Nerds And Dimwits?

UNIX and MessDOS were created at about the same time. How did the two small teams involved decide that “/” (UNIX) and “\” (MessDOS) would be used to separate directory names? Was this deliberate or just ignorance of each other’s work?

By default, WinDoz keeps program file in a special directory. Tick! But which dimwit decided to name it “Program Files”, with a space in the middle, so that generally there are problems when referring to it?

The combination of forward and backward slashes, and the space in “Program Files” means that systems using both UNIX / Linux and WinDoz waste many happy hours of programmers’ and users’ time!

And CaSeSenSITIVity!  We humans need as much help as we can get to overcome our typos and how our brains work with patterns.  Who on earth EVER benefited from allowing for CaseSensitivity and CASESensitivity and casesensitivity and …. to be recognised as different names!

Meanwhile, credit cards around the world are numbered 1234 1234 1234 1234 – sixteen digits grouped in 4 sets of 4, separated by spaces. Easy to read, easy to type, easy to visually check / compare.  Which internet banking systems recognise this valuable innovation for humans, and allow for the numbers to be entered thus?

And talking about internet banking, having logged on with a secure password, and requested a statement for “My Account Number 1” and for this “Year” and “Month Range”, which dimwit nerd decided the name of the file should be 32 random characters? Instead of “My_Account_Number_1_2016_12”?

And when entering a dollar amount in a transaction, which dimwit nerd decided that it must be 123.45 instead of $123.45 or $123 instead of $123.00?

And finally, in the statement of the transactions, instead of “Plumber – emergency – $4500” it becomes “Some bank’s internet transaction using BPAT – Plu”

Almost as though the nerds programming these systems have never used them in anger!

Frameworks And Scaffolding

I am spending some time developing examples of the “gateways” for introducing topics and their dimensions.

GatewayS01 in the Gaols and Systems page’s “Resource Table” shows a complex of 14 or so pages about economics and politics that are interconnected – in three layers to allow for drilling down to more detail.

Layer 1 – highest level – introduction

Layer 2 – middle level – details of some top-most items

Layer 3- lowest level – further details of some Level 2 items.

GaiaS02 in the Sustainability page shows topics introducing issues about bees.

As I develop more and more resources (for example, authoritative sites) I will be building “scaffolds”.  For example the UN’s sustainability website includes goals such as reduction in poverty and improvements in agriculture – with beekeeping contributing to both these goals.

Thus the gateways can be considered as frameworks (like layers of closely related topics with vertical drill-downs) and they can be linked through a scaffold (like a network of horizontal bars).

Search Me!

Just one more feature!
I’ve added searching to TBK. A bit alarming – over a 1000 pages of gems!
I tried a couple of free search gadgets and chose FreeFind – very powerful and good looking.
You can search all sorts of combinations, or see a site map, or a list of all words located.
The “spider”drills its way down into every nook and cranny, including this blog. Look for the little form on the right of the tool bar.

Images And Stories

There are two ways of handling images in TBK.

One is by clicking on [Images] which starts coppermine – an excellent free gallery including the ability to upload your own photographs. Give it a try.

The other is to have a set of photographs in a little website within TBK that can be tailored to tell a story.  There are some early examples of these in the Gateway navigators.  Explore and see if you can find them! Look for [Album] or [Photos].

The time consuming part of handling images is naming them (from the random names your camera gives them:  “SomeRandomID” ===> “Meaningful_Name”) and describing them (“SomeRandomID” ===> “Yet_Another_Photo_Of_Meercats”) and resizing them – from humungous file in your camera ===> smaller file useful for websites to display.

Anyway – I don’t have any solution to the names and descriptions problem.

But coppermine does a good jobs of handling resizing and storing name / description and comments… Give it a try and let me know of any issues.

Why Another Website?

There are millions of websites and gazillions of words about every topic imaginable. Why yet another?

Because words are so dense, we need a framework to structure all the words into manageable chunks.  TBK does this. It offers lots of links to lots of words – but organised around grids – typically, a central topic (“The meaning of life”) and a number of subtopics arranged as spokes – “Family”, “Friends”, “Food”, “Wine and Beer”, “Religion”, “Politics” – whatever makes a start to understanding the topic and bringing together the best and most authoritative “objects” to make sense of it.

The “objects” can be anything – photographs, text, websites, YouTube movies – whatever is available through the internet – or simply, a book.

And at the end of the day, so what? This is where it gets interesting. “Think global, act local”. What can you do to work with the resources assembled to make a difference?

Codes And Classification

The TBK databank holds various sorts of document objects, for example case studies, useful links, and books.

Each object is classified in several ways.

[1] “Web Theme” – whether it relates to Economics and Politics, or to Sustainability, or both…

[2] “Audience” – who it is aimed at – citizens generally, asset engineers, scientists…

[3] “Area” – what it is about – ecology, solar power, wave energy, tidal energy, hydro-electric energy…

[4] “Goal” – how it relates to goals – the UN Sustainability Goals, a government goal, others developed by us…

From this it is possible to answer questions like “What is a good book and website to learn about how to achieve a worthwhile goal, what case studies / projects give insights, and what experts can be located to bring their experience to bear.”


TBK now has a page for useful books.

You can nominate books that you remember as helping to frame your world view, using [Feedback]

Where an ISBN is available (look for the publishing page) this allows for easy collection of all sorts of information from modern websites – Amazon especially, but other companies offer similar services.

For older books, pre ISBN, you can Google for the information. Popular old books are sometimes available electronically (thanks to Google’s effort to scan all books known to mankind!).  Also, seminal books may have wikipedia entries that can be linked and registered.

TBK allows for a short review of how the book works – or not – against the goals of rational economics and politics, and sustainability.

I am developing the ability to download a list of books that you can work with for your own purposes, including editing the content,  and then upload for refreshing IBK’s content.

Gateways And Navigators

TBK has various “gateways” to provide easy navigation to information.  They are intended to be visual and non-verbal as far as possible, and easy to use to incorporate a wide range of content.

Resources Tables

Typically high-level pages contain a “Resources Table” that registers “objects”.

The objects can be Universal Resource Locations (URLs) linking to other websites, or electronic documents from the net, or electronic documents held on TBK itself. Depending on the table and the objects, a range of actions are available, from moving to another website to displaying the content depending on its format and the computer system you are using.

Framework Gateways

Next level pages are designed to present a “framework” of graphical objects (spheres, flags – whatever makes sense and pleases the eye) arranged in a table grid (for example 3 rows by 3 columns, = 9 cells).

Each object has a range of actions available, for example:

[1] Click on an object to get a brief text message about it;

[2] Click on [Details]  to get detailed information OR link to another object;

[3] Click on [More] to get more information OR link to another object.

Pages can be created in a hierarchy.

For example, Page 1 could be a high-level summary (say, with nine dimensions), and Page 1 – D1, Page 1 – D2, Page 1-D3… could be further exploration of the high level summary.

Graphical Gateways

More fun, but trickier, there are some “graphical gateways” comprising objects of various sorts (honeycomb, stacked spheres…) that have been set up with “live areas” that can have various actions attached.  These require more programming and are not so easy to have user-input to the contents.


Why The-Bees-Knees?

I was introduced to the joys of bees when a friend, John, and I tried to save a hive in my neighbour’s shed wall.  The shed was pretty dilapidated – lovely broken asbestos panels – so we were able to break away a panel to get at the hive. As it turned out, the hive had been poisoned with paint thinner, and only a few bees were still alive.

From this I spent time with John learning some basic apiarist techniques.

The-bees-knees (TBK) started as a site to collate information about bees, based on a site that I developed to support activities for local and state government agencies to manage civil infrastructure –  water & sewerage networks, treatment plants, stormwater drainage, flood management, road networks, property and buildings – pretty much everything we rely on for decent living except electricity networks.

Then I became interested in The Conversation – a great electronic journal – but became frustrated with the ephemeral nature of journals – the same topics arise year after year (euthanasia, climate change, politics and economics, sustainability) and each time, the same arguments and debates flourish for a week or so, before dying away – ready for the next time.

So – TBK is now a databank (careful of the word “repository”!) to distil the results of debates and information gathering into a more permanent form.

It uses a range of techniques, especially electronic documents available on the Internet. It is not a replacement for Google – “500,000 documents in 0.47 seconds on any question you ask” – rather, it aims to pick which few of the 500,000 are actually sane and rational answers to key issues.