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Is It Time To Get Rid Of The Caps Lock Key?

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"At its worst, it's a waste of precious space, an annoyance, a solution to a problem that doesn't exist any more," complains Daniel Colin James, a writer, developer, product manager. In a recent Medium essay, he called the Caps Lops key "an unnecessary holdover from a time when typewriters were the bleeding edge of consumer technology" -- and even contacted the man who invented the Caps Lock key (Doug Kerr, who had been a Bell Labs telephone engineer in the 1960s): I reached out to Doug about his invention, and he responded that while he still uses Caps Lock regularly, "we don't often today have a reason to type addresses in all caps, which was the context in which the need for the key first manifested itself to me."

I would go a step further, and say that most of us don't often have a reason to type anything in all caps today... [A] toggle with the same functionality could easily be activated in a number of different ways for those who really want to write things in all capital letters. (Say, for example, double tapping the Shift key, like how it already works on your phone.) Caps Lock is one of the largest keys on a modern keyboard, and it's in one of the best spots -- right next to the home row. It's taking up prime real estate, and it's not paying its rent any more.

Have you ever been in the middle of typing something, and then you get the uneasy feeling thaT YOU FLEW TOO CLOSE TO THE SUN AND NOW YOU HAVE TO REWRITE YOUR WORDS? You're not alone. Accidentally activating Caps Lock is such a relatable mistake that it's the introductory example for a research paper about accessibility issues with modern computer interfaces. Caps Lock is so frequently engaged unintentionally that password fields in software have to include a "Caps Lock is on" warning.

I've heard of people re-mapping their keyboards so the Caps Lock key becomes "Esc" or "Ctrl." But maybe it comes down to consumers. If you were shopping for a computer and were told that it shipped without a Caps Lock key -- would you be more or less likely to buy it?

Share your own thoughts in the comments. Is it time to get rid of the Caps Lock key?
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davenelson
79 days ago
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I use the caps lock key to switch layers and have a key down at the bottom-right side of the keyboard as a caps lock. I will never buy another non-programable keyboard. QMK FTW!
Atlanta, Georgia
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denismm
95 days ago
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I pry it off when I can, disable it when I can’t.
jepler
95 days ago
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I like it for compose (I like to be able to type the áçcentêd characters on my otherwise standard US layout), and of course so many emacs users like it as a place for ctrl. On my newest laptop, where I haven't bothered remapping it yet, I keep hitting the thing at random and ending up stuck in caps-world, ugh.
Earth, Sol system, Western spiral arm

The Daily Edit – Ethan Pines: Forbes Magazine

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Ethan Pines talks about photographing Elizabeth Holmes for Forbes

In late 2014 I photographed Elizabeth Holmes, the founder and CEO of the now notoriously fraudulent blood-testing company and Silicon Valley darling Theranos. When I shot her for the Forbes 400 issue, she was the youngest self-made female billionaire in the world. By 2016 The Wall Street Journal, Vanity Fair and others had published excoriating investigative pieces, and Forbes estimated her net worth at zero.

EthanPines_Forbes_elizabeth-holmes.jpg

Suddenly her story is everywhere again: John Carreyrou’s Bad Blood is a hit, HBO’s documentary The Inventor just premiered at Sundance, the ABC News podcast The Drop Out is streaming, and a seemingly endless number of articles on Holmes’s massive fraud have come out. In addition to appearing editorially here and there, my portraits have been licensed as key art for the HBO documentary and the ABC podcast.

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And friends keep asking me, What was it like at the company? What did you see around their offices? How was it spending a few hours with the woman who appears to be a narcissistic, delusional fraud, maybe even a sociopath? The short answer is, I now see clearly how her starry-eyed investors were taken in. 

The company came across as fairly standard Silicon Valley. A campus in Palo Alto, a P.R. person coordinating and vetting everything beforehand, modern open-office architecture, lots of young people from an array of countries walking around doing their jobs. On the walls were large prints from a Martin Schoeller shoot commissioned by the company — including a portrait of Holmes herself — and a giant mural with Yoda’s famous DO OR DO NOT. THERE IS NO TRY. The company was accommodating and welcoming, which is usually the case when you’re coming in to shoot a potential Forbes cover.

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As a biotech company, they also had a ton of lab equipment, machinery and accessories around. In hindsight, I keep wondering, if Theranos’s core technology and promises couldn’t deliver, what was all this for? I suppose they were trying to make good on Holmes’s unproven, likely impossible promise of conducting dozens of tests from a single drop of blood, i.e., they were following tech’s ubiquitous fake-it-till-you-make-it approach. Some areas were a jam-packed, disorganized mess. (See next image.)

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As for Holmes herself, photographing her was entirely different from what you might think. While she apparently sought to emulate Steve Jobs — his mythically genius status, his black minimalist wardrobe, his change-the-world ambitions, his megalomania — she did not adopt his difficult demeanor, at least on the day we spent with her. Jobs was reputed to be an awful jerk. Holmes was polite, genuine, easygoing, friendly, accessible and an engaged conversationist. She asked about me and my crew, never dominating the conversation. She did her own hair and makeup (quite well). She spent much of her time on set without her her P.R. person around. 

I’ve photographed a lot of tech CEOs — Sundar Pichai at Google, Elon Musk at Spacex, Kevin Systrom at Instagram, Jen-Hsun Huang at Nvidia, Tom Siebel at C3 IoT, Patrick Soon-Shiong at Nantworks, Travis Kalanick at Uber, etc. — and they all either have very little time, a specific way they want to be portrayed, a persona they put on for the media, or all of the above. They may not all start out being cut from the same cloth, but they often seem to end up that way, making it harder to sort the frauds from the visionaries. Yet Elizabeth Holmes was surprisingly malleable, seemingly a blank slate. 

She ceded control, trusted us with the shoot and took direction well. She didn’t come out of the gate with fake investor-friendly smiles and body language, nothing smug, no crossed-arm power poses like subjects tend to do for Forbes. I asked her to relax her face completely and just look into the camera, and we got those doe-eyed blank expressions you see in the posters. Between her black turtleneck, shaped black jacket and asymmetrical hair, she had a bit of a sci-fi look, and I told her so. She appreciated the compliment. She was a bit of a dream subject, and I think I was developing a crush on her.

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She gave us a lot of time, which is unusual. After setting up for about three hours beforehand, we shot her in three different locations for at least a couple of hours. In two of the setups I asked if we could have some blood samples in the shots, and I found it a bit weird that they had these tiny, fake blood containers just sitting around, at the ready … for what? Publicity? Internal presentations? Employee morale? There was also a metal cart labeled Ebola in the lab where we shot, which freaked us out a bit.

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If you’ve seen footage of her talking, you’ve probably noticed her unusually low voice. There are rumors that she deliberately lowered her voice to compete in the male-dominated tech field, but I don’t recall it being that low, and I think I would have remembered something so odd. What I do remember is being charmed by this young, attractive, billionaire visionary who spent time with me and my crew and made us feel important. 

And now I realize: This is part of what lured investors. Sincerity. Relatability. Accessibility. Simplicity. The facade of quiet wisdom. Eye contact from huge blue eyes that made you feel you were hearing the unvarnished truth. How could there be anything sinister or deceitful behind those giant, pure glacial pools? In a promotional video commissioned by the company, a compilation of female employees dreamily laud Holmes as “inspiring,” ”intelligent,” “strong,” “nurturing” and full of “big ideas.” Holmes appears at the end the video. At first she looks down humbly, speaks thoughtfully. Finally she looks up at the lens to deliver the final line: “Next to every glass ceiling there’s an iron lady.”

You couldn’t help liking her, wanting to believe her, itching to embrace the dreamy future she promised. I could see how investors and the media were taken in, just as I was. How bizarre to look back and realize that we were in the belly of a massive fraud machine, the deception happening all around us.  It’s hard to know what was real and what was fake, both in the company and in Holmes herself. By the end, perhaps not even she knew. 

The post The Daily Edit – Ethan Pines: Forbes Magazine appeared first on A Photo Editor.

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davenelson
226 days ago
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Atlanta, Georgia
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Introducing HyperDev

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One more thing…

It’s been awhile since we launched a whole new product at Fog Creek Software (the last one was Trello, and that’s doing pretty well). Today we’re announcing the public beta of HyperDev, a developer playground for building full-stack web-apps fast.

HyperDev is going to be the fastest way to bang out code and get it running on the internet. We want to eliminate 100% of the complicated administrative details around getting code up and running on a website. The best way to explain that is with a little tour.

Step one. You go to hyperdev.com.

Boom. Your new website is already running. You have your own private virtual machine (well, really it’s a container but you don’t have to care about that or know what that means) running on the internet at its own, custom URL which you can already give people and they can already go to it and see the simple code we started you out with.

All that happened just because you went to hyperdev.com.

Notice what you DIDN’T do.

  • You didn’t make an account.
  • You didn’t use Git. Or any version control, really.
  • You didn’t deal with name servers.
  • You didn’t sign up with a hosting provider.
  • You didn’t provision a server.
  • You didn’t install an operating system or a LAMP stack or Node or operating systems or anything.
  • You didn’t configure the server.
  • You didn’t figure out how to integrate and deploy your code.

You just went to hyperdev.com. Try it now!

What do you see in your browser?

Well, you’re seeing a basic IDE. There’s a little button that says SHOW and when you click on that, another browser window opens up showing you your website as it appears to the world. Notice that we invented a unique name for you.

Over there in the IDE, in the bottom left, you see some client side files. One of them is called index.html. You know what to do, right? Click on index.html and make a couple of changes to the text.

Now here’s something that is already a little bit magic… As you type changes into the IDE, without saving, those changes are deploying to your new web server and we’re refreshing the web browser for you, so those changes are appearing almost instantly, both in your browser and for anyone else on the internet visiting your URL.

Again, notice what you DIDN’T do:

  • You didn’t hit a “save” button.
  • You didn’t commit to Git.
  • You didn’t push.
  • You didn’t run a deployment script.
  • You didn’t restart the web server.
  • You didn’t refresh the page on your web browser.

You just typed some changes and BOOM they appeared.

OK, so far so good. That’s a little bit like jsFiddle or Stack Overflow snippets, right? NBD.

But let’s look around the IDE some more. In the top left, you see some server side files. These are actual code that actually runs on the actual (virtual) server that we’re running for you. It’s running node. If you go into the server.js file you see a bunch of JavaScript. Now change something there, and watch your window over on the right.

Magic again… the changes you are making to the server-side Javascript code are already deployed and they’re already showing up live in the web browser you’re pointing at your URL.

Literally every change you make is instantly saved, uploaded to the server, the server is restarted with the new code, and your browser is refreshed, all within half a second. So now your server-side code changes are instantly deployed, and once again, notice that you didn’t:

  • Save
  • Do Git incantations
  • Deploy
  • Buy and configure a continuous integration solution
  • Restart anything
  • Send any SIGHUPs

You just changed the code and it was already reflected on the live server.

Now you’re starting to get the idea of HyperDev. It’s just a SUPER FAST way to get running code up on the internet without dealing with any administrative headaches that are not related to your code.

Ok, now I think I know the next question you’re going to ask me.

“Wait a minute,” you’re going to ask. “If I’m not using Git, is this a single-developer solution?”

No. There’s an Invite button in the top left. You can use that to get a link that you give your friends. When they go to that link, they’ll be editing, live, with you, in the same documents. It’s a magical kind of team programming where everything shows up instantly, like Trello, or Google Docs. It is a magical thing to collaborate with a team of two or three or four people banging away on different parts of the code at the same time without a source control system. It’s remarkably productive; you can dive in and help each other or you can each work on different parts of the code.

“This doesn’t make sense. How is the code not permanently broken? You can’t just sync all our changes continuously!”

You’d be surprised just how well it does work, for most small teams and most simple programming projects. Listen, this is not the future of all software development. Professional software development teams will continue to use professional, robust tools like Git and that’s great. But it’s surprising how just having continuous merging and reliable Undo solves the “version control” problem for all kinds of simple coding problems. And it really does create an insanely addictive form of collaboration that supercharges your team productivity.

“What if I literally type ‘DELETE * FROM USERS’ on my way to typing ‘WHERE id=9283’, do I lose all my user data?”

Erm… yes. Don’t do that. This doesn’t come up that often, to be honest, and we’re going to add the world’s simplest “branch” feature so that optionally you can have a “dev” and “live” branch, but for now, yeah, you’d be surprised at how well this works in practice even though in theory it sounds terrifying.

“Does it have to be JavaScript?”

Right now the server we gave you is running Node so today it has to be JavaScript. We’ll add other languages soon.

“What can I do with my server?”

Anything you can do in Node. You can add any package you want just by editing package.json. So literally any working JavaScript you want to cut and paste from Stack Overflow is going to work fine.

“Is my server always up?”

If you don’t use it for a while, we’ll put your server to sleep, but it will never take more than a few seconds to restart. But yes for all intents and purposes, you can treat it like a reasonably reliably, 24/7 web server. This is still a beta so don’t ask me how many 9’s. You can have all the 8’s you want.

“Why would I trust my website to you? What if you go out of business?”

There’s nothing special about the container we gave you; it’s a generic VM running Node. There’s nothing special about the way we told you to write code; we do not give you special frameworks or libraries that will lock you in. Download your source code and host it anywhere and you’re back in business.

“How are you going to make money off of this?”

Aaaaaah! why do you care!

But seriously, the current plan is to have a free version for public / open source code you don’t mind sharing with the world. If you want private code, much like private repos, there will eventually be paid plans, and we’ll have corporate and enterprise versions. For now it’s all just a beta so don’t worry too much about that!

“What is the point of this Joel?”

As developers we have fantastic sets of amazing tools for building, creating, managing, testing, and deploying our source code. They’re powerful and can do anything you might need. But they’re usually too complex and too complicated for very simple projects. Useful little bits of code never get written because you dread the administration of setting up a new dev environment, source code repo, and server. New programmers and students are overwhelmed by the complexity of distributed version control when they’re still learning to write a while loop. Apps that might solve real problems never get written because of the friction of getting started.

Our theory here is that HyperDev can remove all the barriers to getting started and building useful things, and more great things will get built.

“What now?”

Really? Just go to HyperDev and start playing!

Need to hire a really great programmer? Want a job that doesn't drive you crazy? Visit the Joel on Software Job Board: Great software jobs, great people.

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davenelson
1233 days ago
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Atlanta, Georgia
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dmierkin
1231 days ago
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Could be nice

The Foghorn Requiem

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Foghorns have been a part of maritime history since the 19th century, providing much needed safety during inclement weather to mariners out at sea. Over time, their relevance has slowly reduced, with advanced navigational aids taking over the task of keeping ships and sailors safe.

The sounds of the foghorns are slowly dying out. Artists [Joshua Portway] and [Lise Autogena] put together the Foghorn Requiem, a project which culminated on June 22nd 2013, with an armada of more than 50 ships gathered on the North Sea to perform an ambitious musical score, marking the disappearance of the sound of the foghorn from the UK’s coastal landscape.

ship_layoutUp close, a foghorn is loud enough to knock you off your shoes. But over a distance, its sound takes on a soulful, melancholy quality, shaped by the terrain that it passes over. The artists tried capturing this quality of the foghorn, with help from composer [Orlando Gough] who created a special score for the performance. It brought together three Brass Bands – the Felling Band, the Westoe Band and the NASUWT Riverside Band, almost 50 ships at sea and the Souter Lighthouse Foghorn to play the score.

horn_preparation foghorn_controller

Each of the more than 50 vessels were outfitted with a custom built, tunable foghorn, actuated by a controller box consisting of a TI Launchpad with GPS, RTC, Xbee radio and relay modules. Because of the great distances between the ships and the audience on land, the devices needed to compensate for their relative position and adjust the time that they play the foghorn to offset for travel time of the sound. Each controller had its specific score saved on on-board storage, with all controllers synchronized to a common real time clock.

Marine radios were used to communicate with all the ships, informing them when to turn on the controllers, about 10 minutes from the start of the performance. Each device then used its GPS position to calculate its distance from the pre-programmed audience location, and computed how many seconds ahead it had to play its horn for the sound to be heard in time on the shore. The controllers then waited for a pre-programmed time to start playing their individual foghorn notes. The cool thing about the idea was that no communication was required – it was all based on time. Check out the video of the making of the Foghorn Requiem after the break, and here’s a link to the audio track of the final performance.

This is a slightly different approach compared to the Super Massive Musical Instrument that we posted about earlier.


Filed under: musical hacks
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davenelson
1234 days ago
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Atlanta, Georgia
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Peelander Z!

jwz
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davenelson
1257 days ago
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Peelander Z is are always fun
Atlanta, Georgia
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Introducing Visual Studio Code for Windows, Mac, and Linux

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Screen Shot 2015-04-28 at 11.33.49 PM

What a wonderful time to be developer. I'm down here at the BUILD Conference in San Francisco and Microsoft has just launched Visual Studio Code - a code-optimized editor for Windows, Mac, and Linux and a new member of the Visual Studio Family.

Visual Studio Code (I call it VSCode, myself) is a new free developer tool. It's a code editor, but a very smart one. It's cross-platform, built with TypeScript and Electron, and runs on Windows, Mac, and Linux.

Visual Studio Code has syntax highlighting for dozens of languages, the usual suspects like CoffeeScript, Python, Ruby, Jade, Clojure, Java, C++, R, Go, makefiles, shell scripts, PowerShell, bat, xml, you get the idea. It has more than just autocomplete (everyone has that, eh?) it has real IntelliSense. It also as IntelliSense for single files like HTML, CSS, LESS, SASS, and Markdown. There's a huge array of languages that Visual Studio Code supports.

IMHO, the real power of this editor is its project IntelliSense for C#, TypeScript, JavaScript/node, JSON, etc. For example, when an ASP.NET 5 application is being edited in Visual Studio Code, the IntelliSense is provided by the open source projects Roslyn and OmniSharp. This means you get actual intelligent refactoring, navigation, and lots more. Visual Studio Code's support for TypeScript is amazing because it has JavaScript and TypeScript at its heart.

Visual Studio Code has git support, diffs, interesting extensibility models through gulp, and is is a great debugger for JavaScript and Nodejs apps. They are also working on debugging support for things like the .NET Core CLR and Mono on all platforms.

This a code-focused and code-optimized lightweight tool, not a complete IDE. There's no File | New Project or visual designers. If you live and work in the command line, you'll want to check free tool out.

You can download Visual Studio Code now at http://code.visualstudio.com.

They'll be blogging at http://blogs.msdn.com/b/vscode and you can email them feedback at vscodefeedback@microsoft.com and follow them at @code.

Download Visual Studio Code and check the the docs to get started. Also note the docs for ASP.NET support and Node.js support. Visual Studio Code is a preview today, but it's going to move FAST. It automatically updates and will be updating in weeks, not months.

And here's some screenshots of Visual Studio Code because it's awesome. Code what you like, how you like, on what you like, and you can run it all (by the way) in Azure. ;)

Screen Shot 2015-04-28 at 11.17.59 PM
Screen Shot 2015-04-28 at 11.28.35 PM

image

Have fun!


Sponsor: Big thanks to the folks over at Grape City for sponsoring the feed this week. GrapeCity provides amazing development tools to enhance and extend application functionality. Whether it is .NET, HTML5/JavaScript, Reporting or Spreadsheets, they’ve got you covered. Download your free trial of ComponentOne Studio, ActiveReports, Spread and Wijmo.


© 2015 Scott Hanselman. All rights reserved.
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davenelson
1483 days ago
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Atlanta, Georgia
christophersw
1629 days ago
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Baltimore, MD
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LeMadChef
1632 days ago
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Don't count "M$" out yet
Denver, CO
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