November 2002

The great OSX finder debate

I can relate to a lot of the points in the OSX finder debate, I also agree that the finder still needs a lot of work before it reaches OS9 usability levels.

this comment by Jonathan Crowe sums up the reason why the switchers can not understand all the fuss from old OS9 users.

...I have no problems with the OS X Finder — and, to be quite honest, I don’t use it that much. I don’t push files around that often, and when I do, I tend to use the file for quite some time, or access the file from within the application...
The problem here is that for most OS9 users the finder was not a file manager but rather the interface to their documents. For example I never use the open dialog in an application but rather find it a lot faster to switch to the finders spacial navigation and there either double click or drag and drop the document I want to open. In my opinion the open dialog is just interface cruft.

The problem with OSX is that three very important elements that made this very efficient in OS9 are no longer there in OSX.

  • File Type Metadata This makes it clear what application can open what document.
  • Spacial memory in the finder. One of the reasons it is much more efficient to switch to the finder when you open a document is because you know where you put in spacial sense of the word.
  • Tabbed Windows What can I say, I loved them, my dock is even to the right aligned in the hope that they will one day come back.
Having said this, I love OSX and would never go back to OS9. I just hope we end up getting the same attention to detail we had in OS9.

Third Culture Kids

Oh boy, can I identify with this article.
Between "Third Culture Kids" there is an inexplicable link that is difficult to describe. Often I have been introduced to someone with whom I immediately bonded, only to learn later that the person had also grown up overseas. We relate to our shared "Third Culture" better than to our parents' culture (the first) or that of our host country (the second). What is surprising is that someone who grew up in a mission in Africa shares the same "third culture" as a diplomat's child who grew up in Guatemala.
I think this applies to many of my friends. I also wonder if the reason I love Brussels is that it's a third culture city.

Is Jacob Nielsen getting soft?

This article on Flash Usability by Jacob marks a softening tone from him on Flash, could it be because Macromedia is a client or is it just because he realizes there are things that are more suited to Flash. Talking about flash this HTML vs. Flash usability test is very interesting.

Ashcroft turns against his own values.

John Ashcroft in this note titled "Keep big brother's hand of the Internet" complained that Clinton was turning the Internet an Orwellian system to track digital information. He must have forgotten because what he is doing right now can perfectly be described as Orwelian.

Calling of the copyright war.

Another interesting piece on copyright law. What I don't understand is that in a world where corporations plan more and more short term, almost living from one quarter to the next, how will extending copyright law to a century encourage creativity? More on copyright.

The Aeron Chair Sucks.

Make sure you check out the movie illustrating the rock-hard waterfall front edge! And to think I was jealous of my Areon wielding friends! I guess this means I can safely continue aspiring to the Håg Capisco.

Catch Up

I have had visitors and lots of work so here is a little catch up post:

Finally People may be able to understand the PVR advantage. Reading the ars technica piece I wonder if MS did not miss the boat with the Xbox. If you look at the specs of the Xbox it seems they could just have added a TV tunner and they would have had a PVR. The DVD player feature of the PlayStation is maybe not a big selling feature but it is a good buying excuse.

Some good thoughts on RSS here

Chimera tricks

Some good ideas Web Design Tips (thanks Xavier)

When good interfaces go crufty

Great article about how old design decisions stick around past their due date. I finally learned why the the windows contextual menu behaves in such a stupid way. The article also gave me an idea for an minor interface improvement in Mac OSX. I stopped using the open menu ages ago but still end up using the open recent sometimes. But what if the dock contextual menu could take care of that. In a way it would be much more logical. If open the contextual menu on a docked application that is not running I get the most recent documents and can then launch the application with the right document. If the application is already running I get open documents and recent documents. This means I don't need to know if the app is running and still get the functionality I want. (via StudioLog)

Are weblogs legitimate business tools?

Mark Hurst seems to be out to deflate the weblog bubble. He is right when they are portrayed as panacea but I think he goes too far when he claims they don't serve a legitimate business purpose.

The mistake he is doing is mixing up his arguments. On the one hand he talks about the weblog phenomenon and on the other the weblog site device.

As a device the weblog is used to present the news in most sites, just take a look here: Apple, IBM or Nokia. The Apple example is particularly good since it points to both internal and external features.

If one looks at the weblog phenomenon, sure there are lots of people that publish rubbish. (Many will consider my site to be rubbish) But that goes for the use of any technology. There are lots of people that have camcorders that produce junk but should not take away from their fun. The interesting thing with the weblog phenomenon is that.

He is also looking at at weblogs in a binary way:

There's nothing inherent in blog technology that will transform a business. A page of online posts, sorted reverse chronologically, just doesn't by itself change a corporation. If anything, the blog is inherently less effective than a more popular tool that companies have used for years: the e-mail newsletter.
The problem here is that no one is suggesting weblogs should replace an email newsletter. But one should not forget the inherent advantage the weblog has over the email newsletter. It is indexed by the search engines. Other sites can link to it and even cross reference. You can publish things that do not necessarily warrant a newsletter. And let's not forget that with RSS News Readers people can get the functional equivalent of a mail in there inbox. (Via Ratcliff)

Reasons ease of use doesn't happen on engineering projects

Another excellent article from UIWeb. I love the fact that he points out that compassion is a necessary skill. I would have used empathy but compassion is actually more powerful. (via Tomalak's)


Harder and stronger than titanium, at 400°C. LiquidMetal can be molded like plastic

Instant Runoff Voting

It looks like instant runoff voting may be gaining ground in the US. Ever since I first hear that about it's use in Australia I liked the system. It tends to makes tactical voting useless and the elected more centrist. It also allows the voters to send strong messages since they don't need to bother with tactical voting. The UK for example seems to suffer from chronic tactical voting with the liberals squished out each time there is a national election. In the US, Bush Probably would not have been president had it used IRV. In France I doubt Chirac would have won. If you are curious about the system you can check out this Flash Presentation that explains the process.
There is more on the math of voting.

Standard Instant Messaging.

Finally instant messaging can become a viable platform. The Internet Engineering Task Force has selected the Extensible Messaging and Presence Protocol (XMPP) a supper set of the Jabber Protocol as a base for a new standard. If we are really lucky we may even se the end of the stupid market share battle between Microsoft, Yahoo and AOL Time Warner.