26 July 2008

Google Maps beats online Yellow Pages hands down

The Yellow Pages is just one example of a slow moving dinosaur facing extinction because of its failure to adapt to change. While its end might be inevitable, the current design of their website and the search algorithms employed to generate the results will hasten the decline of its use.

In the past I always tried the online Yellow Pages from my mobile first when I'm on the go, only to be left frustrated by all the unnecessary navigation and confusing results that are full of duplicates. Mobile Google Maps, on the other hand, usually gave me the names and locations of the businesses I was seeking effortlessly, and when it didn't, it was because Google's data was not as up to date as that of the Yellow Pages.

Suppose you were looking for a print shop in the Perth CBD, which has a post code of 6000. A map with the contact details of all the relevant businesses in the area is returned instantly after hitting the search button.

When the same search is entered into the Yellow Pages, the user is swamped with a plethora of categories, including Leasing Services &/or Consultants and Video & DVD Production &/or Duplicating Services. It is quite unnecessary to list every conceivable category that can be linked to the keyword in the most obscure of ways. If the user was looking for cheque printing, they can narrow the search by simply entering "cheque printing".

In analysing the requirements of a piece of software, engineers should strive for the least number of features that offer the most functionality. Unfortunately, they tend to give us the most number of features with the least amount of functionality, which benefits neither the customer nor the software maker. The former, however, is actually more difficult and requires more thought.

14 July 2008

Channel 10 shows mercy on Australian viewers: Big Brother to be axed

I don't think Channel 10 should have axed Big Brother; it shouldn't have been aired in the first place. While it satisfied the voyeuristic appetite of some people who were prepared to sit in front of their TV for hours on end just watching people be people, the rest of us were left in awe at the new precedent it set in trash TV. If there is anything on TV that could put you into a vegetative state and eventually send you brain dead, it would have to be Big Brother. At least the test pattern has music.

Unfortunately, we may not have seen the last of this awful show, brought to you courtesy of Endemol Southern Star, as there are plans to sell it to other networks. Hopefully, Channel 10 will fill the vacancy in its schedule with something less asinine.