Today I was skimming the BayCHI job list as usual, marveling at the ever increasing number of positions in Interaction Design out there in Software Heaven, and I noticed a weird one at Yahoo: "Design Communicator." This is a job category created at Cooper Interaction Design, Alan Cooper's famous consulting firm. I decided I couldn't go on vacation wondering if Alan Cooper is in charge at Yahoo (not that there's anything wrong with him!), so I found the press announcement. All is well, it's not Alan, it's Larry Tesler, and it's a good thing: Yahoo! Media Relations: Yahoo Appoints Larry Tesler Head of User Experience and Design. I especially like the fact that he has that R&D history and plans to play a role in Yahoo R&D as well.
Saturday, May 28, 2005
Friday, May 27, 2005
The Paris photos include a few Misstic's among them, but fewer than I expected. Here are a few of my pictures of her work from when I lived near her territory of markup. I hope I find a few more in the next week while I'm over there.
Thursday, May 26, 2005
I especially recommend playing with the Contrail for the feeling it gives you, and it's worth checking out the challenging Document Icons, which is ambitious and possibly a little complex; but it's definitely pretty.
Wednesday, May 25, 2005
What does text adventure gaming have to do with information visualization? That's what makes Martin so brilliant.
Monday, May 23, 2005
(Note: you don't need the language pack install to use it. Just say no.)
Sunday, May 22, 2005
Saturday, May 21, 2005
My favorite quote: "Maybe Prairie Schooner would take it if I made the Humanities professors into lesbians. Christ, I'm such a hack."
Tuesday, May 17, 2005
In future, I'll be writing those specs myself, if I have to; but I'm not going through this again.
Friday, May 13, 2005
'Oddball Rodent' Is Called New to Science (NY Times): "To find something so distinct in this day and age is just extraordinary," said Dr. Robert J. Timmins of the Wildlife Conservation Society, one of the discoverers. "For all we know, this could be the last remaining mammal family left to be discovered."
And then there are the giant gerbils of China:
Giant gerbils infest China (BBC News, 2003): The Great Gerbil found in many parts of Central Asia can be up to 400 millimetres (16 inches) long from head to tail...Officials say the gerbils have damaged more than 4m hectares (11m acres) of grassland - about the size of Switzerland. Authorities are trying to combat the gerbils, not only by using poison, but also by breeding eagles to devour them.
I think they should be exported as pets. I want one. They could take my cats, no problem. Giant gerbil-eating eagles sound like a real concern to me, though.
In other genetic breeding news, mice will soon be immortal. We will then need immortal cats to take care of THEM, which certainly works for me.
And finally, still in the transgenic pet category, in my bio class we discussed the glow-in-the-dark bunny, a rabbit genetically altered by jellyfish DNA. I'm a little disturbed to find out it's an "art" project, if this guy's web page is the right spot for this story. On the other hand, an art project has better chance of getting the moral issues into the minds of voters than a lab experiment does, which my biology teacher is always concerned about.
Thursday, May 12, 2005
Marc Davis worked at Interval, where I met him when I did a talk during grad school about television fan video editing. The subject he works on that's closest to my heart is technology to make it easier to edit video and film footage. His paper "Editing Out Video Editing" in IEEE MultiMedia points out that nearly everyone consumes digital video/film, but almost no one makes it or edits it, because the barriers are quite high. (The acknowledgements list on that paper includes a lot of people I know from various diverse places: MIT cultural studies, someone who once interviewed at TiVo, research folks, friends of friends from research-- how small the Bay Area is.)
Here's his list of pubs: Garage Cinema Research Group, Publications.
Wednesday, May 11, 2005
Two years ago, I responded to an online LiveJournal survey conducted by Intel Research that seemed to be exploring exactly this application arena -- under what conditions would you want to be notified of the geographical proximity of someone on your LJ friends list? Would they have to be someone you knew already? How many degrees of separation would be acceptable before you weren't interested or wouldn't want to divulge your own location? (Not being terrifically face-to-face extroverted, my threshold was quite low for this.)
For some reason, Dodgeball seems very "New York" to me; I wonder how successful it is.
Monday, May 09, 2005
Creswell rock art dated: "The dates indicate the stalagmite in Church Hole -- which contains most of the engravings -- formed 12,800 years ago. The results establish once and for all the authenticity and Ice-Age antiquity of the rock art, and make it the oldest known in Britain. Artefacts left by Ice-Age hunter-gathers excavated from Creswell's caves have been dated to 13,000-15,000 years old. The new results indicate the art was probably left by the groups of people who made these artefacts. During this cold period the polar ice caps were much larger than today, resulting in considerably lower sea levels. Due to this, much of the North Sea was dry land -- a vast plain with hills and lakes -- on which it seems small groups of highly mobile hunter-gatherers were living. Archaeologists think that these groups would visit Creswell and other sites in Britain in the Spring to exploit horses, reindeer and arctic hare for their meat, hides and fur. Similar rock art left by these groups had been discovered in France and Germany, but none had been found in Britain until recently. The new dates demonstrate that the groups reaching Britain had the same artistic traditions as their European counterparts. "
Sunday, May 08, 2005
Read about My Summer Vacation in Siberia.
Thursday, May 05, 2005
The 2 projects I spent the most time on have major marketing bullets; they represented 2 of the concerns registered by our users in a large market research effort before we embarked on design: Color Consistency and PDF Consistency. Reading the press, it looks like the teams delivered what we had agreed on when I left; there are no nasty feature cuts apparent. Given how rocky the initial stages were -- getting all those cross-product teams to collaborate, no overseeing engineering director for months, difficulty defining process and team collaboration over long-distance-- this is a major triumph in itself.
The Color Management UI even looks much like what I had designed, even down to a problem in one dialog that I worried about but they apparently didn't fix.
In this dialog, the selection mechanism -- the listbox of settings -- behaves as both the mechanism for choice and the "display" of the current setting. This is risky, because if you change your choice, but don't hit "apply," you don't know which setting is shared across the apps. And the "current" setting has to be in view at all times. I don't have any clue what that big "Show Saved Color Settings Files" button is for -- that wasn't in the original designs. I imagine it's there to fix some problem, like providing a mechanism for adding items to the listbox? -- but I can't tell from here.
I really like the color settings icon, though. Quite excellent. And the many risky features we were going out on a limb with are in there, as planned, like color management being "on" by default, to ensure visual consistency across the applications. The shared swatch problem was a profound one, too, with major problems blocking us as I left (e.g., it's not obvious how to solve this when some apps are built knowing only about pixels, and have no objects on the page, and others have structured art content). I don't know how well it all works, of course, and will stay tuned for more review details on that front.
PDF presets are getting less "splash" in the reviews, but it's going to be a big consistency win for users in day-to-day publishing workflows. PDF is inherently difficult to understand, as it's a technical standard, but at least the consistent UI will make it easier for prepress houses to tell customers what to choose when they save files.
In the reviews I read so far of the Suite as a whole, Photoshop is getting the most attention, with InDesign second. The most interesting aspect of this is that PS's new features aren't things I knew about. The big debate topic was a feature to support menu customization, on the theory that users were overloaded by features and would like to "turn off" some items. I found some articles suggesting only power users do this, but the research was a bit equivocal and hard to apply. The UI team in general was dubious about this, but the marketing folks were adamant and convinced engineering, I believe. This is now a feature bullet that's almost nowhere to be found in the press -- it's not gone (I found it in one place) so I assume it didn't test well or wasn't deemed salesworthy copy by the end of the development cycle.
All of this is speculation, of course.
Wednesday, May 04, 2005
Monday, May 02, 2005
This is the InfoVis 2005 Contest Call for Entries (due July 15); this is the description of the dataset and tasks for this year. For example:
1. Characterize correlations or other patterns among two or more variables in the data. For example:
What products lead to growth in other products or industries? What contributes to companies moving, and what characterizes the moves?
2. Characterize clusters of products, industries, sales, regions, and/or companies. For example:
What geographical areas developed in a similar manner or have similar characteristics? What product combinations tend to be produced by a company, or in a region?