Archive for the ‘User Interface and Usability’ Category

Americana 2013

January 26, 2013
Green Robot - Tomo Hotel

Green Robot – Tomo Hotel,

  • I like Hotel Tomo, cute Japanese design makes a lot of difference.
  • Going green. Why do American hotels provide 9 (as in  3*3, 4+5, 99/11) pillows for a single guest?  And then they ask me not to replace the towels everyday.
  • Continental was bought by United. No major difference. Upgrading to business is now $600 instead of $500. All the rest is the same.
Snowy Boston

Snowy Boston

  • I’m not a virgin for Virgin anymore. First time flight from Boston to San Francisco. The only difference is that the crew is much more beautiful. Old fashioned stewardesses (meaning young and good looking ).
  •  FaceTime is amazing. High quality video calls with family and 10 months old kid. Mac to iPhone, iPhone to iPhone and Mac to iPad.
  • The Windows store in Palo Alto mall is quite empty. It is three times bigger the the Apple store and has 25% people in it. The Sony store is somewhere in between.
Apple Store,Stanford Mall

Apple Store,Stanford Mall

Empty Windows Store,Stanford Mall

Empty Windows Store,Stanford Mall

  • The new Windows 8 Laptops\Tablets from Sony and Microsoft are actually pretty nice, at a glance. The touch screen + Keyboard make a good combination and offers an interesting alternative to iPad. The price point is why they would probably fail.
  • iPad mini is even better than Ipad. Better form factor.
San Francisco, Fillmore and Broadway

San Francisco, Fillmore and Broadway

  • Go Wireless! I physically broke three cables and adapters this trip. The American plugs are always loose and the Mac power adapter is quite heavy 😦
  • In the “Cheese Cake Factory” choose the classic Cheesecake. Don’t be tempted for three layers of chocolate.
  • Could not see a big difference in 4K pixels TV. Probably need newer movies.
Granola in Boston

Granola in Boston

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Samsung SmartTV – Building the Hope for Apple’s TV

November 24, 2012

Samsung  Smart TV

I just bought a new Samsung 46″ LED SmartTV and I’m very happy.Still waiting for the real smart Apple TV, though.

The “Smart” part shows the great potential the internet+TV combo has, but it seems we will have to wait for Apple to “Get it Right”.

One thing I learned is that the TV is much better for consuming content like videos and songs on Vimeo and YouTube.

The TV comes with a wireless internet connection, integrated browser, Application store and VOD service.

The things I liked :

  • Price of about $1200 including installation+delivery+ wireless + wall mount+ Israeli VAT of 17% (we have wars to finance)
  • The non smart TV functionality is great – colors, lightening , connectors , etc
  • Installation was very straight forward. More of an appliance style than computer style
  • Having an alternate VOD with an excellent quality really shows the promise of breaking the tie of content and infrastructure providers.
  • Comprehensive localization in the configuration and VOD content as well
  • Vimeo is a great web site with an excellent app and high quality content
  • It was fun the watch the War on Channel 10 and Ynet at the same time with PIP (Picture in Picture). Well , the war was not really fun, but you see what I mean.
Facebook App Download on Samsung Smart TV

Facebook App Download on Samsung Smart TV

The reasons why we need Apple iTV for are:

  • Browser runs “Out of Memory” for the majority of web sites
  • No way to change the home page from “Bing”
  • Keyboard entry is extremely slow, unless you buy the wireless keyboard
  • Auto Updates are cool, but why don’t they happen in the background
  • Auto Updates are too frequent , almost every day
  • Integration with Google,Facebook,Picasa and online identity  is quite hard. Entering my password was quite a nightmare.
  • YouTube is full of much junk and songs get stuck frequently
  • No “Ad-Blocking” for the browser and pop-up windows consume the main screen
  • The iPad remote control is not working on iOS6 (and I did not get it to work on ios5 either)
  • Samsung online registration is  as bad as Nokia’s PC software used to be. Early warning signs 😦
Vimeo on Samsung Smart TV

Vimeo on Samsung Smart TV

Google Music – Quick Review

November 17, 2011
  • Sign up and activation was extremely easy few clicks away from Google Plus and it’s done (did not do credit card part yet )
  • I tried a hard Artist to start with “The Only Ones” a fun a little known sub-punk group
  • Google Music has only two albums compared to three albums in Rhapsody
  • The interface of Google Music is cleaner but Rhapsody has nice features like “Artist Radio” which plays an automatic mi

    Google Music Review - The Only Ones

    Google Music Review - The Only Ones

Rhapsody and Google Music The Only Ones

Rhapsody and Google Music The Only Ones

  • The streaming in Google Plus seems to be faster to start
  • Searching for Red Hot Chilly Peppers are actually produced better results for Google. RHCP is a hard band since they don;t allow most of their albums on steaming services.
  • With Pearl Jam Rhapsody is a great winner. Google Music only holds 13 albums and Rhapsody has over 40 ! Almost every recording they ever did, including PJ20, The Latest.
  • Pricing on Rhapsody seems much more attractive to me. for <$15 a month there is endless streaming. Could not locate this option in Google Music Yet. Buying Songs one by one is so iTunes. Possession is so 1990’s.

Now in Video: Spec Master, The Hidden Product Manager

March 24, 2011

I played a bit with GoAnimate to create an animated version of Spec Master: The Hidden Product Manager Role blog post.
Fun stuff, and it helps your brain to avoid reading.

The Big Red Button of Product Management

February 25, 2011
A Big Red button

Image via Wikipedia

A fictional dialog between an investor and a product manager:

Investor: Why isn’t our user interface as simple as Google or Twitter or DropBox?

Product Manager: Did you have a chance to login into our application lately?

Investor: Never. But I really want us to have just one single button, so anyone can use it.

Product Manager: You do know we are constructing nuclear weapons? (Drum Roll)

The B28 Type Thermonuclear Bomb

The B28 Type Thermonuclear Bomb

Product Management Case Study – The Yogurt

February 14, 2011

One of the hardest problems in product management is choosing the right defaults.

The cowards let the users see all the options and confuse them to death.

Yogurt from Iceberg Tel Aviv Without Proper Defaults

Yogurt from Iceberg Tel Aviv Without Proper Defaults

Iceberg has one of the best ice cream  shops in Tel Aviv, and maybe in the world. Their Yogurt combination provides a wonderful mixture of honey, granola, slightly sour yogurt and fresh fruit in a very affordable price (22NIS).

I had the Yogurt deal( “Yogo”) In their original location on Ben Yehuda street on many occasions.

Yesterday I tried to get the same deal in their Ibn Gvirol franchise.

To my horror, the clerk asked me “what do you want in the yogurt?” and offered 20 different options – candies, walnuts, almonds, chocolate and so forth.

I do not know what I want. If I were to choose I would take all candies, and the result would be horrible.

Please make the right decision and mix for me. I can’t make such decisions on an empty stomach.

The Internet is just starting – Google Art Project

February 7, 2011

The Internet is just starting. New amazing ideas are  still popping up every day. During my last visit to Amsterdam the Rijksmuseum was partially closed. Now I can tour it virtually with Google’s Art Project . This is really cool.  The resolution is amazing, so smallest details are visible.

Guess where is this picture from?

Night Watch Sample From Google Art

Night Watch Sample From Google Art

Right, this is the right nostril of Captain Frans Banning Cocq from Night Watch, by Rembrandt Harmensz. van Rijn.

And here is an eye opening close up.

Night Watch Eye Sample From Google Art

Night Watch Eye Sample From Google Art

And here is how it was done

Enhance Your User Exprience – Visual Attention Service

February 5, 2011

3M Offers a great tool to find the best User Interface for your application. In less than five minute it analyzes the attention attractiveness of a web application.

The score indicates the probability that each area of interest would get attention in the first 3-5 seconds.

CloudShare ProPlus Screen Area Of Interest Visual Attention Service

Visual Attention Service - CloudShare ProPlus Screen Area Of Interest

Here is an Example of Original CloudShare ProPlus Screen.

CloudShare ProPlus Screen Original

CloudShare ProPlus Screen Original Screen

Heatmaps highlight areas of the image that are likely to get attention in the first 3-5 seconds.

See how the feedback button(lower right corner)  gets a lot of attention, but the Upgrade button (top right corner) does not.

CloudShare ProPlus Screen Heatmap Visual Attention Service

CloudShare ProPlus Screen Heatmap Visual Attention Service

And a similar discrete view.

CloudShare ProPlus Screen Regions Visual Attention Service

CloudShare ProPlus Screen Regions Visual Attention Service

To try if for your own application or design:

1. Take a screenshot of your application(full screen, high resolution).

2. Sign Up for 3M https://vas.3m.com/.  Activate by email.

3. Upload your screenshot. Select “Web Application” under Type.

4. Mark important functional areas that you want to compare(optional)

5. Press “Analyze”.

The results are fast and simple to understand and downloadable as PDF.

While attention studies have their limitations and cannot be used as the only usability parameter, they can be quite useful.

The service is not cheap ($12-$20 per picture), but you can try five pictures for free. Moreover, It can save hours of stupid arguments between product managers, developers, designers and even VP’s of Marketing.

p.s – it runs on Azure.

Is packaged software dead? and how to lose weight with no diet

July 30, 2010

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Many have predicted that packaged software days are over. Gmail will kill outlook, Salesforce.com would abolish Siebel etc.

This week I had a chance to test the theory as I had to install a new laptop from scratch, moving to windows 7.

BTW, does anyone remember how SUN re-branded Solaris 2.7 to Solaris 7 just to compete with Windows NT 5 (which was re-branded Win 2000) ?

Surprisingly , I’m still using a ton of packaged software.Yes, these old-fashioned exe\zip\tgz files that used to come in ARJ format on multiple 1.2 diskettes.

However, about half of the software is used to either connect to the Internet, or synchronize information between the internet and my laptop.

Here is the list of software installed during the first week

  1. Skype – For Instant Messaging and Voice
  2. SnagIt32 – Screen Captures
  3. Babylon – Translation and Spell checking
  4. Office 2010  –  Outlook,Excel,Word,PowerPoint ( Is anyone using OneNote or the thing Ray Ozzie invented ?)
  5. Google Sync For Outlook
  6. SecureClient – VPN to Connect to the  Office Network
  7. XMarks -To Synchronize Bookmarks
  8. Chrome,FireFox – Additional Real Browsers Beyond Internet Explorer
  9. Adobe Reader – For Reading PDF Files
  10. ITunes – To manage My iPhone and Watch HOUSE on flights
  11. VMWARE Workstation – To run some of these programs in a Sandbox
  12. KeePass – keeping multiple password in a simple way
  13. Java ( Now Spelled ORJAVA ) – In honor of the great company that SUN used to be
  14. Notepad++ – for normal text editing
  15. InfanView – For Viewing Pictures easily ( Picasa might join later )
  16. QuickTime , Silverlight  – Because there was no way to avoid it
  17. Putty\WinSCP\FileZilla – because files need to be moved
  18. 3G Modem Software – because Apple thinks iPhone is not a modem
  19. Tons of Lenovo Useful and annoying software that came pre-installed
  20. CloudShare Firefox Plug-In
  21. The Bank ActiveX for Authentication  – so our employees would be able to put food on their table for Sabbath
Shrink Your Stomach in Two Weeks No Dieting

Shrink Your Stomach in Two Weeks No Dieting

Like many promises made to Americans (see sign above) the death of packaged software seems to be premature.

Looking at my iPhone the situation is not much different , all these “Apps” are actually good old-fashioned shareware applications.

  1. iTunes
  2. Skype – see above
  3. WAZE – GPS and Traffic
  4. Foresquare – Narcissism 🙂
  5. Facebook –  Group Narcissism 🙂
  6. MacDonald Farm – keep kids quiet
  7. Haaretz – updates on the pseudo racist government we have
  8. Bank App – to pay the bills
  9. WordPress – obvious

Again, all of the apps are connected to the net, updated from the net and send updates to the net (except for the Macdonald farm ).

In practice, while the web becomes the main interface, installed connected apps are probably here to stay for a long time.

Outlook 2010 Quick Steps Are Cool

June 13, 2010

Quick Steps are an easy ways to program repeatable actions without the need for Macros and programming. Here is a sample of rejection letter to a candidate.

1. Ask admin to send formal rejection letter.
2. Move CV to Negative Answer folder.

Now I’m asking myself if I can change #1 to just replying directly with our formal letter….

Outlook 2010 Quick Steps

Outlook 2010 Quick Steps - Non relevant Candidate

And here is another sample to fight Gmail’s lack of “Priority” flag.

This Quick Step forwards current email and add [low] to subject as well as low priority flag.

Outlook 2010 Quick Steps

Outlook 2010 Quick Steps - Forward Low Priority