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Month: November 2007

Management sins

What are the worst management sins?  Here is my short list. Micromanagment. I really hate it when a boss says, “I want you to be responsible for this, but I am going to dictate how you do it.”  This is the thing that made me want to leave Intuit.  If you delegate then, let the person do their job.  You can give them feedback and guidance, but don’t dictate.  I know this sin happens when the shit hits the fan.  People think that they need to clamp down and have more process, but it never works.  See chart.  This is…

Open Source Product Definition: OutlineTasks

Yesterday, I was struggling to achieve a basic goal.  I wanted to list out the sections of the application and specify all the different buttons and menus and features.  It was basically a quick outline of the product to be used as a UI specification doc.  There are lots of task managers, but none achieved my goal.  I had three requirements: An outlining tool as easy as MS Project 2007. A column for task name and notes. Output HTML in a dynamic tree form. Some “nice-to-have” features, but weren’t required: Online, but just as fast as MS Project. (Possible, I…

Remend closes and lessons learned

The first company I worked as an interaction designer, Remend has officially closed it doors.  Here are some lessons learned for dot-coms building a product: A dollar spent in architecture is 10 dollars saved in maintenance.  Never hard code anything if you can help it.  The lesson is that things change.  Details change. You have to roll with the punches.  It is alot easier to change something flexible than something rigid.  Architecture is the key.  You don’t get alot of chances to start over.  This is exactly the opposite of what Extreme Programming states with YAGNI (You Aint Gonna Need…

The UX of Buggy Software

In any non-trivial piece of software you have alot of features.  Often, there is a bug in some of those features.  In the rollout phase of software, there are usually ALOT of bugs.  People use the word “beta” to mean buggy, but it carries a deadly payload. When a user encounters one bug, they will assume that all “similar” features are suspect.  In other words, if one menu button doesn’t work, then the user will assume that ALL menu buttons are tainted.  To overcome this ONE bug, the user will need to reassure themselves that the other buttons work ONE…

The UX of the Web

I love the Web.  I have loved it since Netscape 1.0 in 1994.  Here is why, in the form of two stories. Thanksgiving, 1996,  there were not that many websites in general, but there were a bunch.  My step-mother said, “The internet is a fad.  Mark my words, it will be gone in a couple of years.”  That night at dinner, we had alot of people over my dad’s house for Thanksgiving dinner.  The discussion somehow got onto Kiri Te Kanawa, the opera singer and how old she was. My dad, in his infinite wisdom said, “If your internet is…

The UX of Listerine

I haven’t used Listernine in years.  I was in Rite-aid this morning, buying Claritin and I saw the Listerine.  I was looking for one for the kids, but I thought it might be better to try it on my own first.  It’s ADA certified so I felt confident.  I took a swing and started swishing around.  Immediately, my mouth started to burn horribly.  Then it got worse. My gums receded immediately.  My nose hairs started to smolder.  My head started to spin.  I quickly looked at the bottle.  30 seconds!?  Crap.  Keep going.  Tough it out, man!  You can do…

Thanksgiving and the UX of Digital Pictures

We had a nice Thanksgiving this year.  Penny was happy.  Katie was happy, but not taller than Darcie.  The kids got to ride their bikes in an empty mall parking lot.  Ethan got to cook a little.  Ben and Darcie were happy with their new baby Henry.  All the extended family was there.  Everyone had a good time.  Everyone took pictures.   The funny thing is: I will never see those photos. It’s strange.  Everyone I know has a digital camera.  No one takes pictures on a 35 mm anymore.  But even today, we received IN THE MAIL (not e-mail but…

The UX of DebugBar

A new updated Internet Explorer tool is on the scene called DebugBar.  I was excited at first for this tool because I think IE has no decent tools.  However, my hopes were soon dashed.  I might be stupid and it was there and I couldn’t see it, however, I could not find out how to change a CSS attribute.  I didn’t see it anywhere.  There were JS tools, but I couldn’t find the CSS power. Hmm,  I just noticed they have a beta version.  Installing now…  Looking…  Nope.  It shows all kinds of CSS information, but doesn’t let me change…

The UX Firefox 3 beta 1

Mozilla has launched Firefox 3 into beta.  I quickly downloaded and installed it.  I realized this might be a mistake based on the fact that I need to use Firefox 2 for my development work.  Turns out there are two major problems, which caused me to uninstall the program almost immediately. I couldn’t run both Firefox 3 and Firefox 2 at the same time.  Haven’t we learned this lesson from Internet Explorer.  Developers need to run multiple versions at the same time to test.  Firefox 3 is clearly different in rendering, as I saw by quickly looking at our application…

Lunch at GooglePlex

Avinash, analytics and web guru, was kind enough to invite me to GooglePlex for lunch.  The food was good overall, the variety was outstanding, but it was the energy and the style that was most impressive.  I really appreciated the energy of the people and the way everything was arranged.  Everyone shared offices.  Everyone had two gigantic screens to work on.  I imagine the computers were very fast.  There were all kinds of fun things there. I haven’t ever thought about working there, but being there made me feel, “Wow this place looks fun!”  Which is precisely what they want…

Who are your influences?

A couple of years ago, I was interviewing for an interaction design position as Opsware.  At the time, my only interaction design experience was with Hotkoko.  They took interaction design super-seriously.  Their work products were top-notch with every conceivable detail spelled out.  I was thoroughly impressed.  The product also looked really good.  The head of the department said to me, “We want the experience to be so good that anyone who ever uses Opsware will insist upon using it in future projects.”  I have taken that sentiment to heart and adopted it as my own credo.  In Steve Jobs words,…

More GZip silliness

I wanted to gzip the javascript and css files on marketo.com. Again, this technology should be DEFAULT on every web host in the world. I have no idea why they don’t have this turned on. Anyway, after another couple of hours, I found this solution which seemed to work. Specifically, it only worked on MediaTemple. It did not work on this server (Bluehost). I am not sure why. Actually, I am really confused. The method was this: In the root of the web edit file .htaccess. It should contain the following: AddType application/x-compress .Z AddType application/x-gzip .gz .tgz AddType application/x-httpd-php…

New Solar

This is a major invention.  It is a new kind of solar panel that can be printed on anything.  Glass windows in your car or office building, roof shingles, parking lots, whatever.  The cost per watt of solar is currently $3.  This stuff is 30 cents. We need action.  We need our government to buy reams of this stuff and put it on every government building, car, truck and property.  We need to mandate that it be put on people’s houses.  This is the invention that could stop global warming.  It doesn’t eliminate our problem with car fuel, but it…

A quick review of Operating Systems

The first operating system I remember being aware of was DOS.  It came on a stack of 3.5″ floppy disks.  Before that, I had computers, but I wasn’t aware of a particular OS.  Windows 3.1 was my first OS that I could say had an actual Graphical User Interface (GUI).  Of course, Apple had the Mac, but I didn’t have one, so I didn’t pay very much attention. Fast forward a few years.  Around 1994, Apple had grown and was using System 5 or 6 and was doing quite well.  Microsoft had been stuck on Windows 3.1 for a long,…

Easing Demo Page

I just couldnt get my head around the new easing naming conventions. (jQuery Plugin) So I made a cheat sheet page. http://www.commadot.com/jquery/easing.php The naming convention is so techie.  I really can’t get my head around them and what they mean.  Some of them are so subtle in their differences, I can’t even tell if it’s working. Easing in general is a great thing. It makes your transitions so much better. The reason I am messing around with it is to play with this new ZoomBox implementation from Stefan Petre.  I am so happy that finally there is a jQuery version…

The UX of PageRank

Why do I care about PageRank?  It’s not like I have, nor desire, any ads.  I don’t even have much traffic.  Yet, recently when my pageRank went from 4 to 5 in the google toolbar, I got this warm feeling. It makes me  wonder if there is a UX nugget in here somewhere.  How can I harness the feedback loop of that little image in the toolbar to make users more likely to enjoy an application.  I remember when I was setting up LinkedIn.  They had this bar that gave me a “percentage complete” stat.  It went up when I…

Mo Upgrades

FINALLY I fixed the comments. Ugh that was hard. I have no idea how I fixed it. I installed some new plugins. Then removed one and it started working. The one I added and then removed was ShiftThis.net | Swift SMTP. It didn’t work at all. I gave it my smtp information and it just choked. Then I removed it and it’s happy now. I received a comment notification. While playing around in there, I also added a few plugins, some of which are pretty nice. Here is my current set of WordPress plugins. Akismet – Pretty good at getting…

WordPress Upgrades

I am starting to think that I should redo my theme from scratch so I can take advantage of the sidebar widgets and also get a design made by me.  However, since that is a project I really don’t want to take on right now, I made some minor upgrades. First were the comments.  I added a plugin so that you can subscribe to the comments of a particular thread.  This was a major shortcomming that I really didn’t think about it.  Poor usability.  One thing I noticed lately was that I stopped getting email notifications of the comments.  This…

Pictures

First of all, I love these two photos.  The look on their faces is priceless. Here is the family on Halloween.  Picasa has been doing well for us in the last year.  The only drawback has been the lack of “collections”.  Collections have recently been added to Flickr.  The lack of this feature was the reason I went to Picasa.  Now they have it and Picasa doesn’t!  Ugh!  For those who don’t know, collections are a way of grouping “albums”.  When you look at our pictures front page, you get WAY too many albums.  If I had collections< i could…

The Long Tail

We are in the long tail at work.  The product is getting close to releasable.  The little details start kicking in and take an enormous amount of time and attention.  I think the product will be well received, but like most products, the devil is in the details.   The heat at work has definitely been turned up in the last few weeks.  I imagine that it will continue through December.  The sharpened focus is hard to maintain.  I find myself taking attention away from home, jQuery, new software, the Jets, the book and the news so that I can stay…

Hosting Review Sites

I posted a review to what seemed to be an objective hosting review website.  I got an email from the “editor” who talked to me about my experience.  It was obvious that I was a real customer and my problems were well documented. It turns out that these hosting review sites are sponsored by the hosts and not objective at all.  They rarely, if ever, post negative reviews.  Lunarpages has 20-30 min call wait times, which is much longer than any other service I have seen.  None of that is posted on the site. Needless to say, they aren’t posting…

Hosting – One month in

My uptime stats have improved greatly with Bluehost.  Lunarpages clearly was having uptime issues, at least with the server I was on.  The stats are even worse than they appear for Lunarpages.  I switched about Sept 23, because it was so bad.  Since then, there have only been 2 failed attempts by Siteuptime. What is odd is my Lunarpages Review did not show up on their site.  I gave them a fair, but negative review. It makes me think that the site may not be as objective as I had hoped.  This is really sad for the consumer if that…