Jefe, would you say I have a PLETHORA of screens?

We got a Web-enabled TV last year and made a shocking discovery: Web stuff on your TV is a terrible experience. Not only does it shrink the size of your television content, but it's also apparently where user experience goes to die. Why I would take 30 minutes to post something to Facebook from my TV when I have 5 devices around me that would let me do it in 30 seconds is beyond me. Also, Krissie needs the full screen so she can help dopey NCIS solve their one crime a day. 

Anyways, while some companies are busy trying to cram the entire internet onto the side of your TV screen, there's more and more thinking being done about creating multi-screen experiences that take advantage of the plethora of screens we've suddenly found ourselves living with. 

We've been doing a lot of thinking at the office about it lately (big deal), Russell's written a great post on secondary attention on secondary screens (shocking), and then there's this brilliantly simple presentation from Precious on different patterns for making screens work together (useful):   

Patterns for Multiscreen Strategies

View more presentations from precious

At Last, the Ideal Servant

The Ideal Servant

From The Book of Popular Science:

For many years electrical engineers have employed switches and other devices requiring small currents of electricity, to put into operation, through the use of relays and solenoids, controlling apparatus at a distance. This is known as “remote control.” The Televox is a method of attaining the same results, using sound waves as an auxiliary means. The control can be effected over any telephone line, and any telephone will serve as a transmitting station, but instead of speaking into the instrument three small whistles are provided for signalling the message. At the other end of the line there is a telephone receiver containing some special features. When it is connected in the usual manner with a transmitting station, the Televox mechanism is automatically put into action by electro-magnetic means. The receiving mechanism of the Televox contains three steel reeds that are tuned to vibrate at definite frequencies corresponding to the notes of the three transmitting whistles. These reeds carry contact points so that when vibrated they will complete electric circuits and thus put in operation certain electro-magnetic devices which may be used for doing such things as opening or closing switches, actuating magnetic solenoids — which, in turn, can be used for a wide range of work.

If one wished to use the Televox he would ask for its number as for any other telephone call. When the connection was made the buzzer of the receiving station would announce the fact. He would then blow the whistle corresponding to the work he wanted done. The reed attuned to his whistle would vibrate, thus putting into action the proper mechanism. The power needed must, of course, be furnished at the receiving end, the Televox simply connecting up the currents to enable it to do its work. Mechanisms are now available for reading meters, reading the temperature of transformers, ascertaining the height of water in reservoirs; and many other uses will undoubtedly be found for this clever invention. The picture of the Televox, with its inventor whistling into a small pitch pipe (thus making any telephone a dispatching end), will be seen above. The grotesque pasteboard figure was added for a special occasion.

via www.illuminatedlantern.com

The Subjectivity of Wine (or, you taste what you’re told to taste)

In 2001, Frederic Brochet, of the University of Bordeaux, conducted two separate and very mischievous experiments. In the first test, Brochet invited 57 wine experts and asked them to give their impressions of what looked like two glasses of red and white wine. The wines were actually the same white wine, one of which had been tinted red with food coloring. But that didn't stop the experts from describing the "red" wine in language typically used to describe red wines. One expert praised its "jamminess," while another enjoyed its "crushed red fruit." Not a single one noticed it was actually a white wine.

The second test Brochet conducted was even more damning. He took a middling Bordeaux and served it in two different bottles. One bottle was a fancy grand-cru. The other bottle was an ordinary vin du table. Despite the fact that they were actually being served the exact same wine, the experts gave the differently labeled bottles nearly opposite ratings. The grand cru was "agreeable, woody, complex, balanced and rounded," while the vin du table was "weak, short, light, flat and faulty". Forty experts said the wine with the fancy label was worth drinking, while only 12 said the cheap wine was.

via scienceblogs.com

I can't remember if I've blogged about this before, but I love these experiments. The idea that our senses are interpretted by our subjective brain, and so heavily influenced by expectations, shows that we're not the masters of taste that we think we are. Everything that we experience informs how we perceive the world, which means that we are more influenced by things like other people, context and marketing than we would like to believe. 

Also, it makes somelliers look like charlatans.  

Apple is the Future of Gaming (and everything else)

Phil Harrison on the Future of Gaming

Edge Magazine interviews Phil Harrison, who helped launch the Sony PlayStation in 1996, on the future of gaming:

At this trajectory, if you extrapolate the market-share gains that
they are making, forward for ten years — if they carry on
unrestrained in their growth, then there’s a pretty good chance
that Apple will be the games industry.

via daringfireball.net

The thing that is scary about Apple is not that they are beginning to dominate so many areas of our lives, it's that they are doing it without people becoming alarmed.