Category Archives: Dev Tools

Merry Christmas 2007

Where the heck did this year go?

I hope you all are having a great evening with your families.

But looking at Twitter and at my feed reader I can tell that some of you are still up. Maybe wrapping presents. But probably trying to escape last-minute chores like me.

There are a few things, though, that came through my feed reader that’s interesting.

1. LeWeb3’s videos are now online. Right now I’m watching some sessions I missed including one by a Google employee talking about the Web’s impact on corporate culture.

2. Paul Stamatiou is wondering if it’s time to start an HD startup. Paul: be careful here. HD video is too hard to deal with from a workflow standpoint. It’s a lot time away from going mainstream and sites like SmugMug have the best idea — they charge their users to upload HD. Even then they only let 10 minutes be uploaded. There’s WAY too much competition in the video space, too. Did you miss all the funding spent on things like Kyte, Ustream, Operator 11, Justin.tv, Qik, and others? Think they aren’t watching HD trends? Not to mention the already-existing HD sites like stage6.divx.com. But that all said, HD will arrive sometime and if you do it right you might be the next YouTube.

3. Gizmodo has the coolest Christmas decorated cube video I’ve seen.

4. Man, Google Reader’s new sharing features have people up in arms about their privacy. I told a friend “what part of “public” did they not understand when they started sharing feeds? He answered back that the feeds were obfuscated, so there was an expectation of privacy. Wow. This is going to be a debate in the industry over and over. I can see both sides and am itching to blog more about this issue.

5. LifeHacker shared a new tool that I’m trying out: Toodledo. It’s a list to organize your tasks. For those of you who want to get organized.

6. I’ve put a ton of stuff up on my shared reader feed. Chuqui, nice photos! I really am getting a lot out of the people who’ve added me as a friend on GoogleTalk and are sharing feeds with me.

7. “You don’t know jack about how your eyes actually work.” That’s how this video, aimed at website designers and SEOs, starts out. I usually don’t pimp commercially-produced videos like this but I made an exception here for a few reasons:

    a. Andy Edmonds is the guy behind this. He’s one of the smartest people I met at Microsoft and now is head of technology here.
    b. Lots of my friends tell me that these guys helped them get more conversions.
    c. They show off how people read web sites based on eyetrack research. I learned a lot and their new tool, called Scrutinizer, is an interesting one to use to look at your Website’s design to see if you’ve really thought things through. I’m not sure I like the corny videos, though. It’s my job to watch this stuff so you don’t have to. Dang, I thought my videos are long and boring. Well, the first one actually had some good info about how your Website is probably poorly designed. Their tool is only for people who do Website design, though. Ryan Stewart will be happy, though, cause Andy Edmonds used Adobe’s AIR technology to build it.

Anyway, that’s enough for the day today. I’m off to get some sleep before hanging out with family and then heading to Shel Israel’s house where, if he isn’t nice to me I’ll broadcast his little Christmas party on my Qik channel live. Damn, I live Qik — most of the videos I put up there are total wastes of time, but I’m having a ball. I’m not the only one, by the way. Steve Garfield was at a party with Dan Bricklin, inventor of the spreadsheet, today and put that live on his Qik channel.

Well, live or not, Merry Christmas!

Starck reviews Kindle at LeWeb3

The famous designer Philippe Starck was at Le Web yesterday and, so, I wondered what he’d say about Amazon’s Kindle. It was interesting to me that he hadn’t seen it yet and he panned it in a way that I could never do with a straight face. Ended up saying “it’s almost modern.” Ouch.

Bruno Giussani has the details on what Stark said about the Kindle. He also keeps his reputation of taking the best notes at tech industry conferences that I’ve seen.

ognibeni uploaded this video of the Starck Kindle review.

Thank you to Adam Tinworth, who took the picture above and also has tons of other notes about his talk.

It’s fun that Starck doesn’t take himself too seriously. At one point he pointed out that Apple’s co-founder Steve Jobs +is+ a design genius and added that he only looks like a genius because he wore leather pants onto the stage.

Getting underneath design

Some cool videos about design. First Gizmodo linked to TED Videos (those things rock, you should watch them all) recording of Philippe Starck, famous designer.

Me? I got some interesting stuff with a company named “EffectiveUI.” Don’t know who they are? They designed some of the coolest Web apps out there, including ones for eBay and a host of other famous names. I did three separate videos with EffectiveUI.

1. Demo of the eBay app they built and a discussion of rich Internet applications.
2. An interview with senior developer, RJ Owen, about the design process.
3. An interview with the president of EffectiveUI, where I learn more about what EffectiveUI does and its approach to design. We also talk about Microsoft Silverlight vs. Adobe Flash/Flex/AIR.

[podtech content=http://media1.podtech.net/media/2007/12/PID_013157/Podtech_EffectiveUI_demo.flv&postURL=http://www.podtech.net/home/4690/beneath-great-user-experiences&totalTime=724000&breadcrumb=c1b4a8a5ff8749729ec71a419d0c2cfe]

Sparkle beta released

I’ve just been nutty busy lately. I got my email down to zero by the time I left for home at about 9 p.m. (was at work at 8:30 a.m. so long day). How high is my email flow? By the time I got home 25 minutes later my cell phone showed 10 new emails. Knock, knock, how do you make a blogger boring? Send him email!

Anyway, one of the four interviews I did yesterday (whew!) was with the Microsoft Interactive Designer team (aka Sparkle). Today they released a public beta so you can try it out for yourself! Here’s the video and links to the beta.

I was pretty harsh on the team. They have a long road ahead of them because Microsoft has not been seen as a good vendor in the design space. They answer that this tool enables a paradigm shift in how designers and developers will work together.

I did love that they used Flickr to build their demo. Yahoo will love that!

So, what do you think?

The cool new thing from Steve Jobs? Um, no…

Is this a preview of what’s coming later today from Steve Jobs? ;-) It’s ArtRage 2. The first one was only for the Tablet PC. The second one is for Mac and Windows. I hear it’s coming real soon. Hmmm, is Apple coming out with a Tablet? Using ArtRage with a normal mouse isn’t even close to as satisfying. I can’t wait to get my hands on this. I wonder if Larry Larsen is beta testing it (his gallery of ArtRage produced images is cool).

Anyway, I’m off to bed, just woke up in the middle of the night to see this.

RSS usability sucks

At the Blog Business Summit yesterday we discovered just how bad RSS usability sucks. Molly Holzschalg was on stage with me and visited a blog and was trying to find its RSS feed. She couldn’t find it. Why? Cause there’s no consistency in this industry on how to subscribe.

Some sites use RSS icons. Most that I visit use the orange XML icon. But other sites don’t have any icon and instead use words like “subscribe” or “feed” or “web feed.”

Even others, like many Blogger sites, don’t have any icon or word with a link at all. For those you’ve gotta know to simply add “atom.xml” onto the end of the URL. Aaaaarrrrrrgggggghhhhhhh.

And then there’s sites like Dare Obasanjo’s. He’s a geek. Works at MSN. But look at the right side of his blog. He has four DIFFERENT icons for RSS. One for Yahoo. One for MSN. One for Bloglines. One for Newsgator.

Oh, I bet Jakob Nielsen is screaming right about now.

Whenever I hit problems like this I ask myself “what would Jeffrey Zeldman do?” Or WWJZD for short. :-)

Why Jeffrey? He’s still leading the Web design movement forward and is my favorite writer and speaker on the topic.

I find his minimalistic answer unsatisfying. He puts a text link in very small type at the bottom of his page.

My advice? Stick with the orange XML icon. Why? It sticks out. If the page Molly was trying to deal with yesterday had one of those she would have found it instantly. The BBC’s answer is actually pretty good too. They went with an Orange RSS button and next to it have a link to “What is RSS.”

In fact, I think that’s really the best answer: “just do what the BBC does.”