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Category Archives: App

Interactive design (IxD) is study the interaction between the user and the designed target. Nowadays, it is most about the computer user interface, device specific screen elements… In its broadest sense, it also includes the artificial environment in which human interacts with its compounds. 

However, people does not usually think data presentation is IxD. The reason is obvious that human readable data has been presented in tabular printed page or webpage. Yet, the presentation is fixed in time. It is not so much the case with computer power increases, computer applications or webpage. The very simple example is that a list of item sorted by its attributes by simply a click of its attribute name. The items can be viewed in terms of date created or alphabetical order or so on. Another example is visualizing data in map. It was very powerful presentation.


iPad is out. I have not touch the physical object yet. Any comment on its success or failure is premature. One thing really worry me is iPad lacks an open file system – some inherent from iPhone. At this moment, I’m think the phase “a compter is not an island”, used many years ago when ethernet as a standard feature in a Mac. How is a iPad going to be a truely useful computer when file (data) is only considered as a property of an app. It is marginally workable in iPhone or itouch. I am truely dubious it will work in iPad. I may ponder this problem a bit more and get back to you.

You can treat DropBox as a regular folder for any file. Then the program does the rest- sync all the content with the server – hence the files are accessible everywhere, by different browser, any platforms including iPhone.

The biggest difference conceptually is that Dropbox is a folder and iDisk is an connected disk. Hence, there is no copying to create a new copy and no extra effort to take care multiple copies. iDisk in the old Mac is the pain in the ass. Even Copy small files leave the progress bar windows stay open for while, the larger the file the longer it stay open. Dropbox is no different than any moving action in the Finder. You move a file to Dropbox folder. It syncs in the background and he folder or file displayed with a small syncing arrows on the lower left corner. A blue tick when complete, very clear.

Most importantly, iDisk has left me too many times without a file when accessing the file in different computer. The syncing sucks in iDisk but it never happens in Dropbox, at least not yet. Best of all, Dropbox is free for the first 2 GB. Apple should seriously consider to buy the company and replace with it’s aging and annoying iDisk.

Recently, I came across a desktop replacement app for MacOS, called BumpTop. Using for a few days, I concluded that it is an good implementation of some existing ideas which has been around since early 90s. The good part is an almost flat learning curve. BumpTop takes the pile onto a 3D desktop which allows different sized document. Also the 3D environment allows 3 walls for pinning up files. It is a multiple desktops with animated transition. The best part is the installation, an excellent Mac experience, drag and drop to Application folder, no password required, easily quit the apps. I enjoy the free version but to pay for 30-US dollar  pro version is not what I want to do at this moment.

What are the ‘big’ things in the very near future?

  • Magazine in digital form
  • Publishing ‘industry’ in iTunes market style
  • Web productive apps in free/subscription mode (Google, MS, Apple)
  • Educational web apps and portal
  • Music Album

Simply put – reorganization of the old in the not-too-new.

Great apps for mobile device should be operating on one page. What is the need for second page anyway? Use old and simple computer model – input and output – unlike common webpage/app – is done on one page.

The second page is for setting and help. No more – even help is unnecessary. If a user don’t get the app instantly, it is either the app is too complicate or too complex for a mobile platform. Extremely smaller percentage dump users? Should we spend hours write and design help – only very small number of people used? If many users need to read the help, your app is a failure – go back the drawing board and rethink!

148 Apps limit on the number of apps “displayable” is arbratry, I have seen no reason that must be so. May be, the nine dots between the dock and the apps look best, not 12 dots, not 7 dots, and with that spacing between and beside them. It gotta to Steve Jobs’ arsfectic – his strong sense of “middle balance”. The first ipod has the phone jack right in the middle. The 9 dots has the middle dot and 4 dots beside it; and nine dots just fill 2 icon column nicely. Anyway, to the marketing nine home screen page limit is —  Dear customer, “you have spent about $200 on apps, you should spend another $2oo something for an new iPod touch” if you like to house your additional investment.

Practically, nine pages of apps make search reasonably fast enough for human eyes. I have no scientific data to support that. However, one page home screen would be perfect. How can this be done?

A billion iPhone apps download is approaching. People definitely downloading the apps (I have some freebies) and soon page after pages added to the home screen. Until one day, I found out the app I have downloaded didn’t show up. Gee, there is a limit on the number of apps I can install in my iPhone! 9 home screen pages or 148 apps.

Why did Apple care about that and a limits needs to be set? Does Apple consider about how messy the home screen would become once the App Store opened (especially with so many free apps)? Is this a flaw in the home screen design? Alternative? Dose a solution exist but Apple solve it for later updates? Is there a way to solve this mess? Certainly, my answer is “stack”. In this series of posts, I will explore how stack is the answer to current mess in light with other methods, I didn’t think it will work.

“Seeing is believing” in software interface should be amended as “seeing is using”. You see a interface control element (a hind of a control), you remember to use that function that element brings. This almost is as basic as it could consider the first pillar of graphic user interface. The graphic user interface was to replace the text command line with an average user found implenarable. The graphic user interface take the necessary daily operation make the visusable and hence reveal itself to the users, as supposed to hidden from them.

However, this is exactly what many interface is doing. The irony is that the limited space really restricted the presentation of UI elements. A flat land total layout of element is as bad as hiding the elements. A good interface is cleverly presenting the elements in a limited space. The statement, hence, is “seeing the clue is using”.

After a few days of use, I removed it from my shared computer. The major complaint is that the tag arrangement is so “unnatural”. When old things work for them (to certain degree), people loathe changes. Other than this habitual reason, is there any things prevent people from upgrade? First, upgrade has to be proved having advantages out rate the downside. Safari’s good speed is the good side. If you can feel a great improvement in speed, the downside is may be overcame sooner or later.

Speed vs Habit…. I would choose speed if the site I frequent can actually benefit from it. If I am an hotmail user, no, no, speed is not even an issue. The site just doesn’t work. The upgrade is to be blamed. If sites I frequent is simple HTML site, not much Javascript, the benefit is marginal. I should wait until I am forced to upgrade or stay where I am.

Software interface is still evolving. The great idea can still be possible, even change the course of this evolution. Think of a hammer, the handling interface is fixed and complete. Designers may make more complete by varying the length of the handle, play with the shape or the thickness. Software interface is a different story.