Terrible User Interface Design

44 Keys of Confusion

Well, as a stop gap measure to replace my dead Philips DVP-642 DVD player, I went ahead and picked up a TruTech TT 320 DVD player ($34.95 from Target). It’s small, and plays VCD and SVCD (although not DivX like the Philips). I figured I will use it for a while until I figure out what to spend a more serious amount of money on.

It seems to work fine, but it triggers a pet peeve of mine: bad remote control design. I mean really, look at that thing. No less that 44 buttons, all EXACTLY alike, with labels that are printed in gray on gray. Holy crap, how are you expected to actually be able to use this thing? Good remote controls should be able to be used in the dark (yes, kudos to TiVo!). This thing not only needs light, but good lighting, and some glasses.

Bleh.

Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe

Went to see this last night with my wife Carmen, and all I can say is wow. Really well done. We both enjoyed it, although I thought that the pacing was initially a bit slow. Comparisons with Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings are inevitable, and I must say: I found the effects to be of the highest quality, very consistent and I found Narnia’s battles to be even better than those in the Return of the King. The four child actors all did very credible jobs, with (I think) the girls outshining the boys. The movie can be a bit intense (it is rated PG) with some loud scary battle sequences that seemed to upset some of the younger and more sensitive children in the audience, but they calmed down in the more uplifting moments and were clapping.

Scanning the list of user reviews on Yahoo! I’m left with two major impressions of negative comments on this movie:

  1. One group claims that anyone who thinks this is better than Harry Potter is crazy. Well, it was better than Harry Potter in virtually every way.
  2. Another small minority thinks that it’s important to bring up the idea that C.S. Lewis’ Narnia books are just thinly veiled metaphors for Christianity. While such accusations are in some sense true, get over it, and enjoy a very nicely done movie.

I suspect we’ll see some Oscar nods for effects, for costume and art design, and maybe even some surprise nods in other categories.

A really boring math trick…

This showed up on digg, but turned out to be one of the most absurdly transparent “math magic trick” I’d ever seen. Imagine that your 7 digit phone number was written as abc-defg. This trick says to:

  1. Enter abc into the calculator.
  2. Multiply by 80. (Accumulator now contains 80*abc)
  3. Add 1. (Accumulator now contains 80*abc+1)
  4. Multiply by 250. (Accumulator now contains 20000*abc+250)
  5. Add in defg. (Accumulator now contains 20000*abc+250+defg)
  6. And add in defg again. (Accumlator contains 20000*abc+250+2*defg)
  7. Subtract out the 250. (Accumulator contains 20000*abc+2*defg)
  8. Divide by 2. (Wow! Accumulator contains 10000*abc+defg, your phone number! What a surprise!)

Weak. Really weak.

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