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Month: July 2009

The UX of Video Photos

In Harry Potter, all of the newspapers have pictures that move by magic.  The reality is that this magic is pretty much here now.  My inexpensive digital camera takes photos or short video clips.  You can take video clips with your iPhone too.  These short video clips are downloaded off the camera by Picasa and uploaded easily to my web albums.  And let’s say I want to easily put those videos on my blog here.  (10 second delay) 5 Bottles of Beer on the Wall Take me out to the Ball Game Youtube even allows me to check a box…

The UX of Chrome 3.0.195 and Ubiquity

Google Chrome is really pushing the envelope in the browser experience.  With their latest build, they added in this cool little feature in their omnibar.  Unlike Internet Explorer and Firefox, the URL bar doubles as a search bar.  I definitely like it it better as one. In the latest build, Chrome is going down a really interesting path.  They added a feature where you start to type a URL like youtube.com and then press tab.  This will allow you to search youtube.  They call it Quick Site Searches with the Omnibox. Out of the box, this searching works ONLY with search engines.…

Great Plan or Great Process

If you had to choose one, which would you prefer?  A Great Plan or a Great Process. A Great Plan is the waterfall approach.  You plan out all the details in advance.  You design everything.  You have lots of meetings to gain consensus.  This is the way bridges and roads are built.  Once the blueprint says, “Put the sprinkler here”, the construction crew has no other options.  They blindly follow the plan no matter what.  Usually, you can keep track of a great plan and know progress. A Great Process does not rely on the plan.  It has agreed to…

Embossed fonts

If you have a decent browser (not Internet Explorer), go to FlyOsity.com.  Look closely at the fonts.  They are embossed.  He is using a css line like this: -webkit-text-shadow: rgba(255,255,255,.8) 0 1px 0 This puts a slight white shadow under the text and gives it the feeling of being etched into the page.  I think it looks nice.  A neighbor here says it gives him a headache.  Design is often about typography.  What do you think.  More loveable or more annoying? By the way, if you are a CSS fan, view his CSS.  It’s actually quite elegant and organized.

The UX of Post 1000

Why do we care when we hit milestones? Life is too monotonous. Time flies by if you aren’t careful.  The last 10 years for me has been a blur.  It seems the older I get, the quicker time goes by.  We need markers to keep our minds punctuated.  We can’t just have a long giant flow of time.  We need spots where we can segment and organize our thoughts. Why do we care when the odometer goes from 99,999 to 100,000 miles?  Why is the 50th wedding anniversary more significant than the 52nd?  What is it about simple numbers like…

The UX of TargetProcess Do-Over

For a long time now, we have been using TargetProcess at work as our work planning/bug tracking tool.  At first I liked it OK.  Over time I liked it less and less.  At some point, we hit rock bottom and I said, “Let’s try and set this up again, but this time, let’s read the manual.” So we read PART of the manual.  I have to be honest, I couldn’t get through the whole thing, but we started with lessons learned.  It turns out we were using the tool 100% incorrectly.  Not 99% wrong, 100% wrong.  Everything we were doing…

Office 2010 Official Technical Preview

I had signed up for the Microsoft Office 2010 Technical Preview.  I wasn’t sure how quickly it would work, if at all.  Lo and Behold, I got my invitation pretty quickly.  It actually took me a while to realize it because they sent me the invitation to Hotmail. Who the heck uses Hotmail these days?  Actually, maybe it’s unfair.  I currently have Hotmail sent to bounce any message not in my address book.  Interestingly (or not), messages from anyone at Microsoft are exempted from spam blocking.  When I used to have it open, I would get a surreal amount of…

Choose your own fancy font

I have been using font substitution script Cufon for a little while now.  It works really well.  It uses <canvas> to render fonts rather than flash, which is what sIFR does.  Although, sIFR works well, I found it a little hard to set up.  I don’t have Flash so creating the SWF files seemed difficult.  Maybe I just didn’t try hard enough.  However, with cufon, I can create a new font in under a minute, including upload.  The only downside of Cufon is that you can not select the text of the rendered fonts.  Maybe he will fix that over…

Purple Cow Email Marketing

What’s a Purple Cow? Seth Godin wrote a book about them.  A purple cow is something remarkable.  People like these kinds of things and they will talk about them and buy them. What is Email Marketing? I am talking about legitimate emails from marketing folks in real companies that allow you to unsubscribe.  Not spam in Russian that you can’t get rid of.  Specifically, I am talking about the kind of emails you can send with an Email Marketing Automation system. Current State of the typical Marketing Email For a few years now I have become convinced that email blasts…

Typography is so much fun

I can’t help myself. I love typography. It makes such a difference. I tried a bunch of fonts from http://www.dafont.com/.  They are organized nicely and have liberal usage policies.  The only suggestion I would make to them is that they should use cufon or sIfr and allow me to type in my own sentence and font size and see what the font would look like. Potentially, they could build an AIR application that allowed you to browse the collection and see the fonts previewed with any sentence.  I would even be willing to pay 5-10 bucks for the app. The…

Stupid Decisions Kill History

Apparently, NASA has lost the original high quality footage of the 1969 moon landing.  Apparently, in the 80’s we sent new spy satellites into space that were recording a ton of new footage.  NASA was overwhelmed by the amount of tape required to store the footage, so they ERASED THE MOON LANDING to put some spy footage on instead. Nice.  Great decision there.  It’s like when they burned the library in Alexandria to the ground because they wanted to make a new parking lot for the first Walmart. Take a moment to listen to the original We Choose to Go…

The Never Ending Spam Plugin Search

So it seems Mollom was acting weird for some people.  So I switched to NoSpamNX.  It doesn’t use JavaScript at all.  Hopefully, it will not screw up. There are so many options for this feature.  I just want it to work 100% without any failure and invisibly to the audience.  Is that so hard?

The UX of DSL Speed/Service

I use DSLExtreme for my internet access at home.  I have been a customer for many years.  Not too expensive, good up-time.  I have been meaning to call them for 2 years.  The reason for the call was that I think I was over-paying.  I was getting 3 megabits download speed, but I was paying for a more powerful 6 megabit package.  It’s not a ton of money, but it could save me $10 a month. They do a quick check and then say, “Ooops, something was set incorrectly that limited your bandwidth to 3m, try now.”  I did a…

The Gift to Give Us

I blogged about this 4 years ago, but I actually used the quote today in a conversation.  Portion of a poem by Robert Burns, To a Louse. Robert Burns has written some good stuff. O, wad some Power the giftie gie us To see oursels as others see us! It wad frae monie a blunder free us An’ foolish notion: What airs in dress an’ gait wad lea’e us, And ev’n Devotion! English translation: O would some Power the gift to give us To see ourselves as others see us! It would from many a blunder free us, And foolish notion:…

The UX of Chrome 3.0.192.1

Chrome is the browser I reach for most of the time.  Here is the good/bad/beautiful.  Firs tthe good. Speed.  It’s much faster than the other browsers in launching and loading.  Everything jusgt seems faster in Chrome. Tabs.  The details of the tabs are genius.  The nice smooth lines with a gentle slope is much more pleasing than the equivelent in Safari with their sharper edges.  The movement animation of the slides is awesome.  Firefox REALLY needs to take a close look at that.  The drag/drop model and creating new windows and merging them back works perfectly.  It makes me happy…

The UX of the Long Tail

The long tail should be familiar to everyone. Every project I have every worked on was like this.  Here is the breakdown: 1. The Logos. Greek word which is defined as “Meaning”.  We all have experienced the boss who comes in and says, “I want you to design a widget system.”  So in essence, they have given us a logo (“widget”) and nothing more.  It is just a word or phrase or idea.  Maybe the logos is “This competitor is kicking our ass, what can we do?”  This is the most important part of the process.  The single word defines…

Office 2010 Activation (Update 2)

Well, the modal has changed.  The program still works though, so my downgrade punishment is deferred again.  I wonder if it will keep working?  Of course, none of the links go anywhere. I am anxious for the next build of Office 2010.  My beta clock is ticking.

Office 2010 Activation (Updated)

Interesting.  This morning, I was fully expecting my Office 2010 to stop working.  Inexplicably, it shows me the exact same activation window as yesterday.  It says, “1 day left to activate”.  Maybe Microsoft put a little bug in their own activation wizard to stop it from imploding? Who knows?  However, the good news is that I keep getting to use the beta. Woo hoo!! I am now anxious for the next beta release.  I know their is a more recent build.  Tick tock.  My beta clock is ticking!

Nothing Lasts

Possibly the defining characteristic of life as we know it.  Change is the only constant. Whether it is pain or joy, it won’t last forever.  I watched The Curious Case of Benjamin Button tonight.  Medium movie, I liked it.  However, the line, “Nothing Lasts” really stuck with me.  My kids are growing older so quickly I can hardly stand it.  Today, they will hold my hand and hug me.  I know that will end in just a few years.  I remember events of my life, seemingly a moment ago, now long past, almost forgotten.  I love my Picasa screen saver,…

Office 2010 Activation

Hi, My name is Glen and I am addicted to beta software. My latest fix comes from Office 2010.  Even before the official beta program, a version of it was leaked to the web.  Waht does Microsoft expect me to do?  Ignore the leaked version!?  Are they insane.  Of course, I found it and installed it.  I was COMPELLED to install it. So far, it has been pretty good.  I am impressed.  Then the other day, I got a warning.  Here is what it looks like today: Ok, several problems.  First the obvious.  Are you serious??  You are going to…

The UX of upside-down pavement signs

You know when you are driving and you see a sign that is written on the pavement itself.  The interesting thing is that the sign is written from top to bottom so you can read it one line at a time while you drive over them. Although I often find these signs difficult to read, I sort of get why they do it.  Three lines is really hard to read as you drive past. So the people who write street signs have gotten used to writing this way.  I was at the airport about to walk into the parking lot,…

The UX of a Great Software Review Site

Most software review and analyst sites miss the mark for me.  There is a fundamental reason why…I want to see the software in action!  Why can’t these sites follow this basic formula: Standard Use Cases in clear language. Reviewer comes up these.  I would even ask the software companies to come up with their own use cases.  Some will benefit one vendor, some will benefit another. Screencasts accomplishing the case. Each vendor can add whatever audio track they want, but the video has to actually show the product and each step of the use. Replacement screencasts should be allowed at…

Local Max Island

I heard this concept from Victor Cho at Intuit a few years ago and just read about it again this morning in Small is the New Big by Seth Godin.  The basic concept can be described in this picture. Let’s say you live on the little mound at the bottom (Island A).  This is, in reality, where more products and services exist.  It might seem meager and lame, but to it’s inhabitants, it’s home.  It is safe and warm.  The population is enormous on Island A, so their isn’t much room, but it also allows its inhabitants to feel a…

The Big Five of Interaction Design

There are 5 ways that a user will guess how to do a certain function. Buttons/Links Menus Right-Click Drag and Drop Keyboard Shortcuts Each of these ways is more or less comfortable for a random user.  Personally, I am a right-clicker.  I right-click on everything and am usually disappointed.  However, when it works, I am usually psyched. For years Gmail has satisfied me with Buttons or Links and a few menus.  I discovered some gmail keyboard shortcuts which were cool too, although I rarely use them. Today, GMail added in support for #4, Drag and Drop.  What has been a…