Can you call a concept a cultural phenomenon if different people conceive of it at the same time? Within the past few months, three publications have come to similar conclusions. The digital media agency Avenue A | Razorfish released a study called "Fast Forward: Designing for Constant Change." It consists of thirteen essays as well as research exploring how consumers' digital media habits are changing, and how this affects the design of user experiences and brands. The key take-away is: Today's online users are forced to adjust to constant change in increasingly volatile rich media environments, and they … Read more
Perhaps huffing at your computer might get you somewhere if research at the Georgia Institute of Technology comes to fruition.
Shwetak Patel and Gregory Abowd from Georgia Tech have published a paper that describes how to use a computer microphone to determine where on a screen a person is blowing. The technique, which they call BLUI for Blowable and Localized User Interaction, can distinguish between the different sounds air makes depending on where the breath is directed.
"BLUI supports blowing at a laptop or computer screen to directly control specific parts of an interactive application, such as blowing at … Read more
Adobe Systems wants to transform its flagship Photoshop software with an interface customized to the task at hand, a potentially radical revamp for software whose power today is hidden behind hundreds of menu options.
A new user interface will help Photoshop become "everything you need, nothing you don't," said Photoshop product manager John Nack, describing aspirations for the Photoshop overhaul on his blog Monday.
"We must make Photoshop dramatically more configurable," Nack said. "Presenting the same user experience to a photographer as we do to a radiologist, as to a Web designer, as to … Read more
What do you get when you cross a Firefox with a chameleon?
An open-source Web browser whose user interface is adapted to the look of the operating system it's running on. One change planned for the upcoming Firefox version 3, code-named Gran Paradiso, is this more native appearance.
"The Web browser is an incredibly central piece of the user's operating system, and we don't want the user's initial reaction to be that they have modified their computer to add some type of strange, foreign application," said Mozilla interface designer Alex Faaborg in a blog posting last week. &… Read more
The New York Post reported on Tuesday morning that New York-based video-hosting community site Vimeo plans to announce this week that it will be distributing videos at a high-definition resolution of 1,280x720 pixels, making it apparently the first user-generated video-sharing site to do so.
The Post's Peter Lauria connects the new push for making high-definition technology available on user-generated video sites to the ongoing price drop in consumer-grade HD cameras--an inarguably hot item this holiday season.
This hack on open source from John Dvorak is just that: a hack. One intended to get page views. By linking to it I assist him in his quest, I suppose, but I do think his post serves as a reminder that open source needs to continue to improve its ease of use.
But see, there I go: like Dvorak's system administrator (who actually wrote the piece below), I'm treating all open-source software under a blanket description and all Windows software under its own blanket description. The truth is far more complicated: some open-source software stinks, and some open-source software is manna from heaven. (Handbrake is so easy to use that even Dvorak's system administrator could use it.)
Still, there's some truth to what he says as it relates to community-developed software:
My theory is that when people use VI it lowers their standards as to what good software should look like and causes their minds to physically alter in a way that leads to VI syndrome leading to delusions that their little piece of [expletive] software is the greatest program in the world and that they are just so superior to Microsoft that it?s just a matter of days before Microsoft collapses and everyone accepts Linux as God.… Read more
Answer a few questions to see where you fit in the typology of information and communication technology users developed by the Pew Internet Project.
A comment in my article about Amazon.com's MP3 download store took me to task for picking nits about aspects of the service, especially about the quality of the usage experience. Fair enough--one man's nit is another person's show-stopper. But when it comes to convergence--hardware, software and services all coming together as they do in digital music, for example--it's taking care of those nits that are crucial to delivering satisfying music. Good enough is just not good enough unless you are happy being an also-ran.
Why? Because convergent systems are tremendously complex--both to create and potentially … Read more