Stefan Hayden

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Archive for the 'review' Category

The wordpress Custom Field GUI is great. Not the smooth admin ajax I want but good enough.

Vimeo has gone through on of the most extensive redesigns I can remember in a while. Google analytics was large, Upcoming’s was moderate and youtube been focusing on one small change at a time. Vimeo seems to have really dug their teeth in and redesigned their user interface from scratch.

Vimeo was not slouch to begin with either. It was a nice looking site with a quirky variant of the web 2.0 look. One of the most striking things about the redesign is the color change. Formally a white on sea foam green with orange and yellow high lights they moved to a much more reserved dark brown on tan with much more muted highlights of orange and yellow.

That color shift alone is an interesting choice. Most times companies retain their color pallet though design changes. Why did they choose such a dramatic color shift? I personally feel they move to a more muted pallet to seem more gender neutral. Being a niche video site they can’t have people avoiding their service because of it’s color pallet.

Color alone is not the only shocking changes Vimeo has tried. One thing that seems extremely odd is the alignment of the main column. Why in the world is it a full 20px higher then everything else? My best guess is to bring prominence to sections such as your inbox and registration. Despite that logic on first glance it just seems like a mistake and even today it still does not look correct to me.

Vimeo has also chosen a very unique navigation and icon set. The pagination seems unconnected to the content it is supposed to be effecting. The ability to type in the page number saves the space of listing all the pages and the previous/next arrows do not look like buttons. The icons share the button-less look.

This kind of interface might be very off putting to the average web user and I’m sure Jakob Nielsen would disapprove but I truly believe it’s not only visually appealing but wonderfully quirky interface that is perfectly usable and a adds to the quirky flavor of Vimeo. I’m a strong believer in challenging users to raise to the challenge to new an innovative interfaces. If you respect the intelligence of the user I fully expect them to raise to the challenge.

These top and bottom links also seem a bit out of place. With no scroll bar on the content you are going from top to bottom of it seems like there is little indication of what those links do. Once again this is a daring choice that I think will work out as additional Vimeo quirkiness.

I’m a big fan of the “How to Get Started” box. Kathy Sierra would be very proud of their list of small goals with positive feedback. There is tons of money to be made with adding more game like features to a site. People play good games for hours and web sites can greatly benefit for their methodologies. Vimeo started with a very small implementation but hopefully they will see great value come from this little feature and expand it in the future.

I can’t remember what kind of ads Vimeo had before but their new ads look great. At first I was surprised they were convincing advertisers to go with Vimeo’s in house ads. Most advertisers would not bend to make their ads special for just any site. Quickly you see that each ad is a simple amazon affiliate link. While this lets them design their own ads I can’t imagine it’s very profitable. Amazon affiliate links have historically not performed well and so it’s an odd choice although a visually appealing choice.

Vimeo has pulled off an awesome redesign. It’s gone from a visually appealing site to visual appealing site with some daring interface choices. Just as apple is an experience company Vimeo seem to be pioneering their own unique user experience. This kind of respect for their users will only create a greater dedication to their service as it seems more personal then most other sites.

I often feel like an archaeologist. I’m alway searching for TV shows long forgotten that still sand up to the test of time. Shows canceled after one season are the hardest to find. By definition fewer people have seen them and reviews are harder to come by.

Life As We Know It is one of those one season shows from 2004 that no one saw but was still a stellar show. Set in high school it has a much more realistic version of high school then most shows.

With that grasp on reality they were able to accomplish a student/teacher romance with more nuance then any other show has been able too.

One danger a lot of high school shows run it to is how much to include the parents. But the parents are written as real people and stay almost as compelling as the kids story lines.

The show is based on the young adult book Doing It which tries to give the male point of view. There is alway issues trying to bring people’s internalized thoughts from a book to a script. LAWKI does this with an odd technique slowing down the background while green screening the character with incite in to the moment they are in. It does not work well and they stop using it as the show goes on but it does not detract from the over all show.

It’s easy to see why the show only lasted one season. Consistently shows with a split focus on kid/family have a rough time with ratings and the odd editing technique would also scare people away early on.

While the student/teacher relationship would have definitely drawn viewers the other relationship involving Kelly Osborn would have also scared people away. Kelly did a great job and the story was very interesting but she does not fit the typical “hot girl” that draws in the demographics as well as her story line involved a mostly stable relationship which does also not typically draw crowds.

I’m not pointing out fault with the show because each “problem” was a real strengths of the show. Both the kid/parent split and Kelly Osborn were very strong parts of the show. I do think it’s interesting to see why and how shows fail to gather a following from a public that makes very superficial decisions.

If you like my kind of shows this a great show to check out.

I don’t want to see License to Wed. It’s just I have have a total crush on Mandy Moore and John Krasinski.

We just took Nip/Tuck off of our netflix. I’m sure it’s a good show but it’s just so gory and about really shallow people with deeply disturbing problems. I can’t say it was fun to watch.

Carcassonne is tons of fun on XBLA. I’d say two times as fun as Catan.

Google Docs just did a lame update. It did not try and synchronize with gmail and instead looks kind of generic. Makes me want to go back to the fun design of Writley.

I watched Four Eyed Monsters this weekend since it was up on youtube and it took over my whole day.

Four Eyed Monsters is not a documentary but is a autobiographical story of Arin and Susan that include a lot of the original artifacts (video/writing) that they created before and during their relationship.

The amazing thing is the movie continues. Since the story is about their immediate past the production of this movie is directly related to the movie. There is tons of podcasts and behind the scenes stuff online but I think I’m going to have to buy the dvd to show people.

Oh and even better Susan is from Malden which is where I currently am as well.

TEDI’ve always been a big fan of the TED conference videos online. I’m a big fan of long interesting talks about seemingly dull subjects. Based on this I hoped the new TED movie The Future We Will Create: Inside the World of TED would be just as good. Sadly it just comes off as a 73 minute advertisement for the conference. They would have been better off just highlighting some of the bes speeches. I was vary disappointed.

Avatar complete season 2 DVD announced with an entire extra DVD of bonus material. The first season was a little slim on bonus material but what was there was good stuff. I looks like they got good feed back on that bonus material and are ramping it up this season.

For the most part I like windows. Perhaps I’m just more of an anti-mac zealot but either way windows does what I want it to. But my last experience was not a fun one at all.

First off Dell’s “Vista ready” PCs were a complete ripoff. A relative of mine got their vista ready computer from dell back in January and just received her version of Vista now almost 5 months later. That is a travesty right there how buying a whole computer doesn’t get you some kind of pre-order status is beyond me.

But once she had it I jumped at the chance to install it for her. The only way you really get good at windows is through practice and I do love to learn. I didn’t have a ton of time and so I took the most direct rout and did an upgrade so all the files would stay in place and they would just have a shiny new OS wrapper.

For a Vista ready computer it definitely installed slow. And the process makes no sense. If I remember correctly the steps listed were: Transfer files, collect files, extract files, features and updates, and setup complete. If you just look at that it makes no sense. Why would you transfer files randomly so that they then had to be collected? Why would features and update just be one step? Why not tell people what the features are? How is setup complete a step? It’s more like a message you get when your done.

The first 3 steps took about an hour which was frustrating but over all not horrible. I was excited when features and updates popped up to see what it was installing. It didn’t give any indication of what it was installing and it was done in about 2 minutes. Wait… what? 2 minutes? Over 5 years and millions of man hours and your going to tell me that features and updates took 2 minutes? I suddenly feel a little ripped off.

Next was setup complete. I was happy to be done so I could play with Vista. I know they have more then 2 minutes of features no matter how dumb their setup was. Setup Complete took an hour to get to 50%. What was it doing? At this point I’m dieing for any indication of what it is doing. Even a list of files it was installing would be better then the flashing ellipsis to show that something is happening that is probably just an animated gif anyway instead of an actual indication of processing.

At 51% it had reinstalled the graphics card drivers and flashed the screen to show a decent resolution. At 54% the screen flashed black again but then restarted the computer. It started to load Vista and then crashed to a blue screen. This was a vista ready computer… it has no business crashing to a blue screen on install.

I tried a repair but after letting it run all night (I mean 50% of the OS was never “Setup Completed”) but in the morning it was clear it wasn’t actually doing anything but showing me a load bar that was an animated gif. I finally figured out how to restore XP but it was hidden on a option screen that only flashed a second on screen during boot time. I tried a second install but it failed in the same spot.

I didn’t have enough time to do more or try backing everything up and trying a clean install. It hardly matter though because an XP to Vista upgrade should go smoothly no matter what. I’m kinda pissed and exhausted that nothing was accomplished after all that work.

(P.S. I don’t need other OS zelots mocking me in the comments. Go ahead and try. I will censor you and maybe even edit your comment for comedic effect. I am a despot.)

This Caramel Easter Bunny is the best thing I’ve ever tasted.

There are a lot of things wrong with SXSW and a lot of reason why. SXSW used to be a tiny design and technology conference amidst a giant music festival. Today SXSW is as twice as large as the year before and show no sign of slowing down.

In the early days of SXSW the fight for standards based design was just starting and there was a lot of headway to make. People needed to be taught and great panels grew out of the people’s need to learn.

Today the web standards war has been won. With most web designers having a grasp on css it was finally the time for SXSW to turn design away from the technical and back to design principles, but that is not what happened.

The old standaristas are not prepared to teach design. But instead of moving on they continue to come back at put on fluff panels wit little substance. SXSW continues to allow it cause the internet famous panelists are who bring in the attendants.

I could pick on many panels but the worst of the bunch was: Design Workflows at Work: How Top Designers Work Their Magic. It’s interesting to read about the panels talk about how they really did not prepare for the panel. The description was:

Have you ever wondered how the top designers work their magic? What is their workflow? What tools and techniques work best for them as they create compelling and inspiring designs. Find out the workflows that work best in today’s fast paced environments. Get tips and best practices as true ‘Design Superheroes’ share their craft.

Right of the bat the description does not sound that great. Though all of the panelists are excilent designers any one who actually works on the web can’t possibly believe that the “top designers” have some sort of magic workflow.

Never the less this panel got such a large response that SXSW put the panel in on of the largest rooms. Since these same top designers made SXSW famous they have such a large following that it almost does not matter what panel they would want to put on.

The panel turn out to be four panelists talking about how they like to think in the shower or how much they love basecamp. Endless talks about what time they wake up and go to sleep. The panel ran as an impromptu talk between four friends with people stepping on each other’s words and little direction. The entire panel was a train wreck.

Anything worthwhile that came out of the panel was by complete accident and was definitely not by design. But while the panel had no substance it had a lot of glamor with beautifully designed slides (though with no information on them) and an entire site to go along with their panel. The site has more info then the panel but that’s not an accomplishment of any sort.

While all the panelists are not only accomplished designers but time proven bloggers they need to all stop joining panels. If this panel is any proof they have nothing interesting or helpful to say and are only trumping other less known designers who might have something to teach.

This is not the only panel to waste people’s time. At least they tried to warn people that Bullet Tooth Web Design: Plan Your Web Site like Pulling off a Robbery was a complete waste of time.

Last year I bashed How to be a web design superhero and Andy Budd bashed me back. I still argue that people come to conferences and go to panels to learn. Learning is what companies are paying for. SXSW is also popular for the parties afterwards and I know I would feel better about parting if I felt like my brain was so full of new information that only an open bar can fix it.

yahoo pipes tshirt

Their logo doesn’t look completely ridiculous small on the website but large on a shirt it looks incredibly dumb.

Prize: ridicule and finger pointing.

Song 2: Time You Have Been Wasting (MP3)
This will be my first entry in the female lead singer category. And it will not be my last. The Salteens also have a male vocalist that helps add alot of texture. I feel that bands that use both a male and female vocalist can do more then other bands can. Not only is this a solid power pop band but they are also straight out of Canada where so mush great music hides with out making it’s way in to the USA.