:Archive Of December 2001:

Friday, December 28, 2001 - 11:09 AM -

Er, do you suppose there's a way to do something like that Linux Map with the W3C spec? Anyone out there deeply involved with graphical representation? Be a heck of a university project. Make it self-mappable so it can be a permanent resource. So this would be a software project, not a drafting project; app-art.

Thursday, December 27, 2001 - 7:37 PM -

Map of the Linux Kernel. Yes, I'm a geek. This is so cool. Check out the zooms. I want to cruise a 3d version of the thing.

Monday, December 24, 2001 - 12:10 PM -

That's hilarious. Remember I mentioned that printing in Opera 6 results in pages that cover only 1/4 of the sheet? I asked a friend to try it with his newer HP LaserJet. For him webpages come out as postage stamps. They look great! I've always admired the tiny graphic art of postage stamps. Seeing my pages this way is wonderful. I highly recommend it.

Ah, Opera... I hope they fix that in a hurry. You don't get new clients if they have to fire up another browser to print.

Other really odd thing about the glitch: when I print email of course I get the same 1/4 size result, but the helpful page numbers Opera adds are correctly positioned on the full sheets. Some small bit of code has been left dangling in Norway. Hopefully after the holiday, once they've recovered from their national reputation as fierce drinkers and superb hosts, they'll get down to business and clean up the last few details that keeps their software from being the best browser on the planet.

Thursday, December 20, 2001 - 4:49 PM -

Stewart has linked to too many cool things to repeat. What are you doing here? Go read Stewart's blog.

- 2:35 PM -

Wherein I lightly update the front page of my neglected Box Lesson, and add a fireside chat about Validation.

Tuesday, December 18, 2001 - 1:15 PM -

Sharp comment from Eric: I've been thinking about how success depends more and more on the interface when building Web apps. With desktop apps, manuals are the norm; even for downloadable freeware or shareware, PDF or HTML manuals are common. But who ever heard of a Web app having a manual? The interface alone must be good enough for the user to discover and use all the functionality. I'm working on something now that will have inline help to compensate for the failings of the interface. Why don't we see more inline help in Web applications?

"The interface alone must be good enough for the user to discover and use all the functionality." .. this is so true. I almost want to say help files indicate a usability failure. That's an oversimplification, but I think there is payback for thinking deeper on the issue. A web site that needs a manual is an obvious failure. A software app that needs a manual is normal. Web apps are kind of in between and I think it's worth pushing these to learn how much we can do with interface design instead of a manual.

This slides into other things. A telephone doesn't need a user manual. Some cel phones do, but too often for functions that aren't new, just that the interface is poor. I've got a broad technical background, yet I still need to check my cel manual to 'remember' how it does some things. And I've had it for two years.

What I'm wondering is how much we're relying on manuals to cover up bad design. People are more sophisticated than they were in 1971. There's a wealth of concept models they have that we're not using properly as designers. Maybe we need to identify a vocabulary of common concept models, and in turn use this to help us write help manuals; key it to introducing the concepts your product interface uses, as much as being step-by-step.

Saturday, December 15, 2001 - 11:52 AM -

You know, it really is weird how you can be stirring vegetables and suddenly the ideas come. Like a toyset tumbling from the box. While you stir, wondering if you can remember the connections you are seeing or if you should shut off the stove and go write. And wondering that if you do, will you interrupt the tumbling that is still to come?

Ideas like to go off and hang with themselves for a while. You can sit at the page as long as you want, but all you're doing is sending more ideas off to the party you're not at.

Then suddenly they're all back like excited puppies. They don't knock, and don't care what you're doing when they find you. The party is on and where the heck have you been?

Friday, December 14, 2001 - 8:40 PM -

Well fudge. Email is still down. Stats are still down. Site has stayed up. Upload works again. My Host has issued a couple of "we'll be down for a little bit" messages since this morning. And they're honest folks. Meaning somewhere in California there is a very tired tech staff trying to suss a very bad problem.

Thursday, December 13, 2001 - 8:47 PM -

antenna points to a great bit of communication by animated gif.

- 2:42 PM -

Goddammit! No no no! Not yet! Not now! It's finally working...


Let me be clear about something. Any time Jeffrey and I disagree on a point, Jeffrey is right and I just haven't come round to understanding him yet.

That said, damn. I really think we just finally got to the point where the WaSP is being recognized by the mainstream as spot-on right and not just a special-interest-idealism group. The very cornerstone of reason.

And at this utterly critical juncture of the web where the browser makers have been dragged into making at least some compliance to the code so that people are finally figuring out to write properly ... oh we are so screwed.

Oh man. The wasp is dead. Long live the wasp. Folks, we need a replacement. Now.

- 12:49 PM -

Just got a spam from Ikea. We all know Ikea. They're a catalogue store. They have my email because I asked for a catalogue once.

But they didn't send me the next one. The catalogues are important because I live on an island. Like most people here I don't drop by the mainland store much to browse and pick up a new catalogue. When I do want something I ask someone who's already going to add my order. Most of us don't show up as individual sales because of this, and so aren't tagged as "active" for a new catalogue.

Sure, I could press the "order catalogue" button. Fill out the form again. But, dammit, Ikea just doesn't get it. If someone ordered a catalogue once by email, then when the next one is ready send them an email with "Our new catalogue is out! Would you like us to mail you one? Just click here." Then give a page with the current data address, and simply ask if the info is still correct. Not a new blank form. It's really just a two click process.

The web is a great medium. It's time companies caught on to using its advantages.

Wednesday, December 12, 2001 - 6:22 PM -

Well I liked the damn title.

- 1:38 AM -

Wherein I go on for a rather long time on a subject that's probably not of interest to most of the people who read this log. I hope it's helpful to someone. Right now I just want to upload the thing and go to bed. Anyone know why the numbers in an ordered list seem impervious to style under Netscape 6?

Monday, December 10, 2001 - 7:18 PM -

Then again, an art critic can be called an art historian who isn't waiting till the subject's gone cold.

Sunday, December 9, 2001 - 10:03 PM (again?)

I've finished my first read through Alan Fletcher's The Art Of Seeing Sideways. It weighs a ton. It's about design. Like abstract painting the unwary can have a first glance reaction that he's doing something easy and overwrought. It's neither. I only have one quibble: that he didn't design handles for the bloody thing.

Saturday, December 8, 2001 - 10:03 PM -

I think manufacturers fail to grasp the value of a silent computer. No fans. No spinning drives. No one has a tv that sounds like there is a thousand gerbils running it. The net is a media. I want to listen to somafm quietly. Like I can with every other media device I own.

If Apple had really understood their cube they would have produced a campaign similar to Rolls-Royce's famous clock.

- 8:48 AM -

Oo! That's interesting. I'll have to remember to go back and figure that out. This is the scrolling navigation banner from the W3C. Opera 6 is leaving the background colour fixed, so it disappears as you scroll down.

Wednesday, December 5, 2001 - 12:49 PM -

Victor points to a great metatag resource. I tried printing and remembered another Opera bug that I had managed to forget. In the herd of minor bugs introduced in ver 6 while they tweaked fewer minor bugs from ver 5, a web page now comes out of my printer at one quarter size. Meaning a 8 1/2 x 11 sheet gets a 4 x 5 inch area printed, in very small letters. Yes, I've checked the settings. I'd mention it to Opera but I expect they'll just come out with another bizarre argument that they've got everything right, it's the rest of the world that's wrong, like their mac font crock.

Opera, opera, opera... it's such a great piece of software and yet has so many stupid bugs at the same time. What is with that company? Is it great coders and bad management? I dunno. Even right down to calling this version 6 when it's clearly 5.2. It's just silly, and maddening in what's overall the best browser. They've got to clear up the loose ends of their method.

Monday, December 3, 2001 - 11:39 AM -

I'm thinking of starting a web site called Tracking The Information Architects. Following their pronouncements and schools of thought. Host discussion groups about their latest personal page changes. Unfairly line them up in a simple spectrum, create charts with checkoff boxes outlining their philosophies. (Did someone say "chart junk opportunity"?) Essentially write the unauthorized biography of a genre's leaders while it's still forming. Have a paparazzi section showcasing their speaking schedules. (That could be educational ... will we find distinct IA's are asked to speak by distinct groups?)

There's some real material here. From the banty Jakob to the exotic Rem Koolhaas. Maybe make the front page ala Slashdot -- quick news items about who's doing what. Lightly done and with a little People magazine style for requisite cheese. But entirely so the spotlighted can also enjoy the laugh, and to provide a real way of keeping a tabs on this field. (And yes, it musn't cause any one of them to refuse to speak to me again.)

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