Tuesday, June 02, 2009 

Good Design

I rarely (if ever) blog about technology, mostly because once you cut the marketing cr@p, consumer technology is often so moot. Still, a few days ago I read about local dimming in the news section of IEEE Computer. A good designer should be quick to spot good (or intriguing) design, and that idea struck me as an excellent use of technology.

It's also interesting to look at it from a forcefield perspective. CCFLs had several drawbacks as light sources for LCD displays. Some of those issues have been resolved using LED backligthing instead, but if we stop there, we're just using new technology to solve the exact same problem we solved with yesterday's technology. That's usually the wrong approach, as the old technology was part of a larger design, a larger forcefield, and it managed to resolve only some of those forces.

Back to local dimming, the idea is amazingly simple from the forcefield perspective: instead of using lamps for ligthing and LCD for contrast, color, etc, split some of the work between the LEDs and the LCD. This can be done because once we introduce a LED matrix, the forcefield itself changes. This has long been known: when we introduce technology, we can even change the problem itself.

Of course, we face similar issues in software all the time. I wrote something along the same lines in IEEE Software back in 1997 (When Past Solutions Cause Future Problems). I wasn't talking forcefield back then, but the "ask why" suggestion is very much forcefield friendly. More on this shortly, as I'm trying to catch up with many ideas I didn't have time to blog about, and write them down in small chunks...

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