UseIt.com – Usability in Movies — Top 10 Bloopers

Had sweet little christmas lunch in the hospital visiting M with our little gang. Its been a nice day so far, hope your all having a great christmas?

Anyway, didnt get round to posting this up last night so here goes …

Jakob Nielsen posted up his list of top 10 usability bloopers in movies. Its actually a fascinating read, and does make me smile. However science fiction has provided the inspiration for many technological advancements, take a look at this demo of a Minority Report like gesture based interface being developed over at Microsoft Research.

Google Tech Talk : 7 ways to ruin a technological revolution

James Boyle gives a fascinating talk about how one might go about undermining the technological revolution of the last 30 years. It’s an alarmist talk, he exaggerates for comic effect but not all that much and it’s extremely thought provoking, especially when we consider the question … how many of those things are we doing now? Much of the talk is around Intellectual Property rights and what that has meant to the technological revolution up and until now, and also how it might evolve going forward. Also he touches on Google’s standpoint on copyright and IP with reference to the Libraries project and Google Books.

One of the funniest anecdotes he mentions is when he spoke to someone from one of the collections societies and said to them “theres always been a private space where people can enjoy music, like in the shower” to which the indivual replied “thats just a problem of monitoring” , on the grounds that it could be interpreted as a performance! 😉

Installing IE6 and IE7 on One Machine … well kind of.

I’ve been playing around with testing some changes to the user interface for our Project Cenote research prototype. Unfortunatly the new IE7 update was rolled across all the machines at work and it means I cant test to see how the changes I’m playing with look or even work in IE6. Anyway I tried to look around to see if it was at all possible to have both version of the browser running on a single machine – and thats when I came across an interesting article by Jennifer Kyrnin entitled How to install two version of IE( IE6 and IE7) on One Machine.

I was a little disappointed though I guess I was kind of hoping for a solution that didnt involve creating a Virtual Machine. The article does tell you exactly how to get two versions of IE working on the One Machine, however the only way to get it to work is to use run a Virtual PC running an instance of Windows XP that has IE6 installed in it. That way your native PC has IE7 and you can flick to your VPC to test pages with IE6. Its an excellent little tutorial and well worth a read if you need to get around the problem. I prefer VMWare over VPC and I guess I’ll get our wonderful support team to set up a VMImage running WinXP for me without the IE7 patch but still ….

I do get a bit frustrated at the fact that I cant simply choose to install IE7 without loosing the ability to use IE6 … but that would probably mean that Microsoft would have to seperate their browser from the OS – of which its still seamingly an integral part.

Oh well its a good thing that IE isn’t the only browser out there … did I mention how much I really, really like Firefox! It’s totally free, you can run more than one version on a single machine, and its still much better rounded and far more extensible than IE.

Get Firefox

Platform dependent file-locking

MS Windows and Linux handle file locking differently. This article describes both approaches in detail. To summarise though, when you open a file for reading, under windows it prevents others from deleting it or writing to it, however under Linux it does not.

I fell foul of this while trying to run some Java based unit tests that worked perfectly well under Linux but started throwing errors on windows.

Microsoft Labs – Photosynth

I’ve been playing with Photosynth over at Microsoft Live Labs. My first reaction was … wow!  Every now and again you come across something that makes you sit up and ask how the hell did they do that? The demo bascially takes a number of images of an object or a place and creates a scene, which is a detailed 3D model that gives the user the sensation that he or she is “flying” around the model.