Siri-ously Flawed Experience
Have you tried Siri, an iPhone app that uses speech recognition and natural language processing to perform tasks for you? I first heard of it when Merlin Mann recommended it on MacBreak Weekly. It can apparently arrange a cab for you, book dinner reservations, purchase movie tickets, and other such tasks that are time and location dependent. I had tried it once before, but I think I misunderstood...
I’m sure I’m not the only one that frequently hits “Reply,” begins typing a response, and then realizes that I meant to press “Reply All”. When this happens, I typically copy what I have already written, discard the message, and then press “Reply All,” as that is quicker than copying over all of the recipients. Or so I thought. I don’t know how long the feature has been there. It may have been in...
In the Details: Bottom Tabs
I’ve always found it rather odd that Excel places tabs at the bottom of the window. I can’t think of another application that is laid out that way. The vast majority of spreadsheets that I have to work with only have one sheet in the document, but Excel always includes three tabs by default. This combination of factors results in what I consider to be an undesirable user behavior. I never look at...
Back to Basics: Grouping
When laying out a user interface, like elements should be grouped together. For example, a set of drawing tools should be collocated, rather than being interspersed with buttons for printing, exporting, and searching. Groups should be separated by space. There may also be a visual separator, such as a light rule or background color change, but simply putting more space between groups of buttons...
Tales from the Field: Intrinsically Safe
Intrinsically safe areas are hazardous environments where flammable gasses, vapors, and liquids are stored or manufactured. Such an environment has certification requirements for all equipment used therein. The environments are classified as follows: Class I – flammable gasses Class II – flammable dust Class III – flammable fibers Each class has two divisions: Division I – explosive...
Photoshop Tip: Screen States
I believe it was CS4 that incorporated the features of ImageReady into Photoshop. I’ve started using the Animation palette to organize screen states and make them easily acceptable. Previously, I would use layer groups to set up multiple screen states in a single file and color-code them to indicate which ones should be turned on and off together to switch states. I still do that, but now, I set...
Here’s a perfect example of why stacking type is considered to be a typographic sin. Particularly notice the varying widths of the letterforms. Even the period for the abbreviation “Mrs.” has been stacked. These are slats of a playground fence that have been dedicated for a donation. It would be much easier to read if the text had been oriented sideways.
In the Details: Point Text
Adobe Photoshop has two different types of text. If you click and drag with the text tool, you will get a text box that causes the text to wrap to its confines. This is referred to as “paragraph text.” Clicking the text tool on the canvas without dragging results in “point text,” so named because it is anchored by a single point. Point text will not wrap, but hard breaks can be used. These two...
I was filling out a sign-up form the other day, and as I always do, I used 1Password to generate the password for me. It automatically entered the string into both fields. I had it set to create a password that was rather lengthy, and when I clicked the submit button, the site informed me that my password didn’t meet it’s requirements. The message is in-specific in its explanation of the error,...
“Near-Final Screenshots” or Wireframes?
Paul Thurrott has posted what he claims to be “near-final screenshots” of the Windows Phone 7 user interface. Seriously? These screens look more like wireframes than a user interface. They are mostly white text of varying sizes over top of a black background. It’s too simplistic. There isn’t enough variation between what is tappable and what isn’t. It works better when over a photographic or...
Lulu and iPad Too
A few months ago, I theorized about the future of publishing. In that post, I suggested that the iBookstore has the potential to remove the middleman—the publisher—allowing authors to easily sell their work directly. Lulu, arguably the most prominent self-publishing service, is staying on top of things. They recently announced that they are an “Apple approved aggregator.” This means that they can...
It’s bad enough when a website doesn’t mind its manners and plays a video when the page loads rather than waiting for the user to press play. How would you like it if a video began playing and didn’t let you stop it. That’s exactly what BusinessWeek is doing with advertising in video segments on their website. The video starts playing as soon as the page loads. The playback controls on the viewer...
Google doesn’t change their GUI very often, and when they do, the changes are fairly subtle. The last significant change I wrote about was SearchWiki, the addition of buttons beside each search result that would promote or demote, or even remove, the link. That got replaced awhile back by a single star. I didn’t see that change reported anywhere. A starred result will be presented at the top of...
From Animation to Web Application
If you know JibJab, it’s probably because of their political animation parody titled This Land, which featured President George W. Bush and Senator Kerry back in 2004. Or, it could be one of many other such animated shorts they have produced. What you may not know is that they have turned their comedic and artistic talents into a web-based service that allows you to place your own photos into...
I have yet to succumb to the siren song of Twitter. Most of my fellow interaction designers are shocked to learn that fact. It is assumed that everyone attending a conference is hooked into the “backchannel”. I’ve heard all manner of arguments as to why it’s better than blogging/email/IM/SMS/forums/sliced bread, or at least why it should be used in concert. I’ve even had an...
Replacing the Desktop
Charlie Stross and other journalists are theorizing that Apple is trail blazing a new world for computing. As Charlie puts it, Steve Jobs believes he’s gambling Apple’s future… on an all-or-nothing push into a new market. HP have woken up and smelled the forest fire, two or three years late; Microsoft are mired in a tar pit, unable to grasp that the inferno heading towards them is going to burn...
Interaction 10 Photos
Back in February, while attending Interaction 10, I carried my camera around with me to loosely document the conference. I finally spent the time to go through and clean up the photos. I did some cropping, some color correction, and some pruning of those that were too badly blurred. Take a look at the gallery to get a flavor for the conference. The two photos at the end show what I encountered in...