Erik I

My public writing. You can reach me at @eitland@mstdn.io

Filed under #art and #guerillaArt

A clock with no hands.

My guess is this wasn't planned, but then again in practice there often is little difference between certain kinds of art and just a messed product, isn't it ;–)

Filed under #tools and #observations

Update: made quite a few edits, footnotes/references should align now.

Scott Hanselmann writes: Introducing open source Windows 10 PowerToys.

With playful reference to https://blog.enoch.kim/the-year-of-the-linux-desktop-is-further-away-than-ever-before which I enjoyed reading and which seems to be a mostly true description of the state of the art:

The Year of the Linux Desktop is Further Away Than Ever Before

An incredibly long diatribe of my struggles moving back to Linux

I'll say right off the bat that Windows is the not the ideal OS. I recently set out to put a Linux distro back on my laptop after growing frustrated with my Windows install...

Especially the part about making a bootable usb stick is relatable to me: when I am happy with my setup I leave it alone and work so until recently the last I installed Linux was sometime back in 2016 or so. Trying to install Linux this year has been a pain until I realized balena etcher is the only tool that works reliably now. After that however I haven't had many of the problems mentioned – but that is only because I know better and usually go straight for the worlds best desktop environment[0][1] instead of trying to make Gnome usable for me ;–)

Personally however I mostly use Linux except when customers demand I use Windows. Using Windows mostly isn't a problem at all, except for testing my patience, but my patience kind of depends on the situation, and if somebody pays me to send 50% longer time waiting for builds I'm fine with that[2].

[0]: The best distro I found is availble here: https://neon.kde.org/

[1]: Of course, beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Sometimes I think rationality is as well. I even know smart, extremely productive programmers, way better than me who use Mac, but if I didn't I wouldn't believe it, at least not right away.

[2]: But if you are a programmer and don't ever get annoyed by waiting for your computer then maybe one or more of you, your employer and/or customers could maybe[3] benefit if you studied “Three great virtues of a programmer” (quoted from Larry Wall himself in his “Programming Perl”, 2nd edition according to that site).

[3]: Alternatively if you program in a mainstream language and everything is super smooth you should feel free to make a blog post about your setup and tell me about it, contact details in the pinned about page, probably visible as a link on top of this page.

Filed under #lifeInNorway and #politics

So we just had local, i.e. county level and municipality level elections a week ago or so.

The funny part? Every major news outlet seems to have gotten it wrong and wrote about national politics, interviewing the same top politicians again and again on topics related to national elections.

It might actually be worse, depending on how you look at it: I guess they knew very well, and just decided to make entertainment out of it instead of being journalists.

I see myself as someone who roots for journalists, I buy more newspapers that I read and I generally defend them, but sometimes the criticism of mainstream news outlets is really fair IMO.

Filed under #observations and #lifeInNorway

My watch says it is almost eight in the evening. I'm on my way home from work.

Another fighter is in the air. I like the sound of them. Hope we never have to use them for real.

And, kind-of-ironically-but-not-really, keeping a strong defense seems to be one of the best ways to avoid having to use it. (Norway tried pacifism in the 30ies. The experiment ended somewhat abruptly when Hitler invaded 9th of April 1940.)

... and Googles AI still insists the most relevant shortcuts it can sbow me is the ones to text someone I hardly know – or call a project manager at work.

Artificial Intelligence is still hard it seems but sometimes they nail Artificial Stupidity.

Filed under #observations.

Filed under #observations and #lifeInNorway

The army is training this week. I think it is the “Oslofjord” exercise. On the radio the other day they said there were going to be 3000 troops, F16s and F35s.

Almost everytime I hear fighter jets or see army helicopters I'm reminded about how lucky I am to live in Norway.

Filed under #productivity, #lifehacks and #habitstacking

Sometimes I find myself mindlessly pressing ctrl – t, <name of news site>.

And sometimes it doesn't matter: waiting for someone to reply, for a compile or upload to finish. But often it is a waste of time.

I recently realized that while it is hard to break the first part of the habit, and removing all the triggers is impractical, I can easily stack another habit on top:

I have now trained myself so that whenever my fingers type that pattern they also automatically type ctrl – w to close the tab before even loading it.

I did that by intentionally repeating the first part of the pattern, then closing the tabs and rewarding myself by smiling.

Filed under #aifails, #googlefails and #ux

It is 0500 in the morning and I open the app launcher on my phone.

Google:

Do you want to:text a random friend-of-a-friend ordo you want to call a project manager at work?

Me:

No thanks.

<goes on to update this rant from yesterday with a practical example complete with screenshot>

Screenshot showing Android app launcher with AI features.

For the record, I might not be completely, boringly predictable but here are some observations I would have used if I were to suggest what I would be likely to do next:

  • I almost never call anyone at 0500 in the morning
  • And obviously I never randomly contact friends-of-friends using Telegram at 0500 in the morning.
  • I had bought a book on Audible yesterday that I hoped to get started on as soon as possible

This nicely sets the stage for my main point:

In my experience Google Pie AI can compete and win against Microsoft Clippy when it comes to being useless: While Clippy was predictable annoying and never learned, Android Pie AI is unpredictable dumb – and while it might not be as annoying and in your face it might be even more dangerous since it makes it possible to bother others as well.[0]

Why this is is a mystery to me, and while I have some high level ideas for why it ended up this way it seems clear it wasn't meant to be completely moronic, here's what Google said when they launched Android Pie:

Read more...

Filed under #ux, #antipatterns and #weblog

HN discusses this article: https://www.filamentgroup.com/lab/scrollbars/

Discussion: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=20951580

Seems HN mostly agrees with me today.

For me this is a perfect example of what I wrote about yesterday: the perfect ux design doesn't exist.

In this case the author has gone to great lengths to create a better ux, only be met with “get off my lawn already!”

I sympathize with people who experience unfair criticism of their hard work.

In this case though, I think the criticism is valid: please please please leave our windows scrollbars alone. There's a reason why we use Windows or Linux – and that reason isn't the price in my case but rather that I far prefer Windows and classic (Gnome 2, KDE) Linux ux to Mac ux.

Updated. And filed under #ux

This will be a short one. Promise.

I sometimes rant about ux. You can find some written ones here, and I hope to add more because there's a lot to cover IMO.

That said, I think UX is harder than one might expect:

I just simplified the whole application!

Fine, this will be great for onboarding new users but you just made it a lot harder to use for all existing users.

In the public transport app we now use two minutes between the arrival of one and the departure of next transport. This way we will stop suggesting useless alternatives where you won't catch the second leg!

Fine, but what about disabled people, and what if the first is delayed?

We have now increased it to 12 minutes to cover this. We have calculated that this should solve the problem in 98% of the cases.

Fine, but now most people will get a sub optimal schedule most of the time.


I could go on and on, but I think you get the point: whether your technical solution is good depends on who your users are, if they have previous experience with your application, if they have any disabilities and I'd even say it depends on if the users choice of transport is delayed or not.

All this before we have even start talking about preferences...!

When I work in the field I see quite a lot of statements thrown around, and I have certainly been guilty myself as well (although these are not mine):

vim is the perfect tool for programming

Ask certain kinds of Vim user though and you'll be told in no uncertain terms that Vims ux is close to perfect once you have remapped CAPS LOCK to escape.

On the other hand I know Vim well enough to know it is not perfect for me (although I'll miss it if it isn't installed.)

Mac has better ux than Windows

If you ask the typical Mac user they will typically say that Mac has better ux than Windows and Linux. They'll also give a number of reasonable reasons for it.

Based on this I was enthusiastic when I got my first Mac. I then tried for three years, honestly. And since I have adapted to everything else IT has thrown at me from DOS and Windows 3.1 to the latest Windows 10, from Red Hat 7.1 with Gnome to ICEWM, Elementary, Gnome 2 and 3, KDE in various versions, plain bash over ssh, the fact that I just couldn't get used to it was a huge disappointment, and at first I blamed it on Mac enthusiasts.

Later I realized that for a good number of Mac users it isn't just about shiny – it is the ux of their dreams, just like KDE is my dream UX.

Others might disagree, and I support them! But Mac isn't better for everyone. It is different, and some people like it a lot, but the rest of us aren't stupid for not liking it.

I could add more examples here, but I promised to myself to be short, and also at this point I think I have proven my headline: Creating the perfect UX is impossible because the perfect UX is different between user groups and even between users.

With this giant hint to both myself and my readers about one idea I'll probably present as a possible solution, I'll leave this here and try to get back at some later point with some more practical advice on what can be done.

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