Showing posts from May, 2011

Re-design a fascinating opinion

Lou Rosenfeld presented a fascinating talk at the London UX 2011 conference titled Redesign Must Die.  Obviously this is quite a contentious heading for a talk presented to people who make their living from redesign.  He primarily presented the University of Michigan's website and its extremely regular redesign strategy.  Essentially asserting that the redesigns seemed limitless and a waste of money...

Now one element that has always generally irked me when design projects for customers is that I have always felt they do not understand the potential for the software.  Actually more precisely it is not the customer's narrow vision, but more the sales/management idea that this should be so rigidly adhered to.  Essentially the customer will ask for exactly what they have already only incrementally improved, the famous quote attributed to Ford sums it up "If I had asked the consumers they would have told me they wanted faster horse...".  So when Lou talks of avoiding red…

Woohoo there is a way of turning off my most hated Windows 7 feature

I really dislike the Windows Shake.  I have not yet been in a situation where I want to minimise all windows except for the one with primary focus.  I cannot think of a generally realistic situation where I would want to.  With the Windows Key shortcuts, the taskbar preview and the search feature this feature is certainly redundant for me.

However I can accidentally trigger it when comparing information from 3 windows and do so perhaps once every 2 weeks, hence my joy in finding out how to turn it off.

Does involve not just modifying the registry, but actually creating reg keys, something that is fairly uncommon unless you are manipulating your own software, but hey never knock a solution to your problems.

Samsung Galaxy S vs iPhone 4 - finally no contest...

Well my wife has an iPhone 4 and I have a Samsung Galaxy S.  I am not one of those petty fanboys so I feel I can comment in a relatively unbiased fashion about the differences between the two.

Up until recently I felt it was a relatively even contest.  I loved that I could run flash on websites, and that I could run multiple tasks simultaneously, my phone was lighter and thinner than any case enclosed iPhone.  However, I did envy the iPhone's text rendering, as well as the mute switch on the side.

There was one feature I thought I would be upset to not have and that was the camera flash.  The lack of a camera flash has not been that big an issue for me, especially as the iPhone's flash really does give everything a horrible yellow hue, which requires post photo filters before the picture is actually usable, in most situations the cameras are equal.

However, Samsung recently released Android 2.3.3 on the Galaxy S and this update is amazing.  The biggest new feature is the unbel…


In a previous post I suggested that at a certain size hierarchies serve little purpose, actually this is not strictly speaking true.  Hierarchies of data have two effects they both simultaneously obscure and reveal useful data.

They can help lead to serendipitous discovery through browsing, however, by an item appearing in one sub-menu and not another it can lead to useful data not being discovered if the archiver's mindset is different to that of the seeker.

Librarian's have worked on classification systems since their inception and be it Dewey, Library of Congress or any of the more specialist scheme they all have their issues.  Someone researching a specific individual who has written poems, scientific literature and novels could have their work in very different locations in a Library or could all be grouped together depending on the scheme used.

As you can see the archiver's choice of hierarchy directly effects the efficiency that the data can be retrieved and the po…

Disaster averted

My lovely Sony DSC-F828 camera stopped charging the battery and started displaying an error message "For InfoLITHIUM battery only".  The manually helpfully told me that my InfoLITHIUM Sony branded battery was not an InfoLITHIUM battery.

I obviously feared the worst that possibly my camera was possibly failing to detect the battery type and preventing me from using the camera.  I checked all of the contact points and performed a camera reset, but still my battery failed to function...

Purchased a new battery and luckily have discovered that it was just the battery that had become faulty.  Woohoo no need to get a new camera. Ok there was some disappointment in this despite my complete lack of funds to purchase any replacement :).

Did Moodle not get the memo?

I cannot tell you how many programming books I have read which drill in the importance of documentation.  Of course documentation is not always perfect, but I genuinely thought that every programmer realised it was vital to the health of a project that the documentation is as good as possible.

Reading this sentence though suggests the Moodle development team have been reading a different set of books to me:-
Normally, if you want a particular sort of setting, the easiest way is to look around the admin screens of your Moodle site, and find a setting like the one you want. Then go and copy the code and edit it. Therefore, we do not include a complete list of setting types here. Moodle.orgIt is perhaps stranger still to me that the most important set of documentation the How to create a Moodle Block is still not up to date with the current version!  Luckily is you spend enough time looking around in the PHP code you can find the information you want, but this should not be the preferred …

Web Searching

Search technology is a great interest of mine, fast accurate searches make a massive different to any information retrieval task.  How much relevance ranking, search faceting, related terms have made a massive different.

It certainly appears to me that no matter how well designed a nativation hierarchy is, after a certain number a search engine is dramatically superior. 

I am unsure if there has been any research into maximum acceptable items contained within a navgation hierarchies is useful, but they quickly become unusable to anyone other than the original archiver when they span more than 3 tiers and although the number of items within each tier could vary I would suggest that anything larger than 1930 items would be extremely difficult to navigate without a search tool.  This is assuming a 3 tier hierarchy with 8 items in the first and second tiers and 30 in the final tier.

After reading an article on designing a mobile autosuggest it did remind me of one of the poorest design d…