Friday, August 31, 2001
Today is the grok the Travel Blog day and make sure I have everything I that I will need for the trip to San Francisco and the surrounding environs. I will be sure to note the link to it as there will most likely not be any posts showing up on this page from September 2 through the 12th. All posts will be made to the Travel Blog. This will hopefully be the last trip that I use the TB as this site will be doing dynamic. I know it is not a big deal for you, but for me it is a great releaf.
Talking Moose was a good blog to find as it seems to cover design and other elements that are of particular enjoyment.
I was happy to refind brightly colored food. Note the August 23, 2001 post has UI guides from various sources.
Kudos to Christina in her role of chair of the program committee for IA Summit in 2002.
Legos have some of the most amazing direction sets, it is well worth buying a set just to examine them, notice it is all done with out words. Lego master Eric builds some amazing things, but the desk is my favorite. I spent hours on this site about a year ago and now there is so much more. (thanks Jeff)
Thursday, August 30, 2001
For those who have ever lost something you have cherished (and even if you haven't) please read Jeffery Zeldman's Glamourous Life posting.
Interested in effects of global warming in a visual sense. You make the call.
How do I keep forgetting about memepool?
Wednesday, August 29, 2001
The mystery continues. Would the kind person please step forward and send an e-mail.
The server-side include problem still has not been resolved, which is a little baffling. This is particularly so as I do not seem to have much control over it. The tests with PHP pages seem to use the includes just fine, so until the site is converted (late September) it may remain this way. Sorry.
The folks at V-Biz had a little redesign lately. There still is not much to see there, but what is there seems to hurt my eyes less. (These are the folks that host the Travel Blog, which will be in use soon).
Along these lines is the UE/IA Cocktail Hour the first Tuesday of September.
The host of the cocktail hour is Method, a design firm that solves communication problems. I found the case study section of particular interest. It reminds me of the old Vivid Studio as it shares information with the whole of the community and their focus.
Classical music lovers may find Andante of great interest.
hot scripts PHP resources are rather impressive.
Sadly Michael Dertouzos, one of the early founders of the Web passed away.
Governments push to use Open Source around the world. Hopefully this is based on more than cost, as there are many attributes that Open Source software provides over proprietary developed software.
Tuesday, August 28, 2001
The pages around here may be changing some in next few weeks, as most of the pages will be getting ".php" page extensions rather than their .html or .shtml. These changes will bring comments to these posts. The ability for me to better add an manage these posts. A primitive search function. Categorized and sortable links, with annotations. A Vander Wal world log/guestbook will most likely be on its way too.
This link pages were modified again today by adding the Internet traffic report, Internet weather report, replaced craphound with boing boing as a method to keep up with what is going on in Cory Doctorow's head, and added a WAP emulator.
The folks at OpenWave have a bunch of content and applications for the wireless market.
I was intrigued with the use of term bespoke in the New York Times yesterday. It utters the sense of highest quality with utmost personalization. I was surprised that this term is as widely used as it is for the technical realm.
Looking to track security incidences, look no further.
The Times also had an intriguing article that puts current technology in perspective.
Monday, August 27, 2001
Advanced CSS Layouts will walk you through the essentials and complexities of Web page layout design with out tables. (kudos little green footballs)
Today at our door I found a package from Amazon, not the one I was expecting (Web Redesign: Workflow that Works that I had pre-ordered quite some time back), but one off my Amazon Wishlist again. I am even more stumped this time, as I had ruled out the possible donors of the last book. Today was another book I have been desiring for sometime, The Humane Interface: New Directions for Designing Interactive Systems by Jef Raskin. I have actually tried to add this book to my wishlist three or four times. I am so thankful to whom ever purchased this for me. Please drop me an e-mail so I may solve this mystery.
Sunday, August 26, 2001
I restumbled across the virtual tours of Oxford, which I have visited previously. There are many new additions and the results are quite enjoyable, particularly for those that have visited or spent time there. Navigate to the University Museum for a great treat.
Xblog has posted a string of good links to mull over this weekend and drift into the work week. The Visual Language of Experts in Graphic Design is an older article, but offers insight into how designers communicate. Magazine Typography Designing for Browsers and Readers covers the breadth of tools that magazine designers have at their disposal and how they make use of them. Design as Storytelling by Thomas Erickson (a site that offers great depth in articles relevant to design, interaction, and communication), which argues "design is a social, collaborative activity".
It is about time... I have e-mail again. Finally!!! The others of you that are on vanderwal.net, if you do not have e-mail running call or use another e-mail service and let me know.
It seems that my e-mail that has been floating around the Internet has finally landed. My biggest worry was I was going to be missing responses. Now that this is settled I can go to the gym. Whew!!
Reason, hmmm lost count, to transfer from Interland web hosting. Interland does not work weekends to handle DNS issues. Not only could they not answer PHP, Apache, MySQL hosting questions properly, but they could not answer the questions that would lead one to believe they offered a rather secure hosting environment. My e-mail has been hosed all weekend. That is one bump on this transfer ride I am not enjoying.
Sites should also list their expected responce time for trouble tickets.
Yesterday I took a trek through the NIH campus, which I have lived next to for more than a year, but never ventured through. I was really impressed with the architecture, although the campus was earily quiet. I will take the camera for some snaps next time.
Some of the web transfer has made it through the DNS change to the new host, but the e-mail has not yet. I am really looking forward to e-mail again. Soon. Also buggy is the left-side navigation bar, which is not dropping in properly. When it does there may be two sets of internal links for a short time.
Yesterday was Fred's birthday and as part of the festivities we went and played miniture golf at Upton Hill Park in Arlington. The 10th hole is supposed to be one the longest miniture golf hole anywhere.
I stumbled accross hometown favorites candy store, which seems to have nearly every candy I can imagine for sale. Following that thought there is the list of processes foods and candies that have been discontinued.
Friday, August 24, 2001
The transfer has actually started, so things will be bumpy over the next couple of days. I will make a modification to the about page that will state the site is on PHP Web Hosting so to know that the site is resolving at its new host. E-mail could be a little buggy as it comes into those of us on vanderwal.net.
Zeldman provides insight on how to keep clients away. It is entertaining (is that redundant as I had already stated Jeffery Zeldman wrote it?) and gives a what not to do, with a few nuggets of what to do tossed in for good measure.
Those of you in the Washington, DC area looking for a good designer should take a look at Capitol Hill Studios which is the work of the gifted and ever pleasant Kevin Palmer.
Jeffery Zeldman also discusses Microsoft's move to push all the users of its Internet Explorer (IE) browser 5.5 and higher version to use their ActiveX technology, which is only a Microsoft element, rather than the old plug-in application structure. One problems is developers need to recode the Web pages to use the ActiveX. Those applications that are being knocked out are Real Players and Quicktime among others. The other downside is many organizations do not allow ActiveX to run in their browsers or e-mail as they have found security problems with this (a great platform for viruses). Enterprises (read ones that deal with finances and security/policing) have worked around the problem by using Microsoft's Security set for trusted and lesser levels of sites, if they allow the MS browser at all or ActiveX at all. Enterprises at the same time are relying more and more on on-line video training, which uses these same applications that are being blocked. The central management of these permissions becomes a larger and larger task. All this to block and allow ActiveX. Did I say thank you Microsoft?
New virus attacks those with MS IE browsers and MS Outlook variants with HTML e-mail viewing. The last paragraph in this article illustrates my point above perfectly with the quote, "Surfers who disable ActiveX in the browser are also safe from the Trojan horse."
Thursday, August 23, 2001
It as a rather good day as this morning's meeting seemed to go rather well. There is a lot of work ahead, but the team looks to be in good shape.
On an other front ignorance and arrogance continue to be a foul combination. Who knew?
From the access logs I found a directory of weblogs covering various topics.
I have added a string of items to the links page including: the wonderful silvergull; the joyous memories of Calvin and Hobbes; solid tech news from the Register, which is a link I am always looking for; and a great development and tech resource Tomlak's Realm.
Wednesday, August 22, 2001
When dealing with Network Solutions it is good to remember that nothing is easy. The interface usability is really rates low in my book. Why? I can't find a damn thing. Their naming conventions and layout are not consistent and their really is no help. I did however find that customer service for calls has greatly improved from where it was one and a half years ago. Calling for me is a last resort as I prefer in person or digital, largely as a result of poor phone customer service and long winded people.
Thing may be moving forward for the move from Interland to a site with hosting support that really understands PHP, MySQL, and Apache and how to run them securely.
Joel answers questions, the list of 10 subjects that college CS courses should cover well to be of benefit to their students included user interface design and usability, which in part was a plug for his book and dead on from my perspective (as I am finding his book to be). He also, sort of, answers a question about Microsoft's use of VSS.
Those of you who have not heard, Joe Clark is writing a book about accessible websites. Keep you eye on this book as he is one of the experts in this field.
Please fasten your seatbelts. We are expecting turbulence on vanderwal.net as we move to a new host. The storm ahead is attributable to Network Solutions.
Tuesday, August 21, 2001
The mystery is solved. The Professor and the Madman was purchased for me by Fred Dews, a great friend, editor of the Brookings Institute web site, fellow grad student, the gentleman who introduce me to the wonderful woman who became my wife, a great lover of books, voracious reader, and has the mug that hangs next to mine at the pub. Many thanks Fred.
This is post 100 sans Blogger. Which means 100 posts built in TextPad or V-Biz TravelBlog then modified for inclusion in to this forum.
Aside for needing to join a 12 step program to ward off adjectives with negative connotations adhered to my name by Christina, I read and forwarded an article that she posted regarding Promoting Visual Thinking. I was not completely in agreement with the article as it tries to make the argument that Americans are not as visually inclined as other folks (in this case compared to Europeans). I agree to some degree, but there is nothing like having a visual presentation of an idea (I am not talking about Power Points here, please) that help convey an idea. I had been trying for about a year to explain the different components of developing a web site or application, but showing Jesse's visual of the elements of user experience. This became the centerpiece that understanding could revolve around. I find that Europeans can grasp more easily grasp complex ideas without visual representation to guide them through. Although it is possible that those that do not need the visual representations are forming these visions in their head, sans props.
In the same post from Christina, she pointed to nifty bitmap fonts. I am a real sucker for fonts. Growing up in the '70s I would go with my dad to trade shows. I don't remember what type of trade show it was, but I do remember coming home with catalogs of fonts. Hundreds of fonts all in one book. I was in heaven. I would look at them and try to figure out what I would write using that font. I spent a lot of time trying to figure out the differences between similar fonts. The advent of the personal computer brought a plethora of fonts within my grasp, with out needing rubbing sheets or later, in print shop classes in junior high, cases of leaded type. The Macintosh was my first love for this there was one font for every occasion.
This past weekend I got a look at Richard Saul Wurman's Understanding, which really floored me. It was filled with visual representations of statistics and numbers regarding the United States of America and its trends and population. It was what USA Today could only dream.
For those not completely in the Kult of Jakob or just like Jakob humor, check out use.it.or.lose.it.
Monday, August 20, 2001
MeFi is back, as if you didn't know.
I may need to get some decent sleep in the near future. This is a bug prevention program.
Some wonderfully kind soul has purchased The Professor and the Madman off my Amazon Wish list (now properly linked thanks to Christina). I am so grateful. I am looking forward to jumping right into reading this tale of mystery that surrounded making of the Oxford English Dictionary. Would the kind person please drop a note to say hello (I do have an idea who this may be, but not positive).
I am book rich at the moment, which is wonderful. I recently purchased Order of Things, which is like a thesaurus and a hierarchical book of lists. It is a wonderful tool to help give structure to the world around.
John Cato's User Centered Web/Interface Design (the title varies on the Amazon site and on the cover of my book, which states web design, but the Reiters label states interface design) is another great purchase in recent weeks. This book offers great insight into the process and offers visual examples of what usually leads to usable interfaces. I have used many of the techniques described in the past to get to successful products. I have a trove of books along these lines that help identify nuggets I may have missed or forgotten.
Sunday, August 19, 2001
Christine's weblog has an entry on skills for an IA that has drawn some wonderful responses.
Throughout this past week there have been some links I know I will want to remember:
CSS layout guides which supply the CSS when you click on the layout wire frame;
a trove of PHP, MySQL goodies found at the newbienetwork;
A novel method of navigation and interaction with photos can be found at freshfroot;
Perfect for those of us who have strong visual memory skills, screen shot start;
and lastly, fabulousness a weblog covering language.
Saturday, August 18, 2001
Okay, Shoelaces has been added to the poetry page. While I was at it I also added Young Swan Choreography.
Today the about page was expanded. I am not completely happy with it, so a revision may be coming in the near future. The traffic on this site has picked up quite a bit in the last month or so, which made me realize I may want to let some of you know a little bit about me.
I am putting together a page that will coordinate the photos on Vander Wal Net, building a better TravelBlog (which may build these pages in the near future when I move the site to a new host), and putting together a resource page (annotated list of books I use for work and fun). I need to add the Shoelaces poem to the site, as I realized it is not there after I pointed someone to it. I had complete empathy for Jason and his locked away notes as more than 100 poems I wrote in the mid to late '90s are locked away on a physically corrupt hardrive.
Friday, August 17, 2001
Eight years ago today I arrived in Washington, DC after moving from San Francisco. My dad and I made the four day trek across the country in an '84 Honda Prelude, which was stolen in DC in 1996. I gave myself three to five years, including grad school. Needless to say I have not returned to live the land of eternal Spring. It would be tough to give up the seasonal changes, particularly Fall. Having Philadelphia and New York City just up the road makes it more palatable here too. I do miss Carmel and my bike rides after work across the Golden Gate Bridge, crits on Tuesdays and Thursdays in GG Park, or along the Pacific Ocean, but things change. I am looking forward to going back in September and seeing old friends from San Francisco and friends from this the DC experience that moved out there.
It is hot and humid here. I took a walk after work last evening and found myself really soaked. But, I did capture some photos with the digital camera (I am trying to figure out why I did not get this earlier). The, as of yet, un-PhotoShopped versions: Air and Space sculpture v.1, Air and Space sculpture v.2, Air and Space sculpture v.3, Flower 1, Flower 2, Flower 3, Capitol, dot.gov, erase this, south White House.
Wednesday, August 15, 2001
A company that tries to answer the user experience question up front... Flow Interactive (link via BlackBelt Jones).
I really need to put together a book and other resource list (Christine's toolbox: reading list is part of the inspiration).
The bottom of many of the Off the Top pages now have forward and backward chronological links.
As companies and coffeepots have been going under, some things are coming back... the Talking Moose. Unfortunately they still don't have a version for the Windows world.
Speaking of going away and coming back. I was one of those odd people that had a subscription to Business 2.0 and the now incorporated eCompany magazine. Yesterday two copies of Biz 2.0 arrived in the mail. This is now the second subscription replacement I have now in the past month, but I think Smart Business got it right (a replacement for Home Office Computing and was a replacement for PC Computing). I am not a great fan of the Smart Business magazine as it seems to target an audience that does not have much time or mindwidth to follow other magazines.
An interesting ASP, Project Arena, that helps track costs and deadlines. This looks quite intriguing.
In a similar light InfoWorld has an interesting article by Bob Lewis on outsourcing. The only thing missing is outsource when it is an implementation project or is a phased project that requires certain skill sets.
Off to watch Six Feet Under, as I missed it Sunday.
Tuesday, August 14, 2001
It took a little bit of time to get through much of my e-mail from the past five days. That stuff stacks up quickly. I don't know if my regular mail or e-mail is worse. The mail we receive at the house is jammed in the box everyday with trade mags, subscription mags, conference invites, bills, and catalogues.
It seemed as soon as I took a break from the screen everybody thought it would be nice to post. Christine's Gleanings, xBlog, Dean, Anil, Charles, Peter, Rebecca, and Zeldman (among many others) offered a plethora of reading to catch-up on. Having Zeldman back and posting regularly is a comforting thing for me. It is also nice to see Rebecca back, I hope she and Jesse had a wonderful honeymoon to begin their wonderful life together.
I have been wanting to leave a N2S: regarding Swain's HTTP Viewer. I had found it and forgot to e-mail it to myself or note it here.
I have been somewhat sad reading of the selling of the Cambridge Coffeepot on eBay. This was one of the first great Web experiences for me. I had found it liked off a Gopher site, which if I remember right pointed me to an FTP site. I remember it took a long time to download over a 9.8kbps modem, but I could actually see that there was coffee in the pot. I would check this camera a few times to see if it actually changed. It was quite an experience to wrap one's mind around.
Ah, I nearly forgot, if you go to Spring Lake, NJ it is good to make reservations and have a meal at Sister's Cafe.
Monday, August 13, 2001
Ah, back from the shore. It was a little rainy, but it was a good refreshing break. I finished Cryptnomicon, which made for a good use of time while at the shore. We got to spend some quality time with Joy's sister Jean and her husband, which is always good.
I came back to look in my user logs to find two days near or over 100 distinct visitors to this site. This is thanks to being Kottke's on-line pal. Things seem to have drifted back to normal with the regular 30 to 40 of you per weekday and 20 to 30 on weekends. Too bad I was such a poor host and left and did not leave cookies out.
I was not provoked to use the TravelBlog either. Which would have been a good trick as there were no spare outlets in the room and the dial-in connection from the B&B is a little tricky unless one wants to sit in an empty dining room. The TravelBlog will be getting an update in the weeks to follow in preparation for a trip to San Francisco (the Web2001/Internet and Mobile conference, let me know if you will be around while I am out there by using the contact link at the left or the Webmaster link at the bottom).
Wednesday, August 08, 2001
Things may be a little bit quiet around here the shore calls. If relaxation warrants there may be some posts in the TravelBlog.
Things are so much better when dealing with someone who understands building for the Web and interfaces.
There has been some additions to the links and a little house cleaning too. Many of the additions were in the IA/UX section.
Tuesday, August 07, 2001
Many Oxford University Press Journals are now available on-line. Some of interest are Communication Theory, Human Communication Research, Journal of Communication, The Computer Bulletin, IEICE - Transactions on Communications, Journal of Logic and Computation, Academy of Management Executive, International Journal of Law and Information Technology and Journal of Law, Economics, and Organization.
I noted earlier about Ben Begdikian and his book The Media Monopoly, which is now stating there are 6 corporations that hold nearly all the media companies in the U.S.A. On Marketplace Radio today there is a discussion about Begdikian and the number decreasing to 5 as ABC and CNN are in talks to join news forces. This makes me think that the independent Web content producers are getting more and more precious.
Monday, August 06, 2001
One of tonight's adventures included watching Next: the future just happened on A and E. The host, Michael Lewis, is also the author of the Next: the future just happened. This show was somewhat anachronistic as it seemed about a year or two too late, but in a wonderful way it highlighted that the Internet, Web, and technology in general are still very much changing the way we interact with information and each other. There was a wonderful quote about the stock market, which has been seem by many to be what drove the technology burst, but in perspective "it is just the gas peddle". People keep creating new more advanced way of dealing with information and ever more so how people interact with their surroundings and people.
I was left with only one odd sensation, television seems to be a very slow way of transferring information, yet it adds contextual depth rather well. This has not really struck me as much as it did watching this show. I wanted to speed up the information transfer rate. By the end of the two hours I was accustomed to the pace, but reading on-line (often at least two browsers running) or reading a book the pace is adjustable by the level of concentration the reader provides it. Just thoughts and re-observations.
The digital camera purchase may prove to be a good thing, as it may pay for its self in short order. Last week I got three rolls developed, most of it was from the Boston Trip. The three rolls was nearly $60 to get developed, which included digital images on a floppy. The images on the floppy were horrible quality, so I will be scanning in some of the photos. I was not that pleased with the quality and I am not sure if it is the developing, film, or our the new film camera. One of the nice aspects of the digital camera is that you can see the result of your work right after you take the photo. This allows you to possibly take another photo to capture a slightly different angle or exposure. I am now nowhere near Boston and I really would like to retake some of the photos.
To recap this past weekend... On Friday we returned to Wolf Trap for our final show this summer the National Symphony Orchestra plays Bugs Bunny which was great entertainment, even if they did not play Raymond Scott's song Powerhouse.
Saturday was the usually errands and a haircut for me that removed the attempt at a comb-over. Saturday evening took us to Georgetown to Bangkok Bistro for very good Thai food. We were a little taken by the portions (large) for the moderately priced items and the great fresh vegetables. Joy was a little sad in Georgetown as she misses living in or near that neighborhood.
Sunday took us to Planet of the Apes, which was just all right. Great make-up and scenery, but the story and lines were really contrived. The movie just screamed of sequel for the last 20 minutes, then hit you over the head with it in the last two minutes.
Today was business as usual. Back to trying to implement Bugzilla now that I have rebuilt the Linux box with all the server components it needs as a foundation.
Saturday, August 04, 2001
The New York Times Business section had an article yesterday by Danny Hakim about GM hiring a new vice chairman of product development. The new Vice Chairman is Robert Lutz, formerly of Chrysler. He has been brought on to help the design of the General Motors products. The article states that Mr. Lutz speaks bluntly, which is evident when he stated [the new crop of concept vehicles at Detroit's January auto show] "angry kitchen appliances." His ideas flow very well into the IA/UX mindset as, "Mr. Lutz said he wanted to make vehicles that the public 'wanted to buy as opposed to being willing to buy.'" This statement echoes where many Web and software applications have been and where IA/UX folks are changing the focus and tone. We find the users will use a crappy product, if they have to. The users will not turn to this crappy application first to accomplish a task they desire to get done. How ever a well developed application that was designed with the user in mind (done with user input) the users will turn to application first for the task it is intended for and may look to have it tackle other tasks. The article summarizes this with:
Saul Rubin, an analyst at UBS Warburg, said the hiring was a signDid I mention Mr. Lutz is the one who brought Chrysler the PT Cruiser, one of the most popular U.S. designed cars?
Friday, August 03, 2001
Scott has been some wonderful site over the past few days. I am feeling like a second rate hack when I look at some of this work.
I know, I need to focus on a few things and not cover so many bases.
Thursday, August 02, 2001
Yesterday I saw a similar article about the Palm beam kiosk at PacBell Park and I was so impressed. I was quite impressed with the beam at South by SouthWest that had full schedules that you could dump into your calendar.
I found a great write-up of last night's Bruce Hornsby Concert. As I was explaining it today, I realized it was a fantastic show and how amazing the band really is. I knew this last night, but the sharing of the experience really brought it back to life.
I was a part of the Amazon Share the Love adventure. I did not even know this existed. This is the second Amazon marketing tool I have stumbled upon in the last month or so. There was a period of a few days that I had my own tab at the top of the page, I don't remember what was there unfortunately.
This article on SMS offers a decent explanation of push and pull components for the service.
After nearly three years with a Palm OS-based device of one sort or another, I am still amazed with them. I look at the interface as I am reading Avantgo feeds and realize that the device in my hand that does not have a keyboard is more powerful than my first computer (an Osborne Executive). This device is essentially a screen with a few buttons and a stick. It has replaced the morning news papers (the ones I don't read on-line), my filofax, an entertainment guide, a map, books, games, calculator, and so much more. The amazing thing is I use it everyday and it fits in the palm of my hand.
Wednesday, August 01, 2001
Joy and I just got back from the Bruce Hornsby concert at Wolf Trap, which was a fantastic concert. There was no opening band, so from 8pm until the 11pm curfew (with a 5 to 10 minute break) it was all Bruce and his band. The musicians in the band were fantastic (the sound guy was a little bit lost and the bass drum and bass tended to overpower everything else for much of the first hour). Many of the songs he performed were completely different than their album counter parts, which was great. The whole show was like a Dead jam session, but with Bruce Hornsby songs.
I was called infamous today. This caused some dictionary digging as Jeff who I work with knew it was a word with negative connotations. This took some e-mail trading, but I now have some digging in to examine my approach with regards to my tone. Well maybe.
Barb Gomolski fleshes out how to approach application development in her InfoWorld column. The column discusses how application development must include Internet based client development as well as flexibility.
ESPN posts the Vikings news conference about Korey Stringer's death (RealVideo), which is a stunning video capturing the spirit and the impact he had on his friends, teammates, and coaches.