Amazon’s Commingling of Questions

The customer reviews and Q&A sections of Amazon’s product listing are among its best features, yet both are way, way, way below the fold for them to impact the customer experience enough. … Yet both features have a serious flaw on most all listings where different styles can be selected with a tile button or drop-down list, because each of these selections is a different product!

What the bleep‽ (Ludicrous Linotype Omission)

In reading about one of my favorite characters, I discovered that the very first font the interrobang had been added to was Americana. So naturally, I went looking for a digital version of the font, and […]

Google Books Goofed

Anything worth doing is worth doing right. —Hunter S. Thompson

I’ve recently been researching Old English measures, and found that the ability of Google’s search engine to do a plain-text search on everything they’ve scanned into Google Books / the Google Library Project has been a phenomenal aid in ferreting out lost knowledge that shouldn’t be so obscure that until today, every Wikipedia entry on the pound Sterling said its weight had always been different from the Tower Pound.

Awesome that Google let me discover that!

However, when I wanted to read the rest of the story, so that I could accurately update Wikipedia, Google failed me completely. The low resolution at which they scanned A View of the Silver Coin and Coinage of England is so pitifully low that you cannot decipher many of the composed fractions. For this book, published in 1762, copyright hasn’t been an issue for many years. A few, such as ½ and ¼ vary from somewhat decipherable (though not in all instances, and usually because I already knew the value from another source, as on page 4), to not quite decipherable (several of those on page 13; is that 5 5⁄8 grains or 5 5⁄8 grains or 5 3⁄9 grains?), but once you get to the fractions on page 14 and 15, there’s no chance of deciphering those without access to the original document. And heaven help you if the composed fractions (which are by definition substantially smaller than the surrounding characters) are in a footnote, whose text size is already smaller than the standard text.

Who to Blame for Password Management Problems

Have you had your passwords stolen recently (or in 2012)? Have you tried password managers only to discover they don’t work reliably on all sites, leaving you with a mish-mash of secure and brain-dead-guessable passwords? […]

GMT Hasn’t been International Time Since 1971—Stop Using It!

I just updated my Windows Live profile, and was horrified to discover that Microsoft has reverted to using Greenwich Mean Time (GMT) instead of Coordinated Universal Time (UTC), in at least one location. Ever since […]

Normalization of Deviance Considered Harmful

While reading Bruce Schneier’s CRYPTO-GRAM, I read a section about normalization of deviance, which referenced a horrible example of how much death and destruction can happen when people who think they’re too smart to follow rules and […]

Maniacaly Perfect Phantom

I love music. But there are three things that consistently spoil what should be an immersive experience: Distortion Minuscule sweet spots Volume controls that don’t go to 11 Number 1 is all about quality; number […]

Commentary on 7 Steps for Effective Brainstorming

In a LifeHacker post of today, xxx proposes A Seven Step Plan for Effective Brainstorming. … The substance, and rough order of this is very, very good. However, I believe “Make the problem personal” is too high on the list.