Wednesday, June 16, 2010
When I was first invited to play with Google Wave, I was all excited about it but immediately became overwhelmed with the sheer amount of features it had. It had features like my instant messenger. It had features like my email. It had features like a PowerPoint presentation. The problem? I needed to relearn everything. Again.
Then came the question of who the software was built for. Who were the target demographics? Who benefits from using this software? These things are relevent because the majority of people aren't creative enough to figure out how their lives can be enhanced by these tools.
To this day, I've yet to figure out the full benefits of Google Wave. Perhaps I will play with it again some time, but by then, it probably won't be around.
Saturday, June 12, 2010
I have jazz music performed by Taiwanese artists. I have pop music from Hong Kong, Hiphop in Korean, and even triphop where the lyrics are a mixture of Japanese and French. iTunes will only allow the music to be categorized into one "genre". How silly is that? Is it possible to organize the film "The Dark Knight" into just one category? Science fiction? Suspense? Crime? Drama?
At the moment, there are independent taxonomy projects on the web where groups of developers are forming standards that can allow developers to create software which will easily talk to each other. iTunes hasn't changed much in terms of features but I'm hoping Apple will consider giving users the ability to organize their collected media.
Thursday, June 3, 2010
With the successful proliferation of Facebook's "Like" feature on tens of thousands of websites, I'd say they now have a very rudimentary search engine which is driven by user promotion rather than (Google's) keyword ranking. Regardless, Google has some insanely smart people on their team. I'm waiting to see whether Google retaliates.
Monday, May 31, 2010
This poses a serious problem because if the brand isn’t in the forefront of the users’ thoughts, how will they recognize it? On my brother’s computer, the antivirus software makes every attempt at reminding me that it is “Norton” and it is tirelessly working in the background. By being so blatantly intrusive, it acts to reinforce the brand and to reassure those who fear viruses.
Ironically, this over-branding is what makes the experience so counterproductive. Norton does a fantastic job at reminding users that the internet is a dangerous place, but this has a negative effect in that it helps reinforce the fallibility of Windows to its users. As a Windows user, I fear it. How is Microsoft supposed to provide a positive experience when its users don’t trust the product?
Wednesday, May 19, 2010
As bad as this may sound, I’m actually quite happy Second Life never popularized. If they did, could you imagine the software and hardware engineers trying port this world so that portable devices could access this virtual world? Shortened battery life, lack of processor strength, overheating, and an operating system overhead absorbing valued memory resources. I’m sure the engineer geniuses could make it happen, but should it be done?
This is the same stance I have with Adobe Flash on handheld devices. Several of my coworkers have openly stated that Flash works extremely well with cellular devices *provided* these devices have the “right” hardware. Ignoring the fact that our desktop Macs have been known to crash due to Flash, what exactly is being asked? Have a mouse-less handheld device attempt to provide a user a similar experience knowing that they’re looking at a 4” screen?
That sounds rather painful.
Monday, May 17, 2010
Unfortunately, there's no 64-bit Flash player. When will Adobe come out with a 64-bit player? It doesn't seem like it's any time soon.
Sunday, May 16, 2010
After working with the Nintendo Wii and experiencing first hand the difficulties in developing for such a platform, I was utterly frustrated by the lack of support provided by both Nintendo and Adobe; there is NO support. Does Flash work on the Nintendo Wii? Yes. Does it work well? No. Were there a lot of problems? YES. Did Adobe fix those problems? Some, but only YEARS after Flash was available for the Wii. Are there still problems? Yes, absolutely.
Both parties are claiming how their platforms "should be considered" as open; which really isn't "open" at all. The goals of open standards are not the same as those for profit-generating businesses. It is currently not in Adobe's best profit-generating interests to fix their issues on the Nintendo Wii so the platform has been left broken. As a result, the developers are left to find web solutions for clients who have been assured by Nintendo and Apple that "Flash works on the Wii"; which it doesn't.
Do I want a similar fate for other mobile devices? Absolutely not.
Tuesday, May 11, 2010
As of yet, I haven't heard of any recognizable brands (Nike, Reebok, Walmart, Coca-cola, etc) who have successfully created a site that has gone critical mass. Yet even with this fact, social networking sites are still in demand by clients who genuinely feel that owning a social networking site is a viable business opportunity which they should invest in; they want to be the next Facebook.
Far be it for me to say that social networking sites are a poor investment decision, but an interesting fact about the web: Ashton Kutcher has almost 5 million subscribers. He doesn't own a website, let alone a social networking site. And as far as I know, I don't recall any recognizable brands like Walmart having even 1 million subscribers (website, RSS feeds, Twitter feed or otherwise); let alone 5 Million.
Monday, May 10, 2010
This morning, the media outlets were all blasting how Apple had been secretly creating their own "Flash alternative" as a means to circumvent their reliance on Adobe products on their platform. I only started reading up on it when someone mentioned "Gianduia".
Apple's Gianduia project is not new. It has been around for about a year and was never a "Flash alternative". It's a framework meant as a tool to assist web developers in building AJAX-driven, rich internet applications. Had these reporters investigated further, they would have uncovered the inaccuracies of the headlines. This isn't journalism; this is gossip. Facts were not checked before publishing.
This is a frightening approach at how media outlets are reporting information; essentially just writing about other writers' articles. There has been a longstanding debate on whether bloggers should be classified as journalists and thus protected by the legislation meant for journalists. This is a prime example against it.
Sunday, May 9, 2010
If I were to develop CSS with a strong focus on browser compatibility, it would be far different from developing it with a focus on browser performance (read: Steve Souders). The same goes for CSS intended for longterm use and CSS written to support accessibility. These things are all different.
Websites like Smashing Magazine offer great tips on how to approach the technical issues inherent with web development, but the tutorials should be seen as just that; references. There's no such thing as a one-solution-fits-all. If there was, it would probably be one that far exceeds any clients' budget.
Friday, May 7, 2010
When a movie --having nothing to do with computers, technology or electronic gadgets-- decides that they want fight-scenes to contain high-tech CGI animation and techno-rave styled music in the background, it rarely ever adds to the story. In fact, these things often feel so out-of-place, it makes the overall experience of the movie unpleasant. I can understand if these things were in a high-tech action flick, but not a drama!
Creative directors are the guys that meld these aspects together and ensures that the film has the appropriate eyecandy that coincides with the story. Now, if you're a creative director and are under the impression that rave music can work with *any* film, it's probably a good time to re-examine whether the audience will accept that vision.
Btw, might I add, Donnie Yen is the new Jet Li of North American-approved Asian martial arts films.
Thursday, May 6, 2010
I'm well aware of the different methods in replacing fonts on webpages because designers are always looking to add more tools to their design arsenal. sIFR has had limitations, but the recent methods such as cufón, typeface and Typekit have been gaining attention and I thought I'd mention some issues that are uniquely inherent about technical solutions involving 3rd party services such as Typekit.
Some immediate issues -- if their services go down:
- How will this affect the client's site?
- How will this affect the client's brand?
Relying upon any third party's services means your client's brand is susceptible to those services. I was on the Bank of Canada website when this error appeared. The service that provided BOC's date/exchange rates failed and produced an empty page with a horrible error message. Aside from a confusing message which a normal user would never understand, what should a user be thinking?
Wednesday, May 5, 2010
I find myself spending a lot of time reverse-engineering other people’s work. That is, it’s rather typical that clients have existing systems and frameworks where the amount of documentation is tragically inadequate. The trick is to learn as much as you can about the author(s) and then emulate what they’ve done. And although it’s rather cliché to say this, you really can learn a lot about a person by sifting through their code.
I was working on a project last year which involved developing work specifically targeted for the Nintendo Wii browser. Even though it is powered by Opera, it doesn’t behave the same way as its desktop cousin. The issues are compounded by the fact that there is no official documentation from either Nintendo of America, Europe or Japan; thus it was necessary to break down the issues myself. The full list is a lot more explicit so I’ll simply fire off some of the most glaring facts:
- There lacks metrical data to gauge the user's environment. The following issues remain unresolved:
- There are different Nintendo Wii browser versions and they’re linked to firmware patches.
- There are different versions of Adobe Flash for the Wii browsers. While one version of Flash can handle video well, the other doesn't.
- During the initial launch of the console, the Wii browser costed $5. Someone found a hack to enable one of the apps –which then allowed for a modified version of the onboard browser to run: The legitimate $5 browser had a different resolution than the hacked. In 2009, the decision was made to offer the Wii browser at no charge, but the divide was already set.
- What are the dimensions one can work with on the Wii browser? 800x600? No. An obscure width to the likes of 813px. What’s even more strange is that when the <BODY> has a CSS width of 100%, any <DIV> set to “100%” will be locked at 813px.
From this experience, I can only conclude that web development experts weren’t initially consulted by Nintendo before the browser was integrated onto their console. Since I don’t personally own a Wii, the likelihood that I'd develop personal work for such a platform is very slim. In any case, good luck to all those who have an interest in it!
Saturday, May 1, 2010
Vancouver’s public transportation, Translink, has low-rider buses with confusing doors. That is, those who ride the bus are already familiar with the idea of pressing a button to open the exit doors. Bombardier (the makers of these buses) has broken convention and nicely camouflaged pressure-sensitive strips at the edge of the doors. When pressed, these strips will cause the doors to open. Some immediate problems about this new method of interaction:
- The trigger to open the doors is both unconventional and hidden.
- Those who cannot read English will not understand how to proceed.
- As an accessibility issue: the elderly and mentally challenged riders with visual impairments are directly affected.
- After pressing the trigger, no indication is provided to a user that their command was accepted by the system.
- Activing the trigger produces different results because in order for the door to open, the bus driver needs to "enable" the doors first.
I will be blunt in stating the most immediate and obvious flaw of this design: There is no reason for a door to be so complex that instructions need to be made. If this were a website, it would be unacceptable. Websites built with usability in mind would never have a “how to use this website” page because the site should be intuitive enough for it to be unnecessary.
Although I tend to be quite critical with my coworkers and colleagues about maintaining a certain level of usability, I will admit that the technology sector is one of the industries putting a lot of effort in pushing for better usability standards. For companies like Bombardier, their work needs to be scrutinized to an even higher degree because their footprint in society often exceeds that of any website.
Friday, April 30, 2010
Just recently, a staff reporter from The Vancouver Province wrote an article detailing his opinions on why the Vancouver housing market is inflated. In it, he cited Asians from China as being the primary reason. Now, aside from the reporter blatantly writing a speculative piece and trying to push it out as “fact”, I don’t think I’ve ever seen such a lack of professionalism from a newspaper reporter. This was the first time I’ve ever written a formal complaint and I’ve yet to hear word back from TVP.
To recap the article:
- The reporter cold-called different ReMax realestate locations and asked for imprecise and approximate statistical data about ReMax sales.
- The reporter did not get any “official” ReMax sales statistics regarding the percentage of homes being sold in Vancouver in relation to the number being sold specifically to Asians from China. (I know for a fact that ReMax does not in any way keep track of this information in any official manner.)
- This reporter did not state the credentials he has to make an assessment or conclusion of the housing market or what is the determining factor causing such inflation.
A reporter with an unknown realestate background, gathered his information from conversations, tallied data from just one segment of realtors, did not check the accuracy of what was said, postulated and then blamed a group of visible minorities for the pricing increase –- a group who most probably would not have the capacity to defend themselves from such accusations.
For the housing market to increase, there needs to be a number of different factors; not just that homes were sold. What was the percentage of buyers who were Chinese and the percentage of those who weren't? Those who purchased homes, did they pay above or below market value? How did the reporter derive that the purchasing of homes from Asians equated to an overall price increase in the market?
What I found upsetting about this article was that it was written in a way to put Asians in a negative light. The title of the article could just have easily stated "Homes in Vancouver a prime asset for Mainland Chinese" or "Mainland Chinese are investing in Vancouver homes". Such titles state FACT. Forming an opinionated hypothesis is anyone's prerogative but to do so on print and without any concrete evidence? Disappointing.
Friday, April 23, 2010
Facebook is a goldmine when it comes to data-mining. Users are actively encouraged to synch their profiles with all valid and truthful data about themselves. Their personal, financial, entertainment and consumer relationships are all mapped out. FB's new tools, allowing other sites to access Facebook's "like" feature, is just another foot-in-the-door.
When you have hundreds of thousands of websites who have already integrated portions of Facebook’s code, bundling additional functionality (such as a Facebook analytics package) will be simple and ubiquitous. Just as much as the comic industry being fearful of the iPad, Omniture should be concerned about Facebook's future because it could directly compete with them.
Thursday, April 15, 2010
When advertisers watched the Spielberg movie “Minority Report”, everyone seemed to agree that the future is about over-advertising. I don’t agree. In the future, people will become so immune to ads that there is no value in producing passive advertisements which people will ultimately ignore.
The future is interactive ads where people are encouraged to "play"; Schell has got it scarily right.
Wednesday, April 7, 2010
Rather than pay or even coax individuals to rate/review/map a city’s business venues and locations, FourSquare makes it into a game with a rewarding system based on satisfying one’s ego: achievement “badges”. People don’t even realize they’re doing work because the “work” has been made into a game. If there is any type of predictions about the future, it is that all aspects of our lives will be made into games; it’s only a matter of time.
Monday, March 29, 2010
Mauricio, a person whom I've worked with over the past three years, illustrates his own comic books. There are only a handful of people in the office who have an appreciation for this medium but it has been quite unanimous how we look at Marvel's decision on producing comic books for the Apple iPad. Some insights:
- Comics will not require paper; thus the sale of a comic will not require such a drastic overhead.
- Marvel is cutting out the middle-men. When you buy comics, you are buying directly from Marvel/Apple.
- Digital copies hold no value.
- Comic book stores who hold tonnes of back-issues will cease to exist. Why would they be around when Marvel can sell you a digital print?
- Comic books will cost more. Yes, more. Graphic novels were the comic industry's way of creating books with their comics. With the iPad, there is no need. You won't have the ability to purchase a graphic novel, you'll simply need to purchase each and every individual comic.
- Those who "collect" comics will cease. As stated above, digital copies will rule and if so, what value is there for comics if a digital copy is always available?
The first issue of Batman or Superman will always retain some sort of monetary value, but this is only true for this generation. The next generation of kids will become exposed to a world where consumable media is disposable. There is no value in collecting digital copies. How we value and commoditize comics will change in the next few years and I will state the obvious: local comic stores will start shutting down because of it.
This is a perfect example of business disruption; those who don't maintain an understanding of where technology is headed will be in for a shocking realization when their business strategy suddenly becomes obsolete.
Monday, March 22, 2010
Just recently, the "dot-two-point-oh" grabbed the attention of everyone and a string of marketing and advertising campaigns focused on "Web 2.0". The pessemist in me is waiting to see what new marketing buzzwords will come and captivate the general public but suffice to say: you can't escape it.
Monday, March 15, 2010
PC users who mock Apple's resilience needs to wake up: They have a product out there that is perfect for you and after the first hit, you'll probably come back for more.
Sunday, March 7, 2010
Instead, the real question is how we use computers. We're no longer tethered to a desktop anymore so why is the assumption that we will continue to purchase desktops for home use?
Sunday, February 28, 2010
Over the years, I’ve seen quite a number of memes with ridiculous claims:
- Hotmail plans to charge for their services unless you send this email out to all your contacts!
- MSN/ICQ/AOL will start charging for their services unless you send this IM to all your contacts!
- A child abductor was spotted in a white van cruising around local schools, email this to ALL your contacts!
Whenever I see these things being passed around, several things concern me:
- The lack of fact-checking involved when accepting information from peers.
- The lack of business understand from the general public.
- People’s perception that they can incite drastic, monumental change by pressing a button, passing an email or joining a Facebook group.
Saturday, February 20, 2010
The question to ask is:
1.) Is your audience smart enough to differentiate advertising from charity?
2.) If they *are* smart enough, how will this affect the brand? Will such a campaign help tarnish it?
Friday, February 12, 2010
Saturday, February 6, 2010
I visited a website recently and upon landing on the homepage, the site’s full-screen video immediately initialized, encompassing the entire screen, disorienting me and ensuring that I no longer have control of my own computer. Not only was this upsetting, I immediately had no intention of ever going back to the site again. This is how you alienate your user: take away their control.
Would it be so hard for the homepage to offer a selection? Give me the option to view the site in a window? Perhaps even prepare me for the fact that the website will commandeer my desktop? What purpose does it serve to force a user to see the site in a specific manner? Does it help the client’s brand or does it help the creative team’s vision? Which is more important?
Sunday, January 31, 2010
- Users could play free Flash-based games rather than pay for them.
- Developers could build apps in Flash rather than on the iPhone platform.
- Apple cannot regulate the type of apps you use if these apps are Flash and located on a web page.
- Apple cannot regulate what new features Adobe decides to add into Flash.
- Flash can theoretically circumvent some iPhone/iPod/iPad security features.
- Flash developers could create interfaces that mimic and/or confuse –even trick—users.
- Flash is processor-intensive and might affect a user’s experience on the device.
(BTW, I still love my Blackberry)
Sunday, January 24, 2010
Thursday, January 14, 2010
First and foremost, I would think that consoles need to be able to play games and play a large selection of games. I don't need my console to stream movies or produce a slideshow of my vacation photos or connect to the weather channel. I bought it because I want to play games. That said, what has Nintendo done to attract developers to their platform?
Both Sony and Microsoft have put a lot of time, effort and money into creating development tools and packages that give developers the ability to produce games. This is vital for a healthy development community. If there is a limited number of developers creating games for the Wii, there is a limited number of games.
And what is the value in buying a console when there aren't any good games for it?