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May 30, 2007

passion

following a very ciruitous route that involved the geo microformat (I kid you not) I recalled this moment from 2003.

At the Rugby World Cup, Samoa played New Zealand (for non rugby fans, this is like say Monaco playing Brazil in football, or England playing Australia in cricket ;-) ). The All Blacks are famous for their Haka, a war dance they perform before every match. Samoa and other Pacific nations have different hakas they too pefrom. Just watch this, and tell me that it doesn't give you goosebumps (even if you aren't a sports fan in any way, that doesn't matter).

I've never seen anything like it.

May 30, 2007 | Permalink | Comments (4) | TrackBack

May 29, 2007

User experience

Once you start thinking about user experience, I find you start evaluating it everywhere. I find myself in airports cursing their poorly deisgned systems, signage, and so on. I use a remote control for a DVD, and I am rethinking how it could be redesigned. Don't even get me started on mobile phones. One thing I have learned is that when people tell you something is wrong, as a designer its probably your fault not theirs.

Now, I am not usually all thaty sympathetic to motorists caught speeding. It has happened to me once in all my years driving, and while mortified, it was my fault. I didn't see a sign on the way into a town while driving up the coast, and so was sticking to what I thought was the limit.

But this one has caught my eye. Thousands of people seem to have been fined, often hugely, with loss of license, while using a new tunnel, only opened a couple of months ago. My guess is the number of infringing drivers is massively higher than would statistically otherwise be. Which should start alarm bells going. Of course the authorities don't want to address it at all, but, hang on. Surely the point of the system is to ensure safety. The system appears to be completely failing in this regard, becasue far more people than you'd expect statistically, are speeding in these zones. So the system, is clearly broken.

You kinda wonder if they do any user testing at all of traffic systems, given some of the intersections I come to.

Anyway, the roundabout point is, user experience design has a place everywhere, and not just in making people's banking more efficient, or mobile phone use more productive. Ant traffic engineers out there care to way in as to whether UX design is part of road building?

May 29, 2007 | Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack

May 26, 2007

For $%^& sake

Both of my readers will know my ongoing concern about the place women have in the IT/web professions. A couple of recent conferences have copped some criticism for inappropriate words and images, that certainly don't help foster and engender an inclusive atmosphere where all participants feel comfortable.

But those pale by comparison with the completely boneheaded decision of the recent RailsConf to have a bunch of poledancing drum majorettes "perform" at the conference. Don't believe me? Check the video.

More disappointing, or perhaps infuriating, are the comments at Youtube, about how cool this makes Rails (note to commenters - not), and the discussion at Digital Web (where I posted a detailed comment outlining my concerns.)

And as I am giving them some google juice, they can get it with both barrels

The conference was co-presented by O'Rielly Media - recently seen calling for a code of blogging coduct. Get your house in order.
Sponsored by among others Adobe and SUN. Is this your attitude to your women employees?

This makes me infuriated. If people do not understand in 2007 why this is simply unacceptable, I %^&*ing despair.

And just for the record - people can do whatever they like in the appropriate place, provided no one else gets hurt. That's really their business - I am pretty much against all prohibitions of behavior in the appropriate context.

john

and you wonder why the participation of women in IT is plummeting.

May 26, 2007 | Permalink | Comments (14) | TrackBack

May 21, 2007

Web Directions South 2007

We've been working on this for it seems far too long, but now I am really excited to let both my readers know about this year's way bigger, way better, Web Directions South

Head on over, have a look around, and check out the program and speakers we've lined up for Web Directions South 2007. With more than 30 leading experts, including a dozen international stars of the web industry, across three tracks, Web Directions South will focus on the key technology and business issues of the web in 2007. It really is Australia's premier event for the web industry.

Speakers for 2007 include

plus many more new and old faces to educate and inspire us all once again this September. We've even got a couple of surpise speakers up our sleeves as well.

This year at Web Directions South alongside our traditional Design and Development focus, there's a new Management/Strategy track. So, if you design or develop for the web, manage web teams, or if your business relies on the web, we've got two full days full for you.

And that's just the conference. We've also got 6 workshops over the two days before Web Directions South:

Be sure to register before June 30 to take advantage of our excellent value early bird price of just $795. And if been to one of our previous conferences check your email on Monday for an additional discount by way of thanks for all your support over the years. If you don't receive this email, please let us know.

This year, in yet another first, we'll be featuring the Web Expo - running thoughout the conference at Darling Harbour.

And perhaps most exciting of all, we'll be hosting Australia's first Web Hack day, on the Saturday following the conference.

And of course there'll be all the usual parties and opportunities to catch up with old friends, and make new connections.

We are really excited with the quality and range of speakers we've been able to get all the way to Sydney, the great new venue at Darling Harbour, with the new Expo, the extended range of workshops, and WebHack, and hope you'll be too. We look forward to seeing you in Sydney at the end of September for what promises to be one of the stand out web events anywhere in the World - Web Directions South 2007.

john

May 21, 2007 in webdirections | Permalink | Comments (4) | TrackBack

May 15, 2007

Microformats presentation in Canberra and Brisbane

In a couple of weeks, Thursday May 31, I'll be presenting on Microformats in Canberra at the next Web Standards group meeting.

Come and hear what microfomats are, what cool stuff they enable, where Firefox 3 is headed with microformats support, and see how easy they are to implement.

Then, on Saturday June 2, I'll be in Brisbane for the second student run symposium on Web Content Management. If you are in Brisbane, I suggest you get along (not to hear me speak, but because last year it was such a professionally run event, that frankly it should be on the calendar of web professionals in Queensland). It's right in the heart of town, at QUT, and costs just $80 for the day.

May 15, 2007 | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

May 11, 2007

life and resumes

I read recently an article in some esteemed magazine or other (WHO weekly most likely) with the observation that increasingly it seems people live their lives for resumes, rather than a resume being a reflection of the life lived (it was particularly referring to middle and upper middle class parents in America, where their children seem to live lives constructed for their CVS.)

It resonated with me, in part because it is such an obvious, but little said thing, and in part because a quarter of a century ago, at the school I attended, we were encouraged to think in that way (aconsciously or otherwise I can't say).

The reason I find this worth writing about at all is that this morning I read reference to a wall street journal article, via Collision detection about

how tech-savvy parents are picking unusual names for themselves and their kids -- so that they'll be more googleable.

I could say a lot that is fairly tech-snobby about this (in effect, it's about as tech-savvy as being able to pre-set a video recorder, while others are using a TiVO, you know, excitingly "with it" for the wall street journal crowd, pathetic to someone who has, you know, like a clue), but it brought to mind a conversation I often have with people about SEO. We have a couple of quite highly ranked websites, in terms of traffic, and google rankings, and so forth. We pay no attention to SEO, and never have. We've just built sites with valuable content on them, (using valid HTML) and after a while, people seem to recognize they might be of some value to others, and link to them where appropriate. Now we get millions of visitors a year.

But we don't build sites with great quality content to get high google rankings. We do it because we feel it is valuable to people in our industry. Sure, it certainly helps sell some software, online courses, maybe get some people to an event we hold, but its far from just about that.

As for naming yourself or your kid something unusual (see Freakonomics and the phenomenon of African American childrens' names) in the hope to be readily googlable, well, couple of things come to mind. Why does that matter? Surely if you are an IP lawyer, and someone enters "ip lawyer" in a search engine, then the fact you are called Horten Pimbleworthy won't help you get much by way of ranking.

And hey, even if it did, I wonder (this from a guy called John OK) whether 18 years of schooling with a name that will probably get you more teasing than a tattoo of a target on your butt will get you a kicking at a nudist colony for ex professional footballers, wouldn't leave you so fucked up you won't ever do much to achieve anything worth googling for in the first place.

People - live your lives interestingly and well. Then, not only will you end up with a reasonable google rank, but when people find you, online or in person, they'll think - what an interesting person, rather than, what a boring sap.

Here endeth the lesson

j

May 11, 2007 | Permalink | Comments (13) | TrackBack