Yearly Archives: 2009

a note (or is it a comment?) on feature blur

Brad just pointed out that Google Reader added new features familiar to Twitter and Facebook users: marking a post as something you “like” and setting a status message. They didn’t remove similar features, though, so the result is a blur of options:

Google Reader feature blur example

So when I want to remember something, do I “star” it or “like” it? If I want to let people know about it, should I “like” it or “share” it? Is my “note” shown as a “comment” or somewhere else?

I recognize the thinking here; if users are looking for a feature by a familiar name (“like”), they might not find it by your own convention (“star”). This half-baked mix of features isn’t the answer, though. Each addition should have been weighed against the existing choices, and if the benefit justified the new feature it should have replaced the old.

the Bechdel Test and sci-fi shows

Voyager's Janeway and TorresSo I’m still looking for a sci-fi or fantasy film I’ve seen that passes the Bechdel Test. While I’m searching, let’s move on to something that seems easier at first glance: TV shows.

It’s almost trivial for a long-running show to pass the test; just have two women talk to each other about something other than a man in any episode. Some shows do better than others, though, passing the test in more individual episodes. Continue reading

a big day in Iraq

After six years, it looks like we’re finally seeing an end (or the beginning of an end) to the occupation of Iraq. US forces aren’t exactly leaving the country, but they’re pulling out of the cities, lowering their profile considerably, and turning over most authority to the Iraqi government.

The response from Iraqis is jubilant; today has been branded National Sovereignty Day. The Guardian has a few choice quotes:

Baghdad’s river-front parklands, which have been reclaimed this year after being deserted during the height of the insurgency and sectarian war, were last night transformed into outdoor dance venues, where audiences of around 3,000 almost all of them men danced to the strains of a recently returned Iraqi singer, Salah Hassan, exiled in Dubai for the past five years.

One reveller at an outdoor concert in Baghdad’s zoo, Tamader al-Waeli, 25, said: “It has been a long time since the last big celebration. We have now got rid of the occupiers and will not see them again on Iraqi streets. Baghdad needs the peace of its past life back again, we want to regain what we had, but at the same time the security forces now have extra duties and responsibilities and I hope they carry them out.

Another man at the concert, Ahmed Ebrahim, 35, said: “No words can describe how I feel. The occupation stayed in Iraqi hearts for six years and this is a big occasion that deserves to be a permanent national day in future. The occupiers put me in Bucca [an American-run prison in Iraq]. But now I am free and so is Iraq.”

Good luck, Iraq.

You’ve already heard everything I have to say about this war, but I’ll just reiterate that this was my primary reason to vote for Obama*, so my big payoff is today. The rest of his presidency is frosting.

* and if you think this withdrawal would have happened anyway, read the alternative.

Oh, The Bitter-Tweet Irony

From “Jackson dies, almost takes internet with him” at CNN last week:

Volcanic trend on Google

How many people does it take to break the Internet? On June 25, we found out it’s just one — if that one is Michael Jackson. The biggest showbiz story of the year saw the troubled star take a good slice of the Internet with him, as the ripples caused by the news of his death swept around the globe . . .

. . . Twitter crashed as users saw multiple “fail whales” — the illustrations the site uses as error messages — user FoieGrasie posting, “Irony: The protesters in Iran using Twitter as com are unable to get online because of all the posts of ‘Michael Jackson RIP.’ Well done.”