Thursday, January 17, 2008

Calendar and timezones

Today I registered myself for an event, a webcast about a technology (making Eclipse pulgins) that will happen in a few days so I want to enter it in my Google Calendar.

The event is slated for starting by January 22, 2008 at 9:00 am PST / 12:00 pm EST / 5:00 pm GMT.

As I'm not in USA the first two time tags are meaningless to me so I'm left with only the third one, namely "5:00 pm GMT". As I'm in Buenos Aires my time id "GMT - 2" during this summer so after some reasoning I think I have to add (or subtract?) 2 hours to the GMT time to get my local time. Or I can visit and after a while look for Buenos Aires in the long places list to find out that the event will start at 3PM here.

Why didn't I use the timezone option in Google Calendar event details input form?

Well, it happens that there is no such option. Which I think it might be useful for people entering events that will happen somewhere else, for example one that is going to travel.

Actually the screenshot is only a quick and dirty mockup I made for this posting. Just an idea to be developed.

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Posting is a pain

Posting in the Blogger UI is a pain, one posts struggling against the system instead of being helped by it.

The first noticeable bit is the working area. In my modest 1024x768 screen only 21% of the pixels are devoted to input text, the rest is mostly flat blank or dark blue. Few artifacts, this is good.

Hey, I paid for the whole screen, why should I want to use only 1/5 of it?

An example comes to mind: the visualization and edition of environment variables in Windows. It is done in fixed-size small windows that didn't make much sense in 640x480 screens and are ridiculous as of today's resolutions.

As I said, this is the first bit. There are so many! For example whilst editing HTML, newlines become line breaks instead of being handled as blank space. A newline in the HTML source is replaced by a ... hmm, I already struggled trying to show tags here ... lets try, newlines are illegally converted in <br> tags.

Ten pearls of wisdom

Yesterday a couple in Florida found a pearl in their dinner.

That´s nothing, in terms of economical value, when compared with this pearl of wisdom I found the day before. It´s a small excerpt from a book, see for yourself:

Top Ten Signs That Things Are Going Badly

  1. "Our Web site is intuitive and user-friendly."
  2. We need to start doing some usability tests before our launch next month."
  3. "We can use [XML/SOAP/ insert other buzzword technology] to fix that."
  4. "If you stop and think about how the interface works for a second, it makes complete sense."
  5. "How can our customers be so stupid? It's so obvious!"
  6. "Well, they should RTFM!"
  7. "We don't need to do any user testing. I'm a user, and I find it easy to use."
  8. "We'll just put an 'Under Construction' sign there."
  9. "Shrink the fonts more so that we can put more content at the top."
  10. "We need a splash screen."

Yes, since long ago I noticed that when a developer designing any piece of software says they were planning to build it "APB" (A prueba de bobos = fool proof) then that system is bound to failure.

What usually follows is "How can our customers be so stupid? It's so obvious!" and maybe the addition of some user-patronizing instructions.

But all these ten bits together! Understanding this might save the site much more value than that of the rare pink pearl.

The book, whick I recommend without having read it in full, is "The design of sites".

It´s not about graphical design the "surface design" but on functional design which accounts for 90% of a site´s usability.