Design Vocabulary: Affordance
An affordance is a quality of an object or environment that allows one to perform an action. For example, in the physical world, a light switch affords flicking in two possible directions, but only one based on its current state. Affordance is a term that quite a lot has been written about. Both Wikipedia and Interaction-Design.org have thorough explanations of its origins and tell the history of...
In the Middle
Inmedius. The company was named by a former coworker and good friend of mine. It was derived from the Latin phrase “in medias”, which means “in the middle”. They couldn’t get the URL for “inmedias”, so they settled for a misspelling. It’s a name I’ve identified with for eleven and a half years now. I rarely write about my company directly on DesignAday. That has been a conscious decision on my...
My wife needed to make two copies of a DVD that I had created for her from an old VHS tape. She spent some amount of time finding the original video project I had created in iMovie and was trying to figure out what she needed to do to get it into iDVD so that she could burn the discs. I wasn’t home, but she called me to ask for assistance. I knew there was an easier way, but I wasn’t going to try...
Flash in the Pan
Adobe has decided to discontinue the production of Flash Catalyst in order to streamline the product line. Translation: Adobe has decided to discontinue Flash Catalyst, because we finally acknowledge that Flash isn’t long for this world. Catalyst took too long in development, and when it finally released, it wasn’t relevant to the Interaction Designers that were its primary audience—they were...
The Public(ized) Studio
I was invited to participate in an “innovation session” to help my local public library create a vision for a future in which access to physical books may not be its primary purpose. I wasn’t sure what to expect unit I found out that the guy running the session, Paul Gould, is a senior designer at Maya. That means, of course, that it was a well-facilitated brainstorming session with Post-It Notes,...
Learn to Create!
I’ve been enjoying Discovery’s new show, Unchained Reaction, quite a bit. It’s a fantastic showcase of creativity, ingenuity, and prototyping. I just watched the most recent episode, which pitted a team of construction contractors against a team of “designers”. They didn’t say what types of designers they were, but the show’s editors made a point of communicating that the team members specified...
Two weeks ago, Google posted their visionary video introducing Project Glass, a head-worn display (HWD) for your phone. At least, I assume it is “for your phone”, rather than “as your phone”, mainly due to the fact that, in the near future, they won’t be able to fit the components into that small and light a form factor. None of the articles I’ve read have given details of the technology, but I’m...
Is Coal Losing Its Power?
The most recent project in my information visualization class was map-based. Kofi continued with the energy theme from his poster and looked into President Obama’s proposed restrictions on greenhouse gas emissions from US power plants. The proposed restrictions will limit new fossil-fuel-burning power plants to no more than 1,000 pounds of carbon dioxide emissions per megawatt generated. Kofi...
Saturday was DesignAday’s fifth anniversary. That feels like a significant milestone. I can’t say that I’ve seen much growth in readership, but I get the sense that my audience values my writing and that it would be missed if I stopped. The post that created the most buzz this year was Hypocriticalmorphism. It created the biggest spike on my Google Analytics chart since Truism was picked up by...
In Comparison: Loyalty Programs
Panera and Qdoba are my favorite fast-food franchises. I take advantage of each of their customer loyalty programs. Qdoba’s is very straight forward. I hand them my card at checkout and receive points for every purchase. Once I accumulate enough points, I get a free entrée. Panera’s is a little more nebulous. I hand them my card at checkout, so I assume they are tracking my purchases, but I don’t...
Working with Developers: Version Control
The results of the survey I conducted as research for my upcoming Midwest UX talk indicated that about 70% of the respondents do not use a version control tool, such as Subversion. I can’t say that I’m too surprised by this. Version control is traditionally part of the developer’s domain, and the tools are specifically geared towards code. Of course it is necessary to use version control if you...
I don’t understand how it is that I have never heard of 99% Invisible until this morning. I was listening to Debbie Millman’s Design Matters while I was getting ready for work. In the latest episode, she interviewed Roman Mars, producer and host of 99% Invisible, “a tiny radio show about design, architecture and the 99% invisible activity that shapes our world.” As soon as I was dressed, I went to...
A Tremor in the Wrist
They line the hallway, the one that leads to the studio in which I learned my trade. Black on white, positive and negative plays on space. Symbols and marks. A leaf, its curves delicately balanced, thicks and thins and points, but ah… There’s a bump. And I recall the repetitions, tiny tremors in the wrist. He was just an old man. The gruff voice of not good enough, his breath stank of coffee and...
I have a number of software tools that I use for collection of digital information. I’ve been using Yojimbo to catalog articles that I want to keep, especially for use in my classes. NoteBook is my preferred tool for organized note taking. NetNewsWire automatically pulls down all of my RSS subscriptions, and iTunes does the same for podcasts. I’m still using Ta-da List to keep track of DesignAday...
When I first signed up for an account with Citizen’s Bank, it was because they provided an interface with Quicken. They allowed Quicken to download my register and submit bills for payment. I’ve been with them now about ten years, but I will soon be closing my accounts. I received a letter the other day with the ominous heading: “Important changes to your account”. They were letting me know that...
Michelle L. Connor of Almost Heaven Habitat for Humanity was another speaker at Designing for the Divide. Her talk was titled Affordable Housing Does Not Have to Look Affordable. From the conference program: Almost Heaven Habitat for Humanity designed and built a 15-unit affordable housing homeownership development that is both EPA Energy Star and EarthCraft certified in rural West Virginia...
An Energized Future?
Kofi Opoku took on the divide of energy and the environment for his Designing for the Divide poster, and he did an outstanding job of it. The main visualization is a comparison of energy consumption per capita and energy production between France, the UK, Russia, the USA, China, Canada, and Germany. The size of the circle represents total production, while the color of the circle represents...