Monday, August 28, 2006

Smart Phone

Another one courtesy of SvN (aren't they all these days? I'm starting to feel like a plagiarist when I'm inspired by my RSS list...):

Cooper Consulting does their conceptual take on a better UI for an office telephone. Brilliant and long overdue. How much of a pain in the butt is figuring out (and correctly performing) common tasks like conference calls, call transfers, or even navigating voicemail on a typical office phone or cell phone? Too bad it's not real.

Once again it makes me want to wax nostalgic about how far ahead of our time we were with web based phone switch integration, shortening the complicated key presses for iNetBlind call transfers into an elegant "highlight-->right click-->listen for ring-->click ok to confirm" experience.

And speaking of phones, who was the moron who decided 9 should access an outside line when it means virtually every call from an office phone will start with 9-1, giving good odds of a single miscue to reach the emergency operator? I must be losing my touch, since I can't find an intelligent answer to this question anywhere on the Internet.

Saturday, August 26, 2006

Simplicity is Complex

Great post over at Signal vs. Noise documenting the creative process of building a simple interface. Reminds me of some iNet brainstorming sessions on BoRyan's pimp-lounge couch.

Would be neat to see an archive of Surfboard development with comparative screenshots such as this...

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Search Trinity Broken

I know the changes to the Google front page are getting a lot of criticism. My two cents:

How could they pull Groups off of the front page and add an extra click to access it via the "more" button? Web, News, and Groups are the big three/holy trinity of useful information search. (I might call images a darkhorse #4.) Bumping books and Froogle makes sense, but Groups?


Imagine you're searching for Fantasy Football Draft Strategy. Where will the best info be? Web and News and Groups. Images aren't very helpful. Maps are useless. Books and Froogle are helpful, but more from a secondary standpoint if instant gratification fails. I'll concede that Video may be useful here one day, but only one relevant hit right now and still a secondary tier for quality info in my mind. Blogsearch doesn't even get an official front page nod and has better results.

I know they probably want to make room for Maps and Video as their "hot" products on the front page, but that seems really ill conceived and off brand. Couldn't they at least try to group things into related buckets? Or set a preference to choose what options each user wants displayed? Or would it kill them to add 3 more links, sort of how "Desktop" search magically appears if you have the application installed?

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Google Image Search 2: Coming Soon?

Google acquired a company called Neven Vision, an image recognition software company. Could have some interesting implications. From the Google Blog:

"Neven Vision comes to Google with deep technology and expertise around automatically extracting information from a photo. It could be as simple as detecting whether or not a photo contains a person, or, one day, as complex as recognizing people, places, and objects."

The Neven Vision site has the usual "Hooray, Google just bought us" veil of silence post sale, but a trip to the wayback machine shows some hints at what may be to come.

"Interact using enhanced visual messaging for desktop or mobile platforms.
> Visual Messaging
> Video Gaming
> Avatar-Based Chat

Explore the hyper-linked world with object recognition and visual search technology.
> Image-Based Search
> Mobile Travel Guide
> Comparison Shopping

Identity verification with industry leading face recognition technology and biometric solutions.
> Access Control
> Credit Card Authorization
> Mug Shot Matching"

Monday, August 14, 2006

Are You A Basket Case?

Some interesting articles are popping up discussing the search data that AOL disclosed to the world.

This is my favorite so far:

Maybe AskJeeves could help with this one...

"i hurt when i think too much i love roadtrips i hate my weight i fear being alone for the rest of my life."

Thursday, August 10, 2006

To the point

Remembering how useful it came in on 9/11, I was curious how Daypop was handling today's news. I don't know if this just happened today or if the site has been like this for awhile, but I respect a straight and to the point error message such as this:

Text reads: "Daypop down until further notice... Sorry for the inconvenience. After adding a bunch of submitted sites, Daypop no longer has enough memory to calculate the Top 40 and other Top pages. If there's no simple fix, Daypop won't be back up until a new search/analysis engine is in place. A new engine will take at least a month to get online."

Monday, August 07, 2006

Why we don't get the (text) message

Great business 2.0 article on why SMS hasn't taken off in the US as it has overseas. Or at least not with most. I'm usually over 1000 per month counting inbound and outbound (largely thanks to 4info and Google SMS), especially during baseball season.

Why we don't get the (text) message

Interesting snippets:

Ecuador, with a per capita GDP of $4,300, has the United States beat when it comes to a critical wireless technology. Americans may be 10 times as wealthy, but Ecuadorians send four times as many text messages.

Users in Ecuador and the Philippines send north of 200 SMS messages a month and the Danes and Irish average 100 a month, while Americans manage to tap out fewer than 50.

In cell-phone-swamped Finland, there are popular TV programs where you can send texts that scroll onto the screen in a live chat, and others where you direct a character via SMS.

The right way to think about text messaging for now is to bring successful SMS services tested elsewhere to the United States. Google gets this - which is why it's basing much of its wireless development in London, not Mountain View.

Exponentia, a startup in Vancouver, British Columbia, has a service that allows Canadians to predict the next play by SMS in everything from golf to hockey.

Rather than substituting for PC-based communication, as it does in poorer countries, mobile messaging Stateside will untether commerce, social networks, and other applications originally tied to PCs. When smart innovators translate services originated abroad to America's cell phones, we'll really get the message.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Apple Phone at last?

Rumors are heating up. Saw this iChat Mobile post at Engadget earlier today, and 37 Signals comments as well saying the cellphone is still up for grabs. Great quote:

"They’ve had years to get it right, but still no one has. The UIs suck."

Will Monday be the day?

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Craigslist Scammer Defense

It's not about the blind, but this is a riot.


Scientist thinks invisibility possible in future

Dr Ulf Leonhardt, a theoretical physicist at St Andrews University in Scotland, believes the most plausible example is the Invisible Woman, one of the Marvel Comics superheroes in the "Fantastic Four."

"She guides light around her using a force field in this cartoon. This is what could be done in practice," Leonhardt told Reuters in an interview. "That comes closest to what engineers will probably be able to do in the future."

"What the Invisible Woman does is curve space around herself to bend light. What these devices would do is to mimic that curved space," he said.

Although the devices are still theoretical, Leonhardt said scientists are making advances in metamaterials -- artificial materials with unusual properties that could be used to make invisibility devices.

"There are advances being made in metamaterials that mean the first devices will probably be used for bending radar waves or the electromagnetic waves used by mobile phones," he said.

The devices could be used as protection mechanisms so the radiation emitted from mobile phones does not penetrate electronic equipment. It is guided around it.

"It is very likely that the demonstration for radar would come first and very soon. To go into the visual will take some time but it is also not so far off," Leonhardt said.