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Month: January 2009

Presentations, Feb 2009

I love talking to groups about user experience.  It is so much fun.   Slideshow behind me and eyeballs in front, it is energizing and fun.  I wish I could do it all day long.  I have been doing my best to get better and better and the medium, but practice definetely makes perfect. I have a small class at Stanford that I am the guest lecturer in 2 weeks.  In April, I have been invited to speak at a conference (details to come).  I just wish there were more opportunities.  I really need to record one of these sessions…

The UX of the Muppets

We have been watching the entire television series from Netflix for The Muppets.  We watch it with the text “interesting tidbits” option turned on so we can read about the scene we are watching.  The boys are loving it. The design of the show is brilliant.  First the name, The Muppets.  It’s like a puppet, but different.  It evokes a whole new kind of thing.  Perfect naming both fun and unique. Second is the premise of the show.  It’s a show about a weekly theatre show.  That allows the theme to be self-referential without seeming odd.  It has vaudville acts…

Consensus vs. Collaboration

Let’s say you are working on an application.  There are hundreds of decisions every week, sometimes every day.  Decisions can be big and small.  How quickly should something animate?  What color should the button be?  Is it better 2px to the left or to the right?  Decisions like these accumulate into the design of your application. So the question is:  How best to make these decisions? It is certainly possible that a single person could be in charge of the design and make all the decisions him/herself without even talking to other people.  This is called the “Dictator” model.  One…

The UX of Ajax Load Animations

Consider the spinner.  There are even sites to help you build these ubiquitous items.  They serve a very useful function.  At heart, the spinner is an animation to take your mind off the fact that the system isn’t instantaneous.  They are also there to communicate to you, “I know what you want, and I am working on it.  Please hold.” What else can a spinner do? A spinner also allows you to communicate your culture and personality to your users.  It allows you to engage and communicate in a very specific way.  The user is in the eye of the…

Mollom Spam Blocker

It looks like my WP-Spam plugin was getting false positives and blocking some users.  It “might” be that it was conflicting with my MCE Comments Plugin.  So I turned off both and took this as an opportunity to try out a new spam blocker plugin.  I will turn on MCE Comments again at some point in the future. The plugin I am trying is called Mollom.  I had to sign up for a subscription and get public/private keys.  Quite a lot to get rid of spam.  However, if it works well and doesn’t block people unduly, then I will be…

Google Promote

Have you noticed these new little buttons on Google search? These are pretty interesting considering I haven’t really heard one blip from Google on the actual utility of this feature.  I tried clicking on a few of them.  Either it is affecting my own personal search ordering or they are keeping track.  Notice how it says on the left that 1 person (me) gave that link a thumbs up.  This seems to have pretty big implications for Search Engine Optimization.  It means that if hundreds of people promote something, Google might take that as a way to deal with search…

Windows 7 Video Drivers

I’ve been using Windows 7 on my home computer (Dell Precision 380), work (Dell Dimension 9200) and an old laptop (Dell Latitude D610).  I haven’t put it in Katie’s laptop or the kids computer.  Overall, there is a decent amount to like.  Responsiveness is probably the number one thing.  Some UI enhancements are welcome, but it’s the speed that I crave. However, I bumped into a nasty problem.  The video drivers on the Dell Latitude D610 apparently are jacked.  Specifically, the drivers are for the Mobile Intel(R) 915GM/GMS,910GML Express Chipset Family.  They just don’t work right.  Every time I play…

The UX of No Mouse (Keyboard Shortcuts)

This morning I turned on one of our computers, a Dell D610 laptop.  For some reason, the mouse just refused to work.  The keypad wasn’t working, and the nubbin stick in the middle didn’t work either.  I’m not sure what happened, but it’s like the devices just ceased to exist. However, I was able to use the computer, browse the web, open files, try configurations, all just fine using the keyboard only.  It was quite amazing actually.  I am 100% dependent, most of the time with the mouse.  I didn’t think it was going to work, but it did.  Alt-tab,…

Windows 7 Blue Screen of Death

I was using WIndows 7, happy as a clam, when I got a several BSOD (Blue Screens of Death).   Turns out that there is some bug when the network adapter is trying to work too hard and runs out of something it needs and freaks out.  (Or something like that). I updated my network card drivers, so maybe that will help.  I haven’t crashed since, but I also haven’t try to push the envelope.  Somewhere, I read that Avast was having issues with Windows 7.  So I uninstalled Avast and decided to install OneCare from Microsoft.  Guess what…OneCare is not…

Optical Illusion, Jan 2009

I made this my desktop background.  It’s giving me a headache. Courtsey of Grand Illusions

It’s not what you do, but how you do it

This is a universal statement.  It is not what you do.  It is how you do it.  Some examples: MP3 players were pretty popular before the iPod came out.  iPod added iTunes, the spinning dial and a nicer visual design.  Same for iPhone’s touch screen and wifi access. Honda had the Insight hybrid for years before the Prius.  But it was ugly.  The Prius made hybrids acceptable because the design was unique, but not stupid looking. Barack Obama had the identical policies as Hillary Clinton and John Edwards.  However, he explained them better.  The way he said them made us…

Mind Overflowing

My mind is overflowing.  Work has been hectic, so I haven’t been able to finish a coherent thought/blog.  These are some short bits, that could have been blog entries, but didn’t quite make it.  Try and imagine them fleshed out. Programmers are modern magicians making things appear as if by magic. People love software that treats them the way a friend would. The database is the most important invention in human history. I am addicted to beta software.  I literally can not stop myself from upgrading. I assume (wrongly) that NEW is BETTER.  Cars, Politicians, Jets coaches, anything. The VirtuMonde…

The UX of Names (Windows)

Naming things is super important.  People will like something or hate it based on appearances and names.  See “Don’t Think of an Elephant” by Lakoff or “Blink” by Gladwell for more details, but suffice it to say, “People make decisions quickly based on very little criteria”.  Microsoft is naming their next operating system “Seven” or “7”.  I have no idea how they go this number.  It “sounds” ok.  It’s 3 less than MacOS “ten”.  Does that make it worse?  It used to matter what version you were on. Why Windows “7”? Let’s see here.. Windows 3.1 (1992) Windows 95 (1995)…

Jan 1, 2009

What a day.  We started off by learning to GeoCache.  It’s basically an international treasure hunt using GPS, a website and hiding treasure around the world.  Believe me when I say, there is a secret geocache within a few miles of you.  There are 3 within a half-mile of me.  It’s loads of fun and gets you outdoors.  Unfortunately, we screwed up three times in a row and couldn’t find the treasure.  We need to get better at this. Then we went down to San Jose to the tech museum to see the Da Vinci exhibit.  I loved it.  Da…