Technology should not have side effects

3D movies are good examples of how technology evolves. In earlier days, sci-fi looking red-blue glasses were needed to create the 3D effect but that did not survive the test of time. Now, 3D technology has matured and it seems that all new movies have to be in 3D.

I went to see Avatar special edition yesterday, in 3D. Unfortunately, I am one of the unlucky ones that get eyestrain from watching 3D movies. During the movie, I figured out that looking only at the areas that are in focus will help reduce the strain (seems obvious but our eyes do not naturally do this). This was confirmed by a Shadowlocked blog post that mentions the same eyestrain problem and how to avoid it.

It is apparently a well-known problem for the industry and recent research has shown that it might be bad for your brain to watch 3D movies. Take a look at the research presented here. Go figure… the body is amazing and will tell you if something is wrong, i.e. eyestrain and headache is a warning sign. One would not look directly at the sun either. It hurts. A lot.

The question is: What the hell is going on here? Why is 3D becoming so extremely popular when it has harmful and direct side-effects? Sure, there might be long-term harmful consequences of e.g. looking at a computer screen the entire day but you certainly do not feel it after only 10 minutes in Windows (if you do, it has something to do with Windows, not your screen :-)

One of the most important aspects of technology is to help and not harm so I hope that the current 3D technology is just a stepping stone to something better. A Toms guide post mentions a possible upcoming alternative. I’m already getting excited about throwing away those glasses. Until then, I will just have to close one of my eyes when things get bad. That’s how I endured Avatar — but it certainly does not add to the experience.


Who needs SEO?

I often wonder about search engine optimization (SEO). Does it really deserve its own little separate subspace of the IT industry? First, I acknowledge that almost all internet surfing/browsing/searching/whatever starts with an internet search. Therefore, it is important for all kinds of websites to show up early in internet searches and the concept of SEO is thus vindicated.

But why do so many people “specialize” in SEO? How can a company survive doing only SEO? How did SEO become an entire industry? The first two questions are easily answered: People are willing to pay for it. As to how it got to that point, the third question remains unanswered to me.

I have tried to search online to figure out what is so hard about SEO. In some forums, like in this webmasterworld forum post, some people say that anyone can perform SEO while others say that SEO is definitely worth the money. Other places, I only find vague descriptions about why SEO is not easy, e.g. in a search engine optimization journal blog post.

The biggest problem with SEO is, in my opinion, all the many “SEO experts” that have come out of the blue and advertise themselves with fancy words like return-of-investment and number one rankings on all search engines. Google even warns about this in an excellent support answer about SEO. Of course there are people that have certain skills and might even be worth hiring for improving online business. But I think that SEO also has so much hype these days that it is difficult to know exactly what you get.

Maybe I am just blissfully ignorant to the wonders of SEO. Maybe that is why this blog has so few readers. But at least I am (currently) ranked fourth on Google when searching for “thought flow“. Whether that is due to the 15 minutes I spend on SEO for this site or the fact that thought flow is not a common search term, I do not know. But I did not pay $1000 for it.

Added since original post:
The world’s shortest guide to SEO


Guess-driven development

A few days ago, I received a link to a blog post called some lesser-known truths about programming. Among other things, it states:

Bad programmers spend much of that 90% debugging code by randomly making changes and seeing if they work.

Patrick, my business partner, jokingly calls this Guess-Driven Development and I now take the liberty to publish the term in writing. I will admit that I have fallen for this type of development quite a few times. But now I have started to wonder: Where is the fine line between guessing and exploring?

When faced with a strange bug or error in some system, we are taught to use e.g. a debugger and over time, we hopefully become more adept at solving bugs. But sometimes (many times) I have solved a problem by almost randomly trying out different solutions. So is this guessing or exploring? I don’t have the answer.

Maybe I should have listened more carefully in Software Engineering class?