Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Airplane routes and chartjunk

While traveling home from UX Camp Ottawa, Bob Barlow-Busch and I had a fun discussion about our airplane’s route as presented to us by the seat-back, enRoute system. The system cycles through multiple screens showing information about our trip in progress.

Here’s a photo of a route map, showing us flying west from Ottawa to Toronto. The airplane icon moves from right to left over the course of the trip. The map is presented at a variety of other scales as well. (As an aside, a segment of the route trace is missing at the start.)



Here’s a photo of what looks like a simplified route map. The airplane icon moves from left to right over the course of the trip. That’s the opposite direction to what is shown in the earlier map.



What’s going on is that the second map is really a progress indicator that has been “enhanced” through the addition of a curved grid and the use of a curved progress line. These enhancements seem to be meant to evoke a 3-dimensional route through the air. The problem is that when shown right after the previous map, the direction of travel is reversed for our particular trip. The system has a generalized approach to representing any given trip, and in the case of ours this conflicting presentation is the result.

A simple solution would be to create a progress indicator that is devoid of what Edward Tufte calls chartjunk. A clearer presentation would be unlikely to look like a flight trace.

Isn't that fun?

As an aside, Bob and I were quite aware that we were flying through the air at high speed on a regularly scheduled flight, and that give that context this was a pretty minor issue for us!

Thursday, November 13, 2014

UX Camp Ottawa

Having presented three editions of Fluxible, our UX conference, Bob Barlow-Busch and I know how much work goes into creating such an event. And while we love doing it, we’re always working while Fluxible is on, always paying attention to various details.

This past weekend Bob and I travelled to Ottawa to attend the fifth edition of UX Camp Ottawa, giving us an opportunity to enjoy a UX conference without needing to ensure that it’s running smoothly.

It was a fine experience, with a different vibe, and a larger crowd, than we’re used to with Fluxible. We enjoyed the program of speakers. We also had some great conversations and reconnected with old friends (Cornelius! Lou!) and made a few new ones (Abby! Kim!). We were delighted to see Konrad Sauer deliver a talk that he had debuted at Fluxible 2013. All this is what what conferences are for, right?

UX Ottawa co-chairs Cornelius Rachieru, Tanya Snook, Barbara Spanton and their team have created a great event. For Bob and I it’s gratifying to be a part of the larger UX community that UX Camp Ottawa and Fluxible are supporting here in Ontario.


Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Sharing at Boltmade

One of the things I love about Boltmade is the way that we engage with the community and share our knowledge as well as our wonderful space in the Bauer complex.

Boltmade has been host for the venerable DevHouse monthly meetups for quite some time, and has recently hosted sessions for uxWaterloo (which I run with Bob Barlow-Busch), KW Ruby Developers, and People x Products, among others. All were enthusiastically attended.

Beyond playing host, though, we also develop our own workshops to give folks hands-on experience with various aspects of software product development. For example, last week two of our designers, Brian and Blake, presented an introduction to Sketch, a cool UI prototyping and design tool that we’ve been using and enjoying on our projects at Boltmade. Back in September Chris and Stephen presented an introduction to functional programming.

Beyond our cozy office, Shan will be taking her prototyping workshop on the road to present it at a REAP lunch session at Felt Lab.

It’s all great stuff.

Interested in meeting interesting people and learning something new? Check out our events and join us at a future session.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Join in on some monthly UX fun with uxWaterloo

While much of the UX community activity that I engage in is Fluxible-related, I’m still involved in organizing monthly meetings of uxWaterloo, the local chapter of IxDA, as well as a Communitech P2P group. Bob Barlow-Busch and I have been doing it for many years, and it’s a fun opportunity to learn and to meet folks and talk about UX. We have designers and researchers attending, as well as UX stakeholders like developers and technical writers. We have professionals and academics at all career stages as well as students looking ahead to entering the work force.

If you haven’t attended, come and check it out. We’ve been having some great events recently, with author and Fluxible speaker Giles Colborne joining us for a UX Book Club session in September, Caryn Humphries presenting a wireframing workshop in October, and a talk coming up in November from Kuyler Neable on intellectual property for designers.

On a logistical note, from now on uxWaterloo will be using Meetup to connect people to our monthly events. If you haven't already done so, go get signed up and don’t miss any of our coming events!

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Open Ears event: If volcanoes could sing

I’ve mentioned previously that I’m on the board of Open Ears. It’s a great organization that presents some pretty amazing musical events in Waterloo Region. Our next event is If Volcanoes Could Sing on Wednesday, November 12, 2014 at the original Princess Cinema.

Things get started with a screening of the documentary film Intangible Asset Number 82, and is capped off with a live performance by Bae Il-Dong and Kim Dong-Won. It’s an evening of traditional Korean music that promises to be powerful and inventive.
“If volcanoes could sing, then they would sound like Bae Il-Dong. The Korean's voice has such breath that it not only fills physical space like a lava flow, but seems to stretch back across time.” — John Shand, ABC Jazz
Should be a wonderful experience. Hope to see you there!

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Words of wisdom at the Oktoberfest parade: Vote and be heard

In past posts (here and here) I’ve written about how much I enjoy the annual Oktoberfest Parade (and related events) here in Waterloo Region. This year was fun despite a little rain, and my youngest son made for great company. (As did my oldest when he finally joined us, having declined to head over to the parade route early in the morning!)

I don’t really have much to say that I haven’t said in previous years, other than I love that the City of Kitchener included a “Vote and be heard” float in this year’s edition. What a great place to remind people that they can make a meaningful impact by voting in the municipal election on October 27.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Muscle memory rules parts my world

I recently bought an iPhone 6 to replace my iPhone 4S.

(As an aside, my wife will now use that iPhone 4S, and we’ll finally retire my original iPhone 3G from daily use!)

I’ve enjoyed it so far, and the new iOS 8, but there are a couple of instances of muscle memory that I’m still working on overcoming with the new device.

First, Apple has moved the sleep button from the right side of the top edge to the upper right edge of the device. The move makes sense given the larger size of the iPhone 6, but after a few days of use I still automatically reach for the top edge to put the phone to sleep.

Second, the iPhone 6 includes Touch ID, which uses the home button to detect my fingerprint. Again, after a few days of use I still press the home button and then swipe to wake my iPhone, even though a button press plus a lingering finger on the home button will engage Touch ID and get me into the device.

At a more minor level, the larger screen size is taking a little getting used to. It’s not uncomfortable, but my hands haven’t yet adjusted to the jump in size from the iPhone 4S.

It’s kind of fun to notice this stuff as it happens.