And the Clocks Keep Unwinding

I haven’t prepared a “real” post for this week. Instead, I offer you an excuse, an idea and an interesting problem — unrelated, but in that order.

I’m awful at writing exams.

I wrote my Flex 3 with AIR ACE exam on Friday.

I passed :)

Unfortunately, this meant devoting every ounce of my being for about six days to memorizing the entire API studying intensely. I’m still catching up on all the stuff I was actively ignoring last week, which includes “writing awesome blog posts” and “hunting for bears“.

We need more double-clicking.

This is something we take for granted, but as an input mechanic it’s pure genius. How can we make one button do two completely different things? Have it react differently based on the frequency of its presses. It literally doubles the usefulness of the left mouse button. Why haven’t we made this optimization on other controls? The only other case I can think of is how my iPhone thoughtfully fills in a period if I double-tap the space bar.

In particular, I’d like to see more double-key presses. I would love for my computer to pull up a shutdown prompt if I double-press my escape key. This is a key I rarely use anyway*, and it would save me the trouble of remembering whether I’m in Win7, XP, OSX or Ubuntu, not to mention which sub-menu they tucked it under. What about tab? Two tab presses could bring up Apple’s exposé, the Windows visual window manager du jour, or some experimental cube animation in linux. Maybe double-backspace deletes an entire word; and don’t even get me started on the power we’ve yet to unlock in our function keys.

Our input devices hold so much more potential than we’re using, we just have to think like the guy that invented the double-click. (Wikipedia currently credits this to the original Apple Lisa).

An unsolvable problem.

A common practice among interviewers in the high-tech circle is to ask the candidate for a solution to an unsolvable problem. Such problems are intended to drill down to the problem-solving skills a good candidate will hopefully have, and present an excellent opportunity for the interviewee to explore creative solutions, show attention to detail, and often demonstrate a sense of humour. I’ve always found these very interesting to answer, and today I propose one of my own:

Wikipedia will reject new page submissions about people who are deemed not notable enough to warrant their own entry. How could we find the most notable person that is not yet listed in Wikipedia?

This is something I’ve thought about a bit on and off, but if you have any insightful answers (practical or not) I’d love to hear them.

* I have been known to mash escape in vii and its gang of dangerous-to-abbreviate ‘CLI text editors’, where a double-escape mechanism would obviously be annoying. Maybe this would drive me to learn how to use the damned things properly?

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One Response to “And the Clocks Keep Unwinding”

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