Props to Reid

I realize it’s fashionable among conservative bloggers to bash Harry Reid (D-NV, the Senate Majority Leader) for whatever reason, but the recent attacks on him for refusing to seat Roland Burris (D-IL) are inane.

The Constitution gives each House of Congress the authority to judge its own members. From Article I, Section V, of the US Constitution:

Section 5: Each House shall be the judge of the elections, returns and qualifications of its own members, and a majority of each shall constitute a quorum to do business; but a smaller number may adjourn from day to day, and may be authorized to compel the attendance of absent members, in such manner, and under such penalties as each House may provide.
Each House may determine the rules of its proceedings, punish its members for disorderly behavior, and, with the concurrence of two thirds, expel a member.
Each House shall keep a journal of its proceedings, and from time to time publish the same, excepting such parts as may in their judgment require secrecy; and the yeas and nays of the members of either House on any question shall, at the desire of one fifth of those present, be entered on the journal.
Neither House, during the session of Congress, shall, without the consent of the other, adjourn for more than three days, nor to any other place than that in which the two Houses shall be sitting.

That some “conservatives” are now criticizing Reid by relying on an activist decision by the Warren Court should be a warming that many so-called “conservatives” are just Republican Party hacks who jump at any opportunity to embarrass the Democrats.

Hopefully after Governor Blagoevich (D-IL) is impeached, the next Governor can appoint someone appropriate to the seat. I have previously suggested that Tammy Duckworth is sufficiently Obamariffic for our age, and his scathing review of her by Firedoglake emphasizes my view. Anyone Firedoglake despises can’t be all bad!

Validation and User Experience (broadly defined)

Pulse UX has a pretty good post up about the Value-at Risk statistic that has recently taken a drubbing.

How new theories in human information processing explain the meltdown on Wall Street

At the heart of the answer to this vexing question on the melt down of Wall Street is a major shift in the underlying psychological theories of human decision-making. In fact contemporary theory on human error research has shifted entirely from the idea of “decision-making” to the concept of “sense-making”. The underlying cognitive science behind this new way of visualizing how individuals and more important entire institutions assess risk is known generally as “Naturalistic Decision Making” or NDM. What this new view teaches is that there are no “points-in-time” that constitute rational decision triggers, but that problems like RISK management on Wall Street are actually an accumulated series of EXPERIENCES that flow together to create situations that are filled with distortions such “positive outcome bias”. We now know from significant research that these distortions make it nearly impossible for those directly involved in such situations to make intelligent (reasoned) decisions about actual RISK.

What I get from this Pulse UX piece, as well as the conclusion from a recent piece at Mini-Microsoft

As a result, you get something like Office 2003 where the end-user feature set was so hard to describe that marketing had to resort to odd ads of people creating dog-piles of ecstasy over the release and ads warning customers that they are dinosaurs if they don’t upgrade. We can’t really describe what features you’ll get, but at least you won’t be a dinosaur… heh?

Like that point from The Field above, we need to focus on the customer experience vs. barely wired together technology which typically is redundant and confusing. At home I like watching videos stored on my Ultimate machine, and I’ve got about six different services running to do it multiplied by three different networked video boxes hooked to my TV. For a given video, I have to know the right hardware plus software combination. We want to own the living room, but our customer experience is mentally and physically scattered between Media Center, Xbox, WMP, Zune, and partner media boxes. I love Media Center and I think it should be present in all SKUs of the OS (excluding good ole N) but with something like the Fuji release I get pretty concerned about where it’s going. Around the consumer experience we need coherent focus, not a scattered competitive model.

.. is that, too often someone comes up with something, and says it represents reality, without offering any validation for that. What I mean is, we hear that such-and-such is a measure of 4GW, or of User Experience, or of risk, or something, and we take it on faith.

From the User Experience of financial markets (currently at fatally low levels) to the Microsoft Zune (not much better), we run into trouble when we take claims of this-indicating-that at face value.

The Adventures of Problem Sleuth

Courtesy of Sinosplice, I need give props to MS Paint Adventures, which is best described as Choose Your Own Adventure crossed with Toothpaste for Dinner. MS Paint Adventures follows (more or less) Problem Sleuth, a wannabe hard-boiled private detective, annoyed by his neighbors and seemingly trapped in his own office.


MS Paint Adventures is inspired by Infocom games, and the faux-interface reminds me especially of Return to Zork. But the “game” is strictly linear, with only one option per frame. Check it out!