Radio Referers Broken

My Radio's Refers feature has been broken for a while now.  I don't know if it is something I did or not.  I'll have to dig into the internals of Radio.  I like Radio, but its pretty hard to figure out where things are and how things get done.  Radio needs a cross referencing tool…

PointClip : A New UI Mechanism

Lately, I had trouble using cut-copy-paste via keyboard.  I don't know whether the problem is with my left pinky finger or the control key, but I frequently end up with C instead of control-C.  This is very annoying since I use cut-copy-paste everyday countless times.  So I started thinking about better clipboard UI mechanism.  When I woke up this afternoon (ahem ;-), I found PointClip, both the idea and the name, in my head.

PointClip is a fixed size FIFO clipboard containing objects selected or activated by the user using the mouse.  As you click and drag on pieces of text, hyperlinks, and files, objects or references those objects are entered into PointClip as old objects are removed to make room.  It works as if the cursor has memory: most recent stuff my cursor touched.  No more control-C for copying things.  Control or shift key modifier can be used to distinguish cut from copy.

Paste operation is initiated by holding the right mouse button down for a period longer than normal mouse click.  A popup menu of items in PointClip is displayed.  Selecting any of the item will cause that item to be pasted in.

Until I build a prototype, I won't know how well this will work, but it seemed useful enough to share.

Sensory Overload Stock Trading

Sensory overload is a relatively unexplored area in Human-Computer Interface.  In most case, you want to avoid it because user interface that overload the senses will confuse more than inform the user.  In some specialized cases, you want to overload the senses to promote intuition over logic in presence of an information avalanche.

For example, a stock trader has to monitor hundreds if not thousands of information sources in realtime to make informed decisions.  But today's trader tools use primarily visual means to deliver information and human eye has relatively poor bandwidth when compared to other sensors.

A possible solution I came up with (ten years ago?) was to use the whole body to deliver information.  This means a chair with full force-feedback capability, using gyros and hydrallics, powerful embedded speakers, and joysticks for delivering fine-grained force-feedback to hands and to receive inputs.  Hooking up the chair to NASDAQ will mean the user will feel and hear every bumps and twists the market makes on top of visual data piped through a surround video.

My theory is that such a device will cause a sensory overload which will induce either a mental breakdown or a trance in which sum of all the information emerge as intuitions and subconscious reactions.  Even if one learns to use the chair successfully, one can last only so long because one year on the chair will be equivalent to a year of combat flying.

Information Visualization Links

If you tend to think visually like me, here are some sites you might enjoy.  An Atlas of Cyberspaces is a fun place with many neat visualization techniques applied to visualization of the Web.    OLIVE: On-line Library of Information Visualization Environments is more academical (read: long boring words), but not bad for a source of occasional deep thought sessions.  Finally, a collection of links related to information visualization at InfoVisu site.

BillMeLater and More on Market-base Credit Card

In this monster post, "Scott" discusses my Market-based Credit Card (MCC) idea along with Bill Me Later, a single institution version of MCC.  I wasn't aware of Bill Me Later and there wasn't much information at their website, but Scott's description of their system sounds intriguing.  With a single institution, many control and scalability problems dissolve to manageable technical issues.  It will be interesting to see how their system do in the market.

One interesting aspect of MCC is that the system should work for any transaction amount.  It can handle car and home loans as easily as buying a book at Amazon.  Institutions bidding for car and home loans will be different from those bidding for $30 credit card purchase, but the cardholder doesn't see a different.  The difference at the backend is that, for small purchases, institutions will consider only cardholder-specific risks and only in veto mode (approve by default unless the account is flagged).  For large purchases, institutions will consider transaction-specific risks as well as cardholder-specific risks.

Another interesting aspect of MCC I failed to mention: there could be more than one market.  You can have country or region specific markets to mirror political boundaries and industry specific markets (i.e. mortgages) to mirror industrial boundaries.

RSS 2.0: Reality of Reuse in XML

It is too easy for engineer to anticipate too much and XML Namespace is a frequent host of over-anticipation.  While XML geeks consider tag name conflicts as an impending doom that must be averted religiously through XML Namespaces, such conflicts are uncommon in practice.

While RSS elements may be reused by embedding in other XML documents, how many such composite document formats exist in reality?  If there are, it is easy enough to introduce a wrapper element that clearly marks module boundaries like this:

<myformat>
  <a>…</a><b>..</b>
  <rssmodule xmlns="blah"><rss>….</rss></rssmodule>
</myformat>

In above example, <rssmodule> element is used to trigger RSS element processing.  RSS elements other than <rssmodule> may or may not have a namespace associated.  If not, then only <rssmodule> element will have a namespace.

Note that this technique works for embedding other modules such as iCard and xCal inside RSS without shoving XML Namespace down everyone's throat.