||Please send any comments to me.
This page updated: October 2013
Content Rating section
Microsoft Windows section
Appliances for Senior Citizens section
I would like to put "content rating" tags on all of my web pages. But there seems
to be no good system for doing this.
Various online content-rating systems:
- PICS: superseded by POWDER, and very complicated.
W3C's "Platform for Internet Content Selection (PICS)"
- POWDER: very complicated, and not yet an approved standard. Has two forms: very complex version POWDER-S,
and complex version POWDER.
W3C's "Protocol for Web Description Resources (POWDER)"
Relevant example (ICRA)"
- ICRA RDF: looks complicated. Used to be a "label generator" web form to generate tags,
but ICRA says it's discontinued.
w3's "RDF Content Labels: Use Cases"
- <meta name="rating" content="value">: not widely used, limited definition.
"Value" is one of: general, mature, restricted, 14 years, safe for kids.
From "Meta Tags Explained" by Jerry West:
"There is not a set form of this tag, nor is there any official statement from the W3C.
Some sites recommend using this tag. However, these recommendations have no basis in fact as the governing body
of HTML has no reference to it. According to our testing, this tag has no merit."
- Voluntary Content Rating (VCR): not widely used, maybe limited to one vendor, very limited definition.
<meta name="voluntary content rating" content="rating" />
"Rating" is one of: mature, adult.
Wikipedia's "Voluntary Content Rating"
- What I want:
<meta name="content rating" content="ratingstring" />
where "ratingstring" specifies levels of violence, nudity, sex, gore, badlanguage, etc in 0-10 levels.
<meta name="content rating" content="violence:0;nudity:5;sex:0;gore:0" />
Then in the browser and search engine and other clients, each user could select the levels they will tolerate.
As a webmaster, I'd like a tool that scans all of my web pages and suggests ratings for each,
and generates the corresponding tags. Then I can tweak the settings to fix anything the tool got wrong.
Various off-line content-rating systems:
Some people want a "Google Kids":
They want a search engine or rating service that will provide only content safe for kids.
That is completely the wrong strategy. There is no one definition of a "kid" or what is appropriate for a "kid".
No corporation or product or government should make choices for you, the parent. And many adults could use content-rating
to improve their own internet experiences.
Instead, YOU should be the one who decides what is appropriate for each of your kids and for yourself.
The web pages and search engines and browsers should give you info and tools to enable this.
Web pages and rating services should tell you "this web page contains X amount of violence and Y amount of nudity".
YOU should choose, in your kid's browser and search engine, that
"this user is allowed to see M amount of violence and N amount of nudity".
Why is there no way to report Windows bugs to Microsoft ? There is an automatic
mechanism for reporting system and application crashes, but no way to report feature bugs
or suggest tweaks to features. I guess they want you to pay for support before they'll
let you report bugs.
New features I want in Windows:
- One button to push to check for updates to all drivers.
- Some common application-update mechanism. If not one button to push to update
all applications, at least one button to poll all applications to see which have updates available.
This should work for all applications, not just Microsoft applications.
- Ability to restrict disk access and application access for an account, even in Windows Home.
I want to set up a honey-trap account (for the Prey Project)
which can not run Windows Explorer or Internet Explorer or any other application,
and can not access various folders on disk.
- Better UI for connecting to a flaky Wi-Fi signal.
A "Retry" button in the "Connect to a Network / Windows was unable to connect to (NETNAME)" dialog would be a start.
- A "What the heck did I just do ?" feature. Sometimes your finger slips while clicking
or dragging, and something happens in a flash, and you don't know what it was.
You want to know what you just did, so you can undo it. You may not know what application
you did it in, or it may cross applications, or be on the desktop or tray, or maybe you launched an application,
or clicked OK in a dialog. A system-wide list of
the last few things you did, with ability to undo them, would be great.
- A "What system updates did I do ?" feature. Not just Windows Updates,
but also application installs and uninstalls, and changes to driver and Service settings. When the system starts having some error,
I want to look back and see what changes I made recently.
Appliances for Senior Citizens
[Not really "computer" issues. Things I'd like to get for my vision-impaired elderly Mom.]
Senior-friendly phone and answering machine:
- Separate phone and answering machine; combining them is too confusing.
- Simple phone with NO extra features; just pick up to answer, pick
up and dial to originate a call. Big number buttons, and NO feature buttons. No screen, no menus.
Cordless (handset and base station). Not a cellphone.
Maybe a volume-control on the base station.
Corded phones that are close (but too many buttons, and maybe integrated answering machine):
Northwestern Bell MB2060-1
Cordless phones that are close (but too many buttons, and maybe integrated answering machine):
Serene Innovations CL-35 (amplified)
Cellphone with interesting features:
- Simple answering machine with ONLY three visible controls: LED displaying number of messages,
big "Play" button, and a big "Delete" button. That's it. Hidden underneath: a big "Record Outgoing Message" button.
- If I pay $50/year for a web-hosting company to host my web site, I'd like to pay them
a one-time fee of, say, $500 for them to host my web site in perpetuity, even after I die.
No one seems to offer this option.
- Email and web site hosts and social-networking companies should offer, for a fee such as $100,
the service of "restore my mailbox/site/messages/account to the state it had on date X",
before I accidentally screwed it up or it got hacked.
Some web site hosts do offer this; no email or social networking site I know of offers this option.
- There's an opportunity for some big email provider to seize the banner of "privacy champion".
Every time I click Send on their email client/site, they would look in a directory server and see
if the destination email address has a public key registered. If so, encrypt the email before sending.
- Why aren't these Artificial-Intelligence web sites available on the internet ?
- Spam-replying bot (give it a spam email, and it engages the spammer in a long email conversation, wasting the spammer's time).
(Probably best to create it as add-on to user's email client, so spammers are getting traffic
from client computers instead of one central server. A crowd-sourced anti-spam mechanism.
The big email providers should provide hooks to support this, maybe create the first versions of this, encourage users to help fight the spammers.)
[A couple of years after I first wrote that:
Julie Bort's "A programmer came up with a hilarious way to shut down dangerous Windows scammers"]
- Doctor (give it symptoms, it asks questions, tells you what tests to get, tells you what condition you have).
WebMD Symptom Checker
Isabel Symptom Checker
- Lawyer (tell it your problem, it tells you the basic situation,
what forms to fill out or what action to take, likely costs and outcomes).
- House-improver (tell it details about your house, and it tells you what to do to increase market value or make it work better for you).
- Personal finance adviser (tell it your situation, and it gives advice).
- Search engines and shopping sites should offer a "context".
Sometime when I am shopping, I am shopping for myself. Sometimes
I am shopping for a present for my Mom. But Amazon, for example,
assumes there is just one "me". If I buy something on Amazon, it thinks I like that kind of thing, when really I was buying for my Mom and it's
something she likes. So later the site starts showing me more things my Mom likes, even when I'm shopping for myself.
I have a similar issue with Google searching. I should be able to set a "hint" or a "mode" saying "right now,
I'm scanning for news/politics", or "right now, I'm shopping". So then when I search for "Portugal", if in
"news/politics" mode I'd see results about news/politics/events/issues in Portugal, and if in "shopping" mode
I'd see results about travel to Portugal or products made in Portugal.
If I click "Like" on a site linked to Facebook,
the sites assume there is just one "me". But maybe I "like" that page for shopping, or for work, or for pleasure, or for politics.
There is not just one "me", and there should be a way to separate them.
- TV remote-controls should be replaced by smartphone/tablet apps.
How much would it cost for manufacturers to add IR-emitters to smartphones and tablets ?
That would kill all remote controls, replacing them with smartphone apps with far better
Another way to do it: someone could make a little BlueTooth-to-IR or Wi-Fi-to-IR repeater
device that you could leave pointed at your TV and cable box.
Then the smartphone or tablet transmits BlueTooth or Wi-Fi.
Loyd Case's "Turn Your Smartphone Into a Home Theater Remote Control"
Smarthome's "Wi-Fi IR Repeaters" ($110+)
USB-UIRT (Universal Infrared Receiver/Transmitter) (also available through Amazon; $55)
Samsung Galaxy Tab 2: bundled Android/IR/Wi-Fi tablet to control TV ($330+).
- Car dashboards/consoles should be replaced by smartphones/tablets.
When you get into your car, stick your iPad into a mount in front of the steering wheel,
plug a USB cable from iPad to car, and run an app that displays speed, gauges, controls the radio,
controls the heating/AC, etc. No need for dashboard or console gauges and controls any more.
And you can customize the app to show only what you like to see, set the climate and radio controls
differently for each driver, etc. And it could give an alert when you're low on gas, or engine temperature
is rising, or whatever. Could display the speed in the style liked or needed by each driver:
large digital numbers, or a traditional dial, or whatever.
But I guess that's not in the manufacturer's interest (they want to sell proprietary gauges
and controls and entertainment system and navigation system).
And this also creates reliability issues: what if something else you've installed on your iPad
interferes with the "car" app ? Although the app wouldn't actually be running any critical systems
such as brakes or engine or lights.
- Laptop power connectors.
I find that the first part that wears out on a laptop is the power connector !
Something gets intermittent, either in the connector, or in its mounting.
And they're not cheap to repair; usually they're soldered right onto the motherboard.
I wish they'd just put two power connectors in each laptop, so when the first wears out,
you can switch to the second. Or have a strain-relieved cable 6 inches long come out
to a connector, so you could easily cut off a bad connector and install a new one.
But I guess fixing this is not in the manufacturer's interest.
I think at some point the US govt will make a digital, crypto form of the US dollar,
in addition to the current physical and electronic forms of it. Suppose the Fed issued,
say, $100 billion of US dollar crypto-currency, in addition to the existing US dollar supply ?
Best of all worlds: anonymous (maybe), digital, online, very low transaction cost,
easily convertible, guaranteed 1-1 exchange rate with US dollar,
backed by US govt.
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