26 August 2006

Vista Sound

Zoli has an entertaining little anecdote over on his blog about how users cannot disable the startup sound in the current (beta) release of Microsoft's Vista OS.

Funny, back in the days when I still had a Windows machine (around 5 years ago), I never could be bothered to figure my way through their twisty-little-maze of configuration dialogues-for-the-brain-dead to switch off the startup noise.  I used to just jump in and delete the damn media file.

So I guess there is a way to turn it off after all...

15 August 2006

Social Networking 2.0?

A thing that really, really irritates me about the whole "social networking" hoopla is how it takes such a short view of history.  Dave Pollard has a very nice, very useful writeup about social networking (2.0-style).  (Sidebar: Was that mindmap done using Freemind, Dave?  Great piece of software!)

But let's not forget that we humans have been "social networking" since before we fell out the trees.  The fact that we're now trying to do so over the 'net, through a much-lower-bandwidth interface than we're geared for (nothing beats face-to-face!) just means that we've set ourselves some obstacles to overcome.

Perhaps the only significant contribution that the 'net brings is the ability to communicate anonymously.  Some might argue that this is also the handicap that the 'net brings to our conversations, too, since it is what enables spam, wiki defacements, etc.  But I think that anonymity is also exactly what allows us to express a lot more of our true nature, our inner self.

01 August 2006

How to Screw-Up Your Web2 Application

If I were a marketing guy, I would keep you in suspense right up to the end of this post.  I would waffle on for ages about how and why I'm going to tell you "the secret," and what a super guy I am for letting you in on this.

But I'm a programmer, and time is precious.  All over the web I see this particular piece of egregious stupidity:

Apps that use email addresses as user-ids.

I strongly advise against the use of email addresses as login ids.  Consider the following 2 common cases:
  1. The user changes their email address (due to changing provider or whatever). 
  2. A user leaves the community.  Months/years later another user joins; they have the same email address as the old user, but are not the same person.  Are you going to refuse them entry?
In the former case, if you allow them to change their login to correspond to their new email address, you lose the trail of what they've done over time, since you've essentially changed their identity.

Worse, yet, if you're doing any kind of app that allows the user to build up a history, karma points, reputation, whatever, since you force them to throw away their entire investment in your site.  They may as well go elsewhere.  That history took the user time, energy and effort to build, and constitutes your only real barrier to entry against competitors who want to eat your userbase.

In Summary:

A login-id is an identity.  An email address is not an identity.  It is an address.
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