DesignAday will return in 2009.
A Question of Security
I was registering for the “advanced security” on the site of my mortgage company. This required me to select three security questions and provide my answers to them. Each of the three questions was presented as a menu of six choices. Questions appearing in one menu were not repeated in the other two. The final menu gave me the following choices. I don’t want to trust my security and ability to...
A Problem with Air?
I just had the opportunity to try out Yammer—basically a business-oriented Twitter—and its desktop application implemented in Adobe Air. I’m unimpressed. The promise of Air is cross-platform web applications that can run on the desktop. While it may be “implement once; run anywhere”, there is still the issue of platform conventions. I ran the app on my Mac, of course. The preference...
Interaction ’09: Why I’m Excited
Interaction ’09 is rapidly approaching, and as good as the conference was last year, it’s promising to be even better. I’m quite excited; let me count the ways. Dan Saffer isn’t chairing the conference. This is not a slight on Dan’s efforts last year—he did a fantastic job—but means that Dan can actually present. I’m looking forward to the workshop that he and Bill DeRouchey are running:...
Designed for Mobility: Memory Locks
Last month I described how a Marimba is designed to be efficiently disassembled and reconstructed, making the large instrument quite mobile. Another great example—also a largish percussion instrument—is a trap set (also referred to as a drum kit or drum set). Obviously, it is called a “set” or “kit” because it is composed of many pieces, and any drummer who plays publicly must move all of those...
Blog of the Week: Ghost in the Pixel
My blog tends to be rather light reading. I enjoy making observations about my environment and experiences more so than knuckling down on theoretical essays. My original intent for DesignAday was to provide a short, tasty design snack every day that wouldn’t take long to read, but would still be informative, inspirational, or entertaining. I think I’ve stayed true to that for the most part. My “In...
In the Details: HTML Preview
In Mac OS X Leopard, Apple added a quick preview feature. Select a document, press the space bar, and you will be presented with a preview of the document, be it PDF, MS Word, or Adobe Photoshop. Of course, there has always been a thumbnail-size preview when a file is selected in the column view, but it didn’t used to be nearly so robust. Many file types will even use the preview as the file...
West Virginia: Race & Hispanic Origin
The final project in my course was an interactive visualization. Jane Lefevre did an outstanding job with this piece—her first encounter with Flash, I believe. She was dealing with a large data set that not only covered a long period of time, but had extreme variance in percentage values. This resulted in a challenge of dimensions and proportion, as she had to find a way of showing the large...
A Post about Posters
Every year, I tell myself that I should trek over to CMU and take a look at the masters thesis posters, but it’s difficult for me to just skip out of the office in the middle of the afternoon and drive across town. Today, I decided to do it, and I’m glad I did. There were a number of intriguing ideas presented, and I enjoyed chatting with a number of the students, as well as saying hello to my...
In early November, I commented on a New York Times article about the state of the auto industry in which Thomas L. Friedman suggested that Steve Jobs run one of the big three for a year. What would truly benefit the likes of GM, Chrysler, and Ford would be the involvement of a top-notch design firm. I’d love to see the results of a collaboration between the designers and engineers at Chrysler and...
In the Details: Drag & Drop
The best implementation of Drag & Drop I have seen on the web is in 37 Signals’ Basecamp. It is possible to rearrange items in the To-Do list by dragging them; one can drag them into another list, even. Along with controls for deleting, editing, and commenting on items, the drag “handle” appears when the cursor moves over the item. This is much better than cluttering up the list with a link...
Today is the 40th anniversary of the mother of all demos, and could therefore be considered the birthday of the mouse. The keyboard and mouse tag-team is the input duo I’ve been designing for since I started working on a CD-ROM-based textbook for a faculty member in the Health Sciences Center at WVU in 1991—my first interaction design project. I’ve done a fair bit of design for tablets and...
Reinventing the Wheel
It’s often stated that you shouldn’t reinvent the wheel. Michelin obviously doesn’t follow that mantra. The company founders were the first to clothe the wheel in a tire back in 1895. Today, while the big three American auto manufacturers are asking for a bail-out, Michelin is introducing a new design that has the potential to revolutionize the industry. Their new Active Wheel system builds a...
Blog of the Week: Coroflot
Coroflot is a web service for designers that allows publishing of web portfolios and provides a design-centric job board. They also facilitate a community of designers through special-interest groups that share images of their work. Supplementing these core features are a bi-monthly magazine and blog that feature the members of their community. Coroflot takes pride in the fact that it serves all...
Foiled by a Box
My daughters are giving their mother the collector’s edition of The Tales of Beedle the Bard by J.K. Rowling. I pre-ordered it from Amazon, and it was delivered today… to my house… while I was at work… and my wife was home… in this box: Thanks, Amazon.
Wrapping Up Another Semester
Last night I critiqued eighteen interactive data visualizations, and I’m quite pleased with the results. Considering that the majority of the students had no previous experience working in Flash, the projects covered the gamut from fully functional to concepts documented with screen renderings and storyboards. There were plenty of bugs and numerous interaction design gaffes, but the concepts were...
In the Details: Sort Order
When the iPhone 2.0 software update was released, there was a change in the way the iPhone handled podcasts. The podcasts are organized such that all episodes of a particular podcast are listed together in what could be considered a playlist. Previous to 2.0, however, the iPhone would not continue from one episode to another. After the update, the next episode in the list would automatically begin...
In Comparison: Screenshots
Another area in which Apple’s Mac OS X outshines Windows is in taking screenshots. Up until Vista, the only way to take screenshots in Windows was to press shift + print screen. This would capture the entire screen, including multiple monitors. (Correction: As Martin Polley pointed out to me, you can also use Alt + Print Screen in XP to capture the active window.) You could then paste it into...