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Remembering Steve Jobs through his 1983 speech

It’s already been a year since Steve Jobs’ passing. To mark the occasion, I’d like to reflect on his life through a long lost recording of a speech he gave in 1983 that has only recently been made available. Listening to that speech is an incredible experience which I highly recommend.

It is remarkable how comfortable, funny and genuinely passionate Jobs already was. You can’t fake that or train for it. He understood so many things already, like how media alaways need to evolve to adapt to technological transitions. So many music majors and movie studios still haven’t learnt that lesson in 2012!

While talking about the ground-breaking typographical capacities of the Lisa, he states: “we are solving the problem of injecting liberal arts into computers.” This is almost word for word how he described Apple’s mission during his very last keynotes. It is simply remarkable how faithful he stayed to his mission over 30 years.

But these are not even the most impressive parts of that speech. Continue reading

iTunes 10 new sync mode

While some have noticed that the new iTunes 10 could now play music directly from connected iDevices without having to activate the special “Manually manage music and video” mode, the other interesting related, but much more interesting new feature was missed.

Previously, iTunes media transfert was either a full sync, meaning you had first to put songs in a playlist then tell iTunes to sync it with the phone, or a full manual process, where you could drag and drop files, but would loose the power of using the sync options defined.

It is now possible to simply drag and drop songs from the iTunes list to the iPhone icon, which which prompt iTunes to immediately transfer these songs to your device.

iTunes 10 will list those songs under a new “Manually Added Songs”  group in the “Music” tab of its iPhone settings.

This new feature allow the best of both modes: full sync while still allowing immediate media transfer on demand. Sweet.

See it the new iPhone sync music settings screen on this screenshot.

PS. I discovered this by chance, and I can’t understand why Apples doesn’t announce such new features somewhere in their release notes.



Hackathons, developer’s conceptions, and how it negatively affects good UX. #ota09

The culmination of the Over the Air 09 conference is a developer competition. Over the 24h of the conference, developers are invited to code some application, with many prizes setup up by the organizers and the sponsors.

Sponsored categories ask for example how to provide a demonstration on how a sponsor’s product / API can be used. For example “Best BBC. com hack”, or “Best Lonely planet hack”. There are also general categories “Best use of WebApp/widget”, “Best hardware hack”, and the weirdly phrased “Best User Experience / Service Design”.

Sounds cool? Yeah, kind of. But to me such competitions, hackday or hackathon tend to encourage the worse of the typical developer mindset, which is often antinomic to delivering a good UX.

Continue reading

Over The Air 09: first impressions

I attended the first day of the Over The Air conference yesterday, which proved very interesting for two reasons. First, I heard about some of the new and upcoming developments in mobile tech (widget, widget, widget, it seems…). Second, this was a Developers conference, and very much so. So this doubled as a field trip in developer land, ethnographic style.

If there was any doubt about the audience being developers, just counting the number of ladies would remove it. I estimate the ratio to be close to 1 woman for 15 guys, a very far cry from the approximate gender parity of UX crowds.

The session were mainly technical, full of info about APIs, (in-)compatibilities, standards etc. Some UX session were also present, but I have to say I was a bit disappointed by them. It’s not that they were not good, far from it actually, special props to Bryan Rieger with his incredibly clean, beautiful, and effective slides. It’s just that given my background in UX and the MSc I just finished, none of this was really news to me: I was simply not the intended audience.

Like any good event, #ota09 got me thinking on a couple of points, that will be the basis of a few blog post.

First up: Hackathons, developer’s conceptions, and how it negatively affect good UX

#UXcampLondon session: What do you do? Explaining our jobs to ourselves and others – David and Martina

UX_titles.jpgThat session is one of those that can only happen in a bar camp: it was pretty much improvised, consisted mainly of a group discussion. I found it however very interesting especially since a couple of participants were less deep in UX than the rest of us, and provided a somewhat external outlook, very much appreciated given the topic.

In the field of UX, you pretty much have as many job titles as you have individuals (each of these post it is one!), and it is very difficult, even for us, to clearly see what each of these mean.

Continue reading

#UXcampLondon sessions: Johanna on Google Wave

I enjoyed the presentation, but just like after watching the official introduction at Google IO, I am not sold on Wave.

The technology behind it sure seems impressive, but I have yet to see (or understand?) what concrete benefits it brings. I have not yet seen any use that would not have been filled by either email, IM, a forum, or google apps.

Wave is remixing all of those into something new, which is bound to be very disturbing as it will be in a uncanny valley where we think we know what is there (for ex. someone typing a message), while the reality is different from what we expect (you can edit you correspondant message while he types it).

Seems to me they try to have one single tool to achieve very different things, which is generally a recipe for failure.

Disclaimer: This is based on my poor recollection of the session, and may not be an accurate or comprehensive description of the presenter’s ideas. I also use those posts to share my own idea on the topic.

Johanna highlighted many issues with email, and there are not doubt many, but I don’t agree on all of the ones mentioned. For me the fact that my messages or love letters may be opened a century from now by my grand kids is not a benefit. My emails are private things, and I only want the recipient(s) to see. I can use public blogs, forum etc if I want to share.
However, I agree that the current situation has serious issues: much vital information in organisation is only present in emails, is not searchable by all who need it, and is lost when one person leaves.

A key point of Johanna’s presentation was about “orality”. But IMHO, not all correspondence should aim to be more oral.
“Words fly, writings remain”: I precisely use email when I want things written with no way to modify them, like when I want a trace of an expense approval from my boss.

Overall, I am not sure Google has really understood all the reasons why people use email, and were the strong points of email are. I would say emails are used for many different purposes.

Analysing the many characteristics (availability, intimacy, instantaneity, collaboration, multimedia, persistency…) of all our modern communication tools
is a huge task, but one that I feel should be accomplished to be able to assess Wave fairly.

I’ll probably write more about those topics in the future.

For a start I should definitely use it myself :-/

Hello world!

This is it. #UXcamplondon pushed me over the edge, and I’m back in the blogging world.

Got tons of ideas from #UXcamplondon that I want to get out of my brain. This blog is meant to contribute to the conversation, so comments are most welcomed.

Hope you’ll like what’ you’ll read.

Also: this blog has been put together in a rush. I am supposed to be working on finishing my MSc dissertation, so some work has been delayed (theme, advanced configuration etc).