October 2002

101 things that the Mozilla browser can do that IE cannot.

And this article on IE CSS bugs looks great.

Cashets Micropayments

Finally Micropayments system that looks decent.
  • First of all it has a credible person behind it, Michael Phillips the co founder of Mastercard.
  • The fee is reasonable at 1% with a 1c minimum.
  • Relatively simple implementation.
I think a good micropayment system could fundamentally change the Internet.

Personally I am much more likely to tip a small sum for an article I liked than subscribing to a service. Salon for example has articles that I would sometimes like to read but there are not enough of them to motivate the subscription fee.

I think there is a huge market for sub one dollar purchases. What I would call Micro Intellectual Property; Cartoons, Music articles clip art you name it.

This looks like the first credible attempt to fulfill that promise. But, there are also threats.

  • The way they have structured the system will make it tough to establish themselves as a standard. If we have 10 companies competing in this space I think it is dead. What we would need is something similar to swift but for micro payments.
  • I think they made a big mistake in launching without enough merchants. If there is nothing to buy where is the incentive to subscribe?
  • The user interface is still a little to time consuming for sub 25 cent transactions.
  • Microsoft has billions in the bank and controls the software; they could take a couple of billion and destroy anyone in this space.
I really hope that they make it and am already looking forward to how it could reshape the Internet. (via BoingBoing)

Web Application Usability

While researching Web Application Usability I bumped in to a couple of interesting resources I had not seen before:
  • Using Web widgets wisely Part 1 and Part 2 Some good general tips on using widgets
  • Web Application Design Handbook: Sadly the site suffers from major usability problems so I can't link to it straight go here and in the left frame click web book. The book itself is packed with information.
  • Usability Toolkit UI Test lab in a box, but the rest of the site also has a bunch of interesting stuff including a link to this resources on forms

Congratulations Isa and Greg!

Oups! I missed the arrival of the Alice on October 22. I bet Greg will be a fantastic daddy and will spoil Alice like crazy.

Press Freedom Index

Reporters without borders publish the first worldwide press freedom index. Somehow I was not that surprised that the US scores only 17th. I wonder how much this was due to commercial interests and pressure groups. I remember that during the last presidential election debacle I saw an interview with a french journalist that had found irregularities in the Florida ballot and had shared them with US journalist that never bothered to check them out. Probably due to some pressure from somewhere.

Eric Myer Stereotypes

Very cool make your own face interactive portrait galery

Internet Round 2.0

Just saw little snippet on Windley's weblog:
The problem with likening the dot-com boom to the 17th-century Dutch tulip insanity is that, now that the bust has come, many companies think they can go back to sleep. To them, the threat is over: Dot-coms did not generate a New Economy, they did not rewrite the rules of business, life as we know it did not end. The fear that any evanescent new idea would destroy the current mode of operating is past.Wrong. The challenge is not gone. It is just beginning.
It comes from this short article from context magazine that I had never heard of. It is too bad that it is so short, I would have liked to have seen more examples that are less obvious.

Apple switch in a Catch 22

Some conservative in the US is running a copy cat switch campaign. The problem is how should apple react to this. I think it is very difficult to claim copyright infringement (dubious) without seeming to take political sides. and if they don't react some other will think they are endorsing the candidate. Catch 22. via Cam

Patent stops diagnosis

I don't get gene patents. It is a little like somebody patenting an a word in an ancient script because they figured out what it means. Now we see in Canada that people may die because the of gene patents Via BoingBoing

IKEA Strategies

I have heard a lot of stories about IKEA strategies and even though this article does smell a little of PR it gives some very interesting insights on how the company is run. I love the part about optimizing designs for good palletizing.

One story that is not included in the article, for non vital products IKEA has a deal with factories where they buy factory dead time. This means that IKEA go to a factory that makes glasses and tell them: listen if you have holes in your order input we will buy that, but at cost. This makes factory happy because they don't need to put workers out of a job, and, it makes IKEA happy because they can buy stuff at production cost.

I also love this ad

Users Decide First; Move Second

Confirming what I long suspected users don't like DHTML menus.

Strategic usability: Partnering business, engineering and ease of use.

While updating my usability links I bumped in to this great UIWeb peice on how to move usability to a strategic level instead of a reactive tactical level.
... By focusing on the lab, the methods, or the data, an organization or team can fall into the trap of externalizing ease of use. For change to take place, and better designed websites or products to occur, the attitudes and philosophies of usability and design must be internalized by everyone that makes decisions that effect the final design...

Pox Americana

John Perry Barlow does it again. Ages ago I read his landmark "The Economy of Ideas" and it really shook me. Now he does it again with this Pax Americana Piece.
I believe that the American Republic died in the U.S. Senate last Thursday morning and was buried yesterday morning in the East Room of the White House.

Despite a deluge of calls, letters, and e-mails, which Capital Hill staffers admitted ran overwhelmingly against the ludicrously-named "Resolution Authorizing the President to Use Force, if Necessary, to End the Threat to World Peace from Saddam Hussein's Weapons of Mass Destruction," Congress extended to George II the authority to make unlimited and preemptive war against another nation that has neither attacked us nor shown the ability or inclination to do so.

He goes on to discuss how the Internet aspect of this mess.
The Internet, has, as expected, provided a global podium to everyone with an opinion. Cyberspace has become an infinite set of street corners, each with its lonely pamphleteer, howling his rage to a multitude all too busy howling their own to listen. All of our energy goes into things like this BarlowSpam, energies that might be better spent in creating traditional blocs like the NRA, or the AARP, or some large group capable of either buying Congress or scaring the shit out of them. This screed won't scare an elected official anywhere. And it wouldn't generate enough money to elect or defeat a dogcatcher. As much as I loathe organizations, we need to organize.
Here is the key problem. How to quickly organize around issues to make a difference using the Internet? It must be possible.

Comments on e-billing

Cool! Mitch published my email comments on his earlier e-billing post. Re-reading it I realize that I should have corrected it before sending it off. Well I guess my writing skills support my Exercizing Dyslexia tagline ;-). When I first set up my site one of the objectives was to use as a way to exorcise my dyslexia. Today the problem is not that much the dyslexia itself, spell checkers catch most of those problems. No my problem is that the French school system put so much emphasis on spelling that it put me off writing completely. I still struggle a lot with building coherent phrases. Having said that I have never really suffered from having dyslexia. It might even have been a benefit, But more on that another time.

Google User Experience.

Having been a great fan of the simple Google interface since it's inception. This goodexperience.com interview with Marissa Mayer from Google shows that a lot of thinking goes in to simplicity.
All of us on the UI team think the value of Google is in not being cluttered, in offering a great user experience. I like to say that Google should be "what you want, when you want it." As opposed to "everything you could ever want, even when you don't."
Lots of good stuff in the interview worth thinking about.

Microsoft and the weblogs.

Mitch Ratcliffe points out that there may be ethical issues with Microsoft inviting bloggers to product briefings. What amazes me is that MS understands that there are opinion leaders worth exploiting in the blogsphere. I wonder how long it will take for rest of the world to realize how important this space is.

Think DRM is a small issue? Think again.

I was completely blown away by the deep consequences Digital Rights Management could have on the Internet. You can actually see the sometimes very funny O'Reilly session in quicktime or listen to it in MP3.

Gartner's ten predictions on enterprise businesses

Dan Farber reports on the ten predictions from the Gartner Symposium. The predictions don't seem earth shattering but Mitch Ratclifs comments were a little more interesting.

Weblog covering EU stuff

Today I went to give a talk about what is going on on the Internet to some people at the European Commission. Of course one of the items was weblogs. So I wanted to find a couple that specialized in EU issues. I tried every query I could think of in Google without success. I can't imagine that there is none. So if you have bumped into one, please let me know.

Jeff Bezos

Every time I see an interview with Jeff Bezos I am always impressed by his calm demeanor and smarts. But Jean-Pierre discovered that they do seem a little disconnected from world realities. When he last ordered books from amazon.co.uk he got this in his confirmation mail:
TOTAL DUE:       74.68 GBP       BEF 4728,85
Somehow they have not figured out that the rest of Europe has converted to the Euro since almost a full year!

A Jaguar tip a day keeps...

Ken Bereskin has a very cool weblog where he highlights a new feature of Jaguar each day Here is the first one if like me you want to explore the whole list.

The end of meta tags

For the wide web I think Andrew Goodman is essentially right in his declaration of the end of meta tags. With the advent of Google everything changed, but that still leaves the internal search engine of the organization. In this case I think meta tags can be very helpful in catching relevant pages. However, the question may be, is it worth the effort?