“Irregular Verbs” in Software Design

by on March 16, 2014

(This post implements my new year’s resolution of sub-titling my sections so as to make me look like I know what I’m talking about.) At MailOnline, we have no development process. Well, that’s not entirely true, we use Programmer Anarchy. The developers decide for themselves which “table” they want to work on, and can then […]

Escaping the Panopticon

by on January 12, 2014

Regardless of whether you see uncontrollable mass surveillance by both governments and corporations as being a problem, the fact is that it is happening. This raises questions about lots of things in life that previous generations never had to deal with, if only because the extent and methods of surveillance are also largely unknown to […]

The UX Asset Management Challenge

by on June 9, 2013

When multiple designers work on multiple assets or across multiple projects, it gets very difficult to manage files over time. Which files are the latest versions? Which files are even relevant any more? Which files contain things that may be affected by the contents of other files? Yet with a few short-term exceptions, I have yet […]

The State of Google Glass

by on May 7, 2013

Now that Google has released Glass to external developers, it’s approaching the point where if you work anywhere near information technology, you are going to need some kind of opinion about whether Glass will be the mass-market success Google wants it to be. Glass deserves a fair assessment, if only because Google has the software muscle and […]

What’s Worse Than A Pie Chart?

by on January 4, 2013

I dislike pie charts. I may even dislike people who use them. But even worse than a pie chart is a quite recent device that doesn’t (I don’t think) have a name. These are the circles that appear mostly in newspapers and magazines to illustrate some quantitative comparison – here’s an example of what I mean. This technique […]

A Problem With Visualising Data

by on November 28, 2012

Data visualisation (“dataviz” or more broadly, “infoviz”) appears to serve two main purposes. The first is to show data to people who are not analysts or experts. This is so that they can understand some or all of something that has already been identified in that data. The assumption here is that raw tables, or perhaps bunches of charts […]

Is This The Most Elegant Map Ever?

by on October 31, 2012

I was having a look at the state of Japanese web design today (we’re doing some customer research there at the moment)  and saw this towards the bottom of the home page of the Yomiuri Shinbun site. For those who don’t know, the Yomiuri is the world’s largest newspaper by circulation. I would imagine their website is also read […]

Statcounter’s Chrome Story Is Bunk

by on September 21, 2012

A while ago, I noticed a startling report from Statcounter had fired up interest in the mainstream media about Google Chrome beating Microsoft Internet Explorer in the “browser wars”. Statcounter claimed their research showed most Internet users now using Chrome. The report was echoed far and wide, seemingly by journalists who had no ability (or […]

The User Experience of Digital Signatures

by on July 29, 2012

How about that for a boring title? But it’s something that bothers me quite regularly. Why is it that “asymmetric encryption” appears to be fundamentally beyond the understanding of anyone who doesn’t work directly with computers? It’s now become such an issue for me that I’ve written to my MP about it. But before you […]

Are 37Signals Getting Real?

by on June 4, 2012

A recent post on 37Signals’s blog is interesting. Jason wants somebody to help them with customer conversion and retention. One of the reasons why I like 37Signals is that they truly subscribe to the model laid out by the Cluetrain Mainfesto. 37Signals have without doubt turned their organisation “inside out”, as the Manifesto predicts modern […]

Sketchy Debate

by on February 25, 2012

It seems like not too long ago, many IA/UX designers fought endless battles on mailing lists and Usenet about whether Visio was better than Freehand which was better than Omnigraffle which was better than Excel (no, really, I’ve seen people use Excel to express UI ideas). There was always some software or other that totally […]

Approaching Test-Driven Design

by on October 26, 2011

At Hotels.com we’ve been doing multi-variate testing (“MVT”, or sometimes “A/B testing” if you’re variant challenged) for a while. This means we typically build a number of different designs, then let them duke it out on the live site to see which one performs the best. Recently, however, I’ve been increasingly aware that while we […]

Corporations Raid the Public Domain

by on September 17, 2011

(I posted this to Google+ a couple of weeks ago, but I may as well post it here too) Each time I engage in any activity that involves the legislature, I come away feeling soiled. Despite numerous independent and well-respected studies that said term extension in sound recordings would not achieve anything most people would […]

On Bulding an Extension

by on August 21, 2011

For personal reference, and in case it helps somebody else, here’s a summary of how we built our single-storey rear extension on our 1900 mid-terraced house in North London, completed March 2010 (some photos are here). We’d not undertaken any building work before, other than having a replacement kitchen done a few years previously. Because […]

Where the Internet is Going

by on June 18, 2011

At the 2011 FOSDEM conference in Brussels on Feb 5, 2011, Eben Moglen gave talk called Why Political Liberty Depends on Software Freedom More Than Ever. “Well we can go back to mesh networking. We’ve got to go back to mesh networking. We’ve got to understand how we can assist people, using the ordinary devices […]

Finding a Good Hotel with Chernoff Faces

by on February 20, 2011

I’ve been wondering whether using Chernoff faces might be a good variation of the “advanced search” pattern in the context of finding a hotel to stay in. Choosing the right hotel requires a number of quite complicated things to be considered. But which things you place the most emphasis on depends very much on the […]

Movement and Change in User Interfaces

by on January 8, 2011

Several months ago, we made some changes to the search results of hotels.com, and among these was the creation of a “pinned header”. As you scroll down through the list of results, a portion of the page header stays with you. Here’s the UI before scrolling. And here it is with the header pinning (linking […]

How to go back

by on December 22, 2010

Ah, synchronicity. No, not the 80’s album by The Police, but the fact that I was recently thinking about “back” buttons and software states in the design of our forthcoming Android and iPhone app. And so was Aza Raskin. Raskin suggests an improvement to the much-improvable experience of using the Apple iPhone’s ultra-simple, yet rather […]

An Internet Mirroring Protocol

by on December 12, 2010

What I know about Internet protocols can be written on the back of a postage stamp, but that doesn’t stop me from wondering about them. Wikileaks’s recent call for mirrors (link may be down, obviously) got me thinking about the general possibility of a web site mirroring protocol that would make automatic the distribution and […]

Stamping Out User Experience

by on December 4, 2010

I think I’ve been a user experience designer for about 10 years now. I say “I think”, because I regularly read descriptions of methods of working and relationships between people in multi-disciplined web and software development teams that I don’t recognise. It is of course with great interest that I like to find out about […]

Scrum Didn’t Work For Us

by on September 25, 2010

Last year, our fearless team of interaction designers, creative designers and interface engineers (about 20 of us at the time) took the decision to embrace Scrum, the “agile” methodology for project management. We were all given training courses to attend, and I myself volunteered (along with several others) to become a certified Scrum Master. As […]

Perhaps the Only Way is Up

by on September 23, 2010

Lately I’ve been rather depressed about the state of user experience design. Both my own (management overheads, inability to sweat the details, lack of self-belief…) and that of the wider community. So it didn’t help that one Cameron Chapman delivered a further kick in the teeth the other day with 10 Usability Tips Based on […]

Google’s Incremental Search Results

by on August 29, 2010

New in Google’s live testing is what Jef Raskin described as “incremental search” (also jokingly referring to the dominant search pattern as “excremental search”) about 10 years ago. He predicted it would be usually the best way to perform free-text queries like this. At the time, few systems were really able to implement it, so […]

TabCandy Good

by on July 25, 2010

Examples of good functional design in the digital space (as opposed to good ways of making existing ideas look nicer), are so damn hard to find these days. It follows that good designers are also very rare. So thank heaven for Aza Raskin, scion of the late great Jeff Raskin, designer of Firefox mobile, and […]

Worst Infographic Yet: Colours in Cultures

by on June 24, 2010

David McCandless is an interesting person doing interesting things. Interesting to me, that is, because his work exemplifies something I find deeply mysterious in the way people regard information visualisation. His pursuit of “beauty” seems to be a licence to override clarity, truth, and even common sense. Yet he is widely lauded (here he is […]

Bypassing the Act

by on April 23, 2010

We now have HMG’s Digital Economy Act in the wild. Conceived (by and?) on behalf of the music and film industries, drafted in ignorance of many technical realities, and rushed through the legislative process without any effective parliamentary scrutiny. So perhaps it’s not surprising that avoiding the Act’s provisions on copyright infringement turns out to […]

Of News, Paywalls and New Ancient History

by on April 1, 2010

Everyone as boring as me on the subject of copyright, community and contemporary culture (OMG it alliterates!) has something to say about the Great Paywall of Murdoch. It’s coming to an interface near you in June, we are told. So naturally, I have been ruminating on this too. My thoughts were crystallised when I read […]

Naive Users May Not Be What You Think

by on February 11, 2010

Here’s a fascinating incident. In a nutshell: net news site readwriteweb.com posts a news article about some Facebook business development with AOL. Nothing remarkable about that. But then something strange starts to happen. Hundreds of people start posting comments complaining about how their beloved Facebook has changed and they can’t log in … to readwriteweb.com. […]

Piechart Badness. Corrected.

by on January 29, 2010

Lovemoney.com has a free personal finance dashboard that I thought I’d have a look at. It’s really an early beta, and they’ve been soliciting feedback and generally being very receptive. So, I’ve just sent them the following email. By the way, I’ve decided that OpenOffice Presentation, with which I did the mockup, is rubbish. Apologies […]

Copyright and New Righteous Indignation

by on January 18, 2010

On January 5th, 2010, The Independent published a photo as a backdrop to a feature inviting readers to submit pictures of the snow and cold weather. But they never asked the photographer if they could use his work. Newspapers and magazines have of course from time immemorial sometimes used work without either attributing, asking or […]

How Many Links?

by on January 9, 2010

Sometimes I agonise over putting one more link on a page. How many is too many in a given context? But clearly these people have no such worries: Money Saving Expert has 235 links on its forum pages HIS Travel has 341 links on its home page Both sites are major (if not actually leading) […]

Deserving of Neither

by on December 11, 2009

Angela Epstein is unbelievably pleased to have been able to “bag poll [sic] position” in getting a national identity card. While she is apparently aware that the cards are “hotly disputed”, she says “everyone is entitled to their view”. Epstein (the Jewish surname not without some grim irony here) may think that ID cards are […]

DRM’s Role in the Demise of Joost

by on November 27, 2009

I’ve written before about Joost, and while I didn’t predict their complete failure, I did predict one thing that some people seem to have missed: that their irrational faith in DRM was not a good sign. That faith led them to go down the proprietary client download route, and not (as Hulu and YouTube did) […]

Putting the ‘P’ Back Into VPN

by on November 22, 2009

It’s now clear that the government wants to control people’s use of the Internet, ostensibly on behalf of the media industry, but more likely in the longer term because (to paraphrase William Burroughs) control always needs more control. For a while now I’ve been thinking whether it might be time to tunnel my Internet traffic […]

On a Yacht in Corfu

by on October 28, 2009

I’m glad I’m not a full-time political activist, and just an armchair one instead, because I’d be beyond cynical by now if I were. As it is, today’s announcement that the UK will adopt the “three strikes” policy to copyright infringement leaves me merely livid. Livid that such a bone-headed, technically illiterate policy is being […]

Some Notes on 10/GUI

by on October 25, 2009

Robert Clayton Miller‘s 10/GUI desktop multi-touch idea wafted out of the ether towards me last week, and I’ve been giving it some thought after watching the video a few times. 10/GUI is unusual in that Miller describes himself as a graphic designer. Unlike people such as as Jeff Han, he is not approaching the issues […]

The Microsoft Way

by on September 24, 2009

I’ve had an unusually frustrating day with Microsoft office, so I’m venting. Coincidentally, here’s a little titbit trawled from the oceans of Slashdot this evening – some anecdotal evidence of the way Microsoft do usability “research”: I’ve participated in usability testing at MSFT (Score:5, Interesting) … as a developer. They basically have labs with one-way […]

Riding out the storm?

by on August 25, 2009

I feel that the end is surely coming for The Pirate Bay now. The recent outage, although only 3 hours long, brought about the action of a Swedish court order against TPB’s upstream ISP, will probably turn out so be one of the first of an increasing number of cuts. Still, I like their Churchillian […]

Navigating The Three Realms of Privacy

by on August 23, 2009

I’m not sure if I’ve blogged this idea before or not, but here’s a mini-thread that came up on Slashdot today. It’s about of the ignorance that a lot of people have about data security that I thought illustrated my thoughts quite well: >> You have no reasonable expectation of privacy in your email communication. […]

Is It Too Slow Yet?

by on July 5, 2009

About a year ago, I decided to turn off pagination on this blog. If you scroll down, you will see at least the introduction to every post I’ve ever made – approaching 700 now. The reason I did this was to have some counter evidence to give people when they tell me that long pages […]

Security’s First Mistake

by on July 1, 2009

Earlier last week, the mighty Joshua Kaufman brought my attention to Jakob Nielsen’s latest alertbox about removing masks from password fields. This sparked some interesting debate, and it got me thinking again about passwords and security in general. It has often seemed to me that the first mistake people tend to make in applying security […]

Kill the Gateeper

by on June 21, 2009

With the Kindle DX — Amazon’s new large-screen e-reader – the debate about the delivery of information via printed paper compared to that of digital is starting to pick up even more. Earlier, I’d wondered about reasons to prefer dead tree media that weren’t based on just aesthetics. I see that in reviewing the new […]

Sticking up for books and paper

by on June 20, 2009

“To hell with you. To hell with you and to hell with the Internet. It’s distracting. It’s meaningless; it’s not real. It’s in the air somewhere.” Ray Bradbury (90) doesn’t explain why he doesn’t like the Internet, but I think I can make a good guess based on the “it’s in the air somewhere” remark. […]

What is it with Americans and Swearing?

by on June 11, 2009

What, exactly, do otherwise intelligent Americans find so objectionable about the effective use of swearing? Here’s Seth Godin, marketing guru and otherwise all-round sharp cookie, upholding the grand US tradition of wondering more than seems even remotely reasonable about somebody who likes to put swear words in their books. Who cares? You may as well […]

User Experience in the Real World

by on May 28, 2009

I’ve just been mailed by a company called Zetetic about their mobile password storage application called Strip. Zetetic are interesting in that they are a small, cutting-edge software development house specialising in RoR and .NET. They appear to be principally a consultancy, but also develop and and sell their own applications. This is very similar […]

Teethgrinder

by on May 8, 2009

Just so wrong – and you have to dismiss it with a mouse click as well. Possibly an even worse violation of the principle of avoiding user distraction than Windows networking trumpeting its wireless connections. Why should I care? It’s so hard living through the dawn of interaction design. All I can hope for is […]

It’s ‘Internet’ – with a Capital Eye

by on May 5, 2009

The campaign starts here. The word “Internet” needs to be capitalised. It needs to be capitalised out of respect for its importance and the fact that it’s a proper noun. We don’t write about “the pacific” or “oxford” or reading “the times newspaper.” We should not  write about “the internet” for the same reason. I’ve […]

Googlebay

by on April 17, 2009

So, jail terms for the Pirates of Pirate Bay. “Judge Tomas Norstrom told reporters that the court took into account that the site was “commercially driven” when it made the ruling.” Commercially driven? What then, your honour, is the difference between Google, and The Pirate Bay? Yes, you could outlaw all trackers, but that’s not […]

Please Help Stop Bad Things Happening

by on March 21, 2009

Hello? Can you hear me? This might sound boring – a technicality. It involves industrial regulation, copyright and law. But it’s important, and we should all be at least concerned, if not angry, about what is now happening in the European parliament. What is more, time is running out and we need to act now. […]

Demolition Man

by on February 28, 2009

Headphones are wonderful things, and I’ve been amazed at what I’ve been hearing through them recently. In a fit of nostalgia, I decided to sit down and re-visit Grace Jones’s version of Sting’s Demolition Man (mp3, 5.6Mb). Leaving aside its merits as a pop song, I think it’s one of the greatest feats of studio […]

Play More Music

by on February 28, 2009

So I bought an MP3 player this week. The reason I’ve not owned one before is simple: motorcycles. For the past 10 years or so until the end of 2008, my main form of daily transport was two wheels powered by internal combustion. But when I started work at Expedia, my route in was too […]

An Information Theory

by on January 31, 2009

Quoting a single statistic to support an argument is rarely very impressive, regardless whether the numbers themselves are right or wrong. I would say that most  statistics are nothing without context. Context is the air that statistics breathe and the engine which powers them to make a point.  Yet far too many people simply pluck […]

The Copyright Term Extension Con

by on January 17, 2009

Let’s hope the march of paid lobbyists and other industry schills in Europe will be stopped by these clear and concise arguments against extending copyright in sound recordings. It’s rare that politicians don’t take the side of big business, but when the pandering to greed and the destruction of the public domain is this blatant, […]

TESLA

by on December 14, 2008

From BoingBoing today (guest blogger Clay Shirky!): Mark Hurst, the user experience expert [at MeetUp.com], talks about Tesla — “time elapsed since labs attended” — a measure of how long it’s been since a company’s decision-makers (not help desk) last saw a real user dealing with their product or service. Measured in days, Meetup approaches […]

Empty Gesture

by on November 17, 2008

Ever since Minority Report brought gesture-based interfaces into the public eye, there are been periodic demonstrations of their evolution in the real world. Here’s where MIT’s John Underkoffler, one of the consultants who were used by the producers of Minority Report, has got to with his g-speak “spatial operating interface” (SOE): As with most of […]

Where Will Content Lead Us?

by on October 23, 2008

Nothing is completely new, it just evolves.  So it is with content on the web: the traditional free print model of allowing access to content as a way of getting readers to do something profitable has been transmogrified under the influence of SEO and Google’s all-powerful PageRank algorithms. It now doesn’t matter how good your […]

MoD Data Loss – Can It Get Any Worse?

by on October 11, 2008

Another day, another… hardly a week goes by without… if I had a fiver for…. I’ve lost count of how… The latest incident of data loss really, really plumbs the depths. I’ve started to pay less attention to the detail of such cases recently because it’s plain they’re simply endemic, human failings and not something […]

Will Web 3.0 increase a user’s experience?

by on October 9, 2008

I’ve just spent about 10 minutes of my life trying to re-boot my mind after it suffered a cognitive blue screen of death on reading the question “Will Web 3.0 decrease or increase a user’s experience?” Deon Jenkins, an information architect at IBM, asks this question on a LinkedIn forum I’m a member of. It […]

iTunes UK and the NMPA

by on October 2, 2008

Apple have threatened iTunes-listening Britons with the closure of their iTunes store. I think this is unlikely to happen, but if it does then the P2P networks will get rather more traffic, thereby providing even more proof that the publishing industry just doesn’t understand what’s happening. Every time they try to throw their weight around […]

EU Parliament Net Neutrality Attack!

by on July 5, 2008

Argh! The reform of the “European law on electronic communications” (AKA the “Telecoms Package”) will be debated in the European Parliament on 7th July – Monday! Why the sudden flap? Well, it seems they’re at it again. Here’s what’s going on: take one, large, boring piece of regulatory legislation up for routine amends that most […]

We-Think: Documenting the Present

by on July 5, 2008

I’ve recently read We-Think by Charles Leadbeater, having attended one of his talks a couple of months ago. I thought I’d record my thoughts on it. Books about the socio-political or cultural effects of the Internet are rolling fast off the presses right now. I’m now feeling a little less like the pallid geek I […]

Calendars and Date Range Selection

by on June 13, 2008

One thing that bothers me about “design patterns” is that they don’t always seem to be the best method of solving a design problem. In many cases, patterns are patterns simply because they are popular. This of course is a phenomenon not limited to design (music, for example, is another case in point). However, it […]

Administrivia II

by on May 18, 2008

Server upgraded, Webtorque will be looking rather sqiff for a while until I work out the WordPress theme that I heavily hacked up and forgot to note any changes to… Enjoy. [LATER] Pretty much done now. Wish I could work out a way of removing that pesky horizontal line beneath the header image.

Administrivia

by on May 16, 2008

Webtorque will be down this weekend for maintenance while I try to upgrade the server. It went wrong the first time, so here’s hoping. My Tiscali hell is also continuing though, so the downtime may be longer than it needs to be. Think of it as a rest.

I Had No Idea

by on April 27, 2008

My god this is awful. The entire weekend my net connection with Tiscali has been so slow that YouTube, podcasts, BBC news and even Gmail have been pretty much unusable. I tried running a speed test just now and it timed out! I now realise why I’ve always found broadband hell stories so boring – […]

The No Net, No TV Challenge

by on April 19, 2008

For the past two weeks, and coincidentally at exactly the same time as my family have been away, I have had no Internet access, and very little TV reception at home. I count myself as a pretty intense Internet user (although I watch very little TV), so was interested to see what would happen without […]

Waste

by on March 29, 2008

For some reason I’ve been noticing a lot of greenwashing recently. At work we have plastic recycling bins along with receptacles for waste paper and cans. This is good because we get free bottles of water, juice and other modern comestibles. So, at least by recycling we can do something to offset the wanton destruction […]

Exiled from Plaxo

by on March 5, 2008

I ‘ve had a login on Plaxo for about two years now and have only received a couple of invites from people I know, but I’ve had a several in the last couple of months. Maybe it’ll be the next Facebook? I won’t be there if Plaxo does explode though. Plaxo is so far my […]

Persona Insight? You Decide

by on March 2, 2008

At last, people are openly acknowledging that persona development, or at least the dogma that comes with it, is weird. I’ve been rude about Alan Cooper before, but this is another chance to stick the boot in. I blame Cooper for coming up with the wonderful idea of personas. They’re great for summarising research. They […]

Serves Me Right

by on February 21, 2008

Regular readers will know that I had a free mobile phone last year, thanks to a 100% cashback deal. This year however, I’ve not been so lucky. After hearing nothing from Phones 2 U Direct.Co.Uk Ltd after my first cashback claim in September, I served them a court order to get a response. They replied […]

Administrivia: Site Move

by on February 12, 2008

Webtorque will be moving servers soon (maybe this week… maybe next). I’d be delighted if anyone actually notices, but we may be down for a day or so while I get the web server back up. There’s a chance I might delete everything in the process – indeed sometimes I want to do that anyway, […]

We Love Firmware

by on January 24, 2008

The two things that have most irked me about many devices I’ve owned is response time and shoddy UI. Usually, I assume there’s not much the manufacturer can do about response time, so I’m pretty forgiving on that point. But shoddy UI is another matter. Mobile phone UIs have of course been done to death […]

SingStar Plug

by on December 19, 2007

I’ve not worked on an FMCG site in ages, so I’m taking the liberty of plugging this one, which we did for Sony Computer Entertainment this year. SingStarGame.com went fully live in all territories last week. I’m on there too if you look hard enough. It’s running at about 1,000 registrations a day right now […]

Banking Innovation

by on November 25, 2007

Well, sort of. The recent sale loss of my data by the Revenue prompted me to change my bank account this weekend. Not that I think I really needed to after the fiasco at HMRC, but I thought some rate tarting was in order. Alliance & Leicester have two interesting things in their online banking […]

French Thinking

by on November 25, 2007

I see this news from France last week. It’s an interesting innovation in the copyfight, but it’ll be a flop. With margins already wafer-thin, ISPs will be reluctant to ban their customers, and those that do will be removing people who will be clever enough to get round the bans. However, it’s measures like this […]

Vimeo.com – Nice Design

by on November 19, 2007

Only just discovered Vimeo.com. I like the overall design very much. It’s pushing the the stereotypical “web 2.0″ conventions on rather well: desaturated colours, rounded corners, etc., but it’s very well thought out – everything is there for a reason. I also note some interesting things going on: no scroll bars (just up/down arrows), no […]

Will Thermo Be Too Hot for Axure?

by on November 12, 2007

With the advent of Thermo “some time next year” things are at last hotting up in the RIA design space. Regular readers of this blog (if there are any such people) will know that I have been wondering for a long time in a somewhat Pooh-bearish way about the future of “The Designer” in the […]

Vodafone Broken Calling

by on September 25, 2007

I was in Spain last week, on the Vodafone ES network, and dialled a wrongly-constructed number. The call didn’t connect (just went dead, no ringing) and I got this message. That number at the bottom is the number I was calling, properly formatted. If the system knows how to format the number – why not […]

Euro IA, Barcelona

by on September 22, 2007

Eric Reiss mentioned that at conferences in the States you have pre-conference workshops, whereas in Europe you just have lots of drinking. At the start of Day Two of Euro IA – I’m feeling rather sleepy after the cumulative effects of the the pre-conference party, and all the tappas last night. Hope I can hold […]

Byrne/Eno Pean Again

by on September 18, 2007

I’m very rarely inspired to write about anything. When I do, it’s usually in reaction to something from outside. It doesn’t come “from me” in the artistic sense. Admittedly, I don’t write much uplifting stuff though – it’s mostly boring. This post is different however because I don’t know where it came from. I was […]

Women on the Web

by on August 23, 2007

The female twist to Ofcom’s annual report today on the use of new media is interesting. One view of Internet use that’s always intensely annoyed me is that it’s a solitary medium best suited to male, sociopathic geeks. That may have been true of the web for a brief period between the decline of the […]

Max Hole: It’s Businesses as Usual

by on August 11, 2007

Max Hole is President, Asia Pacific Region and Executive Vice-President, Marketing and A&R for Universal Music Group International. He has some soothing words for anyone who thinks the internets might be a bit worrying for music publishers. When he’s using words like “… record companies … sign and encourage great music by great artists. This […]

For the First Time, Ever

by on July 24, 2007

The UK government has rejected calls to extend the length of copyright on sound recordings beyond 50 years. This is the first time any government in the history of the world has refused to extend copyright, and it’s great news. 50 years is of course far, far too long, but at least the madness of […]

Going to Euro IA

by on July 14, 2007

I submitted an idea for a talk at this year’s Euro IA in Barcelona a few weeks ago (just met the deadline). The anonymous review process has now taken place and the results are out: they’d like me to do it as a poster. While I would have preferred a talk to be able to […]

Administrivia: Comment Posting

by on June 30, 2007

I’ve been told that comments aren’t working. I think this might be related to a relatively recent upgrade to WordPress that might have broken the theme I’m running (I’m hoping it’s not to do with the very low version of PHP the server’s running). I’m going to see if I can fix this, but if […]

The Rights and Wrongs of Tag Clouds

by on June 23, 2007

I’m not obsessed with tag clouds, really I’m not, but I think they are the single most useful, yet criminally misunderstood and mis-applied UI device out there. I’ve written about tag clouds before, but this time I’m turning up the heat. Controversy time: writing about “best practice” for tag clouds in terms of what fonts […]

Paul Birch of Revolver Records

by on June 18, 2007

If you want to know what company directors think about how the government in this country works, look no further than this flabbergasting statement by Paul Birch of Revolver Records: “I … think allowing indiscriminate criticism of the RIAA is inappropriate for a Government funded institution” At least in terms of editorial integrity, if you […]

The User Experience of Photosynth

by on June 9, 2007

There was a flurry of interest in Microsoft’s Photosynth this week. I’m not sure why, since it’s been around for a while, and was one of the WPF/e showcases at Designertopia last year. The engine for Photosynth is Seadragon (acquired by Microsoft last year I think), explained here in more detail. Photosynth (or at least […]

I Was Mugged By Wolff Olins

by on June 6, 2007

I now realise that I hated the logo for the XXX Olympiad* because I was meant to hate it. Wolff Olins grabbed me by the throat, shoved me up against a wall and made me. At exactly the same time, they forced everyone else to take a stance on it too. Now the Sun has […]

And Design Shall Start With Observation

by on May 29, 2007

The project I’ve been working on for the last ten months is now winding down for me, so I’m getting involved with some new stuff. One of these couldn’t be more different from the rather rigorous approaches I’ve been taking since last year. Having attended a “workshop” for this project recently, I can’t help feeling […]

Wise Guy, Eh?

by on May 15, 2007

Until yesterday, I’d not tried Any Questions Answered (AQA) – the old-school (as in not P2P) SMS-based answer service. For a mere £1, they will answer any question you have. I’d heard good things about them. Their website allows you to ask one free question, so I did: “Since 1950, how many people have been […]

Submission to Euro IA 2007

by on May 15, 2007

Here’s an idea for a Euro IA submission I was thinking about (eh Barcelooona!) to fulfil one of my annual HR objectives: the one that says I need to ramp up my public profile to attain the status of European Experience Emperor. Some prodding about seems to indicate that people do see this as a […]

Life with Linux

by on March 25, 2007

There are some posts that no real blog can be complete without, and that is some opinion about Linux. I’ve been using Ubuntu for over a year now and it occurs to me that I should write up something on it. Not that anyone’s asked, but then that’s what blogging is all about really isn’t […]

UCD Crisis

by on March 24, 2007

There are too many methods of designing digital media. We currently have “agile” (hip, groovy) at one end and “waterfall” (a term of abuse) at the other. Each of our projects at LBi inhabits a space somewhere in between these two extremes at any one time – although because we’re an agency it’s mostly just […]

The Joost TV Business Model

by on March 14, 2007

I will not be buying shares in Joost any time soon. This is not because they don’t have a good product – having been on their beta testing swarm for the last few months, I think it’s quite nice really. The trouble is, according to the Guardian they will be getting their content from media […]

Julian Cope Rarity

by on March 12, 2007

I was going through some stuff at the weekend, and found a CD I bought in the Los Angeles from a shop in Melrose several years ago. Fans of Julian Cope will of course spot why it found its way into the bargain bin with a hole punched through the barcode. If you’re not a […]

Blimey – It Worked!

by on March 10, 2007

I took out one of those incredibly dodgy-looking “100% cashback” mobile phone deals last year. Much to my surprise – it seems to have worked. £35 a month for a 12-month T-Mobile contract with 200 free any time/any network minutes per month. The handset was free too – a K700i. I didn’t go over my […]

Teaching the Machine

by on February 15, 2007

I like this video for a number of reasons. It’s text speaking about text speaking about content, and has no aural commentary. It uses real imagery yet is figurative; it connects the edge of an arcane concept (hypertext markup) to the edge of some very big issues (love, communication and copyright) yet makes this connection […]

The Right Way To Do It

by on February 7, 2007

I like Flickr more every time I go there. I like it so much I’m now paying for it just as soon as my PayPal echeque clears. As a rule I pay for nothing in life if I can possibly help it. This alone is a measure that they are doing the right thing. And […]

AKQA In Da Second Life House

by on January 27, 2007

Those groovy people at AKQA are so groovy they are even in Second Life. Here’s a picture of me in their lounge, marvelling at the slideshow on the wall. And here’s one of me leaving a groovy comment. Although quite deserted (it’s a Saturday night after all – they’ll be at home looking at their […]

Roundly Confusing

by on January 21, 2007

Having taken this photo while waiting for our kid to chomp through a McDonald’s Kids Meal at new year (mea culpa – but it’s the winging, really), I’ve just noticed another frankly amazing example of a nutritional content “explanation.” This time, it’s on the cardboard sleeve of a pot of Sainsbury’s Cornish clotted cream (again, […]

The Right to Copy, Won

by on January 17, 2007

Most people don’t know that under UK law, it is currently illegal to copy music from (say) a CD you have bought, to your own MP3 or other music player. As a result of a petition to Downing Street organised the Open Rights Group, the government has responded positively to the suggestion that we should […]

Those Tag Clouds Again

by on January 5, 2007

Just posted this to Sig-IA in reply to somebody wanting some examples of good tag clouds (see also my earlier venture). I’m sure the following will be wonderfully arcane in about 10 years time. I was looking at movietally.com the other day. While it’s not exactly a shining example of good design overall, the use […]

Google Jamming

by on December 17, 2006

I’ve recently been using StumbleUpon more, and although it’s fun, it’s not as fun as putting interesting strings into Google to see what turns up. For example, using this: “parent directory ” MP3 -xxx -html -htm -php -shtml -opendivx -md5 -md5sums and this: ?intitle:index.of? mp3 Brings up all sorts of interesting stuff.

Getting Real

by on November 29, 2006

I’ve been reading 37 Signals’s book Getting Real on line. This caused a bit of stir when it came out as it self-consciously throws out the rule book(s) on application development and looks firmly towards the new dawn of Web 2.0, and (sort of) in the direction of an extreme “agile” methodology. All the rage. […]

The Soul of Socialism Under Hucknall

by on November 23, 2006

I don’t read the Guardian much these days, but I’ve always known it as a broadsheet with a sense of humour. Their printing today of this article, “written” by Mick Hucknall, and the inevitable comments about it on line, must be one of the funniest online occurrences this year. Hucknall (oh OK, it’s some music […]

Will X-Series Light the 3G Touchpaper?

by on November 19, 2006

It’s not long now until 3 starts selling its X-Series in the UK. Hidden among the usual bundling and partnerships fluff (eBay, Skype, etc.) is a rather quiet, yet potentially cataclysmic feature: X-Series will have flat-rate pricing. So, after the glorious £4.3 billion they spent on their 3G license and the completely predictable failure of […]

Distributed Boing Boing on Webtorque

by on November 18, 2006

One of the sites I read rather a lot is Boing Boing. Some over-enthusiastic web filtering software (and possibly some oppressive regimes) classifies Boing Boing as an undesirable site and blocks it. So, I’ve installed the Distributed Boing Boing proxy on this website. The URL for the proxy is http://www.webtorque.org/dbb.php Now might also be a […]

Christian Lindholm at UX 2006

by on November 18, 2006

I’ve been meaning to record my thoughts about seeing Christian Lindholm, head of Yahoo! Mobile (and former Director of Multimedia Applications for the Nokia Ventures) talking about “Mobile Usability” at the Neilsen Norman Group’s User Experience 2006 in London a couple of week ago. Firstly, let me state that I’m not exactly a mobile phone […]

Worthy Petitions

by on November 18, 2006

10 Downing Street, in conjunction with mySociety, have recently launched an on-line petition system where citizens can collect signatures for issues with which to petition the government. If you haven’t already, I strongly encourage you to lend your support to petition set up by Suw Charman of the Open Rights Group: “Thousands of people own […]

Graphics and Relevance

by on November 14, 2006

This graphic “explaining” what the BBC’s honeypot might have been employed to do had it been hijacked (which I assume it wasn’t – how boring) is all but pointless. While rather an extreme example, I think it highlights rather well what I’ve realised recently is the biggest single problem I have with graphical representations of […]

User Experience 2006

by on November 6, 2006

Originally uploaded by Gilgongo. I’ve been at User Experience 2006 (London). Don Norman looks even more like Capt. Birdseye than normal, but he had some good things to say along with bashing Microsoft and spending rather too long talking about cars. A good day out I think – and one that also might need to […]

A Great Disturbance in The Force

by on November 2, 2006

As prophesied, the roll-out of IE7 via Windows Update started today, and as a “High Priority” update no less. Webmasters everywhere now need to be afraid. Well, afraid of those running legitimate copies of Windows, since the wording on the download mentions that it’s for those with “genuine installations” – so WGA will prevent the […]

Seven After Five Years

by on October 19, 2006

Microsoft Internet Explorer 6 was released in August 2001. This week, one of the biggest and most damaging private monopolies in human history relented, and fully five years after, we now have their MSIE 7. I installed it today. Coincidentally, a couple of days before I heard that the 7 was out, I happend to […]

Tag Cloudy

by on October 16, 2006

I’ve become a bit of a tag cloud hawk recently, looking for examples of their use and what I think is abuse, or just plain old misunderstanding. My definition of a useful tag cloud is something that allows you to get a feel for the “mood” of the information tagged on a site. On the […]

Online Payment Form Patterns

by on October 8, 2006

When designing an e-commerce site, it’s hard to avoid the payment form. For an industry barely a decade old, the payment page has a powerful mystique – associated as it is with high technology like i-frames, fraud, mysterious loss of life savings, and alien invasion. I was thinking about this last week after reviewing some […]

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