Microsoft Worldwide Telescope

Friday 25th July, 2008

Microsoft recently released Worldwide Telescope, a download that allows you to view a virtual night sky, zoom into it, and rotate it around your viewpoint. Great idea, but I was hoping for something a bit more interesting after seeing their Seadragon demo and Google Earth.

The child in me was hoping for a night sky that was full of images rather than just one at a time, and the physicist in me was hoping that they’d normalised the spectral range of the images so that you could view any part of the sky in whatever range of the EM spectrum you wanted, and adjust that range using a slider in real time.

Now that would have impressed me. Don’t be disheartened MS WWT team, this is the 21st century. We’re a tough audience.

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Like Facebook without the crap

Friday 4th July, 2008

When I was first told about Facebook, I asked what was so good about it. Apparently I could upload photos, and “connect” to my friends. I said “so what”.

Later I tried it, and it was quite addictive. Not because of the photos, or the friends that I could keep in touch with the old fashioned way, but because of the news feed. I could get bite-sized chunks of news and feel in touch with people I otherwise wouldn’t see.

It’s the mini-feed that makes it addictive. The apps and endless invites are frankly boring unless you have time to burn.

Services like Twitter and Friendfeed provide that same ambient contact without the rest of the cruft, without the data-lockin, and without the endless stream of zombie bites, ultra-mega-wall spam and “gifts”. I say the same ambient contact, but it’s actually better.

Facebook news feed

Facebook news feed

This is a sample of my Facebook news feed. It’s fine, but compare it to the level of detail in my Twitter feed. The Twitter feed is user-linkable, has avatars, allows broadcast replies, direct replies, and favourites.

Twitter feed

Twitter feed

None of this is anything facebook can’t replicate, but really I don’t see the attraction of going back to their closed eco-system when the open internet offers the best bits, but without the crap.