21 August 2009


Interesting blog about bad charts: Junk Charts.

This is obviously inspired by “chartjunk,” from Edward Tufte’s classic The Visual Display of Quantitative Information. If for some reason you’re not familiar with this book, go read it! There’s tons of useful advice on how to present numbers so they can be understood.

17 August 2009


Raymond Chen often writes about Microspeak — jargon that shows up at Microsoft.

I hadn’t realized that “dogfooding” was now a verb (though Wikipedia concurs), but the usage in the Office 2010 Engineering blog just seems wrong. “For those of you who are dogfooding the Technical Preview build, thanks for all of the great feedback you’ve sent us.” But, the phrase is actually “Eating one's own dog food!” It does not mean beta testing! The author of the blog may be dogfooding, but those in the blog’s audience presumably do not work in the Office 2010 group. I imagine they are actually users of the Technical Preview. They are not eating their own dogfood. They are eating the blog author’s dogfood. This may or may not need a colorful term, but it would need to be a different term.

When I use Opal, I am eating my own dogfood (because I’m the developer). But the people who help me test prerelease versions are not.

03 August 2009

Take Back the Beep

David Pogue writes of the nuisance voice mail prompts the cell phone companies have inflicted on us in order to increase airtime usage. I run into it most often calling my wife, who has a Sprint phone. Luckily they have posted how to disable the prompt I hear, thanks to Pogue’s campaign:

“To turn off caller instructions aka "TAKE BACK THE BEEP"

“Dial into your voicemail accout (sic), select 3 for personal options, select 2 for greetings, select 1 for main greeting, select 3 for add or remove caller instructions, then press 2 for do not play instructions.”

(Of note: Apple wouldn’t let AT&T inflict this on iPhone accounts.)

Pogue now has a followup to his first column.