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GreenCine Tech Talk
Hardware, Software, Tech.
The nuts and bolts of movie making, home theater, and DVD.
76

GCMUG (GreenCine Mac Users' Group)
Topic by: hamano
Posted: November 22, 2003 - 12:43 AM PST
Last Reply: February 6, 2007 - 5:12 PM PST

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author topic: GCMUG (GreenCine Mac Users' Group)
dpowers
post #161  on January 27, 2007 - 11:37 AM PST  
> But needing a stylus is inelegant for an on-the-go interface.

i drop mine once a month.

> The problem with the virtual keypad/keyboard is that it's gonna be hard to learn to touchtype. You have to look at the keys to see what you're poking.

yeah there are so many ways that big keyboards help you. home row dots. concave key tops with open space between letters (a mechanical holdover but still useful) so you can feel the place to push. gentle rising of each row, key tops tilting forward. further tilt adjustment with a stand or inserts. well not on some keyboards but on many.

i think this problem is slightly overrated. it depends where you are entering the text. if you're typing from copy, that will be tougher. i wouldn't expect great results from a thumb-board either. but if you're composing, then what you're typing is probably appearing directly above where you're typing, so you can watch the keyboard with peripheral vision while you watch the characters appear.

> Say I got a Mac connected to a flat screen HDTV on the wall, and I'm sitting on the couch, and I want to send an e-mail. What would be the best input device? I don't like a full-size wireless keyboard [and] having a separate wireless mouse seems just dumb. I thought a bluetooth keyboard with a trackpad or trackpoint?
>
> But now I think, for couch use, the best thing will be like a cross between the Wii remote and a thumb keyboard. ...

for a touch-screen controller to be useful, it might only need to be a very high contrast presentation of the keyboard for you to be able to place your fingers on the "white" spots. then add in the helper that finishes words and that would basically work.

no who am i kidding. there'd still need to be a text-mirroring area above the keyboard. but that wouldn't be bad. WYSIWYG on the screen, typewriter at your fingers. you probably already have to look at the controller to find the keyboard before you start typing anyway.

> A tablet device really needs a one-handed text input method... how about a little bowl with keys arranged like notes on steel drums?

that's been around. also, the microsoft mini-tablets fan the letters at either side of the screen for two-thumb QWERTY. (ugh.)
hamano
post #162  on January 27, 2007 - 12:39 PM PST  
> On January 27, 2007 - 11:37 AM PST dpowers wrote:
> ---------------------------------
> i think this problem is slightly overrated. it depends where you are entering the text. if you're typing from copy, that will be tougher. i wouldn't expect great results from a thumb-board either. but if you're composing, then what you're typing is probably appearing directly above where you're typing, so you can watch the keyboard with peripheral vision while you watch the characters appear.

Mmm.... I suppose if the handheld input device has a iPhone-type screen where you can see the message you're typing as you poke the letters it would be good. For reading incoming messages or reading farther back for what you're writing you look up at the screen. It sounds like a compromise more than a solution, but I guess you can get used to it.
dpowers
post #163  on January 27, 2007 - 3:16 PM PST  
yeah it's really a question of how seriously you think hard-keyboards are a waste of space, and that obviously depends on what you want to do with the device you're holding. because i was a little of a car geek at the time i was also a star trek geek, i knew that the next generation configurable starship control panels were like totally dumb. nobody who had to operate a machine under pressure wanted to look at brightly colored abstract shapes to figure out if the engine was going to blow up.

time has passed and now race cars have buttons for shifting and LEDs on the steering wheel to show only the most important part of a tachometer's readouts, but they're still standard and dedicated controls because, literally, confusion kills.

commercial jet airplane interfaces are totally different, though. they've become somewhat less standard, which is i think analogous to computer interfaces as relating to the wider internet, because for a commercial pilot, successfully and safely navigating the air traffic network is more important than having constant detailed control of all aspects of the device. it's not quite the leisurely "stop moving now" of an ocean-going yacht or liner. collisions have terrible consequences and traffic is much heavier. it's a matter of seeing what details are relevant for this stage of the pre-arranged trip.

so i think what apple people have been wondering is, the airplane has a very tight relationship with the traffic network but it must have a control stick. from inception the lisa and the macintosh were designed for the mouse to be the control stick. key commands were held in disdain.

the ipod has a control stick that mirrors the controls usually found on sound equipment in shape and function -- you dial in a song like you would a radio station, dial the volume up and down. it's actually more analog than its competitors, including transistor radios with their thumb dials.

the touch-screen though makes me so happy. since the earliest radio phones we got stuck with the telephone interface, which was based on the need for the phone to generate sounds that affected the network. it's not actually a good interface for working a network, it's just the one that's better than asking an operator to connect you.

the other thing is i think for the weather crap that's coming, we have a need that this kind of gizmo fills. we've been working hard on making networked computers that can do real work within the kind of energy requirements that a solar or kinetic charger can supply. but the devices would also need to be waterproof, weatherproof, durable. shock-proof. hard-shell touch-screens are fantastic. that way if worst cases start blooming like dandelions we can keep organized and not panic.

i know that sounds weird....
hamano
post #164  on January 28, 2007 - 7:11 AM PST  
> On January 27, 2007 - 3:16 PM PST dpowers wrote:
> ---------------------------------
> nobody who had to operate a machine under pressure wanted to look at brightly colored abstract shapes to figure out if the engine was going to blow up.

I dunno.... it seems to come down to constant drilling when it comes down to life and death (fighter cockpits, submarines) so it doesn't matter what represents what as long as the person sitting there knows what they are and what to do. Then you have to build in redundancy in the crew in case Scotty chokes on his haggis.

But we're talking about my couch, not the Enterprise.

> commercial jet airplane interfaces are totally different, though. --- collisions have terrible consequences and traffic is much heavier. it's a matter of seeing what details are relevant for this stage of the pre-arranged trip.

I digress here, but after 9/11 why didn't we just
A) build transponders into buildings and safety in plane controls to prevent airplanes from being flown into any structures where there are more than a thousand people? If a plane comes within a 100 feet of such a transponder the plane automatically veers 90 degrees to the left or right.
B) build radio auto-pilot thingies that would allow an outside pilot to forcibly take control of an airplane from another plane or the ground?

Those make more sense to me than impounding shampoo from passengers, as well as scrambling fighters to shoot down commercial planes. I'm assuming the knowhow already exists for landing planes remotely on test strips, deserts, lakes and cornfields and stuff.

> the ipod has a control stick that mirrors the controls usually found on sound equipment in shape and function -- you dial in a song like you would a radio station, dial the volume up and down. it's actually more analog than its competitors, including transistor radios with their thumb dials.

Y'know, I was never a fan of the iPod controls. They're cool aesthetically, but functionally I've never been into dials. Maybe I'm from the slide-pot generation or something. I want a linear control that clearly shows the upper and lower limit and where you are currently in that range. If the range is infinite something like a clickwheel might be better.

I'm kinda pleased that the iPhone has virtual slidepots rather than a virtual click-wheel when the interface needs something like that.

The finger-flipped contacts/songs interface reminds me of a rolodex...

> the touch-screen though makes me so happy. since the earliest radio phones we got stuck with the telephone interface, which was based on the need for the phone to generate sounds that affected the network. it's not actually a good interface for working a network

It's a good interface for working numbers with one hand - it's arranged like an adding machine keyboard. I guess we're working toward a future when we can stop associating people with numbers. That leaves names and faces for sorting out "contacts" with some modifiers for sorting like frequency of contacts, most recently connected, etc.

> but the devices would also need to be waterproof, weatherproof, durable. shock-proof. hard-shell touch-screens are fantastic. that way if worst cases start blooming like dandelions we can keep organized and not panic.

So you've bought that isolated hillside in the Cascades for your bunker? I was thinking of a future device akin to The Primer in The Diamond Age, and here you're like Base Camp Geek. I guess that's the difference if one has children...we've got all these LeapPads and stuff lying around the house. They've managed to make those fairly weatherproof over the years.

If you're not worried about the smoke giving you away, maybe a thermocouple charger would be nice, for the campfire.

In my dreams I'm nostalgic for the days when electronic calculators and wrist watches got so energy efficient they'd work with those tiny solar panels. The gray LCD readout probably had a lot to do with it. There's probably enough up and down movement when we're walking or running to generate enough electricity to work a small device... our mobile phones will really have to be mobile then. We'll have to dance to listen to our iPods (or wave it like a conductor's baton, if you like classical).

I'm looking forward to the day when engineers can start going back to pre-battery ways to store energy, the spring, the pendulum, weights on a chain.... I'd be much healthier if I had to work on the exercise bike every morning to "charge up the house" by getting a giant flywheel spinning in the basement. I can take turns with Gilligan.
hamano
post #165  on February 6, 2007 - 4:18 PM PST  
Did Steve Jobs really say we should do away with DRM? Did dpowers disappear again?

Well, it looks like the war with the Beatles is over, and we'll probably see Beatles songs on iTunes by Valentines Day. Those rumors held up and proved to be true.

I was thinking about DRM and intellectual property again. With books and records the intellectual property was essentially married inextricably to the technology that carried the information, a paper technology called a book and a plastic technology called a disc.

Now the information is pretty much separate from a physical object that carries the information.

Now what if intellectual property owners began offering the information for free? Get rid of digital rights management, per download fees, subscriptions, etc?

Instead they get paid from a pool created from a tax or tariff on information transmission. Since money is collected when information is transmitted, it doesn't matter where the information comes from. Since the information itself is free, there's no incentive for people to look for "illegal" downloads... they go straight to the "official site" to download something. The tariff is taken from a person's purchases of hardware, and from their payments to get access to the internet. Equipment manufacturers or retailers, and ISPs, collect this tariff and pay it into the fund. Why wouldn't this work? It seems like it would follow demand/supply models...
hamano
post #166  on February 6, 2007 - 5:12 PM PST  
Who cares about what hamano thinks, right? Here's what Steve thinks! Different...
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