Tuesday, June 20, 2006

MS Office 2007 Interface Video -- Nice Intro to UI

In addition to marketing the product and preparing users for what to expect, Microsoft's Office 2007 User Interface Intro Video does a nice job explaining the rationale behind their design decisions -- most of which seem sound. The video provides some insight into the mismatch between user goals and the old menu-driven interface and includes a good critique of the non-WYSIWYG aspect of dialog boxes (conceptual overview at 1:15 and example provided at 4:42 and other times throughout). Gizmodo bashes the interface as a ripoff of Mac's Aqua, but I don't know enough about Aqua to comment. What I like best about the video is that it provides a nice example of what "user experience" people do and how they think. It might be useful in my tech writing classes. [previous post]

Monday, June 19, 2006

Fact following fiction

Had I the time, I'd create a blog to identify new technologies that seem to come straight off the pages or screens of my favorite sci-fi. Case in point -- the new "Science on a Sphere" 3-D projection system from the Earth System Research Lab of the U.S. DOC & NOAA [from Information Aesthetics].

[image from Information Aesthetics]

It looks suspiciously like the holographic plans of a certain space-based weapon retrieved by the Rebellion, no?

[image from theforce.net]


Thursday, June 15, 2006

The Cheat

Also from Boing Boing today, an older post from Alex Halavais, "How to cheat good." Halavais shares some amusing insights into how instructors suspect/detect plagiarism. My personal fave? #8, Edit > Paste Special > Unformatted Text. Though he doesn't remark on my favorite small-detail tell, the sudden appearance of straight quotes (as opposed to smart-quotes) which makes me suspect the text originated online rather than in Word.

DIY micro-printing press

I'm always in favor of putting the means of production into the hands of the masses. It's one of the great boons of digital technology, IMHO. But I always forget what resourceful, tool-building monkeys we are, and that innovation can be as easily found on your porch as on your laptop. To wit...

Michael Rosenblatt's folding chair stamp jig for stamp-printing business cards. Clever duck! And I recognize that weathered chair. I've got the same model myself. [via Boing Boing]

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Writing systems vs. writing technologies

This clever Worth1000 entry to the Vintage Products 4 contest by Gene got me thinking about the relationship between writing systems and whether/how they fit with various writing technologies. One phenomenon I need to learn more about is how various languages map to keyboards. I'm shooting blind here, but I suspect the design of our modern keyboards pretty heavily favors languages using the Latin alphabet (and let's sidestep the QWERTY/Dvorak/etc. debate for now). But how does the Cyrillic alphabet map to keyboards? And the Chinese language family or Arabic? And how about for phone-texting interfaces? (Which, let's face it, are pretty much crap for whatever language you speak/write -- well except for the language of texting which evolved in response to the interface.) Yes, I could look up the answers to these many questions, but mostly I wanted to post this funny picture.