December 28, 2008

No sense in sensors

I like buttons. I like handles. I like dials. I like doorknobs. I like doors for that matter. I like physical controls whose shape and feel suggests their usage and whose usage provides physical feedback. If it clicks, budges and moves, then it's good. When it is in expected position and its usage is apparent from its form, then it's good.

Sensor controls makes no sense to me. I hate smearing fingers against black glossy surface, with unclear outcome. Did it work ? Did I activate the right icon ? I hate it when controls are not really controls, but images on the glass. I hate it when controls change their places, look and functions depending on what I am doing.

Even my stove is black and glossy, with no buttons but tiny engraved white icons. Makes it easy to clean for sure, but using it feels nowhere like pressing a button. Oh well, at least the icons are always in same positions.

iPhone, yes I tried it. Could have spoken through a cigarette case instead. Doesn't feel like phone at all. Large flat nothing.

Now, why sensor controls are so popular these days then ?

The way I see it, sensor controls are cheap alternative to good interface design. See, if they knew what this thing would be used for, they could have spent time and money on design and give it a nice interface, specifically for its function.

But there is a problem - they don't know what the thing will be used for. Instead they plan to use it for something no one could imagine at the moment. And they don't want to cast it in stone. They want to leave their options open, so that the interface can be changed later through software update.

From the manufacturer point of view, the sensor panel is the ideal instrument to implement any interface they may need in the future. It is a way to secure investments, rather than make it more pleasant to use. And the rest is nothing but fashion, done through professional advertising, product placement and bandwagon effect.

Ideally, people need to be placed in a world with indifferent black walls, with the content dynamically downloadable from the BigCorp site. Virtual reality, that's what it is. Opaque screens instead of windows, so that you can choose a "view". Dumb sensor panels with fake buttons. Smaller packages with more useless contents. Things that you have no control over.

And I hate it. I like real things.

December 08, 2008

Pray to rest of the best remote banking solution in Russia

Alas, the bank I've been working for for the last five years got a lower hand in a merger. What it means to IT, does not need explaining. Everything we made is slowly dying out.

While it's still boiling, perhaps it's time to look back, and think about what's been done.

The good:

1. Still, our remote banking solution for the last two years in a row has been rated the best in Russia, and the forum full of client complaints for future shutting it down is also a good indication of that. And I am honored to belong to the team to have made it.

2. The side open source project that I have been developing for years during this employment, Pythomnic, I have luckily had time starting early this year to completely rethink, redesign and rewrite from scratch in new Python 3.0. It is a framework for integration in enterprise network using distributed network services. SOA, EAI, you name it. Essentially, this is what I have been doing for the last five years in the Internetbank project. We have even managed to write a few production services with the new framework and port a few from its previous version. If you don't mind me saying, it is a high quality piece of software, well (re)designed and (re)written. This project I will be working on for the years to come.

The bad:

1. The recession is getting worse. Not too good having to look for a job at times like that. Mind to take a look at my slightly outdated resume ?

2. I still can't force myself to release software the quality of which I consider low. What it means is that I tend to work thoughtfully and thoroughly, but yes, slowly. I could have argued for and against such approach myself, but not in this post. Anyway, such habits don't play well with modern freelancing. Who needs quality today ?

Therefore, pray to rest of the wonderful Internetbank project and if you like pay attention to the Pythomnic3k framework - I hope it is worth your attention.