Super Size Who/What?

Tonight Channel 10 (http://www.ten.com.au) in Australia aired the documentary Super Size Me (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Super_Size_Me) .

The documentary raises in my view, one important issue.

Know what you are eating.

Know the effects to your body by eating what you are eating.

Is it really healthy? Do some research into the ingredients in your food. The web, and your doctor are good source of information.

Also, keep in mind how much exercise you are getting on a day to day basis.

Exercise could be anything from walks (walking the dog, walking along the beach), running, jogging or even swimming. Exercise is important to our health, and our health can effect our state of mind. Too much junk food can make you feel drowsy easily.

Eat healthy, live healthy, be healthy.

I don’t think it’s just McDonalds that can be “fatty”, it’s all fast (processed) food. And fast isn’t always a good thing. Be aware of what exactly is in your food.

And even some food in other restuarants can be bad too. Things like MSG (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Monosodium_glutamate),which is added to food in a lot of Asian restaurants is pretty bad for you too.

In many ways, some of the issues I’m seeing in Super Size Me remind me of what Jamie Oliver addressed in his TV series titled “School Dinners” (http://www.jamieoliver.com/schooldinners).

I’m aware that some peoples’ reasons for eating fast food is due to not having enough time. Or just feeling too lazy to cook.

And I understand that, we all live quite busy lives these days. We all know that oft used quote “time is money”.

But if time is money, then what if the time available to you was reduced? Eating more than your fair share of fast food can lead to illnesses that reduce the amount of time you have available to you.

If you are spending time in hospital, or at the doctors to get an illness treated, then that means you’ve got less time to make money right? Even if you are just sick, but not sick enough to goto the doctors, you’re still not operating at 100% capacity, are you?

If we aren’t operating at 100% capacity, then we’re really not doing justice to ourself.

It really gives credence to the old saying of “you are what you eat”.

Chris Tacke: Smart Device Framework 2.0 documentation released

Chris Tacke has posted a link to OpenNetCF’s Smart Device Framework 2.0 documentation.

Chris also mentions in the same blog post that they are “extremely close to a beta release of SDF 2.0”.

Cool, that is very good news for all those developing for Mobile Devices using CF.NET 2.0 in VS 2005.

I’m definately looking forward to it, I’m currently using a few features that come with SDF 1.0 alongside CF.NET 2.0 running on Win Mobile 2003.

Going from the web development world (and a bit of desktop dev) for quite awhile (almost 2 years at the current job) to the Mobile device development world is very very different. (Not everything is different, it just feels different). Or maybe it’s because i’m coupling the move alongside the move to a newer IDE.

It poses fresh challenges for me though, some things I can bring through with me going from targetting web browsers, to little mobile devices include my programming language of choice (C#) and a reduced .NET Framework (and extended where appropriate) amongst other things.

 

On a side note, what’s with the 40+ degree heat in Melbourne today? It’s just way too hot. And made me feel sorry for the tennis players playing tennis in that heat!

Melbourne Cup Day, UI Design and PDC

It’s now November.

Yup, the 11th month of the year.

The second last month of the year.

And yesterday being the first Tuesday of November, meant us Melburnians got a day off to enjoy the “races”. Well, most of us just pay attention to the main race if nothing at all.

I decided to make the most of the “free day” to download and view a few of the Microsoft PDC 2005 Presentations. I decided to focus my attention on the Presentation area, which covers Avalon (WPF – Windows Presentation Framework… I still prefer Avalon!), ASP.NET, WinForms, Atlas (basically UI related), and where my main interest has been for awhile. I ended up with just over 1GB worth of presentations. Decided it was taking too long, so I’ll download more another day.

I didn’t end up watching much (took awhile to download), spent the time browsing a few blog entries here and there. Catching up on feeds I hadn’t read. Looked at tech.memeorandum a few times.

I only had enough time to go through one complete presentation, which was quite interesting and was presented by Hillel Cooperman (link to his blog) called Getting Users to Fall in Love with Your Software: 2005 Edition (powerpoint slides).

A few good points were brought up that caught my attention and got me thinking about the UI for my app (some just popped into my mind caused by points he brought up during the presentation).

  • How easy is it for the user to do common tasks?
  • Are there too many pointless dialogs that all look?
  • Are there any error messages/dialogs that could be more informative and more user friendly?
  • Have you ever watched a user use your app? If so, how easy/difficult was it for them to navigate around the app?
  • Remember that, no two users will use your app the same way!
  • If the user finds something too difficult to use, they will only use it when they don’t have any other choice!
  • Keep the UI simple, and familiar to the user.

There were many other interesting points brought up in the presentation, but many who have read other UI books (etc…) would have heard those or variations on them. But it’s always good to re-iterate the same points if people are still making the same mistakes. Right?

One of my University subjects was called Graphical User Interface Technology, and we had an introduction to what was considered good UI design, and what was considered to be poor UI design. As well as learning about how our memory remembered various items (chunked memory and a few other things), and a humans’ visual perception among other things.

It was an interesting subject, UI Design always is. The book we had to study for the subject was titled “About Face 2.0” authored by Alan Cooper. Although didn’t go through it as thoroughly as I should have at the time, I did go back to visit some of the points from the book and then decided to purchase another one of Alan’s books “The Inmates are Running the Asylum” which was also quite interesting. The other book we used for the subject was “The Design of Everday Things” by Donald A. Norman.

All good books to get you starting to think more about the design of user interfaces, be it computer software, everyday physical objects.

Many of the software created today will be used by many different users, in many different circumstances. All of whom will have different expectations when using your software. One users’ preference is not another users’ preference and vice versa. (As they say, not all humans are created the same.) Users expect familiarity througout using your software. Users hate software that isn’t consistent.

If you have several functions doing similar things, keep it consistant! Perhaps create a UI guideline for your app if you don’t already have one, or adopt one and stick with it. And adjust it as needed, while making sure you stick to it.

There’s a collection of UI Guidelines listed here, which I found after a quick web search. I remember using this one at webstyleguide.com back in uni, which is a nice reference guide for web UI.

The great search engine divide?

Was just looking over my domains’ stats and noticed that the once great divide between Google and the others has somewhat shortened in recent times.

Here’s the figures of people landing on one of my pages from a search engine:

Links from an Internet Search Engine  
19 different refering search engines Pages Percent Hits Percent
Google 1677 53.1 % 1679 52.8 %
MSN 1289 40.8 % 1290 40.6 %
Yahoo 130 4.1 % 130 4 %
Google (Images) 15 0.4 % 15 0.4 %
AltaVista 13 0.4 % 29 0.9 %
Unknown search engines 7 0.2 % 7 0.2 %
AOL 7 0.2 % 7 0.2 %
Dogpile 3 0 % 3 0 %
Ask Jeeves 3 0 % 3 0 %
Search.com 2 0 % 2 0 %
Excite 2 0 % 2 0 %
Earth Link 1 0 % 1 0 %
MetaCrawler (Metamoteur) 1 0 % 1 0 %
Club-internet 1 0 % 1 0 %
Virgilio 1 0 % 1 0 %
T-Online 1 0 % 1 0 %
AllTheWeb 1 0 % 1 0 %
Mamma 1 0 % 1 0 %
Jubii 1 0 % 1 0 %

As you can see above (looking at the HITS percentage column), Google’s at 52.8% with MSN second, at 40.6%.

From a quick “look over” of a few stats, the majority (but not all) of those that use the MSN search engine are from non-US IPs.

Very interesting. Although Yahoo is third, I would actually have thought their figures would be higher than that.

Then again, this is just my blog/domain, so it’s perhaps not representatitve of figures others may have.

Also, the figures are for the month of October until now.

If I go back in time, a little. The figures for September have Google at 82.8%, MSN at 12.2% and then trailing further back, Yahoo at 3.4%.

And now the August figures:
Google: 89.3%, MSN: 5.3%, Yahoo: 3.3%

The stats are very puzzling.

So let’s explore the other stats further.

So what are the top 3 search engine spiders, indexing my site?
1. Googlebot 3665 Hits
2. Inktomi 1541 Hits
3. MSNbot 1456 Hits

Digging deeper, I think I’ve probably found the explaination I was after:
The top requested page, aside from the RSS feeds was the following:
http://will.id.au/blog/archive/2005/01/23/msn-messenger-error-message-81000378

It’s had 1914 hits on it’s own. It’s a page that gets hits each and everytime MSN Messenger is down for some users, which judging from the frequency of visit, has happened 3 times in the past week or so. (On the 15th, 19th and 23rd of this month).

My personal preference on search engine?
It’s still Google first, then Yahoo, then MSN.

Web Design Patterns

Was just looking around the web and saw this link on Matt Mullenweg’s blog to a page with some nice overviews for Web Design Patterns.

Very cool. On that page they’ve put things into several different categories ranging from web design patterns for different Site Types, different User Experiences, ECommerce type websites, to different methods of web navigation through to different designs for searching, and so on.

Interestingly, they also have a page for GUI Design Patterns, as well as Mobile UI Design Patterns (that’d be WAP/WML based sites).

Since i’m not exactly a web designer, and my current work requires me to not only code (among many other things), I have to do a bit of web design. So this Web Design Patterns page will be nice to bookmark and go back to for ideas.

If you’re after some inspiration for a general web design though, have a look around at somewhere such as the Open Source Web Design website, or the CSS Beauty website. There’s a lot out there. But please, don’t just blatantly “rip” the design off someone. Try to come up with something original, even if you are basing some elements from different places. And if you do, it is nice to credit individuals/websites that inspired you!

Funny things

Look’s like MSN Messenger’s been down again. I’ve gotten about 1000 hits on that post I wrote awhile ago about the MSN Messenger Error “8 1 0 0 0 3 7 8”.

If you want a little laugh, have a read of this post by Rory Blyth. Rory’s drawings/comic strips always adds that extra little bit to his blog post message.

I also like reading Leon Bambrick’s Secret Geek as well.

Maybe those two should team up and do some sort of “geek comic” blog thing. Now that would make for a good read 😛

Might not happen right now, but you could just imagine “what if” the two were locked away in a dark room at Microsoft’s TechEd OZ and writing a comic about it. Or maybe get them to do a “live” blog commentary of an event! (Ok, maybe i’m going a bit over the top with my idea…)

Keyboards

Just brought myself a new keyboard to go with my laptop.

I’ve had the laptop since May, but have always wanted to get another external keyboard for it for use at home.

Yeah, it’s taken me awhile, but I’ve finally decided i’d buy one.

I brought the Microsoft Digital Media KeyBoard. Nice and black! (It came bundled with a black optical mouse too).

Nothing to complain about. It’s perfect for all my coding, blogging and maybe gaming needs 🙂

Brought the combo for $45AUD (at the Computer Swapmeet in Springvale). Pretty good price considering that alone, the Mouse (Wheel Mouse Optical 1.1A) costs $20 (for the white one). And some stalls at the computer swapmeet were selling the keyboard alone for $25.

Actually, I have the older version of the mouse at home, have had it since 2001 and it’s been working fine. But I decided it’s time to replace the mouse on the old computer and replace it with my old MS Wheel Optical Mouse.

I agree with Serdar Kilic with regards to the Toshiba keyboard layout.

It took me quite awhile to get used to the Toshiba laptop keyboard. Especially annoying is the fact that the WinKey is tucked away on the top right hand corner of the keyboard.

During the first few times I used the laptop keyboard, I kept hitting the Fn (Function) key thinking it was the WinKey. I’m a keyboard person, I like to perform as much as I can via keyboard only.

Anyway, I use many many keyboard shortcut combos and yeah, basically got annoyed with the laptop keyboard. With the regular sized keyboards the WinKey is located within reach of my left pinky, so I just use that to hit it without having to break my flow of typing. (does that even make sense?)

You know, some people might even think that the Microsoft branded hardware products are of higher quality than their software products! (I have seen a few posts that seem to agree with that thought). I recall reading a post on Neowin in fact where the comment author stated just that!

Hehe, what about that Microsoft Stark mouse? It actually feels quite comfortable in the hand. But then, I don’t have a need for it. I’ve already got a perfectly fine mouse.