The Black Hole Travel Agency « Bit By Bit, Byte by Byte, Word by Word

February 10, 2008

The Black Hole Travel Agency « Bit By Bit, Byte by Byte, Word by Word

A few days ago I blogged about how the Microsoft’s hostile takeover attempt of Yahoo! was reminiscent of the Black Hole Travel Agency books. Looks like Yahoo! has finally decided to fight back.

I used to think that of all the three major Internet players, Yahoo! would be the most successful, since it appeared that it had the knowledge of how to use the Internet for information and media delivery, plus it had the most experience. Was I woy off on this or what!

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http://pipes.yahoo.com/ The next big thing???

February 11, 2007

I checked this right now.

NI and Labview programmers knew about dataflow programming for more than than a decade before this came out on the scene, and it served the same purpose that pipes is going to serve, mainly trying to get non-programmers to use their imaginations and build nifty new applications. The trouble is that if non-programmers wanted to build new applications, they would’nt be non-programmers but programmers in the first place. Just like non-programmers who used Labview became labview programmers in the end, so will non-programmers who use pipes will become “pipes” programmers.And then, engineers will start looking for the next flashy programming interface.


Rich AJAX apps in Firefox 2.0 and IE7

January 13, 2007

In my opinion, I think Yahoo has so far the best email client among the three major web-based email providers (Yahoo! Mail, GMail, and Hotmail or Windows Live! Mail). The only problem that I have with that is that there is no mechanism for organizing emails as conversations (the only way of organizing mail in GMail). About Hotmail, the less said, the better. They should change their web-based user interface for Hotmail, to the one they use for Outlook, which is very, very nice.

However, I came across an interesting senario in Yahoo. If you right click on one of your mails, the browser’s context menu appears over the context menu of the email client. There is a clash between the browser’s context menu and the context menu for the AJAX application. Perhaps context menus in AJAX apps are not the right UI element. See the picture below for an example in Firefox.

Interestingly enough, this does’nt happen with IE7. See the figure below.

 

Safari does’nt support Yahoo’s AJAX version


http://local.live.com

March 27, 2006

So I decided to test drive the mapping service from Microsoft today.

The first thing I usually do is to directions for the unlikely senario that I have to drive from Miami to Seattle. The first time I tried it, I got the "server is busy. Please try again" message. That put a little damper of my opinion.

Then I decided, that I would do comparison of different routes that I take home to work. Now, most other mapping services like google's and yahoo!'s and Rand McNally's ask you for a start and end addresses, and then find "best" directions. These directions are often not the best if you have some local knowledge about shortcuts either from a person who lives there, of having been to the place, you have some vague memory of it.

Microsoft's offering on the other hand allows you to locate the locations you're interested in without specifying the address. All you have to do is point, right-click and select either "from" or "to". Now this allows a user to plan the route in stages, or if the user has some local knowledge, use it for route planning. I'm pretty sure Google, Yahoo! and RandMcNally must have thought about this, but they must have figured that most users would just want to input the start and end address and get the directions. The Microsoft user experience for me was pretty good, except for the the initial hiccup about the "server being busy…" but I dont think its going to go down well with users. At least I dont think they will use the service to its full potential.

The one other feature I was curious about was the "locate me" feature. I clicked on that, and a window opened up giving me three choices.

  • Install an ActiveX control.
  • Use an IP address
  • Cancel

I'm betting that most users are either going to skim down the text, see the cancel button and click on it, or alternatively, they're going to see ActiveX control click on the small "x" on the top-right corner. This is typical Microsoft UI.

All in all, my initial reaction is that its a great and feature-rich service. While it may win me over, I dont think it will over rank-and-file consumers, either because of the halo effect of google and yahoo! or they might not use it to its full abilities.

…I'll be writing more about this as I use the new services more.


Video Search

November 29, 2004

Interesting article on different approaches, that Microsoft, Yahoo, and Google are taking to index and search the multimedia content on the internet. I know of at least one project at Binghamton University that my adviser was working on image retrieval, but it was very hush hush, so no details were forthcoming.

H.