Friday Jan 25, 2008

Three cheers for VTA - and Web 0.5

Too many web designers take Web2.0 to mean making their site look glitzy and trendy, at the expense of quick easy and accessible use. Yahoo used to deliver great content, fast and easy, and it worked with any browser. Now service after service is UPgraded so Opera no longer works, etc., and it's all so s...l...o...w. But it's beautiful and trendy, it's Web 2.0.

So three cheers for Santa Clara County's transit agency, VTA, for taking a step back to a simpler time, maybe uglier, but much more functional. They could provide bus schedules only to high bandwidth client devices in the Windows/Apple mainstream, with the latest Flash version, with lots of trendy navigation features that work great so long as you're sitting at your desk instead of, say, wanting to take a bus somewhere.

Well, they've got the interactive maps and PDF's, but in addition they give their timetables in a radical format that enables a myriad of other uses and applications called ... (drum roll) ... plain text. Let's hear it for Web 0.5!

Wednesday Jan 09, 2008

meeting in Second Life

I had my first business meeting in Second Life today, held jointly with a real world conference room. We remote participants travelled to the meeting by network rather than by airplane. It was a lot like ordinary meetings with remote participants. Which is to say we had a lot of trouble seeing and hearing the Bay Area participants, and vice versa. But instead of complaining about inadequate conference phones, mikes, and dedicated videoconference boxes, we got to complain about inadequate streaming bandwidth, poorly timed server maintenance, and incompatible video formats. At least I had the company of a few dozen colleagues from around the world while we discussed problems with the tele-link to the real-world conference room. I think virtual worlds have a lot of potential to overcome some of the social barriers to effective distance collaboration - barriers that put too many of us on airplanes too often. But I don't think the technology is quite up to the task yet. Sigh, that reminds me, I've got to go make a reservation. :-(

If you do visit Second Life, you must go see Hope & Happiness from Sun Microsystems. It is a delightful and magical walk through the wintery woods, following the glimmer of lanterns and faint music from distant warm cottages. You can make wonderful discoveries along the way, or you can get lost. And watch out for the bears and wolves, though I doubt they are truly dangerous, but it's fun to pretend. Especially if you missed out on a White Christmas this year, it's a great experience.

About

I am a software engineer in San Diego, president of the Standard Performance Evaluation Corporation (spec.org), formerly a mathematician and a violist.

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