level to bee seen. The lock button is in my opinion too far away from it. They should be either together or even integrated on the top (in the sight level).

I'm also not sure why the lock button has an L on it but it sure isn't Braile. A lock icon would be a nice sign replacing L. The button for opening the door doesn't have an O on it. So why don't keep buttons consistent? Thinking of it, many designers don't like metaphors because they argue that text is more informative. I prefer both; why not helping people with text and visual clues (like some computer applications that have icons and text under them in toolbars)? The lock icon could even change form unlocked to locked and vice versa, besides the text warnings "door locked" and "door unlocked".

I like the arrows pointing to the buttons below them :)! What if these labels would be written on the buttons instead? On the yellow part for example.

Inky: A Sloppy Command Line for the Web

Inky is a nice application that helps filling up the web forms like reserving a room, writing an email, ... But unfortunately is not available to download. Who remembers Mozilla Ubiquity mashups? Is "command line interface" (in a sense :)) the future of web browsing?

ABSTRACT from the paper Inky: A Sloppy Command Line for the Web [PDF]

We present Inky, a command line for shortcut access to common web tasks. Inky aims to capture the efficiency benefits of typed commands while mitigating their usability problems. Inky commands have little or no new syntax to learn, and the system displays rich visual feedback while the user is typing, including missing parameters and con- textual information automatically clipped from the target web site. Inky is an example of a new kind of hybrid be- tween a command line and a GUI interface. We describe the design and implementation of two prototypes of this idea, and report the results of a field study.

Taps 5

I had a conversation with Alan once about the sink water taps. He doesn't like automatic taps because it's difficult to understand how to get them to work. Just imagine how many times you waved around the tap to to start the water flow.

Someone came with this nice idea which can be seen on the photo below. The front of the tap is a sensor and the image on it shows what to do: wave to the tap :).