Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Walking: Full keyboard access on a Macintosh

So, a number of people have commented about the inability to navigate GUI's completely via the keyboard (without having to use the mouse). I don't find using the mouse that much of a burden, but there are times (especially when filling out forms in websites) that I'd like to do things like pick my state from the choice/combobox without having to go to the mouse.

It turns out you can turn on "full keyboard access" on the Mac and do this. It's available in Mac OS X 10.3 and for all I know it was there in earlier versions as well. If you open the System Preferences and choose "Keyboard & Mouse", there are three sub-panels labeled "Keyboard", "Trackpad", and "Keyboard Shortcuts". If you navigate to "Keyboard Shortcuts", there is a checkbox at the bottom that says "Turn on full keyboard access". If you check this, you can navigate menus, lists, etc. using the keyboard.

Brad Shuler told me that Weiqi Gao blogged about wanting this but I couldn't find the relevant blog entry. Brad also told me there are more fine-grained control options available under Tiger (10.4). Maybe he'll describe them in his blog.

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Society: Can you pay for your health care?

A study (published by Reuters in the U.K. but not in the U.S. as far as I can find) shows that a patient's success getting follow-up care after an emergency room visit for a serious condition was determined primarily by the quality of their health care plan.

So if you thought that America has great health care, it depends on how much money you make and the job you have. The 45 million (>15%) people without health care insurance get a raw deal. Those with Medicaid don't do much better.

History: What a Day

Today is a very diverse history day. For example:

It was on this day in 1638, a young clergyman, just 31 years old, died in Massachusetts, and in his will, left his library and half of his estate to a local college. To honor his memory, the college changed its name. The clergyman was named John Harvard, and the college changed its name to Harvard University, and it's the oldest in America.

And that's just the start. Go. read

Monday, September 05, 2005

Walking: Paper-like displays

I've been following the research into "paper-like" displays for at least ten years now. My dream is to have a display that is essentially an unrollable scroll. It would be like paper or thick plastic, have a high contrast display, allow for large 'paper' sizes (e.g. a 17-20 inch high-definition display) and consume little power (to make portable computer batteries last as long as possible).

This article suggests that we are finally getting to the point where the very first of these sorts of devices will be practical. It's quite a bit smaller than I'd like, and it's only 4-gray monochrome, but if it actually makes it into production it would be a good start.

Of course, I've seen predictions of commercial products like this coming "in one or two years" for at least the last ten, so I'm not holding my breath.