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Interface Design gone awry

Do you know these wall-mounted hair-dryers that you often find in hotel rooms? Well, at the place where I was staying in Venice last week, I had one of them, too, and it was probably the worst designed one I’ve ever seen.

If we push fancy features such as various heat and power levels aside, a hair-dryer has exactly two modes of operation: On and Off. Thusly, as far as interaction design is concerned, we only need to worry about how to switch the hair-dryer on and off in the most intuitive and convenient way. And that’s exactly where this particular model’s design totally blew it.

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Jul 11, 2007 at 22:51 | Comments Off | tags: ,

Return from Venice

After a few really great days in Venice, I’m finally back home. Basically, we’ve been spending most of the day walking through the narrow alleys, trying to find our way between the different sites (especially those small collateral venues) of the Biennale, but at the same time trying to see as much of the city as possible (considering that I’ve only been there once more than 10 years ago). Exhausting, but very rewarding.

I’ve uploaded some photos to Flickr, both of the city and of some of the works at the Biennale. I especially like this one: Is it just me, or does it look as if the gondola was tilting?

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Jul 09, 2007 at 0:52 | Comments Off | tags: ,

Gone for a week

Venice!

After 3 weeks with at least two exams or exercise deadlines per week and some more issues and obligations thrown in to round off a nice month of stressful exhaustion, I’m am heading off to Venice for 5 days with my girlfriend.

Since there’s some stuff that I cannot let unattended for this long, I’ll take my PowerBook with me, hooked up to my GPRS-enabled cellphone (which means horribly slow internet access, but better than nothing). I wish we Europeans would have gotten the iPhone last Friday, too, but I’ll have to wait until the end of the year, apparently. With this little gadget, I could leave the notebook at home, since all I have to do is watch my email and (maybe) do some financial tasks online. This would be possible on the iPhone, too, without the need to bring a laptop.

Anyways, I probably won’t be writing any blog entries while I’m gone, but I hope to be back again next weekend, packed with a lot of good photos and nice memories. I’m really in dire need of recreation…

Jul 01, 2007 at 17:34 | 1 Comment | tags: ,

Video-Games and the ESRB

What a turbulent week for Take Two Interactive and its controversial Manhunt 2 project. After being banned in the UK, a preliminary version of the game received an “Adults-Only” rating in the US, which, as it turns out, means that neither Sony nor Nintendo will allow it to appear on their consoles. As it stands, the game is suspended, and while people speculate that Take Two will have the game modified and stress a new rating, its future is unclear at the moment.

Pushing the controversial nature of Rockstar’s “Manhunt” franchise to the side for a moment, the current events move the whole rating process (and the difficulty of rating games, as opposed to movies or books) into the spotlight for once. As it seems, this process itself could be considered to be quite controversial.

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Jun 24, 2007 at 20:27 | 2 Comments | tags: , ,

Sadder than the Sad Mac

Recently, something really strange happened to my dock: After suddenly becoming completely unresponsive (which is, unfortunately, not that unusual), the Finder icon miraculously travelled off the dock in a slow, but fluid animation, stopping approximately 2 centimeters to the left of it. Here’s the screenshot.

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Jun 18, 2007 at 22:19 | 4 Comments | tags: ,

The iPhone and Implicit Synchronisation

When Steve Jobs announced that there won’t be an iPhone SDK for now, but enthusiastically encouraged to write web apps optimized for the iPhone’s Safari version instead, most developers didn’t exactly burst with joy. Yes, selling a Javascript-enabled browser (now especially since we’ve already known that before, when Steve touted the thing as being the “real” Safari at MacWorld) as an SDK in a “look at what we’ve been doing for you!” manner isn’t the nicest thing to do.

Personally, I would have wished for a full-blown SDK, too. But there’s one thing about the “dedicated web app” paradigm that I really, really like. So much that one could argue that only allowing web apps for now is a clever move to provide for better overall user experience…

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Jun 13, 2007 at 23:32 | Comments Off | tags: , , , ,

Feature Pressure

Recently, I’ve written a post about feature-sparse applications vs. feature-rich ones. To follow up on it, let’s talk about another negative effect feature-rich applications can have on the user: The overload caused by them, and the anxiety of a user when faced with extremely powerful (and thusly complex) applications or devices. I call this feeling “feature pressure”.

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Jun 11, 2007 at 0:43 | Comments Off | tags: , ,

JIT Learning

With the end of the semester nearing, I spend quite a lot of time learning for exams. As usually when I’m burning a lot of time on an especially tedious taks, I’ve been thinking about the nature of it, specifically the different learning paradigms.

There are 4 different ways to structure a learning effort, each with its own distinct nature. The one that suits me best personally is what I term “JIT learning”, for just-in-time learning, but the question is: Is it applicable to learning for exams, too?

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Jun 08, 2007 at 0:48 | Comments Off | tags: , ,

Mac Tip: Encrypted Storage

There’s a list of 10 free ways to store passwords securely on Lifehacker today. However, they’ve left out one very simple while extremely flexible method for Mac users that I’ve been relying on for quite some time.

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Jun 04, 2007 at 0:44 | 1 Comment | tags: , , ,

Let them think

One of the mantras when designing a product is that you should clearly define what specific problem you want to solve. For a software designer, this means defining a certain workflow model that your product will hook into and optimize.

In this model of thought, “niche” applications are more preferable than broadly defined ones. A tool to catalog your socks is consequently more fit for its purported task than a tool to catalog any type of wardrobe, provided that there’s a market of people who want to catalog their socks.

However, lately I’ve become fascinated with tools (rather than applications in the above sense) that are designed just with the opposite paradigm in mind: Providing a very simple set of functions and letting the user figure out how to use them in a meaningful way.

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Jun 01, 2007 at 0:51 | 1 Comment | tags: , ,

About

Hi, how are you? My name is Georg Kaindl, and I'm a twenty-something from Vienna, Austria. During the day, I'm a CS student at the Vienna University of Technology, but at night, I turn into an independent software developer for the Macintosh platform, social nerd, lazy entrepreneur and intuitive researcher.

I like to write about everything that matters to considerate technology enthusiasts, but humbly retain the right to go off-topic from time to time.

My posts are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.

Contact

You can reach me by email if you have something to say that's not related to a blog post or that you don't want to have publicly available as a comment to a post.

However, you'll have to prove that you are human! Even though I personally like robots very much, I'm less of fan of SPAM. It's just a simple riddle to solve, but a SPAM bot won't cut it!

To get my email address, take the word before the .com in my domain name first (Hint: The word you are looking for starts with a "g" and ends with an "l"). Next, simply attach @mac.com to this word.

Boom, there's my email address. Simple, isn't it?

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