I registered for Interaction 08 today, the first conference organized by the Interaction Design Association (IxDA). It is to be held February 8-10 in Savannah Georgia.
I’m not surprised that the registration process was so well designed. It was a pleasant experience, and it’s obvious that good thought was put into it. For example, I didn’t have to tell them which credit card I was entering a number for—it was smart enough to pick that up from the number itself.
After my registration was accepted, there was a link to download an ICS file that would enter the event in my calendar. There was also an Orbitz widget on the page prefilled with the dates I would likely be traveling, as well as the cities I would be departing from and flying to. All I had to do was click “search” to start booking my flight.
It wasn’t perfect. The first time I submitted my payment information, the page reloaded due to the fact that the credit card number had been entered incorrectly. There was a message in a box at the top of the page indicating this, but I didn’t see it at first, and there was no indication at the field that had failed validation.
It’s not very often that I have a remarkable experience with a web form, and when I do, it’s typically due to especially poor design. This, my first experience of the conference, sets a good precedent.
I’m going to, just this once, write a post that isn’t really design related. I learned of two events today, one right after the other. Because of this, they are now connected. One of them brought an immediate outburst of joy; the other brought sobering sadness.
Marc Cohn, one of my favorite singer/songwriters, has released a new album, the first in ten years. He may not be the most prolific writer, but he makes every song count. Amy Jones was right on the mark saying, "Marc Cohn has an uncanny ability to inspire in his audience a profound hope in the best person they might be. The maturity of his songs cuts right to the heart of what is most important in life. It was remarkable to hear how often his fans said things like, “This is the song I want to sing my wife.” “This is the song I would sing to my child.” “This is the song I want played at my funeral.” I used Cohn’s song The Things We’ve Handed Down as the soundtrack for a video I created documenting the birth of my first child.
What I didn’t know before was how lucky we are to be able to listen to this new collection of songs. I hadn’t heard that Marc had been shot in the head, as reported on marccohn.org:
On Sunday, Aug 7, following a concert in Denver, Marc was shot in the head during a carjacking attempt. He is shaken but all right. The suspect, now captured, fired at the vehicle in which Marc was riding with members of his band; the bullet grazed the driver, road manager Tom Dube, and struck Marc in the temple. Marc and Tom were treated at Denver Health Medical Center and released.
Many of the soulful songs on Join the Parade draw inspiration from that event.
While Marc was spared to continue his artistic pursuits, the subject of the second news item did not fair so well. Robert Jordan passed away September 16th from an extremely rare blood disease. Jordan, who’s real name was James Rigney, was a best-selling author, best known for his long-running fantasy series, The Wheel of Time. The series is 11 books long (plus one prequel novel) and one of my all-time favorites. It has to be one of the most complex tales ever told. He was writing the final book at the time of his death.
Cardiac amyloidosis, with which he was diagnosed in 2005, affects only eight out of one million people. He was 58. He once spoke of his main character, "He came like the wind, like the wind touched everything, and like the wind was gone." His wife repeated these words in reference to him in a letter to the fan community.
Two outstanding artists, two chance occurrences, two alternate endings.
I’ll conclude with a line from Marc Cohn’s song, after which I titled this post.
Now that a meteorite has fallen in the chair you just got out of to answer the phone, will you live every moment like it just might be the last, or will you still just bitch and moan?
As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, I’m currently teaching a course on information design and visualization. Because of that, I have been seeking out examples. I recently found an absolutely gorgeous population density visualization on Time’s website. The use of color, vertical space, and the third dimension result in a very readable display.
I think it surpasses the “glory of modern cartography” featured in Tufte’s The Visual Display of Quantitative Information (pages 156 & 157). Prepared by the Census Bureau, that map shows population distribution in 1970. It is one of the very few visualizations in the book to be given a full spread.
I appreciate that the article gives so much attention to the test. Rather than just report on the results (the iPhone wins handily, by the way), the article spends most of its ink explaining the approach Perceptive Sciences took and explaining each section of the usability test. At a high level, it is good exposure for usability-related fields.
However, there are several points in the article that, in my opinion, weren’t completely accurate.
1. The article points out that they specifically brought in test users that did not have previous experience with any of the phones.
"People can eventually learn to use any device," Ballew said. "But that’s not true usability. We wanted to see how long it took to figure out how to use the phones. That’s the difference between learnability and usability."
This makes it seem as though usability equates with intuitiveness—that usability is only good for first impressions. I would consider learnability to be an important part of usability. I don’t mind that they focused on how easy it was to use for the first time, just their explanation.
2. They had a rating category titled “Usability/Information Architecture”.
"Usability/IA is similar to global navigation, but it more specifically refers to how easy and fun the interface is."
I think measuring how easy the interface is to use, and how enjoyable it is to use, are both important measures. But I would label that “Interaction Design”, or would expect to see it called “Interface Design”. If the whole test is a usability test, why is one section labeled “usability”? To be fair, Ballew does talk about labels and the file structure, which do fit under IA.
3. Towards the beginning of the article, it specifically points out, “It’s important to remember that these are usability tests, not tests of functionality.” Then, the final category on which the phones were rated was “Functionality”. I don’t mind if they want to include functionality as part of the comparison, but the article completely contradicts itself.
Back in May, Apple filed a patent for what they called a “back-side” interface. Rather than a device having a touchscreen, it could have a touch-sensitive back, with a visual indicator of finger position displayed on the screen. The benefit of this is that the finger does not occlude what is on the screen while interacting with it. I posted about it here.
Just recently, I saw the Lucid Touch. This project is the work of Microsoft Research and Mitsubishi Electric Research Labs. It appears to be the realization of Apple’s patent. As you move your fingers on the back of the device, the screen displays their “shadows” and indicates when a finger comes in contact with the screen.
This certainly has potential as a means of interacting with handheld devices. Of particular interest is the ability to type using all fingers. However, a different method of detecting the hands must be utilized. They currently have a camera mounted on a bracket that sticks out about a foot behind the device.
I am a dyed-in-the-wool shutterbug, carrying on my father’s habit. He carried his 35 mm with him about everywhere he went. He also owned a Polaroid for a time. He made sure I had a point-and-shoot at a young age. When VHS camcorders became affordable, he was an early adopter, surprising my brother and I with it on parent’s night at Boy Scout camp. Then, when digital cameras became consumer products, he gave me one as a Christmas gift, as my wife and I were expecting our first child.
Now, I have a digital SLR and a digital video camera. I use them liberally. I have thousands of photographs, a large percentage being of my children. I have many hours of video. I share them with family and friends via a photo website and blog, as well as on DVDs.
I’ve always appreciated my father’s hobby of visual documentation. Every band performance he was able to attend from junior high through college is on the shelf. There are so many memories captured. I consider it an act of love to do the same for my own children. Technology has given me an earlier start—I have both video and photography covering everything from the moment of birth.
The article poses several concerns.
"But all this documentation may carry a price if parents, in spending so much energy creating and preserving a digital archive, fail to enjoy living the moment."
That’s ridiculous! I have enjoyed my daughter’s piano recitals and choir performances no less with a camera in my hand than I would have otherwise. Editing and managing my photos and video is a pleasure, in fact one of my favorite pastimes, thanks to Apple’s iLife suite.
"What if disk drives fail or software formats change, rendering photos unreadable by tomorrow’s computers? Will CDs even work? Think of those reels of 8 mm home movies with no projectors for viewing them."
Disk drives will fail, and formats will change. However, I am fully capable of maintaining my collection. I can backup my media to protect against loss, and I can transfer it to the latest technologies to avoid extinction. My father has boxes full of 35 mm slides. He has already digitized them. My grandfather has 8 mm film of my birth, which has already been transferred to DVD.
“And will future generations even have time to look through stacks of CDs containing tens or hundreds of thousands of photos, and even if they do will individual memories become less precious because there are so many?”
Future generations will have means of sorting through massive amounts of photos and videos that we can only imagine. To enhance findability, I religiously title and tag my photographs. To make video more entertaining, I edit it down into an annual family movie that covers the previous year.
Memories will only become less precious with the detachment caused by time. Eventually, my photos and video will cease to be memories, becoming merely history. But my great-great-granddaughter will be able to show her son not only his physical resemblance, but how the sound of his voice and some of his mannerisms reflect his great-great-great-grandfather.
Adobe has announced a new logo for their digital imaging juggernaut, Photoshop. It’s a bit of a let-down. It resembles a capital “P”, but also appears to be a speech bubble with a hole in it. The mark has also been likened to a certain extra terrestrial. I fail to see any connection between a speech bubble and image editing software. Certainly, Photoshop is utilized as a tool for producing visual communications, but has no relation to spoken word.
Furthermore, it is aquafied. By this, I mean that it looks like it popped right out of Mac OSX. It is that same bright, glowing blue found in scroll bars, dialog buttons, and the default desktop image. It has that rounded, translucent, reflective thing going on. It is not a timeless mark, but one following the candy-coated trend started by Apple, that looks to be on its way out (judging by Leopard demos and recent software releases). It most closely resembles the first-letter logos for the Microsoft Office products.
I’m betting that this logo will be replaced or retired in a few years. Such an iconic piece of software, one used by practically every designer in the industry, deserves a more distinctive, less trendy logotype.
I had to register on a government website today to renew my Common Access Card (CAC). I was provided with a user name and temporary password in an email, and upon signing in, I was required to change the password.
For the purposes of this explanation, let’s say I decided to use “Red Mojo” as my password. I first typed it in as I just did in the last sentence, with a space between the two words. I submitted the form and received an error stating that spaces are not allowed.
So, I typed in “RedMojo” and submitted the form again. This time, I got an error saying that at least one number was required.
I then typed in “RedMojo1”, submitted the form, and was confronted with another error explaining that at least one special character was required.
Needless to say, I was rather annoyed by this point. I entered “Red_Mojo1” and hit submit, sure that this one would finally be accepted. Alas, another error reported that the password must be between 6 and 8 characters!
Now I was really frustrated. I changed the password to “R@dMojo1” with the knowledge that I would never be able to remember what I had entered. It finally accepted that password and let me continue with the renewal process.
There are a number of ways this experience could have been avoided.
1. This web form should have laid out all of the requirements for the password up front. They could have been included directly in the form (the page was otherwise empty) or accessible through a link or icon beside the field.
2. The password should have been validated on loss of focus. As on most forms, there were two password fields, requiring that it be retyped as a guard against typos. The password in the first field should have been validated when focus moved to the second field saving a lot of extra clicks and page loads.
3. Rather than only reporting the requirement that was not met, the password errors should have communicated all of the requirements. If the person entering the password didn’t know one of the requirements, it is very likely they don’t know some or all of the others.
I’ve been looking forward to getting a Wii. The plan is to get one for the family as a Christmas present. I’ve been impressed with the technology and the design of the interaction, but I haven’t been particularly excited about any of the games… until now.
I’m a big Star Wars fan, and the first thing that came to mind when I became aware of the Wii was, of course, a lightsaber. It’s a perfect match. This Spring, I will get my wish.
I’ve been playing World of Warcraft for several months. I’ve always been a fan of role-playing games, and WoW is right up my alley. That is not to say that I’m addicted to it—no more so than any other computer game I have enjoyed in the past. I do know of people who spend what I would consider to be an irresponsible amount of time playing it. But my intent is not to write about computer game addiction.
Somewhat surprisingly, my daughters enjoy watching me play. They each have their own characters that they created, picking out hair color, skin tone, and so forth. At least in part, they see it as a dress-up game. My youngest isn’t old enough to play it, but I may let my seven-year-old try her hand at it before long.
You might say that she is currently in training for it. She was recently given a Webkinz as a gift. Webkinz are stuffed animals that come with a code. After creating an account on the Webkinz site and registering your animal’s code, you are presented with a digital version of your Webkinz and an environment in which you can play with them. From what I’ve gathered, most of my daughter’s time on Webkinz is spent playing games that earn KinzCash, with which you can purchase furniture, toys, food, and everything your Webkinz needs to be happy.
I wouldn’t say my daughter is addicted to Webkinz… yet. It has many of the same qualities as WoW, and its ability to suck time appears to be one of them. There are parental controls that can limit the amount of time children are allowed to play. Maybe WoW needs a similar feature.
While I was a graduate student at CMU, I had the fortune of taking a class titled Building Virtual Worlds. The professor, Randy Pausch, had only recently joined the faculty and brought with him quite a bit of experience in virtual reality. Among other endeavors, he had worked with Disney in the development of Aladdin’s Magic Carpet Ride, which you can still find in one of their DisneyQuest “arcades”.
It was the first year for the class, which combined students from computer science, visual arts, design, and theater. Groups consisted of a 3-D modeler, a painter, a scripter, and sometimes an “intangible”, a design or theater major who brought additional ideas for story-telling and interactivity. Each group would design a virtual world based on the assignment in a matter of weeks. New groups were formed for each assignment. Over the course of the semester, I collaborated on a world in which you must help Santa Claus escape a trap set by a bad boy, one in which you were a janitor in a public restroom with the goal of unclogging a toilet, and a virtual whack-a-mole. My final project was a world in which you lay out a model railroad, and then get to ride the train around it.
The course climaxed in a grand presentation open to the public. The theater in which we gave the performance was packed—to my knowledge, no class presentation had ever had that kind of a turn-out. It became a tradition that continues today. Randy went on to found the Entertainment Technology Center with Don Marinelli.
The reason I’m writing about this now is that I was just informed today by a fellow alumni that Randy only has months left to live. He has been fighting pancreatic cancer since his diagnosis in 2006. He will be giving his final lecture this Tuesday, September 18, 2007 at 4:30 pm (EDT) in McConomy Auditorium on the CMU campus. It will also be webcast live. Unfortunately, I’ll be driving to Morgantown to teach my class at that time.
This is a true tragedy, only brightened by the bravery and optimistic attitude Randy has shown throughout the course of his illness. I wish Randy and his family happiness and contentment in the months to come, and strength and support in the years to follow.
In large part due to the class I’m teaching, I’ve been thinking a lot recently about map-based data visualizations. I would love to see a GPS-enabled Google Earth mash-up that would allow you to automatically log everywhere you go and how long you are there. It should also allow manual entry of historic data. It could then create a location-based self portrait. Color saturation would represent the amount of time spent in a particular location. The result would be blotches of color connected by spider-web lines indicating travel routes.
One could then compare their own travels with those of another, or see where they were at the time of a historic event. The ability to tag photos with locations and have them accessible through the map would become even more meaningful. Users would be able to share content from a particular location with others who visit it.
I don’t have time to create this one myself. If anyone out there has some time to kill, I’d love to see it.
Sony has announced their new mini-miuro, a cross between an iPod and an Aibo, the Rolly. Now, I’m obviously not the target audience for this device. My daughters would probably enjoy watching it, but I expect the novelty would wear off about as quickly as it did with Lucky the Wonder Pup. That’s not worth $360.
I am impressed with the quality of the choreography. I’m not so impressed with the user interface.
As reported by Ubergizmo: Move Forward = Next Song
Move Backwards = Previous Song
Turn Right = Volume UP
Upper Wheel selects songs
Lower Wheel changes volume
Press the PLAY button twice and shake Rolly toggles (normal/shuffle) mode.
That doesn’t seem particularly intuitive. Nor have I read anything that suggests it will detect drop-offs like a Roomba. Finally, it costs almost as much as an iPhone.
I wrote a lengthy post on the IxDA list tonight, so I’m going to have to make it do double duty. It was part of a thread debating the scope of Interaction Design and its infringement on other areas. It began with a question as to whether or not Interaction Designers would be worth including in an effort to design a textbook. My own opinion is emphatically “Yes!” Others disagreed.
The argument stemmed from the fact that a book is not technically an interactive object. Yes, I can open the cover and flip the pages, but it doesn’t react to me of its own accord (pop-up books aside). My angle, then, is that Interaction Design is not defined by the artifact being designed, but by the process and tools used to design it.
Textbook as Graphic Design Project
A Graphic Designer is hired by a publisher to design the new version of a textbook. The designer begins by researching existing textbooks. He collects examples of particularly effective information visualizations and makes notes about how information is organized. At the same time, he is receiving content from his client and learning about the book’s subject. He works with his client to determine the chapters, sections, etc. He may even attend a class to observe how the book is to be used or talk to students who are using the previous version. Once he has the content and the structure, he begins organizing the content into spreads, sketching layouts and diagrams, and selecting photography and illustrations. He decides on locations and sizes for page numbering, section headings, footnotes, etc. He creates a mock-up of the book and works with the customer to revise it. He may show it to students or teachers to gauge acceptance. Finally, the book is approved by the client and goes to press.
Textbook as Interaction Design Project
An Interaction Designer is hired by a publisher to design the new version of a textbook. She begins by researching the course. She learns about the students—their motives for taking the course, level of interest in the subject, level of prior knowledge, what they intend to do with new knowledge, what makes the subject easy or difficult, enjoyable or onerous. She learns about the teachers—their motives for teaching the course, their goals for the students, their prior experience teaching, things they find helpful, and problems they have.
The designer may then generate personas representing teachers and students (users). She will work with the client and users to explore new ideas for how the course could be improved, including use of the textbook, and possibly other materials as well. She will likely write scenarios showing how the new course concepts compare to the current course. In conjunction with the scenarios, she may create flowcharts illustrating paths through the topics covered by the course. She will create a sample chapter or two based on the new design with a corresponding class plan and supporting materials (a prototype). Then she sets up a user test in which actual teachers and students run through the sample lesson. Based on the observations and feedback generated, she proceeds to design the rest of the book and other course materials. After Course 2.0 is deployed, she gathers feedback to validate the design.
There certainly can be a good deal of overlap, and I’m not certain where the project stops being just Graphic Design and starts being Interaction Design. I also believe that it is not a UCD approach alone that makes it Interaction Design.
Lunar Design’s most recent Iconocast episode is about a massive design exhibit in the San Francisco airport. Listening to the discussion, I was intrigued and thought it interesting enough to learn more.
The exhibit was sponsored by IDSA-SF and features 33 industrial design projects by the likes of Lunar Design, Metaform, IDEO, and Smart Design. It is on display in the United terminal, and this is where it really became interesting to me—the airport is a museum.
In my mind, this is an absolutely brilliant merge. When I think about the airports I have been in, I recall large, spacious areas that are almost completely devoid of character and visual interest. There are large numbers of people moving through them on a daily basis with very little to do.
"Over 6,000 books and periodicals have already been catalogued in the library. The museum collections include over 3,000 photographs and documents, and more than 5,400 artifacts have been accessioned."
The only problem is that you have to buy a ticket to see Prototype to Product: Thirty-three Projects from the Bay Area Design Community. The exhibit is open through January 2008.
I just don’t get it. Along with their new iPod line-up, Jobs announced the new ringtone creator in iTunes. The UI is pretty slick, but it costs 99 cents for a 30-second ringtone—the same price as an entire track. Not only that, but you must pay 99 cents to buy the track. So, unless you already own the track, it costs $1.98 (granted, that’s for the track and the ringtone). I was hoping Apple wouldn’t stoop to the level of greed that the music and cell phone industries have been wallowing in. I’m disappointed, but at the same time, I must give them some credit.
Let’s look at the competition:
T-Mobile - $1.99 for 1 ringtone
AT&T - $2.49 for 1 ringtone
Verizon - $2.99 for 1 ringtone
And just this week, the music industry gave itself another whack with a stupid stick. Sony BMG and Universal announced the “Ringle”, a CD containing a single track, a remix of that track, and a corresponding ringtone. For this redundant triple-play, they are charging $6.00!
Yes, Apple, I’m disappointed that you decided to play the game, rather than change the rules, but you’re still heads above the competition.
For those of us uninterested in paying twice for the privilege of announcing calls with music, there are other options: Free ringtones workaround iToner
My students attended Emergence 2007 this past weekend. One of them was expressing some confusion about the various opportunities available to designers and which role she wants to play in the field. She posed some good questions, and while I don’t claim to have the answers, I’m certainly willing to share my answers.
From Leesie’s Leisure: I went into design because I enjoy making things. Tangible things that other people see and appreciate. Would I be satisfied designing intangible processes that in their most successful rendition are not seen at all? Will I be looked down upon if I want to continue creating things? In our graduate seminar class last week we spoke about a trend in contemporary art where artists employ other artists to create their ideas. Also, that there’s a sense of hierarchy and that the artists who still want to paint, sculpt and create tangible things could be considered by some to be lower on the intellectual food chain. Is this the direction design is headed? Will the ‘graphic designers’ of today become the production artists of tomorrow?
This is already happening to some degree. I have participated in conversations with other Interaction Designers that don’t come from a Graphic Design background. Many of them talk about Graphic Designers as if they are the grunts—the peons of the design community. They don’t get to make the important decisions about how information is organized, what form the navigation will take, or the general layout of the screens. They just pick colors, create icons, and produce graphics. It perturbs me to hear this, but then, there are designers who are satisfied doing just that.
My own belief is that a Graphic Designer that has been trained in an accredited, collegiate design school has been taught to be a problem solver. Yes, their focus is on visual presentation, but they are schooled in the same approaches to problems—the same methods for solving them. “Design thinking” enables them to participate in what some consider to be the more complex areas of design.
She continues: Our keynote speaker said very decidedly that graphic design and industrial design WERE important genres of design in the first half of the 20th century, but taking their place are service and interaction design (among others). I don’t deny these are hugely important and fascinating fields. But will a whole generation of designers want to stop creating beautiful and meaningful visuals that can impact people’s lives in order to create beautiful, yet unseen, processes and structures that can impact people’s lives?
I hope not. I’m lucky enough to have a foot firmly planted on both sides of the line being drawn here. I consider the creation of “beautiful and meaningful visuals” to be an important part of what I do. However, there are a lot of designers now that aren’t visual designers. I don’t begrudge them calling themselves designers as some do (e.g. GK VanPatter). The sandbox is getting bigger all the time. I don’t mind sharing it.
One of my major goals in the teaching I have done thus far at WVU is to empower my students to be able to make the decision she is pondering, rather than allowing someone else to make the decision for them.
I was recently made aware of oobject, a site claiming to be “…like billboard charts for gadgets”. It’s a very interesting and entertaining site sporting lists such as “10 biggest tech product failures" and "13 crazy Japanese watches”. Many of the lists are ongoing, and you can vote and leave comments, adding a community aspect.
The specific list that initially drew my interest was “21 futuristic interfaces”. From multi-touch to motion capture, heads-up displays to holographic ones, there is a lot of inspiration to be had. In fact, I believe I will add oobject to my list of design resources.
I also find it rather amusing that the top two tech product failures are currently Windows Vista and the Zune.
Somehow, products, services, and systems need to respond to stimuli created by human beings. Those responses need to be meaningful, clearly communicated, and, in many ways, provoke a persuasive and semi-predictable response. They need to behave.
It’s also important to note that Interaction Design is distinct from the other design disciplines. It’s not Information Architecture, Industrial Design, or even User Experience Design. It also isn’t user interface design. Interaction design is not about form or even structure, but is more ephemeral–about why and when rather than about what and how.
In yesterday’s post, I suggested that there will likely be more collaborations in the not-so-distant future like the one just announced by Apple and Starbucks. It makes perfect sense that Apple’s first use of a Personal Area Network (PAN) is all about purchasing music. They were introducing a new line of iPods with WiFi and a WiFi-accessible music store. What better compliment than a PAN that allows you to purchase music you are hearing in the environment?
So what other PANs might we see? Here are a few scenarios:
You walk into Borders and your iPod now has access to a list of audio books. You can also listen to book reviews recorded by other customers. Listen to samples and then decide whether to purchase a physical book in the store or download the audio version.
You enter the MOMA and its own icon appears on your iPhone. You can browse through the various audio tours to find one that suits your schedule and particular interests, or perhaps you have a favorite docent. Each piece on the tour links out to more information on the web.
During your weekly shopping trip, you consult the grocery list on your iPhone. Piggly Wiggly’s service notices that there are coupons available for some of the items in your list and one of the items is out of stock. It displays isle numbers next to each item. You can browse the list of specials, and enter your deli order. An alarm sounds when it’s ready for you to pick up. At checkout, coupon codes are automatically applied.
You meet a couple friends at the Loews Theatre to catch a Saturday matinee. You check your iPod to see which movies are starting in the next 15 minutes and aren’t sold out. Trying to decide between a couple of the movies, you watch their trailers. You purchase three tickets with a couple finger taps. Upon purchasing the tickets, you receive a discount good for pre-ordering the film on the iTunes store.
The iPod and iPhone are enablers for a lot of interesting opportunities.
Several years ago I did some conceptual design work for PanGo. “PAN” stands for “Personal Area Network”. The company was exploring uses for wireless devices, such as PDAs equipped with Bluetooth. We were dealing with scenarios in which devices would discover services and resources within the surrounding environment.
Apple made a very interesting play yesterday in its partnership with Starbucks. When you walk into a Starbucks with an iPhone or iPod Touch, a new Starbucks icon will appear within the UI. Pressing this icon will show you the song that is currently playing in the store, as well as the previous 10 songs. With just a couple taps, you can purchase the song.
Granted, this service is only rolling out to major cities within the next several months, but it shows that Apple is thinking hard about context. I expect we will see more location-based features in the future.
Apple announced the iPod Touch today, along with several other new features and products. It was pretty much a foregone conclusion that they would release an iPod based on the iPhone. The current iPod lineup is seemingly untouchable. I don’t think any other company currently producing PMPs has a chance at competing with Apple. They are so far ahead of the game.
Additionally, the $200 drop in the price of the iPhone is a bombshell that will nail the coffin shut for some other smart phones.
Is there no other consumer electronics company out there that can understand the importance of design, both industrial and interaction, for successful innovation in today’s market?
I’m a bad boy. I received my very first speeding ticket today. Traffic was backed up on 279, so I took an alternate route through a small community named Westview. I sat through a light at an intersection, and then waited while the crossing guard helped school children cross the street. The crossing guard gave me the signal to proceed, and I continued down the street. Only a few seconds later, I heard the whoop of a siren, caught the flashing lights in my rear-view mirror, and quickly pulled off into a parking lot to let the officer pass. Of course, he followed me. He told me I was doing 35 mph in a 15 mph school zone.
I was surprised, at first, that I was going that fast—I certainly wasn’t speeding on purpose. In retrospect, there are three factors that contributed to my ill fortune.
1. My green light was likely nearly over when the crossing guard waved me forward, so I probably pressed the accelerator a little harder than I needed to.
2. That particular street is on a pretty good grade. Without riding my brakes, I expect I was picking up speed as I coasted.
3. As I knew there were children needing to cross the street, I was watching my surroundings, rather than looking at my dashboard.
Factor 3 is the one I’m particularly interested in. If I had been aware that I was going that fast, I certainly would have put on the brakes. While it only takes a second to glance at the speedometer, I would argue that it was safer to keep my eyes on the sides of the road, watching for children. What I needed was a heads-up display. I want to be able to keep track of my speed in the periphery of my vision while looking through the windshield, rather than having to move my eyes from the road.
And while I’m wishing, I may as well ask for smart speed limit signs. Using RFID, Bluetooth, or a similar wireless, proximity-based technology, a speed limit sign could broadcast the limit to my car. My car could then use that information, based on a preference I have set, to alert me if I exceed the speed limit by, say, 3 mph.
Either one of those would likely have saved me $143 this morning and improved my day significantly.
I just learned this weekend that the cost of postage was raised to 41 cents back in May. I didn’t know. I’ve mailed a few things since May with only 39 cents worth of stamps and haven’t had them returned.
I rarely mail anything anymore. I pay all of my bills electronically using Quicken. It’s been ages since I’ve mailed a letter. I occasionally mail in a warranty registration card, but those usually have a URL on them now. The only thing I mail regularly is my local taxes, and that’s quarterly.
I’m still trying to finish up a roll of 34 cent stamps. I had purchased a couple sheets of five cent stamps to meet the increase to 39 cents. Now I’m going to have to buy some 2 cent stamps. It’s really rather obnoxious.
Enter the “Forever” stamp. This stamp has no denomination printed on it. It is a First Class stamp that will be good for First Class mailing regardless of future rate hikes. This is a fantastic idea, and I hope it sticks around.