Showing posts from 2012

Voice recognition Human VS Computer

I am sure many will have seen the lovely Siri adverts, "Did mum send me that recipe?" and the amazing super powered Siri shows the recipe and leaves you with the impression he would probably get up and cook the thing for you if you asked him politely.

While it may appear to make humans redundant we are certainly a long way from the Rise of the Machines.

Dear aunt, let's set so double the killer delete select all.

Yes the "demonstrated" voice recognition was clearly very clever, but an advert is a long way from reality.

The first problem is lack of accurate voice recognition. I remember a Microsoft conference where the speaker was dictating a letter while trying to type "Dear Mom," he managed to achieve "Dear aunt, let's set so double the killer delete select all.". Well that was a few years before Siri on Apple and S-Control and S-Voice on Android, but the results are still a pathetic waste of time.

A quick test of "Call Lee" re…

I18N - Internationalisation Woes

Living in the UK gives you a fraction more exposure to the problems of internationalisation than living in the US does. This is probably because a UK centric company has fewer than 100 million potential customers, where as a US centric company has more than 300 million and on average these customers are richer, and the proximity of other countries with significantly different languages and cultures.

One of my big frustrations has always been the US date format. All other common date formats can easily be programmically manipulated without determining their local origin, but the US date throws a spanner in the works. It also sneaks its way into programming languages, such as the mktime function in PHP, tripping me up every so often.

The countries that use MM/DD/YYYY are Belize, Canada, Federated States of Micronesia, Palau, Philippines, and the USA.
Their populations add up to 435,582,899 people. [Belize (307,899), Canada (34,073,000), Federated States of Micronesia (111,000), Palau (2…

Heathrow Terminal 4 Usability Failure

Airports and Underground systems are often used in usability case studies. The clear and simple iconography an well thought out signs help countless people no matter their language. They help clarify how best to sign post and navigate large areas and can provide great material to study.

However, Heathrow Terminal 4 does have quite a usability failure on its hands in terms of the toilets. Above every single tap is a yellow warning exclamation mark with the text, caution extremely hot!

The message is correct the water is nearly too hot to use, and certainly too hot to use for much longer than a very short period of time without burning yourself.

This is a failure on so many levels, but I feel it is an illustration in how a simple related solution removes obstacles in usability.

If the water temperature was reduced a few degrees then there would be no issue with using the water and there would be no need for the signs. In addition there is likely to be a reduction in cost as heating the …

Cheap plastic comments

Like many with an interest in mobile devices I am curious about what the new Samsung Galaxy S3 will be like. I have viewed may rumour blogs and posts with interest, but I have noticed that a large number of users make the same comment, along the lines of

Same old cheap plastic design...  When I first purchased my Samsung Galaxy S (one) phone I loved the plastic backing.

The plastic is not cheap, in the sense that it is highly resilient and does not mark easily as numerous accidental drops can attest to.The plastic is very light, leading to my phone being nearly 20% lighter than an iPhone despite the large screen.Being a plastic design it allows for easy removal for replacement batteries etc.
The plastic being used is certainly stronger than you see on many cases, and the durability suggests to me that the plastic choice is a more expensive version than they could choose to use.

Many people seem to love the ceramic One X or Glass iPhone, or perhaps the aluminium of various other devices…

TAM - multinational website - why so hard?

I always try my hardest to make my websites simple, beautiful and most important usable. I make mistakes in my designs occasionally obvious ones. Luckily working in a team tends to stop these mistakes making it into production, and my pride makes me test to a pretty good standard to avoid any howlers.

I know how easy it is to make mistakes and as such I feel I can be reasonably forgiving of the random websites I visit. Time constraints can often lead to poor code and design. However, when I visit a large multinational company that has a really poor website then I can really start to get angry, multinations should be employing highly competent staff on high wages, I have to assume that people are still happy to pay peanuts and cope with the results rather than try to improve the web further. Another type of site I often have problems with is government websites where I often have to turn off javascript or go through the code to find out where the browser should be going to and not wher…