Sunday, October 09, 2011

Wow - the new VMWare fusion 4.0 UI is such a load of rubbish

VMWare is just about the only software product I pay for. Everything else is either open source or comes with a device.

Anyhow, I just upgraded my copy of VMWare fusion (the mac host package) from version 3.x to version 4.x and boy is the UI rubbish. VMWare have added all kinds of cool UI gizmos to their utility screens (the stuff used to manage VMs before you even start them) but in the process have made the UI painfully slow and clunky.

With version 3.x I could see all my VMs in a single window and click on any of them and see the configuration on a pane to the right. The configuration pane presented summary information including notes I left to myself about the intended use of the VM, and on that same pane I could drill down to specific details such as network, disk or memory configuration. All the VMs remained listed to the left.

With 4.0 a cool slidy single-pane UI opens showing a black rectangle for each VM (which could show a screen snapshot from a running VM - cool, but is useless to me because I only save my VMs in a shut down state). Only the short name of each VM is shown beneath each black rectangle. No sign of my comments nor a summary of the VM configuration. If I click on a rectangle the VM might start, or the rectangle might just be selected depending on where I click on the rectangle (the faint grey arrow in the middle is a control(!) not just part of the image). If the VM decides to start, my list of VMs is removed (I didn't ask for that!) and the VM boots in it's own window. To get back to the admin window I need to go to the VMWare application menu or recall a special three-key incantation. If the VM doesn't start I just get the name of the VM highlighted in blue and then I have to press a button elsewhere on the admin window to see the config summary, and even then I just get a (very flashily displayed) set of icons, again replacing my list of VMs, oh, and the window leaps to a different part of the screen for some reason. Only when I click on the 'General' icon do I see the comment I left for myself. Then, having found that I had not selected the VM I wanted I close the settings icon panel and ... just get a big black rectangle for that one VM. To get back to my list of VMs I need to use the three-finger incantation again *and* have to close the VM I didn't want because that now hangs around in a window of it's own.

In short (well, fairly short) the move from the 3.x admin UI to 4.0 means instead of one click to understand the nature of a VM and then one click to understand another VM I have: click to select a rectangle (careful not to click the middle!), then press a button in the top left of the UI, then press the General icon ... then to see the next VM I have to {shift}+{cmd}+L, close the window for the VM I'm not interested in and ... start all over again. Not only are there many, many more steps but each step is sloooowwwww.

The VMWare fusion 4.0 admin UI is a massive leap backwards in terms of usability. It's crap when compare to the 3.x admin UI. It's like a graphic artist or widget designer was let loose without an experienced UX person there to guide them.

Dear VMWare, for fusion 4.1 could you please throw away the rubbish cheap shiny 4.0 admin UI and go back to the 3.x model. The 3.x UI may not have been so cool, but it worked much, much, better. Thanks.

Saturday, October 08, 2011

BBC News - Millions stroll in New York's 'park in the sky'

It's great to see the people in New York enjoying being able to walk above the streets:

BBC News - Millions stroll in New York's 'park in the sky'

The high walks in the City of London provide a similar escape from the dirty traffic filled streets. It's unfortunate that here in London the high walks are being systematically closed and demolished at the hands of the City of London chief planning officer, Peter Rees. I attended a planning meeting where he seemed to take enormous pleasure in supporting a project which depletes the high walk even more. He joked about the people who use the high walks in a most demeaning way.

Perhaps he should have a look at how New York is recognising the value of pedestrian spaces away from traffic, and look to projects which improve rather than diminish the lived-in environment.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Who looks at Smalltalk?

The C guys looked at Smalltalk and said they didn't need object orientation. They could structure their programs just fine.

The C++ guys looked at Smalltalk and thought, actually, the OO stuff is rather cool for building well structured code, but all the rest is just a performance hog, especially garbage collection.

The Java (and later C#) guys looked at Smalltalk and thought, you know, in most cases garbage collection is a really good thing as it saves programmers time and completely avoids common C/C++ malloc/free bugs, and anyway the performance cost is hardly noticeable in most applications, but all the rest of the stuff in Smalltalk is fluff, especially dynamic typing because it's obvious that static type checking will result in much less buggy programs, especially when you use SUnit (which they renamed to JUnit (of course!)) as well.

The Python and Ruby guys looked at Smalltalk and realised that using dynamic types gave them much less brittle systems which could flexibly change and evolve over time. They liked unit testing too (they called theirs something else too), and the ideas of refactoring (that was invented by the Java guys too, right? (not)) were even more powerful in a dynamically typed world ... and if Smalltalk is so good why didn't the Smalltalk people think of something like JUnit and refactoring! All the other stuff in Smalltalk was just fluff, though. For example, who would want to have an image based development environment or have the development tools themselves visible and changeable in that same development environment?


Saturday, July 16, 2011

Fix My Street

The BBC have promoted a council run service for reporting street cleaning issues. All well and good, but FixMyStreet has been running for longer and is independent of the person reporting the problem and, critically, the council responsible for fixing the problem. There is very definitely a conflict of interests with the council running the site which is watching the council.

I really wish the council in the BBC story had put the money towards helping to improve FixMyStreet, or just promoting it ... or even just improving their response to issues raised through FixMyStreet.

Thursday, May 05, 2011

Yes to AV?

In the UK today we get to vote in a referendum on whenther AV should be adopted in place of first past the post in elections for MPs.

I thought of two situations where AV would be useful to me.
  • Where an incumbant MP I like is replaced by their party. If I still like the policies of the party I would wish to say that I'd rather keep the current MP, but if not then I'll go with the person the party now nominates. With AV I can do this.
  • Similar to the above, if I would like to see a person not aligned with a party to be the MP, but if that is not possible then have the party I feel is 'safe'. Again AV lets me do this.
They key is I can submit more information with my single vote using AV.

Some have suggested that AV is a poor compromise and that we should really be aiming to have PR, but I disagree strongly with that. I very much want to retain directly elected MPs who represent specific areas rather than moving to the PR model where I would choose a party and the party would pick the MP(s) who represent me.

As for the information-free mud slinging we have seen by the major parties leading up to this referendum, well, I think we'd be better off just ignoring that.

So, AV seems to let me say more in my single vote while still ending up with a single MP to represent my area in parliament. One person, one vote, one MP. I think I like that.

Tuesday, March 08, 2011

Flext9 asks too much>

The Register think Flext9 is a great keyboard for an Andorid phone:

Nuance Flext9 • reghardware

It costs £3, which seems OK to me. What is not so OK is that this keyboard app wants to granted permission to "Read phone state and Identity" and have "Full Internet access".

I've taken to removing apps which ask for that combination unless they clearly need it. I don't understand why a keyboard app would need to pull my identity from the phone and then be able to send it over the Internet.

Three quid is fine, but I think they ask for too much else