Links and essays from Peter Merholz.

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Most Recent Essay
January 25, 1999

Welcome to "My" Parlor

Harkening back to the classic "electronic newspaper" conceit dreamed up at the beginning of the network revolution, a centerpiece of any portal worth half its market cap is news personalization (you can usually recognize it by the annoying prefix "
my"). You provide some demographic data and check some preference boxes, they serve up your customized set of linked headlines.
Other recent pieces:
January 13, 1999: Maintaining Search Context
November 24, 1998:
Whither "User Experience"? November 16, 1998: Odds and Ends
October 26, 1998: Interface Design Recommended Reading List
October 13, 1998:
Webpardy Web98 East!

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petermemes-9:43am PDT April 9

April 10, 1999
treat for anyone who's lived in New York.

New York Times piece on researchers archiving and studying the Web brings up notions related to the cognitive model question I posed last week.

April 9, 1999
Just found this
pretty interesting weblog. Elsewhere he writes that he no longer reads fiction, just non-fiction. I'm the same.

If you read only one thing today, read this New York Times
article on Kosovo.... from 12 years ago. It's a fascinating look into some of the history of what is happening--and paints the ethnic Albanians as violent, separatist nationalists.

April 8, 1999
And there was much rejoicing! My favorite band to see live, The Asylum Street Spankers, have a new web site. To get a taste, listen to their
song of the week.

Abbott and Costello Meet Windows 95.

More Web comics! The Star Wars site features two of the better Web comics I've seen.
Prelude to Rebellion is notable for the nifty panel transitions and the good, but spare, use of sound and animation. Mara Jade is more of the same, but its fourth page utilizes an extension of comics that could only happen on a screen--three panels showing different perspectives on simultaneous action while the "voiceover" narrative proceeds linearly. Very clever.

metaphorphiles! [Thanks, jjg.]

Speaking of which, jjg, one of my fave-rave webloggers (and most adamant link-checkers), has recently updated
his website. It even features a portal! And pictures of him! Hey Ladies!

April 7, 1999
< > = "The airplane is badly damaged." They've got symbols for everything!

I don't know why, but I have a strong fondness for personality tests. I find their accuracy spooky. I'd love to know how others did with these.
Color form Personality Test - Lower left-hand
Keirsey Sorters - I'm an ENTP. To my knowledge, all my information architect-type friends end with NTP.
What Color iMac are You? - Either Tangerine or Lime.

Y'all probably know
this site by now, but I just found it. Funny stuff. Even features a Palm Pilot parody ad!

Gratuitous Web art! We here at peterme have a soft spot for the art with no graphics. Works best with Navigator 4.

Last night I did both my federal and state taxes with
WebTurboTax. It's a tad pricy ($19.95 for each), but the ease with which it automates filing is great.

It's particularly interesting for a couple of reasons. First off, I don't have to mail anyone anything. The IRS realizes that money is just flowing electrons, so I simply had to enter my checking account information for automatic debit. Nor do I have to mail in the W-2s and 1099s (though I did have to type in the information they held, a bit of a pain). You know we're moving towards a paperless society if even the IRS doesn't need processed tree.

The other point of interest is how good a Web application Intuit has built. I accessed WebTurboTax using Internet Explorer 4 on a PC and had a fairly seamless experience (the site uses Java extensively, which might affect how it works in other browsers). Intuit understands the importance of clear copy (so necessary when dealing with the obfuscatory nature of income tax), and their step-by-step-by-step handholding through the filing process serves to both reassure you that you're not missing anything important and maintains context so you always know where you are. There's a certain solidity to WebTurboTax that is typically missing from other Web applications. If you're designing highly interactive Web content, make sure to give it a whirl.

April 6, 1999
Stephen Hawking humor!
about Stephen Hawking.
by Stephen Hawking. [Scroll down a bit to read his email to The Onion.]

Though I'm not quoted, I was briefly interviewed for this
article on Simply Palm for the SJ Mercury News. And by happy coincidence, the journalist was my T.A. for Mass Communications 10 nine years ago at Cal.

April 5, 1999
Woody Harrelson's take on the L.A. Times article I mentioned April 3.

Jason and I are
quoted in Salon about Simply Porn.

April 3, 1999
According to my dad, this
frank L.A. Times article about a reporter's experience in Cuba (including a cab ride with Woody Harrelson) is the talk of Los Angeles. Readers' responses are also worth perusing.

April 2, 1999

Appropos of nothing, my
favorite Zen story.

I'm reading
The Macintosh Reader, which is a mildly compelling collection of stories about the computer I no longer use. (It's a Windows world, get used to it.) Exploring the Web for early Macintosh info has turned up Susan Kare's web site (she designed all the icons and the early fonts; seeing San Francisco floods back memories) and the official dogcow website (moof! ). For more good links, head here.

Eww, eww, EWW! is a website whose mission

is to enable kids, teens, and parents to manage money wisely. We do this by empowering them to save, shop, create a wishlist and donate to charity from a secure online account - with a unique parental permissions system to promote learning and safety.

So, not only do we have an ethically questionable "get them while they're young" product, we have proof that the words "enable" and "empower" need to be struck from our language. And if this wasn't bad enough, these guys have competition.

Cool cartoony illustration day here at
peterme! A most brilliant and sexy reader passed along this site devoted to the work of hepcat Jim Flora. His style is definitely a precursor to Rocky and Bullwinkle, and also reminded me of the more contemporary artist J. Otto Seibold (a friend owns this Mr Lunch t-shirt, which is even cuter in real life.) And whenever I talk cool cartoony illustrations, I inevitably think of Rodney Greenblat. Make sure to visit his Bump Country on Shockrave.

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