Monday, August 23, 2010

Three General Features I'd Love to See in User Interfaces

1. Guaranteed performance levels, so that the system never locks the user out due to thrashing, virtual memory swapping, or cpu overload. For example, have the system always reserve (say) 10% of CPU exclusively for user interaction, so that the UI will always be responsive.

2. A "Wikipedia" like approach for collaborative user interface design, so that open source software developers can actually get real designers into the game. Make it so that it is possible to have a clean separation from back-end and front-end, and that anyone can go in and offer feedback and alternative designs.

3. Make it so that I can "patch" my own UI to fix bugs. For example, Intuit Quickbooks maps Ctrl-A to opening all accounts, instead of selecting all text like every other system out there. I still make this mistake despite using the software for almost two years. Alternatively, make it easy to send the patch to the developers, so that they can apply it and fix it in their next release.

Friday, August 13, 2010

In the Future, even Birds will have Mobile Phones

I had a great meeting with an ecologist in Pittsburgh earlier this week, and was pleasantly surprised to learn that there is a company building devices for tracking birds. The devices are essentially souped up mobile phones that combine cellular phone technology, GPS, and small solar panels, and are small enough that you can strap them onto the bird. Very cool!

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Skypefast

Skypefast - the act of using Skype to eat breakfast together with your significant other

Monday, August 02, 2010

Things that would be nice to fix in Motorola Droid

After using the Droid for about two months, here's my list of things I hope they fix:

Text Input
  • Alt and spacebar. You're job is to input a phone number. You hit alt twice to put it into alt mode, so you can type in numbers, and then hit space to separate the groups of numbers. But wait, space in alt mode brings up a list of symbols. Very broken interface.
Calendar
  • Why does the calendar show no event information whatsoever whenever it syncs? This is very broken, having to wait 10+ seconds just to see if you can schedule something.
  • Make a better time widget. Why bother giving people the option to start a meeting at 5:29PM? How about 15minute intervals by default, and a separate UI if that's not sufficient.
  • Why does the calendar start at midnight? Make better use of screen real estate, let people set the start of a day at, say, 8AM
  • I can't make an event in the calendar repeat every Tue and Thu from the phone? I have to go to the Google Calendar web site to do this? Didn't Palm OS figure this out already?
  • In fact, just steal the calendar design from Palm OS, they did it right 15 years ago.
Phone calls
  • The phone ringer on the Droid can be set to not even vibrate. This is horribly broken, I've missed several calls because I inadvertently lowered the volume too far. Make "vibrate" the lowest volume option
  • Why does the phone keep trying to make emergency calls when in my pocket? Please fix this.
  • Why does the phone let my cheek dial numbers when talking on it?

The Droid phone is good but is lacking polish in lots of places.