Aggressive Online Advertisement

March 4, 2009

Floating windows are most  annoying kind of internet advertisement according to Russian internet statistic agency.

  • Floating windows bother 78% of internet users
  • Banners bother 7.6%
  • Video ads bother 3.6%

Only 3.4% of users are actually order something using advertisement links.

New MacPRO NVIDIA GeForce GT 120

March 3, 2009

Following Apple’s annoucment of new MacPro machines I trying to figure out what is that new NVIDIA card that comes default with it. I was intrigued when I couldn’t find much about it and even on NVIDIA website GeForce GT 120 wasn’t mentioned. Is that some soft of exclusive product produced for Apple? Apparently not. Here is some info I could find on MagicBox Live-Tech Blog.

Rebranding :
G100 = 9400 GT
GT120 = 9500 GT
GT130 = 9600 GSO = 8800 GS
GTS 150 = ?

I’m sure NVIDIA’s got reasons for re-branding though the website update wouldn’t harm anyone.

GUI Prototype Design Tool

February 6, 2009

Googling “Vista GUI” brought an interesting result. This is a tool for UI designers. Looks scary. One needs to be really brave to try using this.

DESIGNER VISTA UI

Vista and Windows 7 GUI mystery

December 20, 2008
Windows 7 Screenshot

7 Screenshot

When I first saw Vista my initial reaction was “what the heck?!”. It wasn’t incompatibility, performance, nor stability that caught my attention. What amazed me at that time was Vista GUI, which now seems that it will transferred over to Windows 7. So what is so special about it? To tell you the truth I can’t see much logic behind it.

Windows 7 semi-transparent windows frames

Wallpaper is the most obvious way to personalize the human-computer interaction experience. All OS vendors provide an easy way to customize it. We use personal photos, stock photography or even rotate set of images. Desktop (wallpaper  for Windows users) is traditionally given to a user to make  the computer interaction experience more “personal”. As a result the OS GUI designers have no way to predicting  thewallpaper color or image palette.

Fancy background colors can be very distracting. A logical move for designer would be to isolate a user form potentially distracting desktop environment so that they can focus on task on hand.  MS decides not to do that and  introduce transparent windows instead. On top of that they blur content underneath the window (making it very clear how hard it is to use a computer if you can’t find your glasses). Note that about a year ago Apple tried to introduce atransparent tiny bar on top of the screen and had to back down from making this feature optional due to user complains.

Transparent windows immediately great another problem. Blind window titles. Making them dark doesn’t make them readable on a dark background and white wouldn’t work on bright wallpaper. Many designers would say, “Hey! Something is wrong here. Let’s backup.”Instead Microsoft habitually chooses to apply a “patch” and so introduces a white glow around letters.

Incidentally, the need for patches is a sign of weak design structure and of logic flaws in the original design. Not only the GUI design. Any design in general (not to be confused with ”art”). Good design tends to achieve the maximum with the minimum. Any design is a structure or set of rules based on a certain logic — physical or abstract. For example we can look at a chair as a set of physical rules. If your design requires you to introduce a 5th leg and then in turn 2 small legs to support that 5th then you may want to start from the beginning and rethink the original concept. GUI design is no exception. OK, back to Windows issues.

Transparent on blur on transparent over blur

Windows7 GUI Transparent frames. Transparent on blur on transparent over blur

Not only is the user presented with information he or she doesn’t require but this information is also unusable. Why is it required for a user to see the text underneath a window coloured blued to the point of unreadabilty? If my wallpaper is colorful enough my windows will inherit the colors and will all look different, which violates the very core rule of consistency for similar elements.

Window Titles

Windows titles

Windows titles

The absence of windows titles is an equally strange decision. Window titles oddly position inside the main frames, which makes them potentially invisible if several windows are open. Try to understand what is the third window on the above image (the one above the clock).

Other Issues

Window footer

Window footer

Another issue worth mentioning is the window footer icon. I’m not sure why they need this icon there in the first place, but it is strange to have the footer height dictated by the icon size.

Active/inactive rules set in windows clearly don’t apply to widgets. They are in the background but  behave as active windows, with strong shadows and no faded colors.

Summarizing, it looks like Microsoft’s patching practice will also be applied to the GUI of upcoming Windows7. It also quite apparent that many visual effects have nothing to do with optimizing user experience and just follow the “rich” GUI trend.

To be continued…. (probably)

GUI Oops…

December 20, 2008

I generally ignore moderate GUI examples, but few days ago I run into something really unusual. Paid! is an accounting and invoicing database, which claims  to be ” SPECIFICALLY DESIGNED FOR for Graphic Artists, Directors of Photography, etc.”

The interesting thing about this app is that it violates almost every basic rule of User Interface design. It is definitely not designed to please designer’s eye. Icons are “borrowed” from different sources such as long-dead “BeOS”, Mac OS7, etc. They are not very appealing either.

Report Menu

Report Menu

Blind titles, random use of colors and a depressingly gray background make this a good example of what not to do designing UI.

The app definitely falls short of the clean UI of similar product like Billings. The price tag is also somewhat confusing. $79.95 vs. Billings  regular price of $59.99 (it is now available for $39.99)

Few useful text editing shortcuts (Mac OS X)

October 7, 2008

I came across few useful text editing shortcuts for Mac OS X @ www.ss64.com – a site dedicated to all kinds of applications/os syntax… 

Editing Text (email, TextEdit etc)

   ←       Move one word left
   →       Move one word right
   ←       Beginning of line
   →       End of line
            Scroll one page up (cursor retains position)
            Scroll one page down (cursor retains position)
           Move one page up  (reposition cursor)
          Move one page down
  ↑ or   Scroll to beginning of document
   ↓ or   Scroll to end of document

  Add shift key  to the above to also SELECT the text.

  ⌥ ⌫       Delete word  
   Del     Delete next word

   Scrollbar           Jump to exact scrollbar location
   Scrollbar arrows    Scroll page at a time (page up/down)
   Volume up/down      Open Sound preferences
   Brightness up/down  Open Display preferences

New Apple YouTube Channel

September 30, 2008

I couldn’t believe my eyes when I came across this new Apple Youtube Channel. Very much reminds me “MySpace take one”. Is that really an official Apple’s channel or just a fake? 

Adobe presentation of new Creative Suite 4 (CS4)

September 24, 2008

I have to say I’m very satisfied with Adobe presentation of new CS4. Here is few main reasons from usability standpoint:

  1. Adobe focused on workflow and user experience.
  2. They kept most of great Macromedia GUI innovations and greatly developed some of them further.
  3. FireWorks has become a full member of CS family. 
  4. PDF workflow is greatly improved and has become really usable comparing to previous versions. 
  5. Unified interfaces. 
  6. Great improvements usability of AI and ID tools. Now there is no need to go through few windows to change opacity or gradient for instance.  
  7. I generally like updates. Fresh wave in daily routine or interaction with the computer. :)

iTunes 8 and mysterious absence of song rating keyboard shortcut

September 16, 2008

I love iTunes. Have been using it since version 1 (or 2 – can’t remember) but certainly for a long time. At the beginning  I hesitated to switch to it completely  - my pal for a long time was Panic’s Audion. iTunes won. Since then it’s been my jukebox of choice. It keeps getting better and better. If sometimes I forget why I like it one look at MS Video Player gets me back on track. 

But there is one absolutely mysterious question I can’t find an answer to. There is no keyboard shortcut for song rating. I can pump up volume using keyboard. I can even put the iTunes window in the Dock (Command-M),  I can turn the visualizer on or off, I can do lots of very useful and not so useful things using keyboard shortcuts.  I  can even mute the sound while it keeps playing (!) - something which probably only a real iTune Pro would need.  ….. But I can’t rate a song! Instead I have catch my mouse, aim at the song, right click and then chose rating from a menu. 

I rate songs 10-15 times a day (well, I buy lot of music). I never even wondered what might be a shortcut for muting a song while it is playing…

I purchased CoverSutra ($22!!!) for this single feature. The app does many other not-so-needed tricks. It provides a descent user experience modestly sitting in the top bar and puts a nice CD cover image on my desktop.

 

So, I’m not upset. I rather curious why Apple, a company that spends so much efforts designing user experience and is a pioneer of user centered GUI design, would ignore this extremely useful feature?

Rogers Hijacks Web Browser forcing it’s customers to type complete domain names.

July 22, 2008

As of yesterday any Rogers ISP customer that types “apple” in Safari or FireFox toolbar is no longer getting to apple.com. Instead they get redirected to the following page that displays Rogers/Yahoo search results alone with commercial advertisement.

Despite obvious issues with Net Neutrality, Rogers brakes one of most usable features browsers provide that is auto completion of standard domain name extensions, such as .com or .net

Most of browsers but IE have been providing this extremely useful feature to their customers for years. I can’t even remember when i had to actually type in a domain extension. Only for international domains such as .ru, co.il, etc.

It is also interesting how Rogers implemented that. At the bottom of the page there is a link to more information. When clicked one gets an option to disable the page.

Rogers Cookie based implementation

Rogers Cookie based implementation

Rogers keeps cookie on your machine that prevents the page to be shown and makes it clear that if you happen to use any internet privacy app that cleans up the cookies you will see their search page again and again.

Another interesting thing is that even when you choose not to use their “option page” you sill won’t be able to just type apple and get to their page.  Instead “Page cannot be found” error displayed.

Page can't be displayed

Page can't be displayed

Summarizing: If you happen to be a happy Rogers Cable customer wave goodbye to a nice URL auto completion feature in all of your browsers until Rogers makes changes on their end…


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