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10,863 kilometres between Tokyo and Tribeca

Archive for May 2011

Funny how the Z-Boys turned out

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Tony Alva in a Pass the Bucket video (2011)

Jay Adams released from prison (2008)

New York Times article on Jay Adams post-release

From whence they came

Skateboard Kings (1978)

See the rest of the film here

Dogtown & Z Boys documentary film teaser

Lords of Dogtown film teaser

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Written by tokyotribe

May 31, 2011 at 4:26 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

A few things I learnt about the GUI and the command line.

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This post was inspired by the following Unix koan:

Master Foo Discourses on the Graphical User Interface

With the GUI, we’re trying to use a graphical metaphor to describe to the computer what we want it to do. This graphical metaphor – a series of actons depicted on the screen – is translated into commands that the computer can understand, after which the commands are executed and the computer is deemed to have done what we’ve asked.

With the command line, we tell the computer directly, in commands that it understands (or closer to what it’s able to execute), and it executes them directly. There is still a layer of abstraction and translation between the text-based interface and what the computer executes, but it’s certainly closer than the GUI.

Aside from the speed of execution (which isn’t really noticeable these days), there’s a conceptual delay as well. In the command line, we learn to speak the computer’s language and tell it what to do. In the GUI, we’re trying to show the computer what we want it to do via graphical metaphor, and we ourselves must learn these graphical metaphors. The metaphors are supposed to mimic the actions we take in real life, but we describe them not by performing these actions as we normally do (e.g. throwing a document into a trash bin), but through the use of a mouse and moving graphical elements around a screen (e.g. moving a mouse on the table, which moves a small arrow on the screen onto an image of a piece of paper representing a document titled “my_document.doc”, clicking the mouse button, holding it down and moving the mouse again, which drags the image of the piece of paper towards the corner of the screen, and releasing the mouse button when the image of the piece of paper lies on top of the image of a trash bin, representing the act of deleting the document.*)

What a roundabout way of deleting a file, as compared to typing ‘rm my_document.doc’ in the command line.

That said, it’s understandable that the graphical metaphor may be easier to learn (through demonstration and remembering a series of actions) than text-based commands. So we trade off brevity (both in mental concept and physical execution) for ease of learning.

* The above description still doesn’t actually delete the file. You’ll still need to right-click on the mouse with the mouse pointer on the trash icon and select “Empty trash” from the pop-up menu in order to properly delete the file. That’s when you fall off the edge of the graphical metaphor and still have to issue some kind of text-based instruction (albeit selected from a menu) to the computer. Something isn’t right here.

Written by tokyotribe

May 30, 2011 at 3:40 pm

Posted in Tech

Facebook beats Twitter during the Singapore General Election

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It did for me, at least.

I used to use a Twitter list compiling feeds from Singapore- and Singapore-politics-related blogs and tweeters, but during the 2011 General Election, I found myself relying on Facebook much more than on Twitter, referring to Facebook pages by the Straits Times, The Online Citizen and a handful of other page owners for live updates of the elections. Being able to view updates on different pages provided a more organised experience than seeing everything in one feed, because I wouldn’t end up missing an update if my main feed (with everyone’s updates) filled up with new information. And when I wanted to see what my friends thought about what was happening, I’d look at my main feed.

What was most useful about Facebook was the notifications I got when my friends commented on my updates (which might have been my own comments or stuff I’d shared from other friends or pages), which let me zoom into and carry on the conversations easily, even many simultaneously. This is an experience I wasn’t able to duplicate on Twitter easily.

When it came to expressing my own views about the election, I realised that I wasn’t interested in just broadcasting my views to the ether and getting my views heard (or hoping that someone “following” me would pick it up), but I was also in who would be hearing my views, and that it wasn’t some bot who would start following me because my update mentioned “election”.

That made the fact that only friends receive my updates of Facebook more relevant. The corollary here is to choose one’s friends wisely.

Twitter probably still has its uses. It will likely remain my RSS reader for technology, political and other news when 2-way conversations are not important, but I certainly see myself broadcasting a lot less on it, and also using it less as a means of 2-way communication.

Has Twitter become just a feedreader for blogs and tweets from interesting commentators for me?

Written by tokyotribe

May 29, 2011 at 3:47 pm

Posted in Tech

Testing blogpost.py

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Trying out blogpost.py

Testing out blogpost.py to post from command line.

Written by tokyotribe

May 29, 2011 at 5:52 am

Posted in Uncategorized