Archive for the ‘Web’ Category
Previously: Pt. 1, Pt. 2, Pt. 3, Pt. 4, Pt. 5, Pt. 6, Pt. 7
The folks over at Teehan+Lax plan to make my iPhone a lot more useful. They’re in the process of working with the Cydia folks to release a new lock screen for the iPhone entitled Element. I’ve spent a fair amount of time with the Android, and the single feature that always stood out as heads and shoulders above the iPhone is their notifications system. Hopefully, as soon as next week, that will no longer be a problem. Take a look at some more screenshots.
I admittedly have a soft spot for Jon Stewart (who, thank goodness, now has a key to Bellingham, WA) and Stephen Colbert, and not so much of a soft spot (a hard spot?) for Christopher Hitchens. I first became skeptical of Hitchens after reading about his stance on the Iraq War. And that feeling only increased after he attempted to join Richard Dawkins at the head of the Atheist movement by trying to mask his lack of scientific background with an even larger combative ego than Dawkins.
Hitchens uses the fact that Stewart was ranked as the #1 trusted newscastor in an online popularity pool to whine and complain that he is no Mark Twain (Is anyone really arguing that point?). His evidence seems to be Al Franken’s books (I’m still trying to figure out what that has to do with the Daily Show). My best guess is that either Hitchens is still bitter 4 years later that Stewart didn’t promote his Jefferson book well enough, or is formally applying for Andy Rooney’s position as Old Crank Laureate.
Take one look at this image and say out loud what it makes you think.
You got it right: REO Speedwagon, the Video Game!
Apparently someone is making a Halo killer in the forum of a casual hidden object video game. I am currently going to great lengths to make sure that the video game company I work for is going to sell this.
What?! That is enough basis for the foundation of a television show? My pops might not be that cranky, but give him 5 years. He’s on his way; and soon I’ll be rich.
PS: I love that the one person he follows is Levar Burton.
Probably the 2nd best post (just behind this one) on one of my favorite blogs.
- Designer dreams up a redesign of American Airlines’ website and chastises the company (particularly their design department)
- An employee from the AA design group writes back to say, “You’re right.”
- AA fires said employee for breaking their NDA.
Lots to take away from this. For me, most of all is that I’ve been in this employee’s shoes and this story reaffirms that I will make sure to never be wearing shoes like his in a company like that again. It sounds clear that AA is a seriously messed up company, and, as folks have said, the original critique is a little naive of the situation: A little screenshot does not a website make.
This already appeared to make the rounds on the internet, but was too good not to pass up posting. Make sure to read the 4-page spread.
Twitter. Media darling.
Apple is definitely going to buy. Google wants their “real-time semi-news.” The media won’t STFU about it. We’ll all be using it by this Christmas. And as Rand in Response says:
Twitter seems to be on the front page of everything but, curiously, has done nothing functionally interesting. They’re just sitting there keeping the lights on.
Not everyone is just sitting there. Some are wondering, “What’s next?”
That’s exactly what I’ve been wondering. The market is being flooded with innovative features by third party clients and the only innovation that Twitter has added to the fold — search — wasn’t even theirs: it was an acquisition. In fact, according to their blog they’ve only had five user facing updates in the past year, none of which would be deemed as “lighting the barn on fire” by a user.
So what gives? You could make the argument that their growth is because of their lack of innovation, rather than in spite of it. Keeping it simple allows users to focus explicitly on Twitter’s core value instead of unnecessary bloat, and allows the owners to focus on being swooned by the big boys. Even VIPs within the company want new features but seem unwilling to build them.
I get the impression that Twitter knows that the money is in search and is putting all their eggs in that basket. And they’ve done a good job of it: their search implementation is pretty damn slick. But that doesn’t stop me from pining like the biggest geek ever for something new out of them. I want a “groups” feature integrated into Twitter.com. I want drafts. I want threaded replies in my timeline.
But the feature I’d like the most is data interpreters. I’d love it if a link to a TwitPic is not counted against my 140 character count and is called out after my tweet. If a URL is from an approved source, strip out the link and treat the data appropriately. This would work great for video, audio, pictures, and locations. I’m dying to post a tweet from foursquare and not have half of my 140 characters taken up by the venue’s address.
Twitter could keep it simple and just provide a link to the appropriate data; but with the right API calls, third party clients could take the ball and run with this type of info. Maps, audio, video, and photos could be displayed inline or expanded with a click. In fact, Tweetie already visually indicates when a tweet includes a link to a photo.
And don’t worry about the redheaded stepchild in this discussion — SMS. This wouldn’t (and frankly, couldn’t) make that experience any worse for the 5% who still txt than it already is. Twitter could simply append the tweet with a “See More” link that routes the reader to the status’s page. People who get their tweets over SMS aren’t going to be clicking to view a TwitPic anyway, so a status link is just as efficient.
A feature like this would help bring the focus back to the message instead of the message being a URL. I have a hard time imagining the folks at Twitter doing anything close to standing still. The company seems to have the understanding that the premise of “140-character-messages” has a ton of milage and doesn’t need new features, so why change something that’s not broken? But features like this will reaffirm that in this medium, Twitter is the message. As Marshall McLuhan once said:
You should totally bake these features into Twitter.com. Now give me a massage…
So Twitter could continue to sit on their ass and they’ll still be the startup darling that’s perfect for many a company’s portfolio. But a little attention to the users might help with this retention problem that people are suddenly talking about. …actually, it probably won’t, but I’ll go ahead and try to convince you otherwise…
A couple of weeks ago, I had the pleasure of helping Maddie attempt to be the King of Seattle. Inspired by the week’s previous King, Maddie decided to give it a go and I decided to support her. The title of King is awarded every Monday at 12am to the winner of that week’s foursquare competition.
foursquare is a location aware webapp for your phone that awards points for various activities that involve going out & about. The reason I “play” is because it gets me out of the house and acts as a great friend-finder. Alice Tiara just posted a great write-up of what makes the game interesting:
For example, on Monday night, I went to dinner with a friend. After dinner, I saw that two of my closest friends were at a local bar. We met them there, and over the course of the next four hours, about 10 other people showed up, all of whom found us through foursquare.
For people worried about privacy, don’t worry; you only check in when you want to be found and only tell who you want to. The more places you go, the more points you get; and if you’re creative with it, you can rack up the points. Here are some tips that I’ve come up with that will help you to be the King of your burg:
- Only check in at new locations:
You get 5 points for every new location checkin and zero points if it is a duplicate checkin within the week
- Rack up bar-hopping bonus points:
You get a travel bonus point for every subsequent checkin during the night (after 4pm). I.E. 6 points for first unique checkin, 7 for second, 8 for third, 9 for fourth, etc.
- 7-Day Bender:
Start the Tuesday before your championship run and hit a place each night. By the time the next Monday hits the starting line, you’ll get 7 “Bender” points for the first time you check in each night.
- If you’re bar-hopping, drink a pony glass of a dry stout:
You could just not buy anything, but that’d be shady. Buy something that has nutrients, like a Guinness. Otherwise, you’ll succumb to alcohol madness (or so I’m told).
- Mind games:
If your score is within striking range, people *will* compete with you.
- Either come out of the gate on Monday and establish such a daunting lead that people won’t attempt to compete, or
- Pull an eBay – Stay just below the top 5 for most of the week so that you’re not noticed, then swoop in on the weekend to claim the crown.
Part of playing a game is the necessity of agreed upon rules. foursquare doesn’t have any defined rules at this point, other than “Don’t lie about where you are,” and even that isn’t very defined. In an effort to get people playing under the same rules, I would suggest something along the lines of the following (please alter or append any of these in the comments):
- Must have intent to stay at a checked in location longer than 30 min.
- The checked-in location must be a public place.
- The checked-in location must be someplace in which you are capable of being social. (i.e. Not @ your coffee shop job or while running errands)
- Strong suggestion you buy from the establishment if it is a bar/restaurant.
The rules would only be necessary if you’re interested in competing in foursquare. You can still get use out of foursquare, even if you’re not competing for Kinghood. I would suggest that competing is opt-in for users who’ve read “the rules” as defined and agreed upon by the userbase (ticket).
Other ideas for foursquare that would make me dork out:
- Allow users to optionally enter home address and places of work – I’d love to let people know when I’m at home and at work, but don’t want to collect points for these locations. (ticket)
- Mayoral voice – Give the mayor of a venue the ability to write a welcome message when a user checks in at their location. (ticket)
- On the users “History” page, show which users who were also checked in with you when you visited. I’d love this page to act as my social diary. (ticket)
- Add the ability to optionally display your Twitter username. There have been times in which I’d wished I was able to communicate with another user, but couldn’t. (ticket)
All this being said, this only works when you have friends using it. I’d have a lot more serendipitous moments if I had more friends playing the game with me…
GOOD Magazine’s guide for reducing your water footprint. I need me some low-flow toilets. FYI: Getting local WA State apples in Seattle doesn’t use as much water because of the lack of transportation.
The best thing to come out of web-design icon Doug Bowman’s resignation from Google is this well thought out article by Scott Stevenson. Doug on his departure:
Yes, it’s true that a team at Google couldn’t decide between two blues, so they’re testing 41 shades between each blue to see which one performs better. I had a recent debate over whether a border should be 3, 4 or 5 pixels wide, and was asked to prove my case. I can’t operate in an environment like that.
This particular point set off Mr. Stevenson to put into words concepts that I’ve always been aware of, but have always struggled to articulate as well as he did in his post:
The most contentious point between software engineering culture and visual design culture is the question of whether important things can be always seen in absolutes. The engineering approach values measurable, reproducible results which can be represented in a graph or a checklist. Unit tests and benchmarks illustrate progress. [...] Visual design is often the polar opposite of engineering: trading hard edges for subjective decisions based on gut feelings and personal experiences. It’s messy, unpredictable, and notoriously hard to measure. The apparently erratic behavior of artists drives engineers bananas. Their decisions seem arbitrary and risk everything with no guaranteed benefit.
Through out my career, I’ve regularly been in similar environments; and one of my biggest problems has been figuring out how to hurdle that divide. I feel that part of my role is as a visual taste maker. You might test to find the most crowd pleasing shade of blue at the first pass, but I might come up with a blue that might not be your instant choice, yet will grow on you when taken in holistically. Like Henry Ford said, “If I’d asked people what they wanted, they would have asked for a better horse.” There is a point with visual design where logic starts to breakdown in ways that only experience can answer.
These are huge!
The coolest way to find out that the weather is shit in Seattle. The site uses Twitter status messages in various vicinities to draft a picture of not only how crappy it is outside, but what people think of it. Make sure to use a modern browser.
I don’t think that I tweet enough to get as thorough of a journal of my life (and thank the Maker™ for that), but I love the idea. I post too many shortened URLs for it to make any sense. Maybe one day…