Jessamine county history

I just noticed that the Jessamine County Historical and Genealogical Society has a new website. Their old one was sadly out of date.

The historical society has put together some excellent resources and are actively working to preserve Jessamine county history and heritage. If you visit the Applebee’s in Nicholasville you’ll notice a number of historical photos of the area, including some of High Bridge and its railroad station. I hope I will be able to obtain copies of these for use on the website and in promotional materials for the High Bridge–Wilmore Rail-trail. (Thankfully all these photos are out of copyright.)

Personas and Personality

I recently ran across a simple and thought-provoking comment while looking at some design documents for an open source project.

Target users have personality types. What may be simple for one, may not be for others.

I’ve used personas as a design technique for a number of products. A persona is a precise description of a stereotypical target user of a product. (For more details, see The Inmates are Running the Asylum by Alan Cooper. He and other designers in his company have written about using personas.) A persona defines a fictitious person and the person’s goals. Although a persona is based on actual users and an understanding of their goals, a persona is not a description of an actual person—real people have idiosyncrasies and varying skills that may skew design decisions. A well-defined and precise persona can help the designer make decisions that reflect user needs. The persona also helps the designer step outside his own view-point and see through the eyes of another.

What intrigued me most was the mention of personality types. During college freshman orientation we were required to take the Myers-briggs test as well as the Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory (MMPI), a practice that I’m sad to say has been discontinued, probably because of limited time and money. These personality assessment tools can be quite useful in pointing out distinctive goals, motivations, and behavioral preferences. It certainly helped me to better understand myself and my friends.

As a designer, I know that my personality type affects my perception and influences my design. I wonder if identifying a Myers-briggs Type for each persona would be valuable. With just 16 possibilities, but significant behavior and perception differences, it would be easy to add. A very simple 4 question test can be used to identify your personality type and these same questions could be helpful in assessing and creating personas. The Myers-briggs types also lend themselves to brief summaries.

I wonder how much our personality types are relevant to our use of a software product. For a communication product, it would seem quite relevant. I wonder if there’s an ideal personality type to design for. Perhaps you need the design to work for two completely opposite types. I’ll have to experiment with this.

Regional transportation planning

The January 28, 2003 edition of the Lexington Herald-Leader had a front page article saying that under a proposed plan, Jessamine county would get a greater voice on the regional transportation panel. Jessamine has complained that it has no influence on the Lexington Area Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO), the group responsible for transportation planning in Fayette and Jessamine counties, and points to the lack of even a study for a connector road between Interstate 75 and Nicholasville as an example. Jessamine has only 3 votes to Fayette’s 18. Under the proposal, Fayette county would cut its voting members on the MPO to 10. Jessamine would retain its three voting members. The new MPO would have seven Urban County Council members, the Lexington mayor, the Fayette judge-executive, an official from LexTran, the Jessamine judge-executive, and the mayors of Nicholasville and Wilmore.

These changes to the MPO could benefit rail-trails in Jessamine County. In a sidebar, the Lexington Herald-Leader described the role of the MPO like this:

The MPO establishes transportation policy for the region and prioritizes which roads should be studied, improved or built. In addition to roadwork, the MPO also works on energy-conservation planning and oversees ride-sharing, van-pooling and air-quality programs.

The MPO also establishes bikeways and facilities for the disabled. This year, the MPO has a budget of $37.7 million in federal, state and local funds.

Update for HomeSite 5

Macromedia has released a free update for HomeSite 5.0. After the update, you’ll have HomeSite 5.2. Read the Release Notes for more information about the bug fixes and behavior changes in 5.2. It says that Netscape 6.2 and/or Mozilla 1.0 can now be fully used as the internal browser in Homesite and that missing file:// path problems when using Mozilla as an external browser have been resolved.

Chimera Dead?

Mike Pinkerton is pondering what to do with Chimera:

I’m torn about what to do with Chimera. It’s obvious it will only ever be a marginal product on a even more marginal platform. AOL and Netscape have no interest in supporting it. Who aspires to be number two in an already over-commoditized space? Working my ass off for 3% just isn’t any fun any more. Safari has already won, the rest is just to see by how much.

12 days before, he sounded much more optimistic and pointed to Chimera’s strengths:

So I bet you want to know what I think about Safari? … What does it mean for Chimera? Well, we have the ability to be much more flexible simply because we don’t answer to one man: Mr. Happy.… We’re also a real open-source project, not just one that dumps its changes back at the 11th hour because we’re mandated to. That means we get the help of everyone on the net not just in testing, but in development and feedback that is crucial to the success of the milestone releases.

We’ve come a long way in less than a year. Where do we go now? Now that the cat is out of the proverbial bag, we have a chance to openly evaluate what each browser brings to the table and ensure that we’re going in the right direction. Then probably 1.0 after a couple months of polish, then back on the Mozilla trunk so we can pick up a lot of the cooler features that have gone in, as well as speedups (15% by bryner’s latest numbers, and that’s almost as much as we need to catch Safari).

I think it’d be a shame to lose Chimera, even though I don’t directly benefit from it (well, I am using the Chimera theme for Phoenix at the moment) I’ve heard many good things about it from Mac-using friends. It also seems to be an important option for those that aren’t using the latest and greatest version of OS X as Safari requires. This whole conversation is a bit strange to have about an open source project. It may not matter whether there are other options if Chimera still fits some users’ needs.

Eldred reactions

Richard Koman’s article Eldred Opinion Met with Anger, Determination written for the O’Reilly Network expresses the general feeling and reactions in the technical community to the copyright case:

The hackers and activists who make up the Electronic Frontier Foundation are seething, said EFF spokesman Cory Doctorow. “There’s widespread anger and even rage that this decision came down the way it did, and there’s a renewed sense that something must be done as soon as possible to counteract the harmful effects of bad laws like the Sonny Bono act. … We are now at a point where the issue of copyright reform and the public domain, which two years ago was so obscure as to be invisible—even among very technical people—is now a mainstream issue, at least within the technology world. We can hope now that this [decision] will vault this issue into the nontechnical world, but certainly a generation of technical people have been changed forever by the preparation for and the outcome of this case.”

Eric Eldred, the Internet publisher who was the lead plaintiff in the case, … believes in the virtue of putting as much as possible on the Net. The court “seemed to accept the argument that the copyright law gives financial incentive to copyright owners to make things available, and extending the term only increases the chance of availability,” Eldred said in a telephone interview, “which seems to me just wrong, actually.”

Eldred thinks the burden is now on the publishers to make works available online. “If the court says this law is the best way to do it, then fine, let’s do it—put up or shut up.” If this doesn’t happen, he warns, Internet users will start taking the law into their own hands. “I think people will just kind of disregard the copyright law and make things available if they want to, and if there are suits about it, then maybe this decision will be some sort of defense.” He noted that there’s a section of the 1998 law that allows libraries and archives to publish works in the last 20 years of their copyright term. “As far as I know nobody’s taking advantage of that, but both the government and the court have pointed to that as some sort of escape passage, and I’d like to see people just go ahead and make the works available on the Internet, and we’ll see if there are any lawsuits that come out of that.”

There’s a general consensus among copyright reformers that the decision could be a rallying cry to energize a growing movement of hackers, consumers, and academics.

“I hope this case becomes a rallying point for people who care about the public domain, and this issue, which has been so obscure and hard to understand for most people, creates a more mainstream dialogue in which creators and audiences come to realize how important the public domain is,” said EFF’s Doctorow.

We’ve already seen the breakdown of respect for copyright in online music sharing and, I believe, in some ways in all online publishing. It seems an obvious reaction to the excesses of copyright protection; it no longer serves the good of the people. My own reaction is to look into ways to open my own works. The Founder’s Copyright looks promising. I’ve asked the Creative Commons for more details. I am also seeking to educate my friends and family about what was lost in this case.

Over the top

Cedar Point announced its newest roller coaster for 2003: Top Thrill Dragster. With this “strata-coaster”, Cedar Point again blows past the previous coaster records.

Speed: accelerates from 0 to 120 mph in 4 seconds (Fastest coaster ever).

Height: zooms 90 degrees straight up to 420 feet (First coaster to top 400 feet).

Drop: plummets 400 feet at 90 degrees straight down with 270 degree rotation again reaching a speed of 120 mph.

With the addition of Top Thrill Dragster Cedar Point now has 16 coasters (more than any other park on the planet!) and four of them previously held the record for tallest coaster.

I am so there.