BitTorrent looks like a good

BitTorrent looks like a good solution for making large files available (it makes each downloader a P2P server for others to download the file), but here’s my question: it doesn’t seem to solve the problem of, say, 1 download an hour of 50 Meg. That download will come from your server, and you’ll still build up quite a large bandwith bill over time. It only works when more people download stuff concurrently, because the bitTorrent client will be open on their computer and P2P will start working. Is this interpretation correct?

Dan Saffer is persuing a

Dan Saffer is persuing a Master’s degree in Interaction Design at Carnegie Mellon University and will be keeping a blog about the experience. Should be good for the ones amongst us who would like to go back to school but can’t gather the courage to make the move.

The IWIPS conference (2003, 17-19

The IWIPS conference (2003, 17-19 of July in Berlin) this year looks not so interesting: the same talks that have been given there (Dray Associates, Aaron Marcus) for years – the same preoccupation with Hofstede. But this one may be worth the trip: “Guidelines have become an established aid to the development of usable user interfaces. In this paper we examine the validity of guidelines across cultures, suggesting that they are specific to the culture in which they were developed. We go on to suggest that the ability of Design Patterns to encapsulate context, and give examples of solutions that have proven to be successful in that context, may be a more effective aid to the design of culturally localised software.”

I visited Belgium last week

I visited Belgium last week and gave a talk (that’s me and Peter Bogaards in them pictures) about Information Architecture at the Belgium chapter of the Society For Technical Communication.

I found out that IA in Belgium (and most of Europe) stands nowhere. The UK is ok. Holland seems to have a bit of IA going on – they have an information design tradition to build on. But Belgium has nothing – this was the first event discussing IA in Belgium I was told. (!) It may be because design is taught and perceived as an art in Belgium, in art academies. There seems to be little understanding of design as having anything to do with research, or as an analytical activity.

That’s too bad. Belgium hosts much of Europe’s institutions, and they sure could use some IA. At the talk, there was lots of interest from decision makers – managers from various levels obviously struggle with IA problems, and seem to have a feeling that this “IA” thing might have some answers.

There is also almost no user centered design in Belgium. I spoke with Vero Vanden Abeele who turns out to be the only person teaching user centered design in Belgium. I hope we catch up. I did get some business cards from a few consultants who seem to be doing some IA-like stuff, but I have to look into that a bit more. On the pro side of it all: if I ever (not for a while!) decided to go work in Belgium, the place seems ripe for some good IA’s and UCD people.

IBM to deliver Information Integrator

IBM to deliver Information Integrator | CNET “Formerly called Xperanto, DB2 Information Integrator acts as a dedicated search engine for corporate information, collating data from multiple sources. Rather than having to install a huge, centralized database called a data warehouse to store that disparate information, companies can use DB2 Information Integrator to query several sources and present a consolidated result.”

Sleuthing Out Data – Emerging

Sleuthing Out Data – Emerging Technology – CIO Magazine May 1,2003: “More and more, the problems that earn CIOs their paychecks revolve around making it easier for users to explore huge volumes of data. They do this through finding known objects in huge search spaces, assembling top-down overviews that summarize the important points of a topic, and helping searchers decide what they really want when their initial search ideas are confused, misguided or ambiguous.” Sounds like IA.

Even though they have a simplistic idea of categorization (“trees”), there’s a good bit about the politics of searching: “It’s difficult for anyone to understand who hasn’t lived through it to appreciate how political categorization management is […] We had a category nomination process. We had a category retirement process. They all required long meetings.” Auch. Categorization by comittee is even worse than design by comittee.

Even though I like my

Even though I like my current host, they are too expensive (or my sites are too popular): I’m getting additional bandwidth bills. I need to move the poorbuthappy domain. Poehosting looks good – anyone used them? Any other suggestions? My requirements are: multiple MySQL databases, PHP, over 10Gigs of bandwidth a month (and scalable) for under US$ 20. The usual (multiple emails, …). Nice to have: Apache rewrite.

Hackers and Painters: “I think

Hackers and Painters: “I think the answer to this problem, in the case of software, is a concept known to nearly all makers: the day job. This phrase began with musicians, who perform at night. More generally, it means that you have one kind of work you do for money, and another for love.

Nearly all makers have day jobs early in their careers. Painters and writers notoriously do. If you’re lucky you can get a day job that’s closely related to your real work. Musicians often seem to work in record stores. A hacker working on some programming language or operating system might likewise be able to get a day job using it.”

Recent post on a usability

Recent post on a usability list, about security when entering username/passowrds: “Actually, in our limited testing so far, any user data entry errors have been immediately and easily resolved by the user without help (other than the error message). What I see happen in testing is: (for example) a user enters a wrong number or password, they read the “error” message explaining the entered information was incorrect, the user re-enters correct information (carefully) and gains entry.”

Unless you are working from a Windows laptop that was previously connected to an extra keyboard and are now typing from the laptop keyboard (a typical scenario when logging in after taking your laptop away from the base station). In that case, you have to press a well hidden key combination or your keyboard will not function correctly: certain letters will show up as numbers. I was logged out from our network like this, on a Saturday. Worse than the caps lock key. One idea: if people misstype their password, give them an additional textfield to check their keyboard entry with their password, and explain how to fix keyboard problems. Like “Using a laptop? Type your password here (it will show up on the screen) to check your keyboard settings – they may change if you have unplugged an external keyboard recently or pressed the CAPS-LOCK key.” (and include how to fix it) This may be overkill though – I have no idea.

Revenge of the Nerds: “Let

Revenge of the Nerds: “Let me start by admitting that I don’t know much about ICAD. I do know that it’s written in Lisp, and in fact includes Lisp, in the sense that it lets users create and run Lisp programs.

It’s fairly common for programs written in Lisp to include Lisp. Emacs does, and so does Yahoo Store. But if you think about it, that’s kind of strange. How many programs written in C include C, in the sense that the user actually runs the C compiler while he’s using the application? I can’t think of any, unless you count Unix as an application. We’re only a minute into this talk and already Lisp is looking kind of unusual.”