Homophily

(via O’Reilly’s Radar) Homophily refers to the tendency to associate with people who are like you. This is as common in chat rooms as it is in elementary school lunch rooms. There is a natural tendency to seek out and associate with other people that are like us in some way. It makes us feel like we “belong”, like we are not alone. Sometimes this is harmless and even beneficial, as when quilters find each other and form a club. They get satisfaction and enjoyment out of their shared interest. Sometimes it is very bad, as when young men and women with radical inclinations find each other and push one another toward terrorism, strengthening one another’s resolve to kill. Generally […]

Freedom isn’t always fun

I’ve spent a fair amount of time over the years studying, debating, and working to understand the creation, distribution, and use of information. I strongly believe in the freedom of information. Freedom of speech, thought, and conscience are not just nifty ideas they are the foundations of a just society and a happy life. Information and knowledge yearn to be free. Ideas have a need to grow and spread or wither and die based on their validity and usefulness.

Green Means Stop

Today we are going to talk about what colors say. For instance, Green often says “it’s not easy being me”… Okay, Green doesn’t really say that, we all know that Green only speaks Dutch… Colors convey important information, however they sometimes tell us the wrong thing. A green stop sign is a great visual contradiction. We learn from a young age that “green means go”, “red means stop”, and yellow either means “slow down” or, depending on your parents, “go like hell”. So what happens when you switch around the colors on a traffic light? You get a whole bunch of accidents when people receive conflicting signals.

Good Software Isn’t Enough

I work hard every day to become better at what I do. I sit in my office reading blogs, books, tutorials, and anything else I can get my hands on and work on experiments and projects to hone my programming and design skills. I do this to avoid facing the trunk monkey in my car that attacks me when I go out… or possibly I do this so that I can produce really great websites. However, it is apparent to me that no matter how much I learn it will not be enough if what I build is not useful to people. So the real question is not just how do we build things well, but how do we build […]

Mouse Adaptor Compensates for Hand Tremors

IBM and Montrose Secam have partnered to release an adaptor for a computer mouse that will help users with hand tremors use pointing devices. The devices cost approximately $100 (US) and are available for sale online. The adaptor plugs into the PS/2 post and the mouse then plugs into the adaptor. If the computer lacks a PS/2 port there is a PS/2 to USB adapator available. The adaptor compensates for the tremors by filtering unintended hand motions, sending only the intentional hand movements on to the computer. It also compensates for difficulties with double clicking. This project was started by an IBM researcher named James Levine.

Finding the Essence

Starting from a blank slate to create a new site can be a refreshing experience, a chance to get it right the first time. However, with so many possibilities for what you can build how do you decide where to begin? What is vital to the success of the project, and what is just gravy? And, to beat the metaphor into the ground, do we need the gravy or is it a tasty treat that will kill us slowly over time? Step One After your initial research and brainstorming sessions you are likely left with a wish list for features and functionality that is longer than a greedy kids letter to Santa. Step one is to define the essence of […]

Outlook 2003 Memory Problem

Want to try something fun? Open up Outlook 2003 and then hit Ctrl+Alt+Delete to open up your process monitor in the Windows Task Manager. Clickon the Mem Usage column header to sort by memory usage. Now locate OUTLOOK.EXE in the Image Name column. Make a note of how much Ram is being used. Good now you’re looking at the amount of RAM that Outlook is hoarding for itself. Now let it sit open for a few minutes, while you get a cup of coffee or stretch of something. Done? Good now compare the Mem Usage column to your notes, it should be way higher and still climbing. This is because whenever Outlook is open and not minimized (this doesn’t mean […]

New Job

It appears that I’ll be starting a new contract position at Ford on Friday. This may mean that I’ll be covering some slightly different topics on here a I tend to write about whatever I’m working on. Right now details are sketchy about what I’ll be doing but it appears it may involve European accessibility laws in the beginning so that should be pretty interesting. Beyond that you may see some more on usability and HCI coming soon depending on the projects I work on. On the down side I likely won’t be able to post a lot of details on confidential internal projects but I’ll try to abstract the concepts out of the work and provide my own examples. […]