Archive for the ‘Software’ Category

Google+ vs. Facebook.

Posted: July 15, 2011 in Internet, Software, Technology

I’ve been actively using Google+ for a week now, and I believe that I gained enough experience to be able to share some early thoughts on it.

So, as you, hopefully, already know, Google+ is a third attempt of the search giant to succeed on the market of social networks (with Orkut and Google Buzz being the first two). The concept is fairly similar to Facebook, with a few key differences, which, potentially, can make FB look like an underdeveloped parody on MySpace. In this posts, I just want to highlight a few reasons why Google+ might be better than Facebook (and vice versa).

Without further ado, here is my personal reasons why I might choose G+ over FB.

1. Circles. This is the feature that allows you to break your contacts into different categories and share information with each category accordingly. On Facebook, all your contacts are labeled as “friends”, and everything you post is visible to everyone (of course, you can dance around with the privacy settings and change that, but, very often, it is too inconvenient to be bothered with). On Google+, Circles flow more naturally, in this particular aspect. What that means is that you can upload pictures of yourself vomiting at a wild party, not worrying that your parents, teachers or employers will see them. Also, some of you, who have your parents on Facebook, have probably encountered this issue when your friends tag you in some pictures that you would rather prefer to keep unpublished. With Google+ Circles, this issue will be left in the past. It is also possible to post some personal cryouts and controversial rants, making sure that only a limited amount of trustworthy people will see them. Very convenient, I must say.

2. Practically unlimited post length. Yep, you heard me. Facebook only allows 420 characters per status update, and Twitter limits you to 140. On G+, you can post an entire essay as your status update (when I was testing this feature, I copy-pasted the first seven chapters of War and Peace, and it freaking worked!). Some might say that this would turn messy, as there are some people who like to flood and spam, so the news feed (Stream, as it is called on Google+) will become completely unreadable. Well, that wont happen. Google engineers/UI-designers have adopted “expand-collapse” technique, which works the same way as “See more” feature in long comments on Facebook. So, you only get to see a preview of the post (only the first few lines), and then you can click “expand” button to read the rest. That’s what I was waiting for since the time I first registered on Facebook.

3. You can edit your posts and comments, correcting your spelling and grammatical mistakes AFTER you post them. Nuff said.

4. Integration with other Google services. We all know that Google Inc has hundreds of cool products, such as Google Talk, Google Reader, Google Maps, etc. Their engineers have been working really hard to create APIs, which now allow all these integrations. Having all the Google depth attached to your G+ profile, makes your user experience truly a must have!

5. Hangouts. That’s something interesting. Hangouts is a service that allows you to have group video-calls with your contacts (so far, it is limited to 10 people per session, I think). That can be very fun. All the calls are powered by Google Talk, which is a primary competitor of Skype.

6. It’s developed by Google! I’ve always been a huge fan of Google and all their products. A social network developed by my favorite search giant is a pretty cool concept to begin with :)

Though I am very enthusiastic about Google+, there are still some things that I would miss about Facebook in case if it goes down.

These things include:

1. Facebook Groups. This, probably, has been one of my favorite features introduced by Zuckerberg’s team lately. You can create these specific groups, invite people to join them and then work cooperatively on some projects (like an assignment writing), or just do some study sessions, together, having all the access to a group chat, image uploading services, and all the other cool stuff. It’s been really fun for me to host some of these study groups I created during the first semester. I totally loved the sense of unity these groups were creating for our fellow psychology students. So far, I haven’t seen anything similar on Google+.

2. Trolling opportunities. Yes, my dear friends. I love Facebook for the tools it presents, which could be utilized to annoy the crap out of people. You can, for example, write a silly note and tag up to 30 people in it, everyone will see it and there is a high chance for the info to go viral and hit hundreds, if not thousands, of Facebook users all around the Network. Same could be done with pictures and Events. While it is considered by many as a great tool to assist spammers and crappy bands, who invite you to the events you’ll never go to, I see it as a great tool to stir people up a little, using a right approach, for the sake of LULz. At this very moment, I can hardly imagine how something like this could be done on Google+. Though, G+ has only been active for 2 weeks, and I’m pretty sure that we would be able to come up with some dirty ways to utilize their tools for Evil too, in a not so distant future :)

3. Stalking people. In contradiction with my love for G+ Circles, I would miss the opportunity to stalk an spy on people on Facebook :(. (and I do this quite often, FYI). Google+ privacy tools are thought-through just way too well…

***

Okay, those were my personal thoughts on Google+ vs. Facebook saga, that only has just began. Bare in mind that Google+ is still in beta, and that some new features are likelly to be added to the network in the next couple of months. Also, don’t forget that Facebook is still one of the World’s most powerful IT corporations, and that they employ some of the world’s best and most talented developers, so we can assume that FB still has some not-yet-introduced features up their sleeve.

Anyway, I’m observing this battle with a grate interest and a really big bag of popcorn!

Stay tuned!

In 2007, Microsoft released a new line of its Office products, Microsoft Office 2007, which became an instant hit. Among many new features, Ribbon tabs interface was, probably, the most notable one. The concept later spread to other Microsoft products, including WordPad and Paint in Windows 7.

It looks nice, but I wouldn’t say that it became more efficient than the previous interface models, which were used by Microsoft before 2007. Here’s my reason why.

UI-developers have a term called multidimensionality. The oldest user interfaces were multidimensional. They required users to type instructions and commands into a command line.

There are tens of thousands of combinations that you can get while typing-in some characters, therefore, a user had to know all the necessary commands by heart, which was making it difficult for non-programmers to work with computers.

Then the monodimensional UI’s kicked in (it happened sometime in 1980’s, when Xerox introduced its first graphical user interface, which was later adopted by Apple and then, eventually, by Microsoft). Properly designed monodimensional UI’s include a clearly visible menu bar, which has sub menus. Often, everything is well organised in mono-D interfaces, which makes it easier to find certain functions in the software. The majority of modern applications still use this concept.

In Microsoft Office programs, which were using that interface, there was a menu bar at the top (with different “directories”, such as “File”, “Insert”, “Help”, etc). You could click on any of them and a small menu would open, and it also had many sub-menus. Everything was mono-D and organised, so, even if you’re aren’t very familiar with the program, you could easily find the necessary command by searching these categories.

Ribbon tab interface, however, was a step back in this particular aspect. It became harder to find some particular functions (often, I have to google stuff to find some particular commands, while, back in the days, with Office 98/2000/XP, it was possible just to browse those menus to get to a necessary functions, because it was so organised and build according to a defined hierarchy). Office 2007 interface became multidimensional.

Interestingly, very similar trends can now be observed in web-browsers. Back in 2008, Google Chrome was the first browser with such minimalistic interface (was it?). Now, almost all web-browsers have that sort of UI (including IE9 and Firefox 5). They are still monodimensional, thanks god (those menus and sub-menus can still be found, though, it became significantly harder to access them), and I hope they will remain so for, at least, another 10 years…

P. S. When I’m talking about multidimensionality and monodimensionality in such context, I mean abstract pathways that a user has to go through in order to perform a certain action. Don’t get them confused with physical shapes, such as 2D and 3D objects.

Back in February this year, I created an album on Facebook, “Cazy T-shirt designs (self-made)“, and since then, I’ve been uploading some ideas for T-shirt drawings that could provoke a person to correct you by causing cognitive dissonance (it’s when you see something that is strongly contradictory to something that you already know).

Here are some examples from the album:

If you studied Chemistry in school, you first reaction to this should be close to “WTF!?”, because you should remember that the 19th element in Periodic table, the one that has “K” as its symbol, is, in fact, potassium, and not nickel (which is number 28 and has symbol “Ni”).

These lobes are labeled wrong.

This one looks like an ordinary neuron (a nerve cell), but the labels are of a sperm cell. Show this to anyone who have studied Biology on a serious level, and they will die of anger (or laughter… depending on their sense of humor).

There could be countless ways to troll people with these. You, can, for example, have a drawing of one cult music band on your T-shirt, but label it as another band of the same league. It will certainly make their fans mad.

Try to make these some time, for the sake of fun. It takes about 2-3 minutes in to create something like this in Photoshop (I used GIMP 2.6). Let’s see what you can come up with :)

A few weeks ago I wrote that Facebook should introduce a feature that would allow you to make private notes (or tags) that you could “stick” to people’s profiles so you won’t forget who they are and what they did to you.

I think that in real life we should have something similar as well.

Modern smartphones are truly powerful pieces of technology. They allow you to browse the Web, navigate ourself with GPS, read bar codes and many, many other things. But there is still no a single app that is capable of recognizing faces in a useful way! We might just need one!

Many of you know that I’m not good at remembering people’s names. But, sometimes, calling a person by the right name is vitally important.

Consider the following scenario: you at a party of some sort, perhaps a private concert. Suddenly, you feel an urge to go to the toilet, but you don’t know how to find a bathroom. You walk downstairs and you see some familiar faces.

You feel like you should ask them, but you’re afraid to do so because you don’t remember their names (and you don’t want to sound too rude… and you know that by calling people by their names you will increase the chances of them collaborating with you).

You remember that you have them on Facebook, so you decide to use technology to save your life once again.

You pull your phone out and pretend that you’re going to take a picture. They believe you and demonstrate no hesitation in making some wide and naive smiles.

But, of course, you aren’t going to take a picture of them. Instead, you’re using a sophisticated software that analyzes their faces, draws some data and then connects to your Facebook account, where it starts searching some tagged photos that match the data you’ve just obtained. Once the matching photos are found, your phone starts displaying their names on the screen next to their faces. You can now use their names to ask about the location of the nearest bathroom. You’re saved.

Pretty cool, huh? Just imagine all the other real world potential applications of this software.

Friday.

Posted: March 18, 2011 in Internet, Just for LULz, Music, Software, Technology

Humanity has come a long way through the 40 000 years of its existence. We’ve build cities and societies, developed economies and political systems, created Civilization and pursued the Science.

Our technologies have jumped enormously in the last couple of centuries. Scientists, engineers and mathematicians have been working shoulder to shoulder together, creating new inventions and advancing our society.

The Era of Renaissance and the invention of printing press that spread literature and scientific written materials all over the Europe, the Age of Enlightenment that gave use the steam engine and electricity! All the British, German and American mathematicians and engineers in the late XIX and the early XX centuries who contributed to the development of computer science and the subsequential invention of electronic computing machines. All the early programmers and software developers who made computers truly user-friendly, allowing Global computerization. All the DARPA engineers and Tim Berners-Lee who invented the Internet and the World Wide Web. All the big IT corporations who stimulated the growth of the virtual world – I thank them all for the MASSIVE progress our Civilization have faced.

All these inventions, all these advances and technologies, all of these came down together so I could show you this:

Today is Friday!!! Partyin’ partyin’ (yeah!). Partyin’ Partyin’ (yeah!). Fun fun fun!

Happy Friday, EvErYbOdY!!!!!!

Came across this amazing 1984 ad of The Wall Street Journal with young Bill Gates holding a newspaper in one hand and a 5-inch floppy disk in another hand, saying: “Next to my software, nothing’s more user friendly than The Wall Street Journal“.

Gotta love 1980’s!

Marek Okon.

Posted: February 16, 2011 in Games, Software

Found this amazing Polish artist, Marek Okon, who works in video-game industry, creating conceptual arts for games, as well as covers for magazines and fantasy/sci-fi books.

Just look at his Photoshop skills!

Here is his personal web-site:

http://www.okonart.com/

Makes me wanting to start leaning how to draw.