Archive for April, 2007

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Interface first

April 29, 2007

Writing the code is the largest part of building a program, which makes it the most expensive and and most difficult thing to change. So what would happen if you designed the interface first?

Even good design is a relatively straightforward process, with a good designer, a simple sketch on the ‘back of an envelope’ may well be all that’s needed. What a lot of companies don’t seem to realise is that to the end user the interface is the program.

How many times after an Adobe upgrade do the moans start about some key stroke being changed or some command or feature having been moved? Quark on the other hand, regularly damned for it’s sluggish development have released QuarkXPress 7 with a user interface little removed from that of QuarkXPress 3, meaning that users can make the transition in a relatively painless way, despite the fact that there are over 200 new features.

If you just bung an interface on at the end, it will be obvious. If you try and combine existing interfaces, you will end up with inconsistencies. Adobe, although superficially very similar looking between programs, lack a consistency in the user interface once you dig a little deeper. Some of this is an historical bodge, all the programs in CS3 were originally stand alone and weren’t envisaged to be bundled as a suite of software. One can only hope that the problem will become less marked during further revisions, no doubt accompanied by more moans and gnashing of teeth.

With the interface designed first you have something ‘real’ to deal with. The interface design should serve as the rock that the program hangs from, if you are tempted to add extra features you can go back to the interface and see where it fits in. If the feature doesn’t fit in, don’t add the feature.

If you start with the interface you can see how the things looks and feel from the start. The interface should be continually assessed throughout the development cycle, if the interface doesn’t make sense or it’s counterintuitive then either the feature you’re trying to implement doesn’t fit the original concept or it’s time to look at the interface again. You can only answer these questions if you have designed the interface first and see what it’s like from an end users point of view.

It’s the end user that is the final judge in these matters.

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Sleep and Power Management

April 22, 2007

About four weeks ago I bought my nice new black MacBook and generally I’m petty pleased with it. Though I do have a couple of niggles. Here’s one of them.

The MacBook developed a problem (no idea how) where it wouldn’t sleep. No matter what settings I used or tossing the Login Window .plist I still couldn’t make it sleep, unless I did it manually. The battery would be down to around 10% after the Mac being left unplugged over night. So I threw the Login Window .plist again, nothing.

Clearly I was wrong in thinking that the Login Window controlled the Sleep function. I changed the settings in the Energy Saver preference pane and gave it a restart. After logging in and waiting, the Macbook slept. I did a quick search for files modified that day and there it was inside the SystemConfiguration folder… In the top level Library

MacintoshHD / Library / Preferences / SystemConfiguration / com.applePowerManagement.plist

So the Power Management settings are global for the Mac and not specific to an account. To confirm this I logged into my other account and changed the sleep settings there, logged out and that change had been reflected in my usual account.

I compared one version of PowerManagement.plist from a two day old back up (it’s the weekend) with the one currently active on my system using TextWrangler. There was only one difference detected. It was in line 31, and the difference was only an integer value determining how long the computer should wait before sleeping. Clearly something else is affecting sleep, not just this plist. More digging required…

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Modern Web Design

April 20, 2007

I’ve no idea where the original image came from but I got it from

http://eatliver.com/i.php?n=1985

There’s all manner of weirdness available at http://eatliver.com/. If anyone knows who did this originally, I’d be very happy to credit it correctly. Click the image to see it full size.

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For some reason the links aren’t working, but eatliver is up and running

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Beatles on iTMS soon?

April 12, 2007

A long running legal battle appears to be over.

Right after the Apple and EMI deal, it seems that EMI and Apple Corps (The Beetles) have come to an agreement. So the logical conclusion to jump to is that The Beetles will be available on iTMS any time soon.

Probably DRM free or perhaps the dual model depending on bit rate etc.

http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=20601102&sid=aTf3.e99lorM&refer=uk

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The Waterfront

April 12, 2007

My favourite bar this side of the river has just got some new chairs. Out with the old school er, school chairs and in with the sumptuous new leather ones.

It’s made the place more appealing than it ever was and it’s a great decision by the owners.

If you’re out and about in this direction check it out, and while you’re there, have a pizza, you won’t be disappointed.

I have no connection with The Waterfront, I’m just a customer.

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W3C should say yes

April 11, 2007

If 4.0 – 4 .01 are properly deprecated and we don’t get to a 5.01 kind of mess, then this is a good idea if meta is dealt with well. (I know that’s an XML/RDF thing). Proper documentation is the key. Watch Microsoft introduce their own ‘standard’.

Just being a largely uninformed cynic.

http://lists.w3.org/Archives/Public/public-html/2007Apr/0429.html

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Banana flavoured stuff

April 10, 2007

Sometimes you think of people, you just do.

Thank you 🙂