Yesterday evening Elon Musk presented the next generation of the SpaceX Dragon 2 module; the top part that actually makes it to the space station and back. The existing Dragon module has already delivered cargo to the ISS three times, splashing down in the ocean after reentry and descent via parachute. The new Dragon 2 module is a step beyond that. It should descend through the atmosphere, slowed only by friction until it lights reentry and landing rockets (the SuperDraco rockets namedropped in the presentation video), slowing the craft until it comes to a comfy stop on the ground.
Here’s a fascinating look at some unique problems our society is experiencing during the transition between primarily Human to primarily Computer-based control of critical systems. “People Make Poor Monitors for Computers” describes the interesting case of Air France 447 which experienced some loss of instrumentation data while flying through storms near the equator. Control of the aircraft was ceded to the Human operators in the midst of an airspeed indicator failure and the operators couldn’t make sense of what was going on (and in fact made very wrong choices) before it was too late to recover.
Microsoft is hard at work pushing their new Metro UI in the months leading up to the Windows 8 release sometime in 2012. I don’t pay too much attention to most of it but they recently posted a case study for UI differences between a standard iOS interface and Metro. It’s fairly dismissive of iOS concepts despite usually telling half the story, but it’s an interesting study in mobile UI design nonetheless.
I downloaded Clear the other day to see what all the fuss is about and I’ve run into a slight moral-UX dilemma. Everything about the first startup of Clear is a tutorial. The default list is all items to help you learn what gestures to do when acting out the essential functions of the app. Add a new task by pulling down, navigate back to the list of lists by pulling down more, swipe left to delete, etc.