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I Really Hate Using Computers And I Just Like Touching Things.

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I really hate using computers, I just like touching things.
Strap yourselves in kids, this one is a long-winded trip into my past.
My excitement by the release of Apple’s iPad can be easily be clasified by others as simple Apple Fanboism. The reason I push back so hard against this notion is it discounts my long love affair with touch interfaces and my standing hatred of the ‘computer’.
Don’t get me wrong, I love computers, I love my mastery of them… I just hate using a computer.
I love what they can do and what they allow me to create. I hate that a decent amount of background knowledge is required to get the most out of them. I do not roll gleefully in endless sheets of dot-matrix paper skillfully painted with masterpieces of coding. My passion is creating things with them, not things for them.
Despite using Macs from very early in my life at the advertsing agency at which my father worked, my first computer was an Atari ST 1040. I felt so cool having a computer. A computer which I bought with my own money gained from an appearance in a Toyota Lexcen commercial. The first computer we had in our house.
I was so pumped up. I was going to learn programming. I was going to be a computer hacker just like those ones I had read about… But 1 hour in… The fantasy faded away. I was playing games. I was typing letters to friends… I was waiting 10 minutes for the spreadsheet program to load.
This great fantasy I had crafted in my head about WHAT a computer was and what I wasnted to do with them was false. For me a computer was a tool for fun, creativity and communication. The most frustrating part of that expereince was the realisation that in order to do those things, and do them well, I still had to gain a solid level of knowledge about the inner workings of the beige box.
So, with my move to highschool. I got my first Windows PC and a modem. The world opened up for me. Again, the grandious thoughts of going hardcore filled my head. But, I was spending all my time chatting on IRC, playing games and surfing the emerging web.
Once again, I realized that I wasn’t a hardcore computer guy. The only issue was since I had confidence using the computer, I was fast becoming known as ‘the guy who was good with computers’. Anyone who has fixed a simple issue in Word or helped someone with a small task in Windows knows that the projection of confidence goes a long way in your status of ‘Guru’. This required me to level up my knowledge help others, again pulling me deeper than I truly wanted to go.
The biggest gripe about being ‘the computer guy’… viruses. It sucks. You can lobby as hard as you like to get enough money to put in place the best system possible but as soon as some downloads something or clicks on a link in an email etc… you have failed. It’s a lot easier to criticize the computer guy than try and yell at your employees for doing something you don’t truly understand yourself.
So as I moved from high school into University, and being a computer guy, I waded into a double major in Computer Science at Queensland University… and hated it. I could understand everything that was being taught, but my heart just wasn’t in it. I dropped out that year (not before switching to a double major in Philosophy and acing that for 6 months).
Next year I went to TAFE, kind of like practical university. I loved it. Hands on, the social interaction… but again, my heart slipped away.
So I went and got myself a 9 to 5 at a local fertiliser comapny, funnily enough, as their computer guy/graphic artist. It was the perfect job. I got to help people use computers, set up networks and do really practical stuff… without hardcore knowledge. This was also the first time when someone paid me money to use a computer to be creative.
Something I still do today.
So based on my non-hardcore use of the a computer, I just want something that does what I do.
Touch Me Baby
I love touch interfaces. When I use a keyboard or mouse, there is a mental disconnect. There is something very primal about touching something with your finger and it responding.
Anything touch screen I gotta try. The terminals at the malls for customer service. I use the self-service touch screens at my supermarket. Hell, Subway tends to give me gastro but I ordered it once JUST cause they installed new touch screen ordering terminals.
The Ahh-Ha! moment came for me when I found a funky looking phone on eBay from Germany.
The Siemens SX45.
To big to fit on my pocket (but I didn’t care). No microphone or speaker, just a tanglious headphone cord (I didn’t care)… It had a touch screen. While it did have a stylus, I was able to touch the screen and make things happen.
I bought it. $700. My life was complete. Yes it was a crappy Windows Mobile interface but it was tweaked just ever so to allow my big sausage fingers to whip through the menus. It had email, music player, Word, Excel, ‘web-browser’. Heaps of apps. I was like carrying around a brick but I loved it. I had direct control. Part of the reason I am so frickin’ ninja on the iPhone keyboard is I learnt to type on this about 6 years ago.
So I rocked that for a year or so until Rachael and I decided to get Motorola RAZRs. One of the best and worse phones ever (for me). I loved the usability, the camera and the games… but I couldn’t touch it. Phone navigation is hard at the best of times. Throw in sausage fingers and you’re screwed.
Then, one our 2 years were up, I bought my next phone. The LG KU990. It was the SX45 on steroids. It had a fat 5 megapixel camera and a touch interface based on buttons, not menus.
BAM! I had found sort of a computer that WASN’T a computer. It got out of the way and just let me rock the interface to get to where I wanted to go. It was rough but it was enough.
Now at this stage, the iPhone had just been released. For someone like me, Mr Jobs had just given me the next evolution of my dream device… But I didn’t get it year 1. It wasn’t until my fat ass broken the screen on my LG in a slide at a McDonald’s play ground that I got one.
It was the second Ahh-Ha. 95% of what I did on my PC and Mac was now in the palm of my hand and it wasn’t a computer. It had no File/Edit. It had no Maximize/Minimize… It was full screen environments running the task I was performing.
I’ll explain. The major thing I do on a computer is Adobe Lightroom for my photography. When I use it, I switch it to Full Screen mode and the Windows Start Bar or the Mac’s File Menu disappears. I simple use the application, not the OS.
I have used touch tablets before, all Windows devices. My most hardcore use was the set-up and maintenance of a DynaVox eyetracking computer with Windows 95. Despite all the bolted on features, at it’s heart it was the same tablet computer that Windows was selling off the shelf. I know this because when I unpacked it, I had to assemble it all and load the extra software on top of the pre-installed XP. It soon became clear to me that this was still a mouse and keyboard interface that you could touch. The Max/Min/Exit buttons were painfully small and trying to drag and select multiple files at once was almost impossible.
The attachment of a USB keyboard helped but eventually I had to submit and attach a mouse as well. Now, I am sure in future versions (Windows 7) that tweaks have been made but at it’s heart, and tablet OS maker must understand that a straight port without UI tweaks makes it difficult to use. Especially on anything under 13 inches.
I have the exact same criticism of the OSX interface. It is all still menu based and would be the same nightmare to use as Windows.
While my use may not be as hardcore as some, it is still valid and more closely aligned to the general population.
You win no badges for hardcoredness. It’s not what you got, it’s what you do with it.
So, now I have MY phone. The phone I have wanted for 6 years. The computer I have wanted for 20. It fits my work flow, my uses and I trust Apple based on years of solid service. Mr Jobs has stepped up again and said “Here is what you want, Johnny, but more powerful and a bigger screen”.
My answer? 1 please.

Strap yourselves in kids, this one is a long-winded trip into my past.

My excitement by the release of Apple’s iPad can be easily be clasified by others as simple Apple Fanboism. The reason I push back so hard against this notion is it discounts my long love affair with touch interfaces and my standing hatred of the ‘computer’.

Don’t get me wrong, I love computers, I love my mastery of them… I just hate using a computer.

I love what they can do and what they allow me to create. I hate that a decent amount of background knowledge is required to get the most out of them. I do not roll gleefully in endless sheets of dot-matrix paper skillfully painted with masterpieces of coding. My passion is creating things with them, not things for them.

Despite using Macs from very early in my life at the advertsing agency at which my father worked, my first computer was an Atari ST 1040. I felt so cool having a computer. A computer which I bought with my own money gained from an appearance in a Toyota Lexcen commercial. The first computer we had in our house.

I was so pumped up. I was going to learn programming. I was going to be a computer hacker just like those ones I had read about… But 1 hour in… The fantasy faded away. I was playing games. I was typing letters to friends… I was waiting 10 minutes for the spreadsheet program to load.

This great fantasy I had crafted in my head about WHAT a computer was and what I wasnted to do with them was false. For me a computer was a tool for fun, creativity and communication. The most frustrating part of that expereince was the realisation that in order to do those things, and do them well, I still had to gain a solid level of knowledge about the inner workings of the beige box.

So, with my move to highschool. I got my first Windows PC and a modem. The world opened up for me. Again, the grandious thoughts of going hardcore filled my head. But, I was spending all my time chatting on IRC, playing games and surfing the emerging web.

Once again, I realized that I wasn’t a hardcore computer guy. The only issue was since I had confidence using the computer, I was fast becoming known as ‘the guy who was good with computers’. Anyone who has fixed a simple issue in Word or helped someone with a small task in Windows knows that the projection of confidence goes a long way in your status of ‘Guru’. This required me to level up my knowledge help others, again pulling me deeper than I truly wanted to go.

The biggest gripe about being ‘the computer guy’… viruses. It sucks. You can lobby as hard as you like to get enough money to put in place the best system possible but as soon as some downloads something or clicks on a link in an email etc… you have failed. It’s a lot easier to criticize the computer guy than try and yell at your employees for doing something you don’t truly understand yourself.

So as I moved from high school into University, and being a computer guy, I waded into a double major in Computer Science at Queensland University… and hated it. I could understand everything that was being taught, but my heart just wasn’t in it. I dropped out that year (not before switching to a double major in Philosophy and acing that for 6 months).

Next year I went to TAFE, kind of like practical university. I loved it. Hands on, the social interaction… but again, my heart slipped away.

So I went and got myself a 9 to 5 at a local fertiliser comapny, funnily enough, as their computer guy/graphic artist. It was the perfect job. I got to help people use computers, set up networks and do really practical stuff… without hardcore knowledge. This was also the first time when someone paid me money to use a computer to be creative.

Something I still do today.

So based on my non-hardcore use of the a computer, I just want something that does what I do.

Touch Me Baby

I love touch interfaces. When I use a keyboard or mouse, there is a mental disconnect. There is something very primal about touching something with your finger and it responding.

Anything touch screen I gotta try. The terminals at the malls for customer service. I use the self-service touch screens at my supermarket. Hell, Subway tends to give me gastro but I ordered it once JUST cause they installed new touch screen ordering terminals.

The Ahh-Ha! moment came for me when I found a funky looking phone on eBay from Germany.

The Siemens SX45.

To big to fit on my pocket (but I didn’t care). No microphone or speaker, just a tanglious headphone cord (I didn’t care)… It had a touch screen. While it did have a stylus, I was able to touch the screen and make things happen.

I bought it. $700. My life was complete. Yes it was a crappy Windows Mobile interface but it was tweaked just ever so to allow my big sausage fingers to whip through the menus. It had email, music player, Word, Excel, ‘web-browser’. Heaps of apps. I was like carrying around a brick but I loved it. I had direct control. Part of the reason I am so frickin’ ninja on the iPhone keyboard is I learnt to type on this about 6 years ago.

So I rocked that for a year or so until Rachael and I decided to get Motorola RAZRs. One of the best and worse phones ever (for me). I loved the usability, the camera and the games… but I couldn’t touch it. Phone navigation is hard at the best of times. Throw in sausage fingers and you’re screwed.

Then, one our 2 years were up, I bought my next phone. The LG KU990. It was the SX45 on steroids. It had a fat 5 megapixel camera and a touch interface based on buttons, not menus.

BAM! I had found sort of a computer that WASN’T a computer. It got out of the way and just let me rock the interface to get to where I wanted to go. It was rough but it was enough.

Now at this stage, the iPhone had just been released. For someone like me, Mr Jobs had just given me the next evolution of my dream device… But I didn’t get it year 1. It wasn’t until my fat ass broken the screen on my LG in a slide at a McDonald’s play ground that I got one.

It was the second Ahh-Ha. 95% of what I did on my PC and Mac was now in the palm of my hand and it wasn’t a computer. It had no File/Edit. It had no Maximize/Minimize… It was full screen environments running the task I was performing.

I’ll explain. The major thing I do on a computer is Adobe Lightroom for my photography. When I use it, I switch it to Full Screen mode and the Windows Start Bar or the Mac’s File Menu disappears. I simple use the application, not the OS.

I have used touch tablets before, all Windows devices. My most hardcore use was the set-up and maintenance of a DynaVox eyetracking computer with Windows 95. Despite all the bolted on features, at it’s heart it was the same tablet computer that Windows was selling off the shelf. I know this because when I unpacked it, I had to assemble it all and load the extra software on top of the pre-installed XP. It soon became clear to me that this was still a mouse and keyboard interface that you could touch. The Max/Min/Exit buttons were painfully small and trying to drag and select multiple files at once was almost impossible.

The attachment of a USB keyboard helped but eventually I had to submit and attach a mouse as well. Now, I am sure in future versions (Windows 7) that tweaks have been made but at it’s heart, and tablet OS maker must understand that a straight port without UI tweaks makes it difficult to use. Especially on anything under 13 inches.

I have the exact same criticism of the OSX interface. It is all still menu based and would be the same nightmare to use as Windows.

While my use may not be as hardcore as some, it is still valid and more closely aligned to the general population.

You win no badges for hardcoredness. It’s not what you got, it’s what you do with it.

So, now I have MY phone. The phone I have wanted for 6 years. The computer I have wanted for 20. It fits my work flow, my uses and I trust Apple based on years of solid service. Mr Jobs has stepped up again and said “Here is what you want, Johnny, but more powerful and a bigger screen”.

My answer? 1 please.

Written by johnworthington

February 4th, 2010 at 11:24 am

Posted in iPhone

Tagged with ,

Swinging On A Rope… Trust, Climbing and FriendFeed

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First posted on FriendFeed: 13th August, 2009 – http://ff.im/6wu3M

I do declare that this will be my last post on the subject. After reading Paul’s post about trust, I re-examined my reaction to the news of the whole Facebook thing. I have come to the conclusion that throughout this whole thing, I still trusted the FriendFeed team, I was just swinging on a rope.

Back at university, I loved indoor rock climbing. I use to do it at every opportunity I could. We were lucky enough to have one on campus and that’s where me and my friends hung out. In rock climbing, there are three things you trust: Your spotter, your ropes and the wall.

For me, FriendFeed is the wall. All my friends and I climb up and down it, sharing the experience and having a good time. The FF team are the ropes, the things we trust and the most and will help us from falling. The ‘FriendFeed Company’ itself was also the spotter. Watching us, encourgaing and guiding us up the wall, looking after the wall, managing the ropes and pulling on the ropes to stop us crashing.

So, half way up the wall, I awoke to find that suddenly, with little warning, my spotter had changed. I have to trust the spotter fully as we have to work together in sync. I would not climb one foot hold without knwoing who had my back. Worse still, we could not get any word if or when the wall we were actually climbing would actually exisit soon.

So, there we were. Half way up a wall with a new person holding you safety and a uncertin wall. 2 of the 3 things you trust in rock climbing were shaken. That is why I reacted the way I did (and to some extent still are). I still have the rope, and that’s what I am clinging to.

Now, there may be a great new wall coming, epic beyond belief, and this new spotter may make me climb that rock in ways I never thought possible, but, until I know where my next hand hold is, I’m just swinging on a rope…

Written by johnworthington

August 13th, 2009 at 8:07 pm

Posted in FriendFeed

Tagged with , ,

Well… Super poke me in the ass…

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First posted on FriendFeed: August 11th, 2009 – http://ff.im/6q9HM

Look, let me start of by saying congratulations boys and girls. Seriously, you lived the startup dream. You built an epic product, gained a loyal following and then got bought out. I do not fault or hold a grudge againt any of you for that.

I truely hope you can bring some FriendFeedly goodness to Facebook, like the parmasen cheese on top of a bowl of spagetti. I fear you will just be incorporated into a massive soup and form the part that coats the back of the spoon.

See, I think that’s my problem. Last night I spent 3 hours trying to edit a podcast about FriendFeed. I have the shirts. I have the stickers. I have the fanboy love. I have a great group of friends who love and trust each other.

I woke this morning to find that not only have you been bought by a company I despise for their product, but you can’t tell me what is happeneing, when, how or even if the name FriendFeed will exist tomorrow or next week. We are in shock. You’ve broken our hearts. We have no closure.

I love you guys, and will continue to play on the deck as it goes down but all we have is “We need to talk”.

Written by johnworthington

August 11th, 2009 at 8:22 pm

Posted in FriendFeed

Tagged with , ,

Sometimes…

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First posted on FriendFeed: August 10th, 2009 – http://ff.im/6nrMe

Sometimes it’s your computer. Sometimes it’s the IM client you are using. Sometimes is where you are using that IM client. Sometimes it’s the phone you’re using. Sometimes it’s the cell connection. Sometimes it’s your ISP. Sometimes it’s the settings you have set for how to handle links between programs. Sometimes it’s how you’ve set up your browser. Sometimes it’s just your browser. Sometimes the fault is with the third party service. Sometimes it’s how that third party service chooses to distribute content. Sometimes it’s really hard to manipulate that data depending on how that service distributes that content. Sometimes implementing that feature that you and only 1 other person will kinda only use for the first 2 weeks will require a full redesign or break the site for everyone else. Sometimes implementing a feature is really hard and takes time, be patient. Sometimes it’s who you subscribe to. Sometimes it’s who you allow to be subscribed to you. Sometimes it has already been mentioned over and over again. Sometimes it has but not in a place you can see it. Sometimes people are just more likable than other people. Sometimes content isn’t enough to triumph over personality. Sometimes a well know person will post the same thing, and by nature of that fame, will get more attention. Sometimes it’s how you phrase something. Sometimes it’s who you phrase it towards. Sometimes it’s how you read it. Sometimes it’s not the time to start shit. Sometimes it’s good to know when you’re wrong or to say sorry. Sometimes silliness will happen. Sometimes seriousness will happen. Sometimes topics you may hate get talked about. Sometimes other people are sick of you talking about your topic endlessly. Sometimes someone is in another time zone. Sometimes people don’t like you. Sometimes people like you too much. Sometimes people just start shit. Sometimes people just start shit so they can play the victim. Sometimes people need to think if they can back their shit up before starting it. Sometimes people may disagree with you but not hate you. Sometimes people may agree with others who disagree with you, they don’t hate you either. Sometimes it’s you. Sometimes it’s them. Sometimes block is your friend. Sometimes a block is cowards way out. Sometimes a word like ‘like’ doesn’t mean you like the content of the post. Sometimes Macs are better. Sometimes PCs are better. Sometimes LINUX is better. Sometimes it’s about how you use the computer. Sometimes it OK to take a break. Sometimes you NEED to take a break. Sometimes you’re drunk. Sometimes others are drunk. Sometimes content may offend, block or hide but move on. Sometimes people just don’t get it. Sometimes people will never get it. Sometimes people don’t get it and go away, only to come back later. Sometimes people don’t get it and go away, and don’t come back, that’s OK to. Sometimes people just pipe in, that’s OK to. Sometimes people call other names, that is never OK but along with that, don’t poke a bear lest you get your ass bit. Sometimes it pays to think before complaining. Sometimes placing obscenities in your posts may get attention, but inflame rather than getting resolution. Sometimes it’s OK to make a point. Sometimes it’s OK to have that point rejected by others. Sometimes that point is rejected despite what you believe is a fundamental point. Sometimes you’re just pissing in the wind. Sometimes it just never makes it. Sometimes it just hasn’t made it yet. Sometimes it’s OK not to win. Sometimes slow and steady wins the race. Sometimes it’s just time to leave. Sometimes it’s OK to be a fanboy. Sometimes it’s just not FriendFeed’s fault…

Written by johnworthington

August 10th, 2009 at 8:22 pm

Posted in FriendFeed

Tagged with , ,

Sometimes I wish I didn’t care about FriendFeed so much…

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First posted on FriendFeed: July 11th, 2009 – http://ff.im/556Qk

I know it seems silly to care about a social networking site but it represents one of the best years of my life. I have meet some great people, made a very close friend I see as a brother and learnt things that have opened my eyes to a million points of view…

To see that thrown aside by a person in a one line, misspelled, comment on a thread kinda stings… Silly I know, but………

Written by johnworthington

July 11th, 2009 at 8:21 pm

Posted in FriendFeed

Tagged with , ,