/*sidenote tool from arc90 */ /* end of Google Analytics code */ A Random Pattern: September 2005

A Random Pattern

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Riddle Challenge - Blifaloo.com

Riddle Challenge - Blifaloo.com

Blifaloo.com Riddle/Puzzle Challege Thingy

Can you complete our first set of 5 riddles?

Click here to go to the first puzzle, after completing it you will be taken to the next challenge. Or, read below for more info and hints.

Here starts a new series of posts introducing you to some fun web puzzles, or riddles. I've started you off easy, this one's got plenty of hints, and will give you a good idea of the tools you'll need for the next challenges. I'll put another puzzle up in a few days, after you've had a chance to conquer this one. Post in the comments if you're desperate for a hint. I don't give away answers easily, but if you're stuck I'll gladly give you a little push in the right direction.

Sunday, September 25, 2005

Communication Nation: Picasso on "getting things done"

Communication Nation: Picasso on "getting things done"

To search means nothing. To find is the thing.

Take a look at this comic - this is a philosophy that I think by and large escaped my generation. The internet doesn't necessarily help here - it encourages searching, but not necessarily finding.

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

BOTW: Jensen Harris: An Office User Interface Blog

I'm expanding my "Podcast of the Week" series (which hasn't run in, oh, 2 months maybe) to include Blogs. Maybe I'll come up with a new title, something catchy like "Interesting Internet Auditory or Visual Source of the Week"...

Here's a quote from this week's selected Blog, which I just found tonight:

Jensen Harris: An Office User Interface Blog

One of the concepts behind the Ribbon is that it's the one and only place to look for functionality in the product. If you want to look through Word 2003 to find an unfamiliar command, you need to look through 3 levels of hierarchical menus, open up 31 toolbars and peruse about 20 Task Panes. It's hard to formulate a "hunting" strategy to find the thing you're looking for because there's no logical path through all of the UI.

Office "12" consolidates all of the entry points into one place: the Ribbon. So if you're trying to find a feature and don't know where it is, the scope of your search is drastically reduced. Click on the leftmost tab, and click across the tabs until you reach the end. That it. It's either there or it's not--there are no other "rocks" to look under, no other places we've hidden functionality. We've found in early tests that people find it easier to discover how to do new things in the Ribbon, and they're more apt to explore the UI looking for better ways to get things done.

There are a few reasons I'm so excited about this blog:
1. I've developed a strong interest in Usability, especially since the software team at my company made the mistake of letting me get involved in a Design document for one of the major interfaces in our software.
2. I create, edit, and use documents created with Microsoft Office constantly.
3. B/c for once, Microsoft seems to really be nailing something on the head, which is good for the whole world (at least in some ways).

So watch the video before you critique the new design. I have to say it's probably one of the biggest usability improvements I've seen in software since I've been using computers (which isn't all that long, really). It's certainly one that has the potential for the biggest improvement for my day-to-day activities. Oh, and if you have a suggestion for a better title for my weekly suggestion, throw it in the comments. I'll be sure to respond.


Tonight after dinner Tessa wanted to get down from the table. Since we're working with her on potty training, Mommy wanted her to say "Yes Potty", and said and signed this for Tessa. Tessa had asked to get out and go play, so she kept saying "No" to Mommy's guidance...until it became clear to her that Mommy wasn't getting her out until she said what Mommy wanted.

So she said "Yes", paused, and then said "Play". Not Yes Potty, Yes Play. She knows what she wants! I couldn't help but laugh out loud, which made Tessa happy enough to give in. :)

Sunday, September 11, 2005

Pop Star in the making - yeah, she's cool.
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Ha - guess who's learning how much fun rasberries are? :)
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Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Something Positive in the World

On my commute I read a free local paper, the Express. Today I stumbled upon a positive article that I want to share with you.

Title:EU Nations Rush Storm Aid to U.S.


-Countries of all sizes prep supplies, workers for Katrina's aftermath

-Greece put on standby two cruise ships to house refugees and Sweden has offered aircraft to help distribute aid shipments,

Picture Caption:
-French Red Cross workers are briefed on sunday prior to departing from Roissy airport in Paris to assist in the Hurricane Katrina recovery effort.

Boy, did this make my day. In the literal storm of negativity we have seen regarding this disaster, especially on message boards and forums the world over, this is a beautiful reminder. We're all in this together, and many of us from every tribe and culture realize this. These people that are helping see past all the cultural and political nonsense to the hurting people, and instead of talking about it get up and start helping. It's inspiring.

I'm sure you can find internet articles that cover this same topic, and if I find any I'll post the link here, but for now leave comments if you know anyone that's mobilized to help in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, or if you've done anything yourself.

(Edit: 9:42 p.m. - link to article washingtonpost.com/express. Free registration required, or if you are using Firefox you can get the BugMeNot extension, then just use that instead. Email or comment if you want more info about that.)

Sunday, September 04, 2005

Asa Dotzler - Firefox and more: firefox is too complex

Asa Dotzler - Firefox and more: firefox is too complex

Over the last few months I've been at several geek conferences -- Gnomedex, OSCON, FooCamp -- and a couple others. One of the questions I got a lot of was 'what kind of new features can we expect in the upcoming Firefox releases?' My answer was something like 'I'd be pleased as punch if we could remove a couple features for the upcoming Firefox release. A feature is a flaming hoop we make our users jump through and if we're doing our jobs -- writing software that actually works for people -- we'd be removing those hoops, not adding more.'"
(via Asa's blog)

Ah, a software developer with a wonderful point of view. This is why I support and love Firefox - the focus is very solidly on the user. It's not on how it'd be cool to ___, it's on making everything easier and better for the regular user. This was the original vision with the computer and the internet, but we've gradually gotten so wrapped up in computing that now "power users" expect to be able to play with and do all kinds of cool things with software, when they really shouldn't ever need or want to be power users to begin with! The software should get out of the way, and let you do whatever it is you're trying to accomplish!

Saturday, September 03, 2005

Time of Your Life

For those of you who have played any of the Myst video games, or read any of the books....
Cyan Worlds Layoff

Time of your life

Almost all of Cyan Worlds, Inc. was laid off today, including me. I know with the talent we have here people will find new places to go and do great things. It’s sad to see a company with such talented people to basicly expire. I don’t blame anyone for it happening. So today we had a company meeting in which Rand said some kind final words. Then we had a hamburger and goodbye gathering. Over the last few weeks leading to this point many of us had the hope that something would come up, but it didn’t happen. I will try to stay in Spokane as long as I can. I got some really good things going for me right now here and I hate to see that just dust in the wind.
So, as Green Days Time of Your life is playing on the company intercom system.

“Another turning point, a fork stuck in the road
Time grabs you by the wrist, directs you where to go
So make the best of this test, and don't ask why
It's not a question, but a lesson learned in time

It's something unpredictable, but in the end it's right.
I hope you had the time of your life.”

I did... (Raises glass) Here is to the future.

Truly a bittersweet announcement. Some people reading this found it difficult to be philosophical - I find it difficult not to be. At such times, then is our chance to escape the bland and mindlessness we can get trapped in. Then is our chance to really question the path that we're on, to see the limited time we have, to ponder if we will see what we want to see when we look back from the end of our lives. Have you actually faced the reality of where you are in life, compared to where you thought you would be? Are you on the right path?

OpinionJournal - Why the Salvation Army beats the Red Cross

As you may have noticed, I have a link to the charity group World Vision on my blog, where they have a Hurricane Katrina fund. Although the majority of web links I've seen go to the Red Cross, there are a few reasons I provided a link to a different charity. One of them is that I regularly donate to World Vision, and have reason to be confident that they are responsible with the money given to them. The other reason is b/c of articles like this one: OpinionJournal - Featured Article: "Advantage: God
Why the Salvation Army beats the Red Cross.


Sunday, November 25, 2001 12:01 a.m. EST

The American Red Cross ran up a white flag recently, surrendering to critics who had accused it of bait-and-switch fund raising by planning to hold back more than half of the $543 million it had raised for victims of the Sept. 11 attacks. Officials pledged that just about all of the money (minus $49 million for overhead) would go to the victims for whom it had been given. Red Cross president Bernadine Healy had already resigned from her $450,010 position, but not before suffering a tongue-lashing from Rep. Bart Stupak (D., Mich.). Reporting that some of his constituents had driven to New York City to give the Red Cross a check, Mr. Stupak said, 'They expected that check to be used now, not two years from now.'"


"The pattern indicates a Red Cross perspective that is logical but tin-eared. Red Cross officials emphasize long-term planning rather than short-term reacting. They justifiably worry about a media-driven populace's tendency to write checks based on television coverage. They pay well, and don't see anything wrong in the CEO of a billion-dollar philanthropic outfit, who can't even receive stock options, earning big bucks.

The response of public opinion: Charities are different. They are expected to be bold and courageous, risking all like New York City firemen running into buildings when everyone else is rushing out. Leaders who play by normal business rules and pay themselves normal business salaries are stung.

Nor is this an impractical reaction. The evidence shows you don't have to be as heavily bureaucratized as the Red Cross (or the United Way, which has also been scandal-ridden) to be effective in the crunch. The $2.1 billion Salvation Army USA shows a different way to help. Peter Drucker has called the army the "most effective organization in the United States. No one even comes close to it with respect to clarity of mission, ability to innovate, measurable results, dedication, and putting money to maximum use."

This is an eye-opening article. As we prepare and pray about starting missions at our church, information like this is valuable to me. It is so easy for us to worry about the future, when we need to be dealing with the now - God has already told us He'll take care of the future.

Please pray for the people of New Orleans. You can also pray for the churches there, and the rescue and relief workers pouring in. We here at Common Ground Church will be praying about how we can help. We're considering sending a team to New Orleans. I pray that God will guide us to His will, as he works all things for the good of those who love Him.

Thursday, September 01, 2005

Your chance to make a difference in the world

Please consider donating to help out with hurricane Katrina! This is a true catastrophe, and lives are devastated. This is your chance to make a difference in the world.
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Oh, to be a baby! (Am I the only one that thinks she looks like a roll of lifesavers?) :)
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