Saturday, October 15, 2005

Random Saturday Blogging Bits

Sitting out at Murky Coffee in Northern Virginia today, trying to get motivated to start translating some backend wireframes into XHTML/CSS based templates that I can start tossing Ruby on Rails code into.

So this is purely a procrastination post, which will probably be pretty apparent from the content.

First of all, Google updated their privacy policy yesterday, and it made me realize, Google is one of the largest, most successful companies in the world, and I trust them much more than any government I can name. Off the top of my head, I'd say the same thing about Whole Foods Markets, and maybe even JetBlue since they turned themselves around after an incident a few years ago. However, I probably wouldn't put Microsoft on that list, and there's an endless list of mediocre companies that I feel wouldn't be any worse than any number of governments, and then there are a few big companies that that I think would be just as bad, if not worse than a lot of corrupt governments.

Maybe I'm naive, but I think as information becomes more accessible, companies will be forced to become more transparent (Microsoft?) due to customer demand. Unfortunately, I have considerable doubts that this same transformation will happen in world governments.

Other tidbits:

  • Google Reader has already become my defacto news reader. Google gets a lot of praise for their well executed use of AJAX and other popular technology trends, but there's one area of the user experience that I feel they consistently hit right, and that's the use of timing (for lack of a better phrase) in their software. For instance, in the Google Reader, when I scroll to a new item, the timing on the scroll just seems perfect. It's not too slow as to jerk the user out of the experience, nor is so slow as to try your patience. It's perfect. It's this similar attention to detail in other areas, such as archiving an email in Gmail, that's really part of the Google experience, and part of the reason I'm skeptical of the new Yahoo email. As an aside, I actually think Microsofts Kahuna Mail looks more attractive than what I've seen coming out of Yahoo.
  • To continue on that thought for a moment, I would love to see links or reference to any user experience design research and data available on the effect of partial screen refreshes. Anyone?
  • The Microsoft Office user experience team working on the next iteration of Office (12) has begun to change my perception of my Microsoft towards one that is decidedly more positive than any time in the past. I'm heading from ambivalence, with perhaps a slightly negative view, to slight excitement. Judging from other comments I've seen lately on the web, I'm not alone in this change of perception. This can only be good news for Microsoft. As much as Microsoft has been monopolistic in practice over the past few years, I don't think it's that far of stretch too say that they're going to need to undergo drastic changes over the next 10 years if they're going to stay competitive in an ever more web focused world.

  • After bouncing around from blog software and various hosts trying to find an easy to use solution, I'm finding blogger to be fantastic for maintaining a simple site. It's been a slow turnaround, and my impression until lately was always of the blogger of old, with a slow unusable, and buggy interface. However, since the buyout from Google, they've created a few great standards based templates, as well as given the backend of the site a major overhaul. It's much faster, easier to use, and setup. Overall, I think it's the best turnkey solution available for blogging. It obviously doesn't have the power of Typepad, but then, you're not paying for it. And while they're are hosted versions of WordPress available for free, none of them are as easy to use, or offer such high quality templates such as those found in Blogger.
Oh, and Murky Coffee out in Clarendon can be summed up in 3 words:

Damn. Good. Coffee.

Of course, I could use a few more, if asked. Lessee, attractive staff, attractive clientele, comfy couches, and free wifi. A nice place overall.

Another interesting aspect of being out here in NoVa, as someone coming from a more traditionally multicultural environment in DC, it seems the young/artistic crowds are migrating more towards VA; I'm guessing in lure of cheaper ren, and it's close proximity to DC. It's odd to see a more diverse crowd hanging in the burbs than you would have in say, Tryst(DC) about 4 or 5 years ago. Of course, that's under the assumption that DC counts as a artistic / cultural hub. It certainaly seems lacking these days.


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