Blog posts on your local map:

Mikel Maron provides another variation of his Flash based GeoBlog, “Localfeeds visualized“. He takes rss feeds from and shows them on your local map. Just enter your zip and see blog posts popup around your house. While you are there be sure to click on the banner on his homepage, it hosts a small version of the Life game.

Making usability work:

Scott Berkun from Microsoft posted this nice article dealing with the intricacies of conducting usability benchmarking. Summary: Usability benchmarking can be used as a reference point that can be measured against in the future and can make usability an explicit project goal (Its one of the top reasons why ease of use doesn’t happen in engg projects). He lists three steps:

  1. Explain benchmarking and involve the team in setting the benchmarks and in day to day results.
  2. Pick core tasks and measure:
    • Success/Failure within a time threshold
    • Time on task
    • # of errors before completion
  3. Keep presentations simple, quick and include screenshots.

Scott Berkun also maintains the Best of chi-web & sigia-l lists.

Exploring numbers:

Lots of interesting facts about numbers on BBC’s site, Exploring numbers, by Simon Singh. Some intesresting questions are:
Is it true that any map can be coloured with just 4 colours so that no two neighbouring countries have the same colour?
What is largest known prime?
How many shuffles are sufficient to achieve an acceptable degree of randomness in a deck of 52 cards?

Best of the new technologies in 2003:

Popular science lists the best of the new technologies in 2003, arranged into 12 different categories. If you love Gizmodo or gadgets, you will like what you see. Via Emergic. Even time magazine has its own Coolest inventions 2003.

Laszlo’s new shopping RIA:

I found a new shopping RIA on Laszlo’s main page. Amazon music shop with a nice intuitive interface and lots of TabSliders or accordion panes. Also, Laszlo and Icon Media Lab (you remember this RIA Demo, right?) joined hands to write a Profitability White Paper(pdf). I found it through a search on google for usability, on google’s ads. Laszlo is targeting “usability” to market RIAs. Hmm, Does using RIA’s always improve usability? Voisen has more news on best flash usability practices.

Beat power law through saved searches:

The problem is, “How can we find new, interesting, little-known content when we all read what everbody reads and points to?” Not only in the blogosphere, but even in applications like ITunes, where people tend to see what the majority sees, this is a problem. For example, the top 25 songs are listned to way more often than the others. The solution:Providing a way to store search results along with other links, like Top 25, will help overcome the power law. Giving easy access to stored search results can bring up some pretty interesting, little known information. Andy Edmonds writes how he uses feedster rss searches and aggregators to beat the power law. Also, I started my own feedster track, I previously used only google alert.

RIA categories:

CHris MacGregor over at Flazoom, splits RIA’s into different categories in his “RIAs that Work” series, with lots of examples. The categories also answer the question, “Which tasks are Rich internet applications currently used for?” Some of the categories are, The Configurator, Simplified Forms, Product Finders and Applications. The application category is kind of broad but, takes care of the misc category. If macromedia provided RIA templates for each of these categories, it would help RIA adoptions.

Alert management:

JD points to Haystack, a client side data management interface, like central. The site has a paper called ‘UI continuations‘ which shows an interface for alerts that prompt the user for more info in a better way. One advantage of central is that it allows users to setup rules for routine tasks. It sends alerts which prompt for more information or present new information when a rule is satisfied. The current central interface can do better with a robust alerts interface. Even windows started off with basic bubble alerts. But upcoming Aero has a better alerts feature which supports storing, searching and categorizing of alerts.

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