Thursday, 23 August 2007

VS2008 Bad User Experience (and 2005...2003....)

You can't resize this screen. Looking at your keyboard binding you can see 3 and 3 quaters of your availble commands to bind to. Theres about 100 of them..... I'm constantly going in there to bind stuff and it always seems clumsy. It would be great if it would also help by showing "easy" key combos that haven't been bound to anything rather than having to take pot luck by experimenting with combos till I find one I like. eg, if I held down ALT it would show the combos available or SHIFT-ALT etc....

Wednesday, 15 August 2007

Train wreck Management

Great article by Mary Poppendieck

There seems to be a whole mix of management styles out there these days, it's interesting how many people are using quite old management styles and hold to quite old management value systems.

Wednesday, 8 August 2007

Screw IT

We started using Screwturn Wiki at work recently. It's a reasonably nice .net 2.0 Wiki. It has a nice simple plugin architecture which basically allows you to customise most things.

The only thing that bugs me is that it's not using unit tests and it really shows in the core code. Ah well... easy enough to TDD plugins for it though.

I've been thinking about writing a plugin that allows you to write lua/ironruby/ironpython plugins by simply writing code into wiki pages. This would make really really easy to write extensions to the Wikimarkup language. Though it might kill the performance of the Wiki.....

Tuesday, 7 August 2007

Seeing is Believing

So coming back to the "Have a Look" post...

The interesting thing about the flipping images and not being able to see the change without careful examination of the image is...

The brain creates a vivid crystal clear picture of what you are seeing. Yet your eyes can only see a small area in focus. The brain relys on the eyes ability to rapid move and focus on things to create the illusion of crystal clearness.

Seeing changes comes from the peripheral vision. The part of the eye that dosn't see the world all focused.

The flipping of images in the java app flips the images with an intermediate gray image (colour -> grey -> colour) pretty much obliterates the peripheral visions ability to notice the change. So to find the changes you have to use your "in focus" vision and interpret the image and analyse the image till finally you look at the right spot. Once you find the right spot its easy to see the change! In fact its obvious! If you show the changing images to another person it seems embarrassingly obvious whats changing, yet they too will struggle till they work out whats changing.

So how's this useful? In software UIs if you are designing something that's animated and changing and you know its animated and changing it can be very obvious to you what is changing. However, for someone who doesn't know what is changing you are relying on their peripheral vision to pick up on those changes. If there is too much noise then someone won't pick up on that change. Yet it will seem obvious to the designer what is changing. Sometimes the obvious is not obvious.

Oddly enough this issue cropped up at work where we were creating an animation of many fruit moving down a machine and getting tipped at various locations down a machine. A co worker and I were having a discussion about whether some of the animation changes were obvious or not. The person who created the animation felt it was "obvious", where as I felt that some of the changes got lost in the noise.

The lesson of the story is to test your designs with people who aren't the designers.

And the moral of the story is the obvious isn't obvious. It's embarrassing how often I forget this when I try to explain what seems "obvious" to me.

Thursday, 2 August 2007

Thuderbirds are go!

Before I discuss the previous post with the weird flipping images (BTW, did you right click the image to see you could view other pictures as well? even when you know somethings changings its hard to find it)

I tried Thunderbird yesterday as a replacement for outlook 2007. I have to say, its really good! Well, mostly importantly its fast and snappy where as outlook was slow and sluggish.

Thuderbird also imported all my email which was divided across many psts to try and get outlook to be snappy..... However Thunderbird deals very gracefully with the gigs of emails I have.

I also installed "Lightning" which is a Calendar plugin which integrates into thunderbird. Its looks pretty good, not quite as good as outlooks, but it does the job.

It also has Theming support, so I downloaded a theme called "Noia 2.0 eXtreme" and the whole thing looks reasonablly pretty (though not as polished as outlook)

I also had to muck around with a few options. Oddly enough Tools->Options didnt have a lot of the options I wanted, it was Tools->Account Settings that has lots of options.

Also the built in RSS feeder works much better with Screwturns RSS updates of wiki pages than Outlook.

It's only day 2, but so far so good. Quick fast email is such a joy! :)