Strong opinions, weakly held

Links for June 14

Today it’s all about the technology links.

First, Peter Knego data mines Stack Overflow and finds that older developers are scarce but valuable.

John Gruber compares Apple’s approach to Google’s when it comes to software development, arguing that Apple focuses on quality of user experience whereas Google focuses on reach — making their software available to the largest audience possible. I think he’s right on the money, and of course it’s worth pointing out that Google’s usability is fine for most users. I prefer Apple’s approach to interface design, but I am a happy user of a large number of Google products.

Tim Bray compares native apps to web apps on mobile devices. In my opinion, a good Web interface is the basic price of entry. Every company that’s deploying Web-based services should have one. Then, if they have the budget to support it, they should build native OS X and Android clients as well, if they can provide any value at all over the basic Web interface. Like Tim, for services I like, if there’s a native client, I pretty much always install it and use it rather than the Web site.

James Fallows looks at a non-obvious reason why Google may be deprecating its translation API. Very interesting.

OK, this link isn’t technical, but it is interesting. Researchers found that rebounding in basketball is a mental skill. I loved this bit:

What allowed the players to make such speedy judgments? By monitoring the brains and bodies of subjects as they watched free throws, the scientists were able to reveal something interesting about the best rebounders. It turned out that elite athletes, but not coaches and journalists, showed a sharp increase in activity in the motor cortex and their hand muscles in the crucial milliseconds before the ball was released. The scientists argue that this extra activity was due to a “covert simulation of the action,” as the athletes made a complicated series of calculations about the trajectory of the ball based on the form of the shooter. (Every NBA player, apparently, excels at unconscious trigonometry.) But here’s where things get fascinating: This increase in activity only occurred for missed shots. If the shot was going in, then their brains failed to get excited. Of course, this makes perfect sense: Why try to anticipate the bounce of a ball that can’t be rebounded? That’s a waste of mental energy.

1 Comment

  1. I was somewhat surprised by your preference for native clients on your mobile devices. I only use them as a last resort: I’ve just always assumed the web site would be so much more likely to see new features than a native client. With local storage and location-awareness in most browsers, I don’t know too many problems that require a space-wasting app.

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