With the sort of luck I've had with technology lately I should have been scared as hell... I just updated to WordPress 2.5.1. Given the sort of description of what this new version fixes I thought I'd rather update as soon as possible.
Against all odds I didn't crush my server, burn my router or kill my PC. It all took 5 minutes.
Here's the list of updates for 2.5.1:
- Performance improvements for the Dashboard, Write Post, and Edit Comments pages.
- Better performance for those who have many categories
- Media Uploader fixes
- An upgrade to TinyMCE 3.0.7
- Widget Administration fixes
- Various usability improvements
- Layout fixes for IE
That and a huge security bug.
Sorry, this is not a post on breaking technology, new applications, interesting developments or stuff like that.
This is an "AAARG!" sort of message.
In the past week I had my Linux's desktop power source blowing up (and taking the stabilizer with it!), a router strangely going "poof" (and required firmware hacking to restore), Google not accessible from just one of my computers, and the big-brother stuff on my Corporative computer doing all sorts of funny things.
On a very sci-fi sort of way technology turns against its creators. I feel like I live inside a terminator sequel.
That crazy idea of living on a cave and becoming a hermit starts to sound so tempting.
As I was telling a colleague over IM: I've been through robberies (gunpoint and knife), quite a few accidents, some other near-accidents and other scary moments. But I have never, ever been as scared as I was yesterday.
I answered my cell, only to hear "please come, your wife was hit by a car". I live on a 7th floor (8th for Americans). I called the elevator but decided I'd get down faster over the stairs; so I flashed my way down without even turning on the lights.
Half a block to the avenue (running, of course) and my heart started beating again. There was Luciana, standing on her feet.
She had been hit by a car while crossing an avenue. The asshole who hit her came in from a side street and into the avenue and "never saw her". Idiot.
A small nervous breakdown from my wife and 15 x-rays later we went back home. All she has is some bumps (legs, back, left side of her face) and some paranoia. She's on painkillers and at home, but safe and almost unharmed. I thank the Christian and Pagan gods, angels, luck, good fortune and whoever you might see fit for that.
Every now and then one comes across some item that has a serious design flaw. Depending on where it comes from the unavoidable question pops: was this made faulty by design or is it just a horrible mistake that bypassed all controls and lingers making the user's life miserable?
A recurring experience with my home banking system got me thinking about this. Since my area of expertise is web it seems natural that I criticize a major bank's web interface.
On this particular case the issue is with Credit Cards. The amount I have to pay appears on my homepage for all my credit cards. That much is good. With a single glimpse I can see all my different account's balances and click on a link to pay anything. That's where the problem begins.
Once I make a payment to the credit card the balance isn't updated until the next month's balance is out. So if I owe $30 to my credit card and make a $30 payment, I will still see I owe 30 bucks. I can't count how many times I've paid my credit card twice on the same month.
Banks aren't particularly known for their honesty and transparency, thus I always feel suspicious about this design "flaw". Was this UI built this way to get users like myself to get confused and pay more? I honestly think it was meant to be that way. Of course I can go and look at the previous events of my bank account and check wether I had paid the credit card for that month or not, but such information should be presented clearly and be handy to the client.
I wonder how many UIs (and objects in general) are designed with some flaws in them in order to get some sort of side advantage (no, don't mention you-know-which OS, that is just faulty, not by design, but rather by lack of vision and corporate in-breeding).
The same knowledge that can help building an intuitive and easy-to-use experience can be turned around into deceiving and taking advantage from the user. We got used to that with pop-ups, porn links active-x installs and all sorts of malware that populate the web. But expecting that from a "serious" corporation such as a bank (serious, yeah, right) is merely lame.
Not too long ago I mentioned my ISP and Google had some sort of incompatibility and I was de-google-ized for about a day.
(A sidenote to this note: I'm too darn dependant on Google, I need to have feeds and other things moved over to alternative services...)
That has been solved. Well, sort of. Whenever I log in to Lenovo's VPN from home I'm kicked out of google. Pages just wont load. I disconnect and it works like a charm.
ipconfig /flushdns does not work. I stopped windows XP's caching services. I switched my router's DNS servers to OpenDNS (which, BTW, has boosted my browsing speed significantly) I don't know what else to do.
Thank god I have three ThinkPads.
For the past couple of weeks there has been smoke from plain and forest fires to the north of the city. But yesterday was the worst day so far. This is how the sun looked like at about 6:30PM
And this is how the skyline looked like at around the same time.
After a whole night breathing that stuff I woke up with a mild headache, a sore throat and my nose was feeling funny. Fortunately winds started blowing the stuff away during the day, but smoke seems to be back now. Not as hard as yesterday but annoying enough.
On the bright side I must admit sunsets have been a pleasure to witness.
I suffer of a psychological disorder. I have multiple personalities. Well, not in real life, but online I have various personas. Most notably I happen to use some of the same online tools both personally and for my everyday job. Of course the login info for each is different, something that can quickly turn into something painful.
Sxipper is an identity handling tool. It also provides OpenID (which I find myself using more intensively every day) as well as disposable email addresses for those sites where you feel reluctant to share a real email.
Although this two features would suffice to make it an interesting plugin, the real nice features in a time saving manner are the form autofill and persona-handling capabilities.
Auto fill works great because it is human trained. Each Sxipper user trains forms and makes that information available for everyone else. You can also re-train forms in case it is needed.
Using the auto fill in conjuction with personas is just perfect. I have two personas, personal and work. If I need to fill a form with my work contact information (email, address, phone, whatever) I choose that persona.
It is not a perfect tool, but it saves tons of time. Also it is in active development, and the guys at Sxip really listen to users, thus it just keeps getting better. If you feel reluctant to put all that information into a plugin of unknown origin, I might remind you that Sxip belongs to Dick Hardt,, that same guy who gave an awesome keynote on Identity 2.0 at OSCON.