paying attention to attention

30 August 2006 (Wednesday)

Tried out a recent version of Touchstone briefly and although it’s got lots of interesting ideas (and quite a bit of implementation as well), it won’t yet work for me until it has a few key features – technically, the ability to work with https-delivered and authenticated feeds are mandatory for the way I subscribe to feeds now, and from a interaction point of view the ability to manually segment (or mark up) feeds (on subscription) into different types with different attention-management heuristics – news, events and alerts…

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Simplicity or Optimization?

9 August 2006 (Wednesday)

A comment from a colleague on the importance of the experience programmers bring when refactoring to good design

“Something that doesn’t get mentioned about refactoring to a ‘good design’ is that there is a lot of experience brought to bear about what is good. ”

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A use of linguistic analysis in design

15 July 2006 (Saturday)

Seeing a reference to Skinner & Behaviourism (about which I have to admit I know very little) in Animals in Translation, I began thinking about the notion that “all that can be studied is behaviour” and that any reference to internals is problematic. I find this a non-starter for any meaningful study or account of human behaviour. I wonder if you could try to argue that this approach is merely an extension of the attitude of Ethnomethodology (EM), which I respect, already has towards cognitive science and other forms of abstract theorizing – the rejection of up-front in-advance modeling of unstudiable phenomena like ‘mental processes’. However what you are doing with an EM-inspired approach to the study of human and social phenomena is (I think) to engage in a form of practical reasoning – what kind of an account can I give of this.

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The joys of parameterization

30 June 2006 (Friday)

A hidden gem of parameterized tests discovered in Junit 4 javadocs.

While developing the tests for the new sodaplay.com, which needed to test that certain pages generated correct links no matter the name of the context path… That’s a pain because you want to repeat the same tests with just a single parameter difference (the context path). And I’m going to have to do that for each page that I want to test…

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Sodaconstructor engineering workshops @Bristol

12 April 2006 (Wednesday)

The Science Learning Centre at @Bristol have been granted EPSRC funding to do Angela McFarlane‘s proposal of running a scaled-up version of David Shaffer and Gina Svarovsky’s Sodaconstructor engineering workshops in the UK


Customisations

16 February 2006 (Thursday)

When talking about playforge modules last year, we had an idea that XML-based ui definitions might be helpful. Some of us had had some experience with XUL/Mozilla – and saw the power. We thought initially, maybe we take some sort of existing framework and integrate it. However the more we’ve looked the more we come to believe that our requirements are slightly different to most of the XUL-like options out there.

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Annotations

3 December 2005 (Saturday)

Currently in the playforge development we’re using annotations to help with specifying “persistence” (really serialisation&marshalling, but it’s always within the context of saving and loading) and ”bindings” (hooking up XML-specified UIs to the execution of java code during runtime). Some people might well ask (especially those who have read around the issues about “Annotation Hell” or “Annotation Overkill”) why use annotations for this at all, why not just use method-naming standards and normal java introspection? 

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Bindings

3 December 2005 (Saturday)

Have started to make it possible to make a ui described in one or more xml files to be connected (bound) to code in a (java) application. There are two kinds of relationship currently envisaged:

  • simple callbacks representing a one-way execution of code from the ui
    for example, code that is invoked when a button is pressed
  • variables representing a two-way relationship of code to the ui
    for example, a slider that not only controls some feature of the application (e.g. the gravity slider in constructor), but might itself respond (“listen”) to changes in the application, as in the selected slider in the constructor application is indicated simultateously in both the main simulation window and in the sinewave window on the left. In a new version of the constructor application there might be sliders (or even just numeric editors) that can control the position (x and y values) of the selected mass and also reflect changes in its position.

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