Skip to content

Month: October 2007

Some blog tweaks

Yesterday, our house guest, Jörn, showed me how to change the URLs on WordPress. The old links still work, but now the new links will show up better in other places, like Google Analytics. You can see how the links are useless to tell me what page that was. I basically have to click through. With the new links I will get a much better idea of what page they were on. In doing this I was analyzing the traffic patterns of my blog. Every once in a while, I get picked up on Ajaxian.com. This usually sends somewhere around…

Project Estimates

My experience with project estimates and scope can be summed up by the following chart. Of course the actual chart has way more uphill bumps and a much longer tail. But basically, the project starts, then you realize you didn’t scope it out entirely. Then some progress happens and you realize you totally forgot an important use case. So it’s back the infrastructure to make it right. Then alot of progress. Finally, the last 5% of the project takes 25-30% of the total time to complete the project. That last 5% is where the perceived value of the project literally…

Problem Solving

Last night I was struggling with a problem that refused to budge. I was very confident in the beginning. Of course, Internet Explorer just refused to cooperate and Firefox was just fine. The problem kept going to a for while as a lost confidence. Right before I was about to quit, I sat very still and looked in the one place, I had not looked. I zen’d out for a few minutes, to find my Golden Glow. After a few minutes, I found the answer. I drew a chart of my progress. Does this resonate with others? Is this a…

View Generated Source in IE

I found this easy way to view generated source in IE. Type this in the browser: javascript:'<xmp>’ + window.document.body.outerHTML+ ‘</xmp>’ Why is Microsoft NOT building developer tools for IE? It’s making me sick. Firebug was made by one guy. Why can’t Microsoft make this seemingly simple thing? How about profiling? Memory leak detection? Come on.

Dabble Dabble, program and trouble

I often see technology out there that is solid, but lacking a tiny bit of the details from a UX perspective.  Or I would like to extend it a little bit more for a UX reason.  When that happens, every once in a while, someone tells me I am “complaining” and says, “Why don’t you just learn to program and do it yourself?” I always feel uncomfortable with this.  Programming has been this glass ceiling for me for 12 years now.  I have dabbled here and there, but always get stuck and move back to shallower waters.  With the previous…

The UX of Trees – Design Pattern

I actually am having trouble finding a decent Design Pattern for a Tree.  A tree is a critical user interface element and is being used more and more on applications.  Since, I can’t find one, I am going to quickly summarize the pattern I proscribe. Let’s start with the EXT JS Tree. This tree is pretty full featured, but it’s not perfect.  Let’s review what it does well. All leaf nodes have icons.  It is important for a tree node to have an anchor.  The icon helps set alignment visually and also to give a quick hint to the user…

Pre-jQuery

I am working on a page with a small bit of JavaScript written by someone else. They are in the Pre-jQUery era. It’s all old and crusty code that is hard to read. I think I could have made the same stuff in jQuery using about 5 lines. jQuery just makes web page development so easy. It makes me annoyed just looking at this old stuff. Example: var element = document.getElementById(“foo”); var visible = element.style; if (visible.display==” && element.offsetWidth != undefined && element.offsetHeight != undefined) { visible.display = (element.offsetWidth!=0 && element.offsetHeight != 0) ? ‘block’ : ‘none’; } visible.display =…

The UX of InfoSelect

I have been getting a little bit on a roll with the book. I got one chapter approved and another chapter written in first draft form. I like the style of it. I hope the publisher can get me an illustrator. There are tons of pictures and my reliance on Microsoft Clip Art is pretty strong right now. One case study I did was with a program I used to use called InfoSelect. InfoSelect has always had a wonderful selection model. You get this search boxs with lots of little squares. As you type, the squares go from red to…

Amazon.com Wishlist

I don’t know exactly why, but I made an Amazon.com Wishlist. I was writing my book and got to a stopping point and wanted to see what Amazon.com did for some UI thing. And I just said, “Well, I am here. Why not? Note: The content of this site is always objective and free. I don’t have Google Ads or “advertorials”. I write this stuff because I have a compulsion to spout opinions. (It’s genetic, just ask anyone I am related to.) Besides, it’s fun. One day my kids might read this and say, “Man, what a geek”. Geeks are…

The UX of Ikea Directions

My bosses recently purchased an Ikea couch.  I won’t go into all the details, but here is the salient point:  The directions did not have a single word.  All pictures.  I liked it very much.  It was international.  I found the directions clear and concise.  Good job.  Interesting, there is an ikeaFans.com website.  It says that it’s not affiliated with Ikea.  Who has time for that??

The UX of the New Microsoft Maps Website

Microsoft just released a new upgrade to their Maps site. (I still think its a horrible name, maps.microsoft.com would be smarter) Anyway, it’s a good upgrade. The bird’s eye view is so much better than anything Google Maps has to offer. The Google street view is interesting, but in reality, I use the bird’s eye view much more often. I even tried the Microsoft UI in Firefox and it seems to work just fine. It seems that the newer Microsoft sites work well in Firefox. I have to wonder if the commitment to Internet Explorer is as high as it…

Knowing which one

There is an old story that I like, but I can’t find it on the web. It goes something like this: This was back in the days of large servers with big vacuum tubes. A major server stopped working, causing panic in a large corporation. All work ground to a halt. The engineers could not figure out why the machine had stopped working. They called in the best of the best, a consultant named Smith. Smith looked at the server closely. He pulled a roll of duct tape out of his back pocket and tore off a piece. Smith reached…

Email Template More Detail

I added in more detail to my Email Template. It turns out that the box model on Microsoft Outlook 2007 is different than the box model in IE6 and 7.  Specifically, when calculating the width of a TD cell, it can’t deal with padding on the same item.  So I had to separate the padding from the width and never have them on the same item. The sample has alot more detail now.  I also noticed that anchor links have alot of trouble in Outlook 2007 when trying to give them backgrounds and borders.  Still working on it.

The UX EXT 2.0

Although it was a rocky beginning, (see resolution) I have really fallen in love with EXT, specifically the 2.0 release (currently in beta.)  The quality of the interaction design is top-notch.  Jack Slocum has the extremely rare combination of talents including programming, visual design, interaction design and CSS.  He is able to take the modern JavaScript Library movement and couple that with cutting edge CSS techniques to create a solid framework.  On top of all that, he has a wonderful design instinct that makes all of his work look like they were developed by a large team including crack visual…

Gore for Nobel President

If Al Gore wins the Nobel prize, he should run for president.  I am convinced that he would win.  The country feels guilty about the 2000 election.  We know Gore won, but we let it slide and let Bush take the prize.  In hindsight, that was a really shitty decision.  The Supreme Court is now packed with right-wing nutjobs.  The country is spewing CO2 like crazy.  The disparity between rich and poor is greater than ever.  We are mired in an unwinable war and are rolling back social programs and civil rights.  I think the country feels guilty and would…

Vinny Testaverde

The Carolina Panthers brought in Vinny Testaverde to back up David Carr. Jake Delhomme had his season cut short by injury and David Carr is banged up too. This means Vinny might see some MORE playing time.  He is now 43 years old! About Vinny: The 6-foot-5 Testaverde certainly brings experience. He ranks sixth in NFL history 6,529 pass attempts, 3,693 completions and 45,281 passing yards. He’s ninth with 270 touchdown passes and tied for 10th with 30 300-yard passing games. Testaverde’s best statistical season came in 1996 with Baltimore, when he made the first of his Pro Bowl appearances,…

The UX of Freshlogic

As a follow up to the Filespots review, someone at Freshlogic asked me to review their competitor called Folders.  Although I feel that my expertise should be PAID for, I still can’t help myself.  Someone asking me to write a review of a cool new Web 2.0 app?  What can I do?  Maybe I should set up a PayPal or Amazon.com wishlist?  Next project for sure! Ok, here is my quick and dirty review of Folders from Freshlogic.  As always, I pull no punches. First off, Folders is a terrible name for a product?  Come on, seriously.  Come up with…

Candidates + Issues Matrix

I filled out this MSNBC Candidates/Issues Matrix. Looking carefully at the positions of all the candidates, I rated them all.  As I expected, Hillary Clinton is not as progressive as I would like her to be.  Mike Gravel has some good positions, but he seems “a few kb short of a meg” to me.  The guy I was most inline with is Joe Biden.  Joe is the man.  He reminds me alot of Paul Kaplan. On the other side of the spectrum is Tom Tancredo.  Tom is a bonafide wack-a-doodle.  Nutjob.  Crackhead.   He’s insane.  No seriously.  Really.  Look at his…

Spam supression on WordPress

Recently, I have been getting alot of comments fall into the Akismet net. I am experimenting with a Captcha plugin for WordPress. A captcha forces the user to type in a word before they can comment. Spambots can not read the words, so only human beings can make it work. The one I am trying right now is reCAPTCHA. reCAPTCHA is a project of the School of Computer Science at Carnegie Mellon University. You can see the team members here. It doesn’t look so bad, but I wish it had an option of one word versus two. I’d like to…

Opera: Request for Feature

I think Opera has a chance to do something really awesome.  Assuming that the technology was possible. They should release a browser with Opera, IE6, IE7, FF and Webkit rendering engines built in.  They should enable a <META> tag to indicate on the page WHICH rendering engine to use.  Default would be Opera, of course.  Additionally, add profiling (like firebug) to allow you to compare different engines on the same page. Benefit #1: I could use this as my development testing.  It’s much easier than trying to open 5 different browsers in Virtual PC. Benefit #2: Publishers could start to…

Technorati Claim

I was looking at Technorati just now. Some really neat features. It has a way to claim your blog on it. So this post does that. I need to link to my Technorati Profile and it should work. I will review the UX of Technorati later when I get a little experience with it.

The UX of Amazon (A/B Test)

It appears that Amazon is widely testing a new homepage. I took some screenshots of the old and the new. You can get the new page by deleting your cookies and refreshing the page. Looks like it might even be a 50/50 split. Additionally, they have information about the redesign here. At first, I was surprised. I thought, “What happened to Amazon? Where am I? Did I type in the wrong address?” Seriously, I started to get nervous. Then I saw the link on the top right that said they were ‘remodeling’ and started to calm down. I then sat…

Rooting for Losing

I have officially given up on the 2007 Jets season.  I want them to lose very single game.  I do not want them to go 8-8.  I would like 1-15.  We are aiming for the number one draft pick next year.  Mostly likely, they should trade that pick down and build up some depth in the team.  I am wathcing Chad Pennington run the offense.  He just looks lack-luster.  Something about his body language makes it look like he has lost his edge.  And certainly, his passes are slow and wounded-duck-like. The season is a completely fiasco.  We don’t have…

The UX of Toasters

Last month, my brother and his wife got us a new toaster. Our toaster was old and crusty, but it had a simplicity that I liked. It had a dial for temperature and “toast” lever. You pressed the toast lever and when you heard the bell, BING, the toast was done. It was a small toaster too, so you couldn’t do anything complicated. We liked the toaster just fine. The new toaster was a large convection oven toaster whizzbang doohickey. It has 12 buttons and a digital LCD display. It had all kinds of trays. The manual was over 100…

The UX of FileSpots

Jack Slocum just pointed out a new EXT application called Filespots. This is interesting on many levels. Just from the homepage you can see how they have mirrored the exact Vista windows explorer user experience. The nice folks at Filespots were kind enough to give me a username and password. I immediately started to check it out. At first blush I was really impressed with how the visual design exactly mirrored Microsoft Vista. I said, “Wow, Microsoft should buy these guys right away!” Then I started using the application. My expectations were set by the visual design that this should…

Craigslist on Steroids

I recently red an article on Ajaxian about a Craigslist Mashup. Take a look at this thing. This is awesome. I can’t stop using it. It’s so much better than craiglist by itself. It gives the google map, and remembers the last bunch of views. The thing I don’t like is the visual design. It’s crowded. Where is the whitespace? It’s hard to read anything. Additionally, its all monotone. Dark Gray. They use a highlight in one spot, but it’s not enough. The site is built using Tibco, but it seems it could have been built easier in Flex or…

New jQuery Easing Plugin

A new version of the jQuery Easing Plugin has been released.  On the one hand, it’s still the best plugin ever.  On the other hand, they changed all the names.  Now they are a little more “techie”. easeInCirc, easeInOutSine.  Am I supposed to know what that means?  I am sure there is some math involved.  Did mention, I am not good at math. I guess I should make a new easing demo page.   All my previous easing pages should be broken.  To be fair, he did provide a compatibility pack with the plugin.  But I would rather just redo the…

Online Contact Management

In my never-ending project to upgrade Katie to the latest greatest technology, I have come up against an old piece of software.  Microsoft Outlook 2007.  The time has come to retire this vestige of 20th century programming.  The thick client must go!  Thin Web client must come in.  Gmail is providing the Email part.  Google Calendar has been a pleasant experience so far for our family scheduling.  The last thing to pry out of Outlook is contact management.  Google?  What do you have for me? Nothing??? Google has absolutely no contact management?  What the heck is that about?  I have…