Aug 082011

I can’t wait to write an Excel alert that tells me when my budget is in the red.

“Programmers have had to put up with Microsoft dithering over Office development for a long while. The macro language VBA has been on its way out ever since .NET was introduced and yet it is still the only macro language available. Now it looks as if Microsoft plan to put JavaScript and HTML5 into Office 15. And how do we know this? By reading job ads to discover what projects Microsoft is hiring for.”

May 252011

Wired reports on a development that suggests Adobe may be ceding ground in the Flash versus HTML 5 competition:

Adobe wants to bring fancy, magazine-style layout tools to web design and the company is turning to web standard to make it happen.

Regions can be both positive and negative space. In other words, you can write CSS rules to flow text into a region — say, as below, a pie graph — or around a region (as in the image of Arches National Park at the top of this post).

Lest you think that Adobe is simply trying to improve the web — which may well be true — nevertheless, it’s worth bearing in mind Adobe’s own agenda. We suspect it’s no accident that the company has used WebKit to power the CSS Regions testing browser. WebKit is, after all, the engine that powers the iPad’s web browser.

With Apple banning Flash from its iOS devices, Adobe has little in the way of iPad-friendly tools to offer its big magazine clients. Given that publishers are betting heavily on the iPad’s ability to save their business model, the more iPad tools Adobe can offer, the happier magazine publishers will be. By rolling CSS Regions into WebKit for a demo, Adobe is already one step closer to a toe-hold on iOS devices.

Jan 192011

If this research is to be believed, your professor’s ugly PowerPoint fonts make you more likely to remember his lectures, and you’re gonna forget that book you read on your Kindle or iPad because the screen is too crisp.

Is the takeaway that good graphic design leads to bad education? Or is it that anything that gets students to participate more actively–even if only to squint their eyes–stimulates learning more than passive edutainment? via Byline When students read books printed in hard-to-read fonts like Comic Sans, they retain information from them better than material printed in traditional fonts.

Meanwhile, on Slashdot: via Byline New research suggests that the clear screens and easily read fonts of e-readers makes your brain “lazy.” According to Neuroscience blogger Jonah Lehrer, using electronic books like the Kindle and Sony Reader makes you less likely to remember what you have read because the devices are so easy on the eyes. From the article: “Rather than making things clearer, e-readers and computers prevent us from absorbing information because their crisp screens and fonts tell our subconscious that the words they convey are not important, it is claimed. In contrast, handwriting and fonts that are more challenging to read signal to the brain that the content of the message is important and worth remembering, experts say.”

Oct 012010

I was really hoping this story would turn out to be a hoax, but it doesn’t seem to be. Could the SarcMark be the smallest possible particle of intellectual property — the quark of copyright? Will this development lead to a whole new trade in pirated punctuation marks? via Byline pinkushun writes “SarcMark is a copyrighted punctuation mark, that claims ‘It’s time that sarcasm is treated equally!’ Pretty damn cheeky while they’re charging for their software, which only inserts their punctuation through a hotkey. Open Sarcasm is destroying SarcMark by advocating a new punctuation mark (not displaying here properly — alt+U0161) as the new open and free sarcasm symbol. Either way, this will be one interesting turnout. With bad unicode support across the web, displaying the characters properly might be an issue. PS Left out sarcastic end sentence as Slashdot doesn’t display the U0161 character.”

Sep 072010

mongoliadFamed science fiction author Neal Stephenson has unveiled a digital novel platform created with a cabal of interactive fiction / martial arts enthusiasts. To judge from initial glimpses of their first interactive novel, The Mongoliad, this “new” platform is more of a combination of older ideas: part interactive CD-ROM (Voyager in the 1980s), part paid subscription (the New York Times in the 1990s), and part user-generated content (Wikipedia in the 2000s). At least the authors have given up on DRM from the get-go.

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