Archive pour juillet 2008

The unbearable slowness of being

Lundi 28 juillet 2008

I always wondered why computers become slow when they age. A car does not start running slower when becoming an old-timer, does it? At least not slower than it used to run? The tumble in a washing machine breaks down, but does not tumble at lesser speed? And what if your refrigerator started taking its time to cool your food? So, logically, it should not be the aging hardware that makes computers slower, but the outside world becoming too fast.
All that stuff streaming in endlessly through internet, updates, installs and security packs becomes bigger, faster, better. All that stuff that we pile up in their limited memories. Sometimes my computer (3,5 years old) would just doze off, forget to compute, start rattling loudly without any progress, the cursor frozen or disappearing altogether. It becomes increasingly more difficult to even open a browser page. Wake up from sleep mode? I can go out and have another coffee before my computer finally has rubbed the sleep from his eyes and remembers to ask my password. Switching from one program to another – what, just like that, hold your horses, lady, weren’t you writing a letter or something, suddenly you want to check your email you checked 3,2 minutes ago, just go read another chapter of your book, while I pull myself together here… and those videos you always want to play, my-my, they are way too large and all that YouTube stuff, honestly, do we need so much moving?
When I think ‘Let me quickly do this…’ my computer abruptly falls back into his rattling stupor, so taken aback by my demand that he becomes unable to do even the smallest of tasks. It is his way to protest against the world, which is quickly outgrowing him.
I probably need to buy a new computer to keep up with the world and my own requirements. But something in me just keeps protesting the dominating notion of economical progress, in which everything always needs to becomes faster and bigger (or much smaller, but better). Protests our own incapacity to deal with slowness. To accept deficiency, from anybody or any Thing. Our eagerness to throw away.
So instead I read another chapter of my book.

[Outils designer d'interface] Librairie de modèles d’interactions et d’interfaces

Jeudi 24 juillet 2008

Il y a quelque temps, je vous présentais une librairie de modèles pour la visualisation d’informations. Cette fois-ci, c’est une librairie de modèles d’interactions et d’interfaces qui a attiré mon attention : Pattern Tap.




Les « plus » de cette nouvelle librairie :

• Elle est très visuelle.

• La recherche par Tags est plutôt bien réalisée.

• Elle fonctionne sur le système d’enrichissement communautaire. Donc si la communauté « prend », cela peut devenir très intéressant à l’avenir.


Les « moins » :

• Pour l’instant, cela semble limité aux interfaces Web


D’autres librairie de patterns :

Designing Interfaces

Yahoo Design Pattern Library

Bad, bad user!

Mercredi 23 juillet 2008

You would think that in our time of all-connectedness, Web 2.0 services, mobile integration, online editing and so on and so forth, the internet would have gotten more sensible about its error messages. Such simple things, really, from the usability point of view. But no. Here is my latest experience:

The title already sets the mood: YOU, the user, have done something very wrong.
The first sentence still sounds human. Tech talk for sure, but clear enough, unless your are a surfing grandma with no idea who this server might be and what this person was trying to serve you. Look what you’ve done, says the first sentence, but still with a contained emotion. ‘Additionally’, says the second sentence (or: to make your offense even worse), somebody – who? – has encountered an Error 404, which was at the same time Not Found – a Not-Found but still encountered Error? pure metaphysics – while trying to do what exactly? ‘Use’ (sounds chilling) an ErrorDocument (note the mystic joining of names) to ‘handle’ the request – or whatever it was you asked that poor server to serve you.
And I am not even speaking of visual design, in our Flex-and-Flash times. I guess we will have to wait for Web 3.0 to have comprehensive Error Messages, and not quotes from Lord of the Rings.

Web service. What’s in a name.

Vendredi 18 juillet 2008

Did you notice how the names of the Web 2.0 services often sound like baby talk?

Overview of online communities

We use most of the above services in our leisure time, so this title humor is a way to attract a large and very diverse audience. It is also a trend, because it is ‘cool’, like it was ‘cool’ some decades ago to call everything electronic ‘thing-o-matic’.
I recently have worked with Wufoo (another baby name, or rather a dog sound), an online service for creation and management of electronic forms. (The last, I admit, sounds much more boring than woof-woof.) I was surprised to see the following examples of humor in their pages. I refer to the sub-titles.

What would happen if Microsoft Word welcomed you in the morning with the words ‘New Document. To boldly go where no one has gone before’. Or your Excel menu bar started with ‘File. To be or not to be’. Would you be amused? Would you take such a desktop software seriously? So what exactly is going on? The fact that a tool is on the Internet, makes us perceive it differently and the toolmakers get away with things we probably would not be amused by on the desktop. The online tools usually come for free or for a small fee, so we easily accept this bit of developer humor. But would you buy an expensive expert software for your PC if it was called Pic-a-boo, especially without the addition of ‘Pro’ or ‘Maker’?

‘He had found a Nutri-Matic machine which had provided him with a plastic cup filled with a liquid that was almost, but not quite, entirely unlike tea.’ The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams

To fb or not to fb?

Vendredi 11 juillet 2008

A gadget ceases to be one when its absence has a negative effect on your social and/or professional life. I was one of the last people to buy a mobile phone and that was only after I have started taking long distance trains. Long distance trains tend to be late. The person waiting for me at the other end wanted to know.

I know a woman who does not want to own a mobile due to presumed health dangers. She is very difficult to get in touch with and people in her social circle complain about her all the time. She misses appointments or appears to ones that have been canceled. ‘We wrote you an email, just as you asked’, people would tell her, or: ‘We called you at home and told your mother.’ Thinking by themselves: just buy the damn mobile and be like everybody else! Me too, I was displeased with her once. For not having a mobile.

I must be the only person in the Whole Wired World not to be on Facebook. Despite a ton of invitations systematically thrown away. Why? For once, I don’t like its boys-dormitory-kind of communication style with all the poking and the partying. I have a very large and very dispersed circle of friends and yet I am not a smalltalk kind of person. If I need to talk to somebody, I will write him or her an email. I don’t feel like gathering hundreds of friends, who are already my real friends, in their digital form once again. I don’t feel like having a stream of their smallest daily news flooding my Inbox: who has befriended whom, who had dinner where, whose pictures are on show. I have to defend my choice not to join all the time. I am a very social person: I tend to respond to every message I get as soon as I can. Continuing to be a social person on FB would mean another full-time job.

Lately a close friend published some pictures on FB, which I would like to see you and which, of course, I cannot. Because I am not on FB. Is it slowly starting to affect my social life? Will I, as with the mobile, become one of the last to succumb to the new gadget? Are people starting to complain about ME? Am I missing ‘it’?

Whatever ‘it’ may be?

Les claviers contextuels

Mercredi 2 juillet 2008

Après avoir dévoilé leur premier clavier contextuel, il y a quelques temps, le studio Artlebedev nous propose une nouvelle version tactile cette fois-ci.

Pour rappel, le principe de ces claviers est de s’adapter aux applications ou aux langues que l’on utilise. Ainsi plus besoin de connaitre ses raccourcis clavier photoshop par coeur (par exemple la touche « V » pour sélectionner l’outil de « déplacement »), puisque l’icone de l’outil s’affiche directement sur la touche du clavier à la place du « V ».

Le fait que cette nouvelle version soit tactile offre un plus grand potentiel dans la métamorphose du clavier en fonction des contextes d’usages. Le concept est plutôt intéressant et a déjà été explorer sous des angles différents par des grands de l’informatique tel que Apple (Multitouch Keyboard Apple’s Wide Trackpad).

Bien entendu, il faut voir ce que çà donne à l’usage, car le besoin de sentir la touche qui s’enfonce sous son doigt reste prédominant chez la plupart des personnes.