Patchy first impressions

eye-patchI’m all for paperless this and online that at work, in terms of the systems and processes I try to roll out in place for the people I work with and for, but I was asked to put my money where my mouth is and remove the paper from my own ways of working.

I love lists, and those lists tend to be paper-based. It wasn’t so much those that I was asked to look at (thank goodness), but how I deal with all the reports and papers for the meetings and committees I go to. I did have a look at this before, but with not much success, so I agreed to have another go and asked our IT dept to lend me this here iPad.

Now I’ve had iPhones for a while, and have been a fan, but this is the first time I’ve had a proper go on an iPad, and I’m finding it a little frustrating.

Yes, the interface is all lovely, pinching this and spinning that, but that distant art student in me still has a problem with its schizophrenic approach to design: wonderful hardware, sleek, shiny, minimal, parred down, distinctive; but the software? ‘Notes‘, written on yellow pretend paper, complete with pretend perforation and pretend red margin, set in some kind of pretend leather folio, complete with white pretend stitching round the outside? ‘Contacts‘, set in a similar pretend address book, with pretend pages held together with pretend stitching along the pretend spine? I know that there are other work-related app(lications) out there that aren’t as bad, but still.

The thing that really jumped out at me, though, were those small pretend-raised lines under the F and J keys, ostensibly there to help the touch typists locate the home keys. I mean! The thing with the moveable split keyboard notwithstanding, that still feels wrong, right?

So no, I’m not sure I’m going to get on with this iPad.

In(ter)activity

interactivitySpeaking as an old Interactive Arts graduate, this Onion article really struck a chord and had me shouting “Yes! Exactly!” at the screen over and over again.

Internet users demand less interactivity
‘We Just Want To Visit Websites And Look At Them,’ Users Say

Tired of being bombarded with constant requests to share content on social media, bestow ratings, leave comments, and generally “join in on the discussion,” the nation’s Internet users demanded substantially less interactivity this week. […]

Speaking with reporters, web users expressed a near unanimous desire to visit a website and simply look at it, for once, without having every aspect of the user interface tailored to a set of demographic information culled from their previous browsing history. In addition, citizens overwhelmingly voiced their wish for a straightforward one-way conduit of information, and specifically one that did not require any kind of participation on their part. […]

“Every time I type a web address into my browser, I don’t need to be taken to a fully immersive, cross-platform, interactive viewing experience,” said San Diego office manager Keith Boscone. “I don’t want to take a moment to provide my feedback, open a free account, become part of a growing online community, or see what related links are available at various content partners.”

“All I want is to go to a website, enjoy it for the time I’ve decided to spend there, and then move on with my life,” he continued. “Is that so much to ask?” […]

In addition to demanding less interactivity, Internet users requested fewer links and clickable icons connected to social media outlets through which they could email, share, tweet, pin, blog, or re-blog content. Many said that when they did come across something they found interesting or amusing, nine times out of 10 they just wanted to keep it to themselves.

“Don’t always ask me to send everything I’ve read to everyone I know. And by the same token, I don’t need to know if they’ve read the same thing. That information means nothing to either of us,” said Glendale, AZ shopkeeper Dan Allenby, who could not think of a single instance where it would be helpful to sign into another website through his Facebook account. “If I wanted to tell someone about something, I’ll just tell them individually. Or better yet, they’ll stumble across it on their own.”

The header image for the article is great, just people reading the web, but sat next to it are the obligatory share-this-with-everyone buttons showing some impressive scores, so whilst it’s hitting a nerve with me, there are plenty of others on the other side of the in(ter)activity fence.

A less cloudy perspective on clouds

CloudDave Girouard, former President of Enterprise for Google, on why our objections to the cloud are mad.

Well, he would say that, wouldn’t he? Though, reading this, it’s hard to argue against him.

If you care about the reliability, security, and the protection of your data, then you should entrust it to those who are most capable of managing it. If you believe you can match the capabilities and rigor of Google’s Security Operations team, I wish you well.

An interesting perspective from someone very much the other side of this cloud debate.

(Via Robert Brook)

Defending process

An engineer’s perspective on process, and on never being put off when asking why:

A good Engineering Program Manager’s job is to keep the trains on time by all reasonable means. However, my experience with program managers over the past two decades is that 70% of them are crap because while they are capable of keeping the trains running on time, they don’t know why they’re doing what they’re doing. When someone on the team asked them to explain the reasoning behind the process, they’d say something to the effect of, “Well, this is how we’ve always done it…” …

Anyone who interacts with process has a choice. You can either blindly follow the bulleted lists or you can ask why. They’re going to ignore you the first time you ask, the second time, too. The seventh time you will be labeled a troublemaker and you will run the risk of being uninvited to meetings, but I say keep asking why. Ask in a way that illuminates and doesn’t accuse. Listen hard when they attempt to explain and bumble it a bit because maybe they only know a bit of the origin story.

It’s a myth, but healthy process is awesome if it not only documents what we care about, but is willing to defend itself. It is required to stand up to scrutiny and when a process fails to do so, it must change.

A great account of how an organisation’s culture could be hidden within its processes, if only we have eyes to see.

To quote, or not to quote (Please retweet!)

“Apollodorus says, ‘If any one were to take away from the books of Chrysippus all the passages which he quotes from other authors, his paper would be left empty.'”
Robert Brook

Sorry, couldn’t resist this, but that was me quoting Robert Brook, quoting Wikipedia, quoting Diogenes Laërtius, quoting Apollodorus on Chrysippus’ quoting too much!

How to mess up hiring

A great perspective on some of the pitfalls of recruitment from Welsey Verhoeve.

I think of the costs associated with bad hires (time, energy, money) as a tuition fee for the lessons I’ve learned. And boy, lets just say I now have a PhD in hiring.

Lessons learned include hiring based on friend potential – that’s the one I fall foul of, and I’m due to start this process again soon as I’m looking to hire another member of our team. Wish me luck.

I liked his post about working in coffee shops instead of your office. The change of scene and fewer distractions certainly work for me.

(Via Swiss Miss)

Hunter on the edge

“The only people who really know where it is are the ones who have gone over.”

He’s dead now, but Dr Hunter S. Thompson is back to mock the living in this two minute run from the Golden Gate Park down to Santa Cruz, no helmet required.

Watch it, then check out his daily routine over on 101books.net. “Even if it’s only halfway truthful, wow. As crazy and morbidly fascinating and sad as this is, you’ve got to love the entry for 6 a.m.”

(Via Brain Pickings)

Genetic portraits

split-face-portraits2      split-face-portraits3      split-face-portraits1

Wonderful sets of family portraits, with a difference, from Canada-based photographer and graphic designer Ulric Collette. He and his son appear in the third photo above.

The parent/child portraits look very startling, but the brother and sister pairs could very easily be photos of real people. Must have a go at this myself…

And here’s some more of Ulric’s mad portrait work.

(Via 123 Inspiration)

Cinemagraphs

Cinemagraphs are, according to Wikipedia, “still photographs in which a minor and repeated movement occurs. Cinemagraphs, which are usually published in an animated GIF format, can give the illusion that the viewer is watching a video.”

Am I right in thinking this is an internet-only thing? Is this a branch of photography that couldn’t have existed when I was at art college?

So, farewell then, App.net

app-netI’ve decided to cancel my app.net subscription. In the little please-tell-us-why-you’re-leaving box I put something about not feeling geeky or technie enough to feel I belong there.

I like their we-are-selling-our-product-not-our-users thing, and I really loved the founder’s podcast about business models and Instagram’s recently difficulties, but I just don’t feel that I’m getting enough out of the service to justify the cost. I don’t have a smart phone with which to experiment with all the apps, I’m not especially social with my social media and I wouldn’t recognise json if he hit me with an argonaut. There are only a few people I follow there anyway, and Google Reader will still help me catch what they’re saying and follow any of their links to anything interesting.

So I’m sticking with Twitter, though no idea why. I’m sure I’ve written about that before. And Facebook too, I guess, though this tweet from @nickbilton sums things up quite well.

Where old cars went to die

deadcarsNothing’s permanent, of course, but not many things shuffle off this mortal highway so gracefully as these old Belgian bangers.

“The large ‘car cemetery’ is located in the village of Chatillon,located in Belgium. In Second World War the world faced much losses.one of the losses are cars. Yes there are more than 500 cars in one places are become corrosive. The reason was more expensive for shift throw Ocean. So cars left in the forest. Somebody like to prevent this models from cemeteries. whoever car lovers enjoy this collection”

(Via Design You Trust. More photos at Mail Online.)

Will Gutenburg have the last laugh?

GutenbergInteresting post from Nicholas Carr about the state of the e-book business. As The Browser puts it, “We say we like books. And it turns out that we do. Sales of e-readers are slowing. Early adopters have adopted. Print sales are holding up well. Printed books may have more of a future than seemed probable even a year ago.”

As usual, these things are never as straightforward as the media would have us believe. I can easily see a place for both (we still have radio even though we have tv, we still have theatre even though we have cinema, we still have cinema even though- and so on and so on) and still love having both. Some of the competing business models can be a little frustrating, though; my Waterstones gift card won’t play nice with my Kindle, for instance. #firstworldproblem

(Via The Browser)