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Month: February 2009

The UX of the Great Depression and Now

UX is all about human psychology.  Here are some key truths. People are dillusional optimists.  Whether it’s estimating how much work something will take, stock market speculation, gambling, or any other predictive test, people will always exaggerate their chances of success.  It’s hard-wired into most of us.  How many times have you said, “Just a minute!” People believe in Newton’s first law.  “An object at rest tends to stay at rest and an object in motion tends to stay in motion with the same speed and in the same direction unless acted upon by an unbalanced force.”  In other words, “A…

WTF per Minute

I saw this image on Coding Horror by Jeff Atwood, which borrowed it from Thom Holwerda. on this page.  I redrew the image using Balsamiq. Since, I saw it, I have been internally using this metric for a slew of other topics besides code. American Idol.  For each contestant, I used this metric to measure how much I liked them.  Almost all of them had at least 2 per song.  Several had 3 before they even started singing. Pundits on MSNBC.  While watching Keith Olberman or Chris Matthews, pundits often come on with riddiculous statements.  WTF/M was a perfect measure of…

MediaTemple – Moving Clusters

We have been using MediaTemple for a while to host Marketo’s public website. They have a great design sense and cost twice as much as Bluehost, but we hoped that the added expense would mean better quality.  Recently, we moved from their DV to GS services and got put on Cluster 2.  From that moment, all hell started breaking loose.  The site was sluggish and sometimes flat out down.  It was a disaster.  (A cluster-F#%k, if you will) So I asked to be moved to a different cluster.  Unfortunately, this didn’t work at all.  MT cannot move you from one…

What are you arguing about?

I love watching/analyzing people argue, including with myself.  It is the key attribute of human civilization.  We all have points of view and opinions. I have thought deeply about the key differences people have and how to deal with them.  In the end, we all want to “win” the argument and get our way.  So the real question is, “How do I win the argument?”  My answer is in a few parts, but the first and most important part is: What are you arguing about?  Here are some of the answers: The Facts  (a.k.a The Assumptions) The Priorities (a.k.a Our…

Custom Fonts on your Site

Lately, I have been itching to use a custom font for my headers.  One of my unwritten rules of powerpoint presentations is to use an interesting font.  Times New Roman and Arial are just saying to your audience, “I didn’t feel like taking 5 minutes to make this interesting on your eyes”.  I had been exploring many options. sIFR was my first choice.  It’s very popular and they have a beta version.  You know I can’t stay away from beta software.  However, I had a little trouble figuring out how to get the TrueType font turned into a SWF file.…

PNG-8 that acts like PNG-24 without Fireworks

I have been looking for a solution to turn PNG-24 with alpha transparency into a PNG-8 WITH alpha transparency for a while.  This possible with Fireworks, but I didn’t really want to install, buy or fireworks.  (It scares me). Side question:  Why o’ Why can’t Adobe make Photoshop do this? Ok, the instructions on the site are pretty clear, but I will repeat them just in case. In Photoshop save your files with alpha transparency as PNG-24 files.  Test in a modern browsers. Download PngQuant (Tested) or the newer version (I didn’t try this one) and put the .exe file…

The UX of Threatfire

I switched over to Threatfire for my anti-virus/malware protection.  I had been an evangelist for Avast for quite some time, but the registration process was just a little too annoying.  It seemed that every time I turned around, I had to re-register.  I have alot of computers that I take care of (friends/family) so it all adds up.  SO far, Threatfire has been a good experience.  Quick to install, UI seems simple.  I haven’t been infected yet, but that doesn’t mean much. Memory for me on Windows 7 seems really low.  It’s about 4 megs.  Very nice.  When you launch the…

Free WordPress Theme – commadot Clouds

By request, here is a zip of my cloud theme.  I don’t feel like it was perfect, but I liked it for my first try.  Feel free to use it and modify it.  I can’t sit still on themes very long.  I keep feeling the urge to change them.  It’s not good UX, but I just can’t help myself. Download Theme

Digsby Instant Messenger

Kevin at work pointed me at a new Instant Messenger on the block called Digsby. Installation was a little scary because it asks you if you want to install all this other junk.  I guess they need to make some money, but I clicked “decline” all the way through.  You have to make a digsby account, same as TrillianAstra.  The icon is cute, design seems solid. Wow, setup was very easy.  Great experience there.  Options seem similar to other systems. The user interface design is medium.  I guess it’s fine, but once you use TrillianAstra, everything seems a little flat. I…

The dilema of the undecided

Playing around with this theme.  Why do I change themes all the time?  It’s bad user experience to switch that much.  I just can’t help myself.  I get so bored with the same look.  This theme feels nice. Today, California passed a budget and gave huge concessions to a single state representative.  Why did they pander to this one guy?  Because he was the swing vote! This is a real dilema.  If you want to get what you want, always be in the middle.  Always be undecided and a swing vote.  People will court you from both camps and you…

You can skin it however you want!

Have you ever experienced a person is describing their product and say, “You can skin it however you want!” I hate when people do this.  It’s an obvious assumption that the only thing one might want to do is change the color of the button or text.  Here is why it’s a mess:   The structure is important.  You can’t just stick a skin on a fish and make it a bird.  How it works is always more important than how it looks. If your customization screens have places to pick hex colors, then you are not going far enough.

Hana FLV Player Plugin for WordPress

Trying out a FLV Player plugin for WordPress. This is my presentation from The Ajax Experience, except I am hosting it myself. [hana-flv-player video=”http://commadot.com/test/TAE2008.flv” width=”400″ height=”320″ player=”3″ autoplay=”false” loop=”false” autorewind=”true” /]

Interface Not Supported – Windows 7

Windows 7 has been working well, but the other day it just stopped being happy and refused to launch any Explorer windows (like file manager).  It said, “Interface Not Supported” and that was it.  Come on Microsoft, please be a little better about your errors and give some information.  I google’d for a while and found a fix.  Re-register all the DLLs.  I just pasted the following into the command prompt. All fixed up. regsvr32 comcat.dll /s regsvr32 CSSEQCHK.DLL /s regsvr32 shdoc401.dll /s regsvr32 shdoc401.dll /i /s regsvr32 asctrls.ocx /s regsvr32 oleaut32.dll /s regsvr32 shdocvw.dll /I /s regsvr32 shdocvw.dll /s…

Mini-Laptop

I think I want to buy a mini-laptop.  Recently, I gave the older laptop to the boys to use as their computer.  I used their old computer for spare parts to make my mother-in-laws computer come back to life. (Make sure your computer signs it’s organ donor card today) So I have been left without a spare laptop.  I used that one for presentations and for trips.  Mainly I would be checking email, instant messaging and reading my news feed during these times and a full blown laptop is too much.  However, I need to also give presentations, so a…

Video Testimonial

One sign that you are doing something right is the willingness of your customers to reccomend you.  Some do this with a statement, some a twitter, and some just by word of mouth.  The most powerful testamonial is on video.  This is the most personal kind of reccomendation.  The person is putting their face online for everyone to see and saying how great you are. I was shocked and excited at how many Marketo customers were willing to put their faces on video to sing our praises.  This kind of inspiration can be the foundation of a great company. Think…

B2B Application Design

I was perusing the design section of the bookstore and noticed something odd.  I couldn’t find any B2B (Business-to-Business) application design books.  Clearly, it is a different process and skill set than a B2C (Business-to-Consumer) application.  Let’s take a case study. Research in Motion, the makers of the Blackberry have alot to be proud of.  Next to the iPhone it is the most popular handheld device.  It has alot of goodness baked in to make it this popular.  The consumer side of RIM is pretty solid.  Maybe it’s not as good as Apple, but it’s no slouch.  However, to use…

Finally! AjaxExperience 2008 Presentation

Apparently this has been available to watch for a long time and I just didn’t know it. I can’t figure out a way to download the original video source. Hopefully, I can get a hold of that before too long. Original Source Link Listening to my own voice is bizarre. I sound like my brother. UPDATE:  ACK!  The ending is chopped off.  Nooooooooo!

Design-Driven Companies

What does it mean to be a design driven company?  Every company has someone doing design, so why aren’t they ‘design-driven’?  Does “Design” and “Usability” mean the same thing?  Intuit considered themselves a usability-first company in their products, but I would say (after working their for a year) that they were downright hostile to designers.  This may be where Nielsen and Norman are on opposite sides of the fence. (Explanation of that another day) In general, I am talking about the factors that make a company lovable.  This is when a customers says, “I love this, I am never going…

Remember My Credentials

For anyone who has ever used a Microsoft product, this will seem familiar.  Why can’t Microsoft respect the “Remember My Credentials” checkbox?  They never remember anything!  Why bother with the box making me think it would work and then just ignore my request. Rather than complain bitterly, I did some googling to try and find the answer. First step:  Run the following command: control userpasswords2.  This will popup a control panel.  Click on Advanced and then click “Manage Passwords”.  In Windows 7, this brings up the Credential Manager.  Hmm, I am literally blogging while discovering this new easter egg.   There…

The Google FavIcon

This has been itching me for a month.  On May 30, Google had posted this blog about their original favIcon.  I liked it.  Simple G.  Then they updated in January to the colorful g.  Since then it has been distracting me.  It doesn’t look like Google to me.  It doesn’t remind me of Google.  The colors keep jumping out at me and yelling in my face.  OK< maybe that is an overreaction, but still, it feels unpleasant. They had numerous other examples below that they tried.  I am not sure how they decided or tested.  Did they get a committee?…

Spinners Redux

Coincidentally, I posted a little UX thing about waiting spinners.  Today, I see in Ajaxian a link to http://preloaders.net/.  Very nice work.  These are creative and different.  Finally, we are taking steps forward.  These are a great start.  In general, we need to be creative and use spinners that are unique to our applications.  Don’t fall into the “do it the way everyone else does it” trap.  Check out the 3D ones specifically. No guts, no glory. On a side note, that application looks like it didn’t use any JS library.  How bizarre.

My Family is Sick

All three kids are coughing with a fever.  What’s up with that?  It’s like a germ factory in here!  Next, Katie will get sick.  For some reason, it rarely affects me.  When I was a kid, I had to fake being sick the night before and then follow through in the morning.  That way my dad would let me stay home.  I was a great actor.  These contortions were required because I almost never got a fever.  It’s that hearty immune system from my grandfather that keeps me healthy. Maybe I could make some analogy to an application.  Like if…

Superbowl XLIII (43)

Wow, what a great game!  That one play where the Arizona Cardinals were about to score and Kurt Warner threw an interception blew my mind.  That swung the whole game by 14 points.  Arizona would have one if not for that one play.  The Cardinals outplayed the Pittsburgh Steelers the whole game.  This just goes to show that the devil is in the details. You could have a great design for your app, a ripe market to sell to, great everything except for one crucial flaw and it will ruin the company.  This might be a lawsuit that ruins your…