jibbajabba's blog

iorg.com: intranet organization and management

Someone from the intranet-user-experience Yahoo! gorup posted the link to iorg, which has a number of white papers, presentations and an online book on intranet organization, in response to a thread on Intranet best practices.

Metacrap

This paper by Cory Doctorow talks about the promise of metadata utopia and the reality of metacrap. If everyone would subscribe to a standardized metadata system and create good metadata for the purposes of describing their goods, services and information, it would be a trivial matter to search the Internet for highly qualified, context-sensitive results: a fan could find all the downloadable music in a given genre, a manufacturer could efficiently discover suppliers, travelers could easily choose a hotel room for an upcoming trip. ... A world of exhaustive, reliable metadata would be a utopia. It's also a pipe-dream, founded on self-delusion, nerd hubris and hysterically inflated market opportunities. thanks xblog

Adobe 'Approval' Automates Form Filing

Adobe announces Acrobat Approval. This Internet Week article explains why you might want to use the product. Adobe Systems on Monday, Aug. 27, brought out a stripped-down version of Adobe Acrobat 5.0 as a way for organizations to use electronic forms based on its popular Portable Document Format. ... Called Acrobat Approval 5.0, the $39 product allows companies to create, fill in, spell check and digitally sign electronic forms of their own composition. Acrobat is typically priced at $249 for single-unit copies.

How it works: Information graphics on Technology Review

Technology Review has a section of information graphics (Flash animations) that help you visualize how various technologies work, including: Zinc-Air Batteries, Functional MRI, The Telecom System, Holographic Memory, MP3 Software, Digital Movie Projection, and DNA Chips.

3-D visualization software guides surgeons through the anatomy of individual patients

Technology Review has an article about startups using visualization tools to aid doctors in complex tasks like sinus surgery. You can view and enlarged photo showing the video interface.

Forecasts of an E-Book Era Were, It Seems, Premature.

NY Times on the state of the E-Book. The main advantage of electronic books appears to be that they gather no dust. Almost no one is buying. Publishers and online bookstores say only the very few best-selling electronic editions have sold more than a thousand copies, and most sell far fewer. Only a handful have generated enough revenue to cover the few hundred dollars it costs to convert their texts to digital formats. ... The tepid demand comes as no surprise to some bibliophiles, since printed books still work just fine. "If e-books were the only thing to buy in a `bookstore,' I would buy a lot fewer books," said Starling Lawrence, editor in chief of the publisher W. W. Norton & Company. "I am glad I will be dead by the time they take over the business."

The Nature of Information

A poem by Edward M. Housman. Here's a few choice lines from the first verse: Information is the substance that passes between us when I tell you something. Information persists for a time, then fades back into chaos. Information cannot move without making noise. Laughter is information dancing. Information occupies space. And time. It takes energy to move information. Information is necessary for life, for any organized activity. Information is form without substance, substance without form. Both. Information, like light, has weight; a gigabyte weighs less than a fingerprint.

People Change Once They Go Broadband - Survey

Broadband, it turns out, changes folks. Or, at the very least, it changes the way they act once they get online, according to a new Nielsen/NetRatings survey. ... The Web-audience measurement firm today released data showing that people in the U.S. who recently have switched to broadband Internet services like digital subscriber lines (DSL) or cable modems wind up spending more time online, viewing many more Web pages, and parking themselves in front of their computer monitors more often.

Core Decisions

Tog on good designs for badly specified applications, using Dish Netowork's 501 product as an example of what not to do. Interaction design goes to the very core of a product or service. When user experience people are not intimately involved with every aspect of a project, from the most formative meetings to the end, the project is likely to go seriously awry.

Apply Usability Methodologies in Intranet Information Architecture in a Real World Context

Intranet Journal article on IA. This is the second in a series of five articles on the implementation of usability methodologies in the development of an intranet's information architecture. The series is based on a project developed for an educational institution.

Ethnicities Buying Online

According to Bizreport, a 2001 study from Cultural Access Group, a division of Access Worldwide, finds that 31% of online African Americans and 32% of online Hispanics in the US have made online purchases. These totals compare to 69% of the general US market that has made a purchase online. Cultural Access finds that overall, internet users prefer to research product information online. This last sentence about researching over buying echoes other reports blogged here lately.

Complicate Your Web Site

Joshua Ledwell, guest authoring for WebWord, discusses how to take a few extra steps to design successful transactional Web sites. When you're designing a transactional web site, you need to complicate it with extra steps and customization. Anticipate the most likely problems, provide clear error handling, and build informative confirmation messages to keep your users happy.

Supporting office processes with open source database applications on Mac OS X

I'm not sure if anyone is interested in back-end applications that you might need to support your work -- e.g. network asset control and contact management -- but I've been setting up a development server for my group for the past few months with a blue and white G3 Mac running Mac OS X. I've found that getting up and running with OS X server is a cinch if you run the Apache web server with PHP and MySQL. Plus, you can't beat the price, and who can argue with that in these lean and mean times. You might need to do a little tinkering using the Terminal application to get PHP configured in the Apache configuration file (/etc/httpd/httpd.conf) and to get MySQL installed properly. So this is for people who aren't afraid to use the Terminal. If you are interested, all you need is located in these few sites:

  • Apache/PHP configuration: If you have Mac OS X server running, Apache and PHP should be installed. You will just need to turn the server on from the Dock and then using Terminal, edit /etc/httpd/httpd.conf by removing the pound signs before the php configuration lines. If you are running OS X client, you will probably need to install PHP. Apache should run from System Prefereces/Sharing. If you need more info. on installing Apache/PHP, this DevShed article may shed some light. If you are afraid of Unix you can buy the OpenOSX OpenWeb package, which installs and configures Apache/PHP/MySQL from a CD.
  • MySQL package: Download from VersionTracker or Marc Liyanage's site. Follow the installation instructions on Marc's site.
  • phpMyAdmin to set up MySQL databases: phpMyAdmin is a php-based MySQL administration tool that lets you create, configure and edit MySQL databases and tables using a Web interface. Install phpMyAdmin from phpwizard to configure your databases.
  • If you want to access MySQL from an application, you might have a look at Runtime Labs' MacSQL.
If anyone is running an OS X server to support their business processes in some way, I'd be interested in hearing how you're doing that. -Michael

Color, Contrast & Dimension in News Design

George Olsen's weblog points to this excellent Flash presentation from the Poynter Institute that explains color theory and illustrates its use through exercises. The presentation then goes through some examples showing color theory applied to News pages. This is definitely worth a look. Thanks, George.

How To Say: "You're Fired!"

This is sort of timely. Not that I'm in the position of hiring or firing, but HBS Working Knowledge has advice for those of you who do. These economic times are tough for everyone involved. After the amazing economic growth of the last decade, the managerial ranks are full of people who know only what it's like to manage during the good times. But with more and more companies facing lower profitability and straitened finances, layoffs are becoming a reality that managers must prepare to handle. ... Letting people go is an emotional eventónot just for those being laid off but for those who remain. Of course those who are let go need help with the transition to new employment. But the employees who survive the cutbacks also need reassurance about their own futureóand an understanding of the strategic goals behind the cuts.

Beyond Usability Testing

Frontend Usability InfoCentre looks at alternative user-testing techniques for discovering how tests can deliver essential information on how users experience the site as a whole. User experience testing can answer questions that traditional user-testing techniques may not address. What messages does the site communicate? Which areas attract 'browsing' visitors? How long will the average user stay at any given site?

Enterprise Portals: One Size Won't Fit All

If you have Forrester access, this brief about enterprise portals Tom Pohlmann may interest you (or your management). The market report was based on surveys made by Forrester and focusses on decentralizing Intranet portals and concentrating on content ownership built around processes and creating metrics for more narrowly focussed Intranet sites and applications. Enterprise portals promise cost savings and productivity gains. But firms won't benefit unless they concentrate each portal interface on discrete user needs and measurable business objectives -- under visible sponsorship from a single business unit leader.

The cranky user: Making URLs accessible

IBM Developer Works proffers advice for keeping your novice and expert users happy with sensible naming schemes. Many Web pages, especially those created in authoring tools, have a tendency to treat URLs as impenetrable magic cookies. Users benefit when URLs are kept readable and understandable, and when the structure of a URL reflects the structure of the site. Even naÔve users may be helped by such a design. Here, Peter takes a look at why it's important to make URLs accessible, and offers some strategies for doing this effectively. thanks Tomalak's Realm

Back to school time!

And now for something utterly ridiculous. For a limited time, you can buy an ia/ messenger bag at the ia/ store! Why? I have no idea. Bags sell until Sept. 30. Incidentally I don't mark these up at all, so I don't make any $ from it and that keeps the price nice and cheap. ;) - Adjustable shoulder strap with adjustable clasp closure - Outside panel compartment has zippered closure - Black binding - Size: 11" x 13" x 14" - Sporty, Organized, and Stylish If you're not digging these bags and got samolians burning a hole in your pocket, you could always buy that jakob nielsen usability solidarity tshirt. Now, where was that shirt?

Is a guru worth the $'s

Christina's blog had a good discussion going about whether it is worth the dollars to spring for a guru. The discussion was prompted by this article in Taskz, Is a high priced usability "Guru" a good investment?

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