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Rick Ucker
Programmer, cyclist, crappy guitarist
Programmer, cyclist, crappy guitarist

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+IBM Lotus Notes has what I can say is hands-down the worst #UX I've ever seen. Compiled here is a list of 21 usability annoyances and odd behavior, compiled over a two-year span when I had the misfortune of using the application daily.

In my opinion, this state of affairs is par for the course with enterprise-level software whose continued existence relies solely on momentum.

I would like to be proven wrong, but over time this is the sort of #BadUX I've come to expect from IBM's enterprise offerings (don't even get me started on Rational ClearCase...)

It's worth noting that most of these issues exhibited themselves while 1) messages are grouped by conversation; 2)  Show>Unread Messages selected 3) I was reading messages using the preview pane.

1. New email is here (I received a notification), but I can't see it until I click the refresh button (or sometimes restart the application)
2. Some commands/options are in the menus, some are scattered throughout the UI (often hidden)
3. "This message thread is incomplete" when trying to expand a conversation thread in which I have not deleted any messages.
4. Search is nearly useless
The search results view looks just like my inbox (fields, column headings, etc) but it can't be sorted like my inbox. In fact, sorting options are limited to "Show results: By Date (asc/desc)/By Relevance/Sorted like current view/within all documents."
"Within all documents" isn't even a sorting option, it's a search option. Why is it there?
When I alt-tab to another window (such as to write this note) then alt-tab back and click directly on the "Show results" dropdown in Notes, it expands and immediately closes again.
5. Show>Individual messages: 20 unread. Show>Conversations: 2 unread. Repeat over and over until closing and re-opening mail. Then all the conversations show up.
6. Reading a message when a reply to that message comes in. Suddenly, I'm being shown the reply instead of the original.
7. Click "OK" on an event reminder that has popped up. The reminder immediately goes straight to the background (and doesn't respond to the click).
8. Press Insert key to mark a message read/unread. Suddenly, every message in every folder is marked unread.
9. Number of unread messages (bolded in parentheses) in a folder stops updating as I read unread messages.
10. Press Up key to move to next message in inbox. Sometimes I'll go straight to the very first, as though I'd pressed the Home key.
11. Press refresh button, all messages in current view disappear. Have to restart Notes to see them again.
12. Occasionally can't view the most recent x messages in inbox until I close/reopen.
13. Threaded conversation shows (x) number of messages in the subject line. When I expand the thread, I might see a completely different number of messages!
14. Inexplicable toggling from my selected "Show>Conversations" to "Individual Messages." (not initiated by me)
15. Never-completing "Job to get content for X from NotesContacts." Requesting cancel does nothing.
16. When I respond to an event invitation/announcement/update: the message disappears from view (because it's now "read") and an adjacent message becomes selected in the message list. However, I still see the event invitation/announcement/update in the reading pane. End result: one message is selected, but I'm viewing another.
17. A new message arrives in a thread where I've previously read all emails. After reading, I expand the thread, select the new message, and mark it read. Despite the fact that all messages in it are marked read, the thread does not disappear from view (even when moving on and selecting a different message).
18. Reply to an unread message in my inbox. This marks the message read, which means it should disappear from view. It doesn't.
19. It has happened that when switching from showing Individual Messages to showing Conversations, entire unread, multi-message conversations are hidden from view.
20. I have a multi-message conversation thread in my inbox, sorted by Date. I click the Subject column and it re-sorts. Now, multiple messages from the thread appear as separate items (despite their subject lines being identical, including "Re:...").
Additionally, in the instance above, there was at least one conversation that was visible when sorting by subject that was completely removed from view when sorting by date.
21. When there are more messages in my inbox than can fit vertically, scrolling down to the oldest message often causes a handful of the newest messages to disappear from view (the scrollbar might even go away because the list becomes too short to need it). When I scroll back up or press Home, they appear again.

(Dis)honorable mention: Sametime Chat Client
1. Click the New Contact button: the Add Sametime Contact dialog opens on a different monitor than the contact list is on. Move it to the monitor I'm working on, then click the Browse for Name tab and the dialog jumps unpredictably to another position. It may or may not jump back to the other monitor. Whichever monitor it ends up on, It displays partially outside that monitor's border.
2. Search for a contact by name: it has to be lname<SPACE>, fname (not lname, fname). Without a space between the last name and the comma, nothing will be found.
3. The Chat History dialog always opens unmaximized, but sized larger than my screen.
4. When sending files to a contact, multiple files can be selected in the file chooser dialog. However,when trying to send them you'll get an error that only one file may be sent at a time.


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When I started learning guitar in the 90s, I made heavy use of tablature (tab) sites. Anyone who has used those knows how incorrect or incomplete they can be.

Fast forward to modern times, and there are a wealth of YouTube videos that blow tabs away in every respect.

Case in point is this video by +Claudio Massafra. This is an extremely well put-together tutorial -- I have gained much more from this video than I could from tabs alone. It's complete, it's correct, and it gives me a simultaneous audio/visual lesson.

This is an excellent example of how the march of #technology is narrowing the knowledge/skill gap. #Learning is becoming much more accessible than it used to be.

  #music #guitar #thankful  

I started playing guitar when I was 15. Mostly put it down by the time I got into programming at 28. At 33, I picked up guitar again.

It's clear now how programming has changed my brain. My whole outlook on learning, picking up new skills, and self-assessment is miles beyond what it used to be.

Case in point: After a few weeks of practicing hard after years of hardly touching the guitar at all, I'm doing things I was never able to do when I practiced daily before programming.

I'm still crappy, but I'm less crappy than ever before.

Thank you, computer science.

#music #guitar #programming #thankful  

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Websites shouldn't break established application shortcut keys. I'm looking at you, +Google+. Give me back my Ctrl+PgUp/Ctrl+PgDn in Firefox!

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Hello, #Pebble! 

I ran into an unsual problem with #XBMC yesterday. When I tried to play a video, the loading animation would appear but playback never began. When I hit the stop button on my remote, the UI froze. I could still SSH into the box (a Raspberry Pi running #RaspBMC ) and restart XBMC, but the same thing happened over and over.

Trying to ls or cd to the directory where the media was located (actually a Samba share mounted via fstab) wouldn't work--the command just hung and would not complete.

When I restarted the machine, the disk holding the media (actually a Samba share) wouldn't mount. Issuing # mount -a did nothing (command hung).

Eventually I SSH'd into the #beagleboard that hosts the Samba share and started poking around. I quickly noticed that the root partition was full (due mostly to growing log files). I cleaned up /var/log and everything started working normally again.

Easy fix for odd symptoms.

Tonight, I finally resolved an extremely tricky (by my standards) sysadmin issue I've been struggling with.

Last week, I got the #BeagleBoard #BeagleBoneBlack to use as a NAS/webserver/file manager of sorts. The board itself has been great and I got it up and running as a headless server in no time.

Now, I have a specific need for the non-free version of unrar. When I had a Raspberry Pi serving this role, I was able to build an unrar-nonfree deb easily using apt-get build-dep and such.

However, with the #Ångström distribution (which is what ships on the BBB), things are a bit different (and unfamiliar to me). I couldn't build unrar-nonfree in the manner I was used to. Additionally, since #Angstrom is a niche distribution for embedded systems, there weren't nearly as many relevant (or recent) hits on google. At one point I thought I was going to have to cross-compile using OpenEmbedded and BitBake, which was a daunting prospect for me (again, most of what I found on this topic was out of date).

Since both the Pi and the Beaglebone use an ARMv7 processor, I figured I could use the deb I compiled for the Pi on the Beaglebone. I unpacked the deb on my Beaglebone and ran unrar. It gave the odd output:
-sh: /usr/unrar: No such file or directory
This made no sense to me. I tried:

$ readelf -l /usr/bin/unrar

Which showed that the unrar binary was requesting the loader /lib/ This loader was not present on my system, hence the "No such file or directory" message.

Many hours of hacking and googling later, I had a solution that appeared to work:
# ln -s /lib/ /lib/
It did not actually work, but rather silently failed even though the unrar binary would run when I called it from the command-line. So that option was out.

I also tried downloading the ARM-compiled binary from That created other issues that I will not detail here.

In the end, the solution turned out to be far easier than I thought. Prior to tonight, my experience with makefiles consisted of forum-thread copypasta--where I essentially understood what was happening but didn't feel comfortable doing it on my own. Turns out all I needed to do was:

$ tar xvf unrarsrc-5.0.3.tar.gz
$ cd unrar-5.0.3
# make
# make install

...and that was it. No scary makefile editing, nothing.

TL;DR: to get unrar-nonfree working on Angstrom, download the source from the attached link, then make && make install. Not so scary after all.

Hi friends, I'm wondering what everyone's opinions are on shared use paths. Personally I think they are a good idea that often aren't implemented properly.

For example, check out this intersection in Dublin:

if I were heading East/West on Davidson Rd path, the angle of the narrowness of the ramp to the crosswalk mean I would have to almost come to a stop to get through. Since I normally cruse at 15+ MPH, that's a deal breaker.

Plus, needing to treat every intersection as a crosswalk--as opposed to having the right-of-way like we do on the street--makes things difficult as well.

I'm assuming I'm not the only one who avoids shared use paths due to issues like these (assuming pedestrian traffic isn't a problem).

Since cities like +Dublin Ohio are investing a lot of money in this type of infrastructure, I think this creates a real problem. I think it ticks people off seeing us ride on the street alongside what they see as a viable off-the-road path that is often completely unused.

This type of thing might work against us when #cycling advocates ask for more funding for bike infrastructure. "We built #bike paths and they don't use them!"

Personally, this is why I prefer bike lanes & #sharrows.

I realize that shared use paths aren't only for #bikes but I'm not sure other people do. I was riding not far from there a few months ago when I was yelled at by a driver to "get on the bike path."

So, #bikefriends: what do you think about all this?
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