Pinterested?

Yes, this is another Pinterest review. This is Pinterest from my point of view, you see?

Pinterest is a photo-centered blog application. You can write small blogs, but the most important part is the picture, and that is what immediately catches your eye when you start the application. The pictures take up the most of screen real estate, so they are most important.

My first impression is that it’s a nice design app, which immediately causes me to ask the question: is this the design at the cost of functionality? Fortunately, the design seems to come with beautiful functionality as well.There is no abundance of functionality and I immediately found everything I needed to cover the basis.

how to go back?

how to go back?

There are some disadvantages to the design though. I keep losing the “back” button in images since I don’t expect it to show the “pinterest” bar when I scroll up and in small situations like when viewing a single photo, it causes the page to refresh. Though the idea of “scroll up to show buttons” is quite nice and adds to the design. The scroll up to refresh functionality has another disadvantage, because I like to read up on my backlog, I have to scroll all the way up to refresh the page again, causing me to lose the point where I was before the update.

The practical semi-permanent categories at the bottom are quite useful, whenever you unfollow someone, you can find someone else to follow looking through your favorites by theme. I ended up with a nice mix of technology, humor and just nice pictures. Editing your profile or pictures works quite nice, but in the few hours I’ve been using the app, I’ve never seen a news item so I don’t know the usefulness of the “news” section.

And finally I have my doubts about the actual overall functionality of the app. what is it good for? What makes this app a useful addition to my collections of applications, other than it beingĀ  another way to waste time? If you like to watch at beautiful pictures or like to be entertained, this is an app for you, otherwise, get out and use Facebook.

So to summarise:
+ for the design
+ for the “scroll up to see buttons” function
– for the refresh to scroll up
– sometimes refreshing takes a long distance to scroll when you’ve scrolled way down
– overall functionality use/usefulness unclear

What does this button do?

20130131-083933.jpgMy car key has 4 buttons. Their use seems obvious, top to open, middle to close, press the bottom one twice to open the hood and the little round one to get the key out of hiding.

That’s about where it ends, in the cold dark I tend to press the open key instead of the close key, especially when I have my gloves on. And last but not least, why are there two lock icons on the lock car button? Do I need to press it twice to fully lock the car? Or does this mean that that button enables the extra super duper lock with alarm which other cars don’t have?

UPnP security risk

UPnP, or Universal Plug and Play, allows devices that connect to networks to communicate seamlessly with one another and discover each other’s presence. – Zack Witthaker (on ZDNet)

That is not a explanation of UPnP, that is a marketing slogan. No one will refer to that, do I have to shut down all my internet connected devices now?

The short answer is no.

Some research shows that there is a threat and it is to be taken seriously, as warned by the US department of Homeland Security. The UPnP protocol is one of the very few protocols that could enable a hacker to bypass your gateway and enter your computer without you noticing it. The fact that most gateways don’t accept new connections from the internet doesn’t help either – your file sharing application might just do the trick as well.

What is UPnP?
Imagine all of your devices on the network speaking different languages by default. They could use English as a “connector language”, but sometimes this is not sufficient, because it doesn’t have the right words for some things. Then UPnP is used to find devices which can speak other languages as well, like Spanish, German or Dutch. As an example, the UPnP protocol is used when trying to find a printer and connect to it or when trying to find other clients using the same filesharing system on a network.

Note: The UPnP has nothing to do with communication between clients and servers, like posting a tweet or visiting a website, it’s just to find other, devices on a local network to communicate. Browsing to a web site does not use the UPnP protocol, printing a file does.

Why does homeland security warn now, when the leak has been in there for so long?
Because someone found the leak and made it public, forcing device manufacturers to upgrade their systems or deal with the responsibility that their devices are unsafe. Something the device manufacturers couldn’t possibly know beforehand, because it’s very hard to plug a hole of which you don’t know if it’s there or not, nor know where it is, the perfectly safe device does not exist and the vunurability is in a standard piece of the UPnP software which is used in many devices. I am curious as to how these manufacturers are going to deal with this publication, though, because that’s the interesting part.

What should I do to keep me safe?
(This is a bit technical) Apart from the usual “don’t click on supicious links or open suspicious e-mail and files”, check your firewall settings and make sure your router doesn’t accept connection requests from the big dark outside. Disable UPnP by blocking UDP port 1900 might be the safest, but also disables some other functionality (like the ability to connect to your printer), so be selective on that part. Want some free advice on to how to do this? Leave a comment.

2 sides to a pen

Do you have a clicking pen or one with a cap? And how do you distiguish between them? Did you ever see a rotating pen and immediately knew what to do with it? Is it always immediately clear what to do with it? If a pen wih only a few straightforward functions (open, close, dissemble, assemble and write) can be so complicated, I can imagine that a complicated website or application with many features can get really complicated.

20130128-130819.jpgSo even in the design of a pen you need to make certain consessions, choose between a beautifully designed pen, or one that is easy to use, and immediately tells you how to hold it and what its functions are. Is a $40+ beautifully designed pen really worth the money if you have to study it – read the manual – before you can use it? How is this different with modern day technology?

…Norman door…

20130128-130439.jpgAlmost walked face-first into this door trying to open it. Turns out it is a slide door, but the small grip hints “push”. How many people tried to push this open? This door type, without correct hints how to operate it, is called a Norman door, after the author of the bestseller “the design of everyday things.”