scribbles tagged ‘software’

at the gate

Saturday, March 15th, 2014 | tags: , , , , , , , ,  |

iPads in airport by the gateInternational flights invariably mean a couple of hours at the airport. It doesn’t take long to tire of airports, expensive shopping, expensive food, controlled air, controlled people.

Minneapolis airport had a surprise for me at gate G4. Tables with IPads, even outside the bars, everywhere people using their own or the airport’s computers. I slid up to a nearby bar and found the menu.

iPad iPad in airport bar, swipe paymentKid’s under 12? I can eat them? Cool. I found myself a large glass of red wine and paid using the swipe-card slot on the bar. The bar staff talked to me about the system. She liked it, the customers liked it, I liked it. Sounds like an all around win.

iPad in airport bar - menuI’ll go straight to the gate next time I’m at Minneapolis airport. No need to unpack my surface, no need to find a power socket or go through connecting to the airport WiFi. Just use the local iPad which even supplies flight information for the anxious passenger. That wasn’t me, I’m not the anxious passenger. I’m the one who’s snoozing after a large glass of wine….


4 bits of fabulous banter »

Surface Pro first impressions

Sunday, February 2nd, 2014 | tags: , , , , , ,  |

BoxedIn early September 2013 I bought a Microsoft surface. The box is firm, strong and its easy to both see and feel what to do next, pull the white box out from the darker gray box. It’s a tight fit, but smoothly pulls out revealing a continuation of the simple branding, without the typical set of legal, feature, geeky must-know information. Nice.

Lid offThe white box is opened by a lid, again it’s obvious and easily turned back to open. No latch or catch used because it’s not needed with the sleeve design lf the gray box. Pleasingly simple, it feels like playing pass the parcel with myself, and I’m almost at the prize… The inside of the lid is the same bright blue as the logo on the outside.

The surface is right there, wrapped in a shiny cellophane wrapper, not necessary but I loved being able to see it and having yet another level of the present unwrapping feeling. The power cable was wrapped in the same shiny cellophane, given the same gift status as the actual surface. They were Out Of the Box (OOBE) and plugged in within the minute.

Shiny packagingAt first I barely noticed the paper user-guide and electronic pen placed under the surface. I didn’t need to notice. The power cable had ‘snapped’ into position on the surface, there was only one place it could go and they were literally magnetically attracted, no need for me to be dextrously precise in placing it. Ooh! NICE! Below the surfaceOnly 2 buttons on the Surface, one looks like volume so the other must be power. I pressed both as I reached for what I presumed was either a user manual or quick start guide. It turned out to be a 3 page, concertinaed quick start guide labelling all the external hardware features. Easily digested, superfluous yet comforting.

I turned away from the packaging and logged into the surface using my ancient Hotmail account, it was so smooth, quick and immersive that I didn’t take any photographs and was finished in a couple of minutes, relaxed in my comfy chair, exploring the possibilities

Quick start guideThere were some minor demo’s of interactions that showed how to find the side controls and search, the bottom of screen controls and the stuff on the right. Possibly some more, I can no longer remember if I was told about or discovered the pinches, flicks, pulls and long-presses. They’re not intuitively discoverable so someone, sometime must have shown them to me.. ready to goIt wasn’t long until I white screened, while loading my thousands of photographs up to the SkyDrive, which couldn’t cope.

I twitted about this and then got into a frustrating bug-diagnosis discussion with the surface twitter feed. Oh dear, a great start, packaging, went down hill dramatically quickly as the expensive device demonstrated poor usability performance and ill thought-out social media use which merely inflamed my situation. I didn’t learn, over the next few weeks. I had several frustrating interactions with Surface twitter who asked me questions I wasn’t able to answer, making me feel stupid, and not making any noticeable progress to solving my problem. Compiling the anti-climax of my first experience.

Alas, Mumsies experience this January went downhill from when we turned the power on, but that’s another blog post…


3 bits of fabulous banter »

car over football

Sunday, January 12th, 2014 | tags: , , , , , , ,  |

what does it mean?Mumsie: But how do I keep the email address so that I can find it again?

Wendy: You can ‘Save’ it in an address book on your computer. Can you see anything here that suggests ‘save’ or ‘keep’?

Mumsie: No

I look at the symbol of the floppy disk and wonder what dipstick in the Microsoft visual design icon set development team thought that a floppy disk would be meaningful to youngsters who’ve never seen one and oldies like mum who’ve never used one. While I can’t imagine a universal symbol for ‘save’, ‘keep’ or ‘store’, this symbol clearly misses the mark now and will miss the mark even more with the younger generations to come.

Wendy: What does that look like?

Mumsie: the car driving over the football?

Wendy: Yes! Brilliant, that’s exactly what it looks like, a ‘hummer’!

Mumsie: What’s a ‘hummer’? Someone in a choir who’s forgotten the words?

She’s quickly learnt the symbol now I’ve told her that it means ‘save’, the car saving the goal strike. Mumsie is very bright. Gotta love her and question who was recruited by the windows 8 user testing team to test the legibility of this icon.


1 wonderful musing »

you can’t go back. go home and start again

Monday, July 29th, 2013 | tags: , , , , , , , , , ,  |

<RANT WARNING – Apple fanboys, and people who love positivity should leave now>

Over the last 3 years I’ve been lucky(?) enough to have 3 different smart phones as my main phone:

HTC Desire, Nokia Lumia 800, iPhone5
HTC Desire, Nokia Lumia 800, iPhone 5

I’m very disappointed with the iPhone5. I want to revert to the Nokia. I was unimpressed by the Nokia but not to the extent that I wanted to give up using it within the week.

The reasons I dislike the iPhone would all be easily uncovered by usability testing with new users, so why do they STILL exist in version 5? Doesn’t Apple test it’s products with people switching from other smart phones? Maybe Apple doesn’t know because it doesn’t bother to test, maybe it knows but doesn’t think they’re worth fixing?

The problems I’m encountering are the sort of thing that should have been fixed by version 2, or for Microsoft – version 3. if the company prioritised input from users other than Apple fan boys who appear to live in a world that lacks perspective.  My 5 main problems were discovered within the first hour of using the iPhone:

  1. No ‘back’ control – you have to go to ‘home’ and then navigate forward to where you were. Android has a hardware back button and Windows has a software back button. All the browsers I’ve ever used have got a back button. You never have to ‘start again’.  Arrrghhhhhhh! It’s hellishly inefficient and irritating. It affects virtually everything I want to do on the phone unless the app provider has included either an ever-present software back button or easy in-App navigation. Apple has effectively offloaded the overhead of designing good navigation to App providers which will result in diverse navigation methods, more effort for the user to learn them. That’s not good.
  2. No service detected. OH MY GOODNESS! After putting in the SIM card, there was no service. I first assumed that I’d put the SIM card in the wrong way.  As soon as I removed the SIM the phone said ‘No SIM detected’. So the problem wasn’t with the SIM placement. I rebooted the phone. SIGH. No service. I showed the phone to a local, patient and peppy, Apple fanboy, who used his psychic Apple-fix-it skills and called my number. MAGIC. It wasn’t displaying that it could receive a signal, yet the phone rang and I was able to answer it! Bizarreness. The service signal strength was now showing on the phone. Unreliable OS messaging of hardware capabilities? That is, the hardware had detected a service but the Apple display hadn’t been updated to show this. What were the Apple test team doing when they set up tests that would let a product with this problem get released? Over the next few days I soon got into the habit of using my Windows Nokia phone (same service provider) to call my i-Phone so that the display would update to show the service signal.  HOW CRAP IS THAT?! More than a double face-palm. I tried a more traditional technique to get the signal to display – rebooting the phone. SIGH. The irritating thing about rebooting the phone to get a service signal is that I have to login to my iApple account again (see problem 3 below), and then the service signal isn’t always re-displayed.  I’ve tried shaking the phone and wandering around the office space. More out of desperation and frustration.CLEAN UP FOR GOODNESS SAKE!
  3. ALL CAPS LETTERS ONLY on the keyboard display, even when you’re typing in lower-case! Really poor visual feedback on what case to expect the keyboard to produce. I use a lot of passwords where there is a requirement for UPPER CASE letters and only a temporary view of the typed letter before it turns into a dot.  This meant that not being able to ‘see’, by looking at the keyboard,  which CASE the letter is going to be typed in was a pain. I had to look at the shift key, which has only a subtle ‘brightness’ contrast change and is covered by my finger that’s pressing it.  Lack of this feedback results in my having to be more careful entering passwords, and have to retype passwords more frequently.  My ‘new’ Apple ID had to be reset 3 times because I couldn’t work out if I’d miss-typed the ID or just tried to enter the wrong ID.  When creating the new password using “I-Forgot” – blame me why don’t you! - I got more “Passwords don’t match” messages than on any other phone I’ve used.  This is an easy OS software change, why haven’t Apple bothered to fix this obvious usability problem?
  4. Not connecting to my home wireless.  I’ve tried about 8 times. The phone can detect my wireless and offers me a password entry field.  I’ve retyped and retyped the network key but for some inexplicable reason the phone is unable to join this network and wont even hint at why. Just tells me it’s failed. At least it takes responsibility for this failure.
  5. No CAPS LOCK. Both Android and Windows have good simple software solutions for this behaviour, which I’d learnt. An Apple fan boy explained to me that I should keep one finger on shift and type the letters with a different finger.  No problem from his perspective. Another Apple fan boy told me a double-tap acts as shift-lock and that she only found out how to use her iPhone with multiple lessons from her daughter. This is only a miner discovery detail, but when added to the other issues for someone trying an iPhone after having used Android or Windows OS’s, it’s yet another poor design feature that implies lack of user-care by the OS development team.

HTC Desire, Nokia Lumia 800, iPhone5From my perspective the Apple iPhone OS behaviour is clearly less elegant with more user effort overhead than both Android and Windows. I’m surprised, I expected to love it.

Pish and Tush

<RANT TEMPORARILY ON HOLD- I suspect there will be more…>


5 bits of fabulous banter »

Ordinal 466 (559) could not be located in the dynamic link library

Friday, May 24th, 2013 | tags: , ,  |

After an irritating long windows update when I was trying to leave work on time, my laptop starts with these trust inspiring messages:
Ordinal 466 Ordinal 559

Several friends experience similar messages after their updates. What’s an ordinal? Do I care? Dynamic link library? Seriously?!

What were the windows update test team doing when they let these error messages slip through before releasing?

Oh, and I almost forgot this confidence inducing message: ‘The operating system cannot run %1′
Operating system cannot run


5 bits of fabulous banter »

windows crashes the morning

Sunday, March 31st, 2013 | tags: , , , ,  |

Just in case you thought that all my story blog posts mean that I’m neglecting my role of publicising details of software failures, I thought I’d throw this little message in the pot.

Arriving at work to discover that my computer had ‘shutdown unexpectedly’ or some such phrase that completely ignores the emotional impact of a computer crash. I do like that Microsoft wants to know about these events so they can diagnose their causes and work with partners to reduce their occurrence.  I’d rather they used this messaging opportunity to:

  • acknowledged the emotional impact of what happened.
  • told me they will use this information to reduce events like this happening in the future “sending more information can help Microsoft create solutions” is too corporate, formal, impersonal.
  • added a bit of humour to the message to demonstrate that they want me to be happy and they employ expert editors to make that happen.

Eventually these things may well happen, but I’m getting impatient, come-on already!

Crash bang wallop


7 bits of fabulous banter »

Office365 takes me back to the future

Monday, March 11th, 2013 | tags: , ,  |

The default time on my work computer appears to have reset itself in the past. My Office365 email account appears to use my computer time to judge my local time. So emails sent to me today were all listed as arriving tomorrow. Got to love the Microsoft programmers logical and humorous way of dealing with this!back to the future


1 wonderful musing »

more ungraceful failure messages

Monday, February 18th, 2013 | tags: , ,  |

Sparkle is running smoothly but there appear to be a few hiccups among the internet services Sparkle uses. Here’s a selection of recent bumps from McAfee, Optimalworkshop and SharePoint services and Oracle.com:

MacAfee providing life safety instructions instructions for life More Sharepoint Errorness Oracle Error

McAfee is just being darn mysterious. This message lead to a support call. Optimal workshop eventually provided a rather nice personable note about their server being confused, they helped their server out quite promptly. To get SharePoint access I moved to another computer which solved the problem. Oracle’s messaging reminded me of the 1980’s. I’m so glad that most of the world has moved-on. Bu would appreciate a concerted effort to start including graceful failure messages.


6 bits of fabulous banter »

the blue flash of colonel panic

Sunday, January 13th, 2013 | tags: , , , , , , ,  |

Blue Screen of DeathThe Blue flash of colonel panic is not a military award, one of the X-men,  X-women, a Transformer, or other superhero.

Windows 7 scary classic!

The file dump from Windows 7 “Blue Screen Of Death (BSOD)” happens so quickly that we  rush to capture an digital image for posterity because maybe there will be a generation of computer users that have never see a blue screen. I hope so.

You can see the blue screen paparazzi in the reflection on an old Lenovo laptop.  The windows 7 message is already teasing the user with more text than they can possibly read in the time it’s displayed! Squinting at the photograph I saw the phrase “BIOS updates” – a phrase that produces a mild form of the gagging reflex.

Windows 8 is succinct, readable, understandable and less SCARY!

The message has changed for Windows 8, it looks like a more graceful failure message because it has larger, more readable, and understandable text. It looks like they’ve actually written it for the normal people that will see it rather than for the developers. They no longer mention “Caching and shadowing”, “removing or disabling components” or the gaggable “Bios updates”.  I wonder whether it’s still a ‘Blue Flash’. Excellent user experience enhancements.

 


6 bits of fabulous banter »

sing along

Thursday, December 13th, 2012 | tags: , ,  |

Apple fanboy: Have I told you what I don’t like about microsoft software?

wendy: No. NO. I have ABSOLUTELY NO IDEA what you hate about microsoft software, do PLEASE tell me, I MUST know, it’s important, I can’t go on without hearing you complain about microsoft software

Apple fanboy: you know how Office…..

wendy: LaLa LaLa I can’t hear you (puts on headphones)


what do you think of that »

??

Tuesday, December 11th, 2012 | tags: , , ,  |

mysterious error - ok?One of the many Apple fanboy’s in my life really enjoys showing me every error message that his ancient PC produces.

Todays example is a classic.

We tried a few technical fix it things and managed to find a little more information.

Somehow this extra information failed to de-confuse the situation or make OK a decision that we wanted to make.
less mysterious error - ok?


1 wonderful musing »

this twitting lark

Sunday, December 9th, 2012 | tags: , ,  |

twitterRecently my employer asked for my Twitter address, to publish my tweets on their website. Other colleagues admitted to not tweeting, or suggested that our employer really wouldn’t want to publish their tweets. As wendy, I’ve dabbled but not really been drawn in.

What to do? Should I start using Twitter with my real ‘professional’ name. Luckily the name was available. There are only 2 of us with my real name and an online presence, the other person is a teenager in small town USA. I bagged our name on Twitter. But the big problems still haven’t been solved

  • Should I twit? And how long should I spend twitting if I do?
  • Who do I want to read my twits?
  • Do I have to use a spell-check on all my tweets to avoid irritating those people who can’t see my conceptual wood because of my grammatical trees?
  • What should I twit about?
  • What do professional tweeters, who are published on their employers websites, do?
  • What sort of ‘voice’ should I use? Directive? Cheeky? Subversive?

Do you think I’ll ignore all these tricky questions or other?

What have you done, and why’d you do it?


4 bits of fabulous banter »

troubleshooters – for hiding original design laziness

Tuesday, November 27th, 2012 | tags: , , ,  |

Office 360 discussion - rejected!Grumble mumble

Swear

foot stomp

For goodness sake Microsoft if you’re still going to fail after decades of practice providing services then at least give me empathetic failure message not this ARCHAIC SHITE!

That’s empathetic with the emphasis on PATHETIC

I’m getting so annoyed that I’m getting all SHOUTY

If you effing bothered to test properly so you get the design right in the first place then I wouldn’t have to suffer your error messages and troubleshooters.

Grumble mumble

Bad mood


1 wonderful musing »

blob of the road

Thursday, November 15th, 2012 | tags: , , , ,  |

Dartmoor - Thomas goes offroad!The Dartmoor ‘blob’ is akin to the Bermuda triangle with extra dollops of fuzzy boundaries.

In the photograph on the right we see how Florence, the SatNav, has decided that Thomas, the car, in not actually on a road and has to turn left, not on a road, in 0.4 miles. Such are the ways of the Dartmoor.

this is actually a roadFlorence is often suprised that we manage to stay on the Road when we’re out in Devon.

In  the photograph on the left we see how Florence proudly announces that Thomas is actually ‘Driving on Road’.

Excellent!


3 bits of fabulous banter »

dad’s been jackanaped

Tuesday, November 13th, 2012 | tags: , , ,  |

The sender of this email agreed to let me publish it because he’s entertaining and talking about buying a PC from PC world:

My Dad just bought a new computer, without asking me first *facepalm*.

He went to PC World and some jackanape sold him a win 8 machine. Apparently it’s ‘in the cloud’ and ‘blazingly fast’, something my dad doesn’t understand but was convinced is a good thing.

Anyhoo,

To cut a long story short, my dad has come to visit and is begging me to put win 7 on it.

He said ‘it took me 45 minutes to find the control panel on it and i’ve been deleting stuff but noting makes that f*cking screen go away’.

Thanks MS. Thanks PC World.

Sent from my phone

 


5 bits of fabulous banter »

have some babies for windows 8

Friday, November 9th, 2012 | tags: , , , , ,  |

Windows 8Several things make me think that Windows 8 is not for me.

The UK advertising campaign is my main source of thinking it’s not meant for me. For example, in an advertising email Microsoft appears to be suggesting that Windows 8 has been designed for either:

  1. young women who can afford to have kiddies who wear smart clothes indoors on the bed, or for
  2. people who want to have a young woman with a kiddie who wears smart clothes on a bed.

I am neither of these things – but I can afford a decent personal computer, unlike many of the young people who can’t afford to leave home let-alone have a kiddy.

The promotional picture of the UK Windows 8 upgrade website is equally excluding me from its focus. Below we see what looks like a young family, a beardyman wearing pink corduroy flares, a woman with a strappy dress and a child with a big smile. They are all bravely ignoring the wind storm that is about to take down the palm trees in the background. Is this the Windows 8 user-group or representing their aspirations. I am very far from being either of these. I wonder if it’s Microsoft’s imagination of what they aspire to have their users be like. Tush. I can see I’m a disappointment to them – too old with insufficient babies.

Windows 8 upgradeI’m a bit peeved at this persistent exclusion. When you see their TV adverts for the Surface, it gets worse. I’m not ready to go there yet.

Looks like my next computer will be the Nexus 7. Ironically, a friend who’s a recent mother is raving about how she can feed the baby with one arm while using the Nexus with the other….

 


6 bits of fabulous banter »

a few tricky questions

Saturday, November 3rd, 2012 | tags: , , ,  |

Display model (not powered-up)Before parting with my hard earned cash in return for a plucky little champagne coloured Acer Aspire S3 with an Intel i5 processor there were a few tricky questions that the store staff were well placed to answer.  Here are the questions I asked and the sales assistant’s answers:

  1. Does the £150 trade in money back offer apply to all of the new PCs on display? (assistant: I don’t know I’ll just ask…)
  2. Are there any conditions on the trade-in of a laptop? (assistant: I don’t know I’ll just ask…)
  3. The free upgrade to Windows 8, do you do that in the store for me or do I have to take the new machine home and upgrade it myself? (assistant: I don’t know I’ll just ask…)
  4. How do I get to the control panel on this Windows 8 machine? (she showed me some Windows 8 features)
  5. Do you have one of these in stock? (assistant: I don’t know I’ll just ask…)

She was trying hard. She was very personable, probably new to the job. I smiled at her and waited patiently while she researched the answers to my questions. I hope I was reassuring because she must have felt a bit bad about not knowing the answers.

I walked out of the store with a box under my arm, £350 on my credit card bill, and a smile on my face.

 


2 bits of fabulous banter »

BONKERS price matching

Thursday, November 1st, 2012 | tags: , , , , ,  |

Sparkles boxFrom all the advice and a bit of playing with some Windows 8 laptops in store my plan was emerging. Fermenting ideas. The strongest ideas bubble to the top. The bubbliest plan is to buy:

  1. Windows 7 laptop – with hardware that meets with windows 8 requirements
  2. Intel i5 processor as minimum – I want fast
  3. Something pretty – not chunky but doesn’t need to be too small as long as it’s light enough not to pull my shoulder muscles
  4. Find a way to take an image of the Windows 7 drive then use the free upgrade to Windows 8 and take an image of that.  Try it out and go with my preferred image.
  5. Ask for the Google Nexus 7 tablet as a birthday or christmas pressie.

I LOVE my plan.

Gosh, I’ve gone and gotten all happy and I haven’t even spent a penny yet!

I know which of the in-store laptops were most appealing and an online search found that even the manufacturers refurbished version was £200  more than the instore model I’d seen, and that was BEFORE the £150 cash-back trade-in on my ‘old’ laptop.

All the online versions were not only more expensive, they were quoting a 3 week delivery period, what’s up with that?!  Walking out of a store with a laptop under my arm is the cheapest and quickest option!  Thomas and I roll up at PC world who are selling the Acer Aspire 3 for near £200 less than thier ‘Currys’ store.  Oddly, Currys had a price match promise – but why buy more expensive and have to claim the money back in a price match within the same company – BONKERS!


4 bits of fabulous banter »

blue screen of temporary illness

Tuesday, October 30th, 2012 | tags: , , , , , , , , ,  |

PC demo zone on Windows8 launch dayEver since the Cupboard’s face got smashed in I’ve been asking friends and colleagues for advice on what I should do – what sort of computer I should get and when.

My UK friends give diverse advice which naturally mirrors their own preferences. Though the IT professionals quickly get side-tracked onto talking about virtual machines - getting terribly excited at the thought. They seem to run substantial Apples with dual-boot from which they control lots of virutal machines. Not really for me.

I’ve also been popping into local shops that sell computers – Currys, PC world, Comet, John Lewis .   In these stores I get the pleasure of chatting to young handsome fellows who’re very excited about the prospect of being able to save up for an Apple iPad. Cute, but not actually too helpful for me – they aren’t good at ucovering my criteria and herding me towards one of their products. I’ve got wads of dosh in my pocket for something special, yet no-one’s selling to me. They’re selling to themselves. Most bizarre.

On the day that Windows 8 released I pootled along to Currys to play with a copy on their display machines. Everything started well:

  • No queue outside the store of people waiting to get their sticky hands on the new fancy OS. Such good fortune. I do dislike all the jostling and the lack of diversity when everyone plumps for the same thing. Even the store’s Demo stand was enticingly empty.  I felt good.
  • 5 assistants all ready to help me and the other customer in the PC section of the store. wonderful. I do like having someone on hand to spend time chatting with me – especially if I’m planning on spending more than £200.
  • A queue around the Apple stand.  Baffling.  Such ugly and expensive machines. Still not much choice – they’ve side-stepped having to make all the decisions that I’m about to take on…. which manufacturer, which processor type/size etc. More spacefor me to explore!

Store copy of windows 8 on release dayI wandered over to the windows 8 laptops that looked about the right size and design funkiness. Oh, a small blue one with ripples on the lid (Acer Aspire One).  My first experience of Windows 8 was a message that says:

 “Automatic Repair couldn’t repair your PC

Oh how I laughed!

A young assistant noticed my standing looking at the computer, giggling,  he swooped in and offered his help.

wendy: is this manufacturer installed windows 8 or a windows 7 machine that’s been upgraded in the store?

assistant: it came from the manufacturer with windows 8 on it

wendy: it’s not working, that’s not good on a demo machine is it?

assistant: it just means it didn’t shutdown properly, that’s all, I’ll just reboot it

 

I fell over

LAUGHING

(no broken bones)


7 bits of fabulous banter »

Windows H8

Tuesday, October 23rd, 2012 | tags: , , ,  |

In my research for replacing my home laptop I’m stumbling across a lot of scathing press on windows 8. I’ve not seen or used a copy so this is all speculation based on rumour and such-like. I’m hearing that Windows 8 will alienate:

  1. current windows users migrating because it’s so different and current windows loyal customers are not seeking really different. Microsoft will alienate their core customer-base.
  2. software developers who produce the applications that run on windows because its a more significant investment (time and learning) to produce compatible upgrades of their programs.
  3. corporations who supply PCs for work because Windows8 is so different the cost of staff learning,  making mistakes, being trained, to use Windows 8 will be prohibitive.  Better to stick with, in many cases Windows XP  or Windows 7

I suspect Microsoft are trying to apply an approach that has worked well with the Office Ribbon. They deliberately chose to accept the initial backlash that comes when the first-use experience not optimised because they knew that once learned it the experience is significantly better for regular use. One suite of products, one release, one core user-group – Corporations. The Office user experience team undertook a lot of high quality research to make sure they knew the impact of introducing the Ribbon on ongoing productivity.

Does this strategy work for an operating system across multiple form-factors (phone, tablets, laptops, Desktops)?  Once Windows 8 has been on the market for 5 or more years will most of the use problems fade into distant memory? Assuming that Windows customers stick with Windows and undergo the pain while everyone adapts to the new interface, this could happen:

  1. Customers will experience of the new operating system’s interaction patterns on one or more devices and learn how easy it is to move between different devices re-applying the fundamental interaction concepts. Windows 8 will start to feel familiar and easy. Maybe it will even be fun?
  2. Software developers will have changed their development practices to align with the new Operating System requirements. New and innovative programs and updates will be efficiently produced. Maybe it will even be fun?
  3. Corporations research the total cost of ownership of alternative operating systems and realise that they are more expensive than Windows 8. Mainly because of things like outrageous hardware outlay costs (Apple) or lack of speedy, deployment infrastructures within secure environments. The need to shift operating systems will be becoming imminent as Microsoft removes support for the legacy systems that corporations will still be using. I have difficulty imagining that this could be fun.

The big risk that Microsoft is taking appears to be that in this time period many customers may have researched, learned, built, commitments to other operating systems (Mac, Android etc) and not be prepared to move ‘back’.  It’s a huge, brave, bet by Microsoft. I hope they’ve done their groundwork research to know this is going to work.

I’m buying a computer in the next couple of weeks. Will it run Windows 8?  What’s your guess?


7 bits of fabulous banter »

incompatible systems

Friday, September 14th, 2012 | tags: , , , , , ,  |

12noon 16th August

my broken wrist before surgery Wrist in plaster of parisnurse: you must go to X-Ray

wendy: have they seen the X-Rays from Worthing?

nurse: the consultant wants so see today’s X-Ray

wendy: ok

Waiting outside the X-Ray room I chat with a shy Welsh man on crutches. He’s holding a CD from Pontypridd.

Were you on Holiday in Wales?

No, visiting my daughter who lives there now

He explains that the Reading hospital system can’t view his CD copies of his X-Rays, so he’s having the X-Ray’s done again. I suspect the same is true for me, but my nurse was focussed on what can and should happen rather than what doesn’t work.

The CD contains an executible file for a small program that views the X-Rays and enables them to be exported into standard file formats. It was easy to view on my PC. I suspect RBH’s system prevents users from being able to run exectuibles from CDs – for security reasons.


3 bits of fabulous banter »

Sony Viao Performance Enhancement Software

Wednesday, February 22nd, 2012 | tags: , , , ,  |

Performance Enhancement SoftwareJust incase you thought eveything in the Cupboard was running smoothly, here is error of the day – the dialog text just never arrived, I waited about 5 minutes and the dialog eventually just disappeared of it’s own accord. It’s as-if the performance enhancement software just couldn’t be bothered to enhance performance….  ….a software equivalent of “whatever”

Irony


3 bits of fabulous banter »

McAfee is a desktop BULLY!

Saturday, January 7th, 2012 | tags: , , , , , ,  |

McAfee bullies its way onto my desktopMcAfee thinks that I need a shortcut on my desktop for quick access to it’s internet security software.

I disagree because I:

  1. can easily find McAfee with one-click from the desktop  from a system tray icon- the desktop shortcut is redundant
  2. NEVER need one-click quick access to McAfee – when it isn’t already open
  3. keep a clean desktop – it has no shortcuts or documents on it. I find this aesthetically pleasing and it doesn’t interfere with what I’m actually doing

But McAfee is not content to simply disagree with me, it proactively bullies me! – everytime I delete the desktop shortcut – it REPLACES it!!!!!   This is worse than merely ignoring my request – this is reversing my request, ignoring me with knobs on!

Luckily, I’m prepared to spend time playing around in software settings, so I set off to find the “Don’t automatically place a shortcut cut on the desktop” setting in the main program.  Guess what? There isn’t one!!!!!! It take a lot longer to find out that something doesn’t exist, then to find that it does, because it requires a complete, exhaustive, search. That makes me 700 exclaimation marks ANGRY!!!!!!!

Maybe I can suggest to McAfee that they change this poor user experience, or maybe they can tell me how to remove the pesky, unnecessary, irritating, shortcut. A trip to the McAfee website might help. What do you think?

I had to install “Citrix Gotoassist” before I could chat to my “representative”. If this software is an integral part of the McAfee service then it should be pre-installed with the application and available from within the application. This would reduce the number of technical hoops that the wendy has to jump through when she needs support. It would also reduce the time taken to get first-time support.

My representative told me that the design team are working on an improvement that will be included in the next automatic update. Excellent.

If McAfee had employed user experience experts to review their software they would never have made such a basic software design error in the first place.

My security software should be inobtrusive, it should be there and accessible. It should not be bullying me and requiring me to install extra components before answering my support questions. Generally a very poor show by McAfee

 


8 bits of fabulous banter »

Installing Summer

Friday, July 29th, 2011 | tags: , ,  |

███████████████░░░░░░░░░░░░░░ 44% DONE

Installation failed
Error 404: Season not found. The season you are looking for might have been removed, had its name changed, or is temporarily unavailable. Please try again later …

 

(copied from a friend’s Facebook status)

6 bits of fabulous banter »

Do Androids dream of electric wendys?

Monday, June 20th, 2011 | tags: , , , , , , , ,  |

While standing in the isle of a FGW commuter train from London Paddington I watched the young man seated beside me using his Blackberry phone. It looked like a mini Windows 95 – text-menu list overload! My gut reaction was yuck! The young man navigated the text-heavy grey menu with impressive speed. Clearly an experienced user.

Some of the things I love about my Android HTC desire are the way the designers have managed to

  • Use pleasing interaction styles –  I can gesture with flicks, stretches, squeezes. I can drag and drop all sorts of things across screens. I can use short and long presses on the screen to find different button behaviours. It’s fun to explore and learn
  • Create a simple, versataile information architecture. I don’t have to learn then relearn where everything is because everything is in a sensible place that’s easy to find and find again. The navigation system is clear and simple
  • Allow me to easily find and install useful, innovative, fun, relevant Apps. It’s my phone and it does what I want it to do!
  • Avoid looking like Windows 95, no battleship grey, no long text menus with uninspiring fonts
  • Include fun animations like the windscreen wiper blade running across the screen when its raining. I love how the designers have taken the notion of a dashboard design and then added a winscreen wiper extending the metaphor with humour. Fun!

My HTC Desire in the rain Hoorah for Android!


3 bits of fabulous banter »

Diesel Particle Filter Malfunction (part 3)

Thursday, April 14th, 2011 | tags: , , , , , ,  |

Thomas alone in the Carparkwendy:  when I bring Thomas in for his new tyres I’d like you to upgrade the software aswell – but I don’t think I should pay for the software update

Service engineer: (disarming giggles) Good luck! You’re booked in


what do you think of that »

Diesel Particle Filter Malfunction (part 2)

Tuesday, April 12th, 2011 | tags: , , , , , ,  |

ParkedDuring Thomas’ annual service the battery was disconnected forcing his onboard computer to reboot. After reboot the Diesel Particle Filter malfunction warning still showed.

The mechanic said the filter looked ok. The nice chap at the Mini Dealership explained that the software might be malfunctioning and would cost me £90 to upgrade.

£90 for a software update!

What?! Software malfunctioning? Software not doing what it was designed to do? That sounds like a programming bug to me, a design fault. Software doesn’t suffer from ‘wear and tear’ like mechanical components. It sounds like Mini manufacturers, BMW, are passing on the cost of fixing their poor original workmanship to their customers! Atrocious. Most software providers release free fixes for software bugs. Hmmmmm…..

An internet search suggested that driving above 40 mph consistently for 10 minutes on a regular basis should burn-off the diesel particles and remove any mechanical problem – if one actually exists. There were lots of discussion forums talking about the warning light showing when there was no malfuntion on BMW cars. Consistent with an actual software design fault.

I changed my driving pattern to include regular periods of driving over 40mph for 10 minutes. Bye Bye to beautiful back-road Oxfordshire. The warning sign still showed. Sigh.

Time to re-visit those lovely chaps at MiniCooper Reading…


2 bits of fabulous banter »

windows 95 start up theme

Monday, February 28th, 2011 | tags: , , , ,  |

According to wikipedia Brian Eno said of this piece

The idea came up at the time when I was completely bereft of ideas. I’d been working on my own music for a while and was quite lost, actually. And I really appreciated someone coming along and saying, “Here’s a specific problem — solve it.”

The thing from the agency said, “We want a piece of music that is inspiring, universal, blah- blah, da-da-da, optimistic, futuristic, sentimental, emotional,” this whole list of adjectives, and then at the bottom it said “and it must be 31/4 seconds long.”

I thought this was so funny and an amazing thought to actually try to make a little piece of music. It’s like making a tiny little jewel.

In fact, I made 84 pieces. I got completely into this world of tiny, tiny little pieces of music. I was so sensitive to microseconds at the end of this that it really broke a logjam in my own work. Then when I’d finished that and I went back to working with pieces that were like three minutes long, it seemed like oceans of time.

Brian Eno’s 3 1/4 sec piece for Windows 95


6 bits of fabulous banter »

sentient lay person

Monday, December 27th, 2010 | tags: , ,  |

Different software programs use language in different ways to do similar system-related activities. The tone of voice they use when talking to the person using the software can create different attitudes towards the software supplier. Below we see how the software program Mozilla starts talking to its user immediately after the program has crashed. It opens with an apology, it doesn’t brusquely announce and ‘error’ it talks directly to the users experience and deals directly with the emotional reaction of the user to the experience of a crash.

Well done Mozilla.

Mozilla are sorry

By contrast here we see Google, talking in its own internal language, showing that language to the user ‘Client Error’ what’s that when it’s at home apart from being a pain to me.

Poor show google.

Client Error

I have a growing collection of different ‘error’ messages from different major software providers. That Mozilla’s opening apology is the only one approaching engaging, even personable is a sad inditement on the software industry. Major companies could define their tone of voice as something that speaks reassuringly to me as an sentient lay person.

I wish they would


4 bits of fabulous banter »

portraiting iterations

Thursday, November 11th, 2010 | tags: , , , ,  |

Producing a painting is very different from producing high quality software, it also has some key similarities. The similarities stem from the fact that you can’t do something this complicated right the first time, you need to take steps and reflect on how well each step is working, then make changes to improve it. You need to iterate.

Different iterations have a different focus. Below are the iterations for my last portrait, of Jasper. The inspirational photograph is on the left hand side, the 6 iterations move from a sketch on the right to the final version next to the photograph. I planned 4 iterations and had to add one because iteration 4 (the pale one) didn’t work aswell as I’d hoped.

Portrait of Jasper - photo and different painting production stages

Plan: The conceptual work for the painting is done before the sketch; getting to know the subject (Jasper) and the ‘user’ (Jaspers owner) what does the user want from the picture, where would they like to hang it in their home, how do they see the subject? This is the eqivalent of market research, product planning, and conceptual design explorations for a software project

Architecture: The first sketches are of the composition, the placement of features the use of space. No paint. How is the information organised in a way that makes sense. You can see how I made Jasper’s eyes look more upwards and towards the viewer than in the photograph. I wanted Jasper to look more directly at the ‘user’ . This is the ‘Information Architecture’ for a software development project – where is everything in relationship to everything else

Foundations: The first coat of paint is a base, it wont be seen in the final version but it emphasises or mutes the colours on top. For darker areas use a dark base, for brighter colours use a light base. For software this is  equivalent to wireframing the user-journeys through the software. The text may not be accurate, but the general idea of the interactions are in place

Technical investigations: With this painting I tried several techniques that I had never used before such as layering a watery-thin layer of white paint then using a brush to partially remove it, hoping this would create a finer texture impression of fur than I could achieve with a brush. For software projects the developers are often trying out how new technologies that can solve technical challenges and add value to the design. I love watching software engineers get all excited about technical proof of concepts

Filling in the framework: Successive layers add more detailed colour and texture, I had trouble getting the colour-mix to work. Between each coat the artist reflects on how well they are achieving their vision, making adjstments with each coat. Gradually the painting begins to look like the final product. But it’s clumsy, edges are not smooth, features are slightly mishapen, colours are too bright.  For software products this is the production and testing of the code

Fit and finnish: The final level details, this might be a glaze wash over the painting. For software this can be checking the details are consistent, the performance is smooth, the visuals are complete.

Commissions considered…


what do you think of that »