Thursday, May 6, 2010

Disaster in Progress

It has been 16 days since the explosion that caused the death of 11 people and started the ecological disaster now underway in the Gulf of Mexico.  Depending on which estimate you hear from BP the numbers have changed - however the largest number that I heard was 200,000 gallons a day.  200,000 x 16 = 3.2 million gallons.  By way of reference the Exxon Valdez spill in Prince William Sound in Alaska was 10.8 million gallons. That spill still hasn't been cleaned up.

The latest news is still the same news - the plan is to attempt to put a dome over the leaking well - like an inverted funnel - that will be used to control the output.  This is an extremely risky venture for the people who will be doing it. The pressures involved at that depth are ludicrous.  Add to that the pressure of the oil and the gas that caused the original explosion and this is nothing like a business-as-usual situation.  There is a fair chance that his will not work - leaving the situation without an announced contingency plan.

Monday, May 3, 2010

The Steve vs. The Flash

Steve Jobs has some things to say about Flash.

With regards to what he has to say in the first place - sometimes is actually is compelling - but other times, the reality warping field leads to a rhetoric that is somewhat.. broken.

"There are more games and entertainment titles available for iPhone, iPod and iPad than for any other platform in the world."

[ahem] Windows [cough] [cough]

I believe that the real problem is what is buried in the 5th point he is trying to make - the only measurable difference:

"Apple’s revolutionary multi-touch interface doesn’t use a mouse, and there is no concept of a rollover."

The interface is so revolutionary that is it missing a feature: "mouse-overs"

"Most Flash websites will need to be rewritten to support touch-based devices. If developers need to rewrite their Flash websites, why not use modern technologies like HTML5, CSS and JavaScript?"

For that reason then entire website needs to be rewritten?  This is an amazing leap - because HTML5 and JavaScript support mouse-overs too.  It is not a Flash-only feature.

I can easily think of a "mode" where you can add a pointer to the screen that looks like a mouse pointer and be required to double-tap in order to "press" a button.  Being able to switch on-the-fly would enable you to leverage the best of both UI concepts - the "old" revolution (mouse-based) and the "new" revolutionary UI - multitouch.

It is a simple design compromise and therein lies the reason why it will never happen: The Steve doesn't do compromise.

So if you are a web-designer and you want to use mouse-overs you are out of luck.  Forget that they exist in the API.  It was a typo.  Nothing to see here - move along.

Last Chance to See

Today (technically yesterday now) was a strange day for me.  It was the last day of my vacation and I was in New Orleans.  I got up this morning and ate with friends as is our habit for our annual Jazz-Fest pilgrimage.  
We ate some of the largest crawdaddies that I have ever seen. We ate turtle soup, shrimp and alligator sausage.  Just the other night I we had a few dozen fresh oysters served three different ways,

But I saw on television how the oil that is pouring out of BP's well was threatening landfall on the barrier islands in the high-wind today and I am filled with thoughts of doom.  The indigenous wildlife that is the wellspring from which the culture flows is under an assault no less catastrophic than Katrina and it is happening in a time-lapse day to day manner.

As my plane was leaving to come home today we were told by our pilot that Air Force One was taking off and we would be delayed for a period of time.  Prior to that the highway that we took to get to the airport was apparently completely shut down about an hour prior to us coming in.  I indeed saw two C-5 Galaxys at the airport on the way in.   

While it is true that the effort being expended by thousands of workers in the area to lay booms and barriers of many kinds to stop what is being called by BP "sheen" as opposed to "spill" or "slick".  [I actually heard one of the BP spokespeople correcting a reporter and shortly thereafter the weatherman on that same local news broadcast was using the 'correct' term.]  Still I am extremely concerned that all of this has happened to being with - from the workers losing their lives in the initial explosion of the Deep Horizon oil platform to the impending ecological disaster of the century that will cost the local economy there so very dearly.  

How can it be that it was permissible for the risk to exist for a disaster of this magnitude to occur?  Is the amount of potential wealth involved so great that they can afford the costs that are going to be involved in truly cleaning this up?  How can that be considered to be "OK"?  Where is the proper oversight?  Do the words "Risk Management" just mean nothing when dealing with this kind of money?