Saturday, November 16, 2002

Virgina Postrel on user experience: Virginia was the editor of Reason magazine for many years, and is now an author and blogger. In this interview with the American Graphics Institute she talks mostly about how general design affects the user experience, but the ideas apply to design of web publications and applications as well. The ideas reinforce those of the DevCon keynote from Rob Burgess. "I think that design is only going to be more important. Good design will be required to even play the game. There has been a lot of innovation in the past decade, but there is still a lot of room for improvement... the pressures are towards personalization. People want more choice."

Friday, November 15, 2002

Manhattan camera locations: Maps of (public? private?) public-facing cameras in various parts of Manhattan, from the Surveillance Camera Players. The front page has links to similar groups in Tempe, Bologna, Stockholm and Vilnius. I realize there will be pressure from some to put a Prohibition on this technology, but I haven't seen those work... easier to acknowledge that there are now tiny cameras, and make those paid for with tax money available to the people who paid for them. At some point there will be swarms of tiny flying cameras each with their own IP address, and if you outlaw such gnatcams, then only outlaws will have gnatcams.... ;-)
[via Reason, print]
iSeePet: More telepresence via web-based effectors... "Watch and feed my lovely pet at any time, any place." A container dispenses water and food under your remote control, and you can watch your pet via included webcam. The site itself is browser-specific (better info in CNET article below), but I see this as part of a trend... being able to learn and do things at a distance.
[via CNET]
Protein Data Bank visualization: I had seen this before, but gave another look to it today in response to a visualization request... CanDo Multimedia uses the Shockwave Player for realtime 3D rendering of the Protein Data Bank. It's really an awesome example of how realtime visualization can make complex data far more accessible.

Thursday, November 14, 2002

Spam solution? This profile at the Wall Street Journal sparked something for me... suppose I saved my spam each week, then did a mass reply saying "Where's my order? You said you would ship it but I haven't gotten it yet." That would force each of them to spend a good amount of time figuring I was a bogus email. (In other words, although spammers may spoof "reply-to" addresses, they've got to have some type of real contact to sell whatever it is they're selling. It shouldn't be too expensive to make it more expensive for them to do business...?)
SAMSUNG_MEANS_TO_COME: Wow, excellent art piece in Flash... just text keyed to music, but done well. (Insert "sexual content" warning here.) Like Eddie Jefferson, but in Flash instead of vocalese? I don't know who's playing "Caravan" here, but it's a nice handling of the audio too.
[via Jeff Jarvis]
Delta airlines gate display: Jon Udell describes how an airline improves service by making more information available to more decisionmakers. This is what we're doing with rich internet applications... getting out of the way so people can do things themselves.
Update: LIFT for Dreamweaver: New 1.4 version does more W3C testing and increases preview options. Free for registered customers.
[via MacCentral] Subtitled "Tools for Macromedia Flash", this is a collection of utilities for compressing/optimization, extracting, navigation, screen capture, audio/video, conversion, more. I haven't dug into it yet, but picked up the link this morning from Guy Watson.

Wednesday, November 13, 2002

Macromedia: Security Zone: Just a reminder here that this Security Center has the latest info on any security-related topics with the Macromedia tools. (If you come across any other concerns then alerting us directly is appreciated, thanks.)
MSNBC on Iraq inspections: This is another interesting infographic by their group. I could be wrong, but it looks like the the first segment is an audio stream combined with manipulation of a series of photos... they do zooms and fades of bitmaps, composited on the client machine, and so don't have the bandwidth costs of sending every frame of a video segment. They're getting a TV-like experience, but with web-like costs... cool. (The second segment offers some interactivity as you can choose among topics, and a text feed accompanies the audio feed.)
Bluetooth-enabled briefcase: Speaking of embedded connectivity (see below), this Samsonite briefcase now offers wireless technology. It can be used for storage and backup while travelling, although the most immediate gain may be as security against theft or loss. The world is getting wired together....
[via Gizmodo]
More effectors: At Comdex, Bill Gates will apparently show a set of everyday devices, complete with processors, IP addresses, and connectivity. Just as more computers are getting connected, and processing power migrates down into ever-smaller devices, we're also seeing an increase in sensors (webcams, satellite data, GPS info) and effectors (appliances, motors, things which actually do something). In the middle we'll have an increased need for software-driven interfaces, often tailored to a particular sub-audience, so that you can do more with this increased information about the world.
Problem-solving tool: Can't imagine a solution? Spend a few minutes at Found Magazine... look through the photos, the notes people have found in odd places... try to imagine the context behind each. Stimulates imagination, also lets your particular problem work in the background.
[via Boing-Boing]
Lane Becker on web apps: Key concept: Reduce costs by getting out of the way, letting people do things directly, control their own information. Things to watch out for: make sure customers actually want to do this work; design for the web, redesigning desktop apps if necessary; speak in the user's language, not the maker's language; adoption can take time; don't quite your day job.
[via Peter Merholz]
Macromedia Forums downtime today: At 5pm PST the newsgroups and webforums will be offline for about two hours. Sorry about the interruption... apparently all this "newfangled computer technology" thing ain't quite there yet.... ;-)

Tuesday, November 12, 2002

PayPal for Flash: Available at the Macromedia Exchange... look at "Newest Extensions" or search for "PayPal". Seems like this would make it much, much easier to make commerce apps, because the backend and the interface to the backend are already set up for you.
Light blogging today: I'm busy reading reaction to Macromedia Contribute. I'm seeing a surprisingly large flush of interest from people making database applications -- although Contribute targets files on servers, I get the sense that people storing in databases are in need of an approachable UI to content contribution too. Anyway, I'm reading and trying to digest today, and so will be behind on news here, sorry.

Monday, November 11, 2002

Google Ultimate Interface: Google usually presents a very simple UI, with an advanced search page too, but there are also various text pages with more qualifiers. You can find these in a UI at FaganFinder... that "Google2" interface works in my Mozilla, and there's apparently another UI that takes advantage of IE/Win. There's an earlier iteration here, with more text. (Google's great, but different engines have different ranges and rankings... in a difficult search, try a variety of engines or metasearch engines.)
MacCentral comments: Cool, they get it... " Web publishing had moved beyond mere mortals...This is potentially the killer app. The power of the most successful web authoring environment made accessible." and "Cool, we can outsource the work to the clients! Ha! I would much rather be coding php/mySQL and let them make the basic changes." Sometimes I get too close to see the forest for the trees, but it's great confirmation that the first wave of comments picked up on the basic advantage we're trying to pursue here. (For other questions in that column: there's simple file-checking to prevent overwrites; yes, a CMS can do similar things but this is easier, cheaper, and more flexible; yes, this release updates files on servers rather than content in databases.)
Discuss social aspects of Contribute here: In a column today I noted that, beyond the obvious business benefits of Contribute, we might also see new social benefits, as groups discover new ways to collaborate on a website. This is still hazy for me, though, and I'd appreciate anything that you foresee in this area... just drop a note in the "Comments" section here, thanks!

Sunday, November 10, 2002

Macromedia Contribute: Trial version now available. Many resources already available in DesDev. I have a feeling this will be a very signficant advance, not only for web producers, but also for web users. Special thanks to the beta team on this one, also to the Contribute team for doing extensive user testing, and to the many people who have already created implementations and resources for this new tool. Have fun! 8)