Archive for the ‘Apple’ Category

Spaces in Between

Sunday, March 23rd, 2008

Spaces In Between ThumbnailThis is sort of a backpost since I didn’t have a blog back then. Last October I was sitting at Peet’s reading Bill Buxton’s Sketching User Experiences and he quoted a book on comics stating how the importance between frames are so important because that is where the reader’s imagination fills in the gaps between the static images. Somehow this idea plus the old problem of digital spaces not having the same sense of orientation as physical spaces led to this idea: why not use transitions to give users a sense of where they are going when they browse the web? Instead of teleporting from page to page, transition animations would whisk the user from one page to another. I decided to go home that instant and quickly build a rough “interactive sketch” that Buxton advocates. I wanted to see what the experience would be like.

While working on it in Flash, I decided to convey relationships by having different animations depending on the relationship between the page the user is currently on and the page the user is about to go to. Drilling down into a hierarchy would zoom in. Moving from one page to another on the same level would move side to side. Moving back up the hierarchy would zoom out. Leaving one site to go to another would fly across cyberspace (cached pages in the browser history) and arrive at the requested site. One thing I didn’t really decide on is whether the back and forward buttons would respect relationships or move from side to side. I included a small site map in the corner that shows the current page’s location in the hierarchy for reference. You can watch it here.

All of this could easily be applied to software or other digital products but I chose to apply it to the web to see what it’d look like. Apple has since, with the release of Leopard, introduced even more communicative animations into the Mac UI. They started pretty early with the cube transition for user switching and genie effect for minimizing, but have added more things like the transitions when using the Spaces feature, going to the next page in Preview, or in Time Machine when going “back in time”. Overall however, few digital products actually use animation effectively today. I’m tired of pointless animations in both AJAX and Flash sites that are purely for boom and sizzle instead of substance.

As a very practical tip, you could try doing this in your presentation with a deck of slides. Only use animations either when switching from one major point to another. Examples include subject changes or in preparation for concluding remarks. This is the same strategy those masters of temporal design use when editing film. Usually, all cuts within the same scene are immediate jump cuts because they go unnoticed and don’t distract the audience. Only at the end of a scene is there something like a fade out. Animation is a powerful tool because movement attracts so much attention from the user. It should be used more to communicate instead of distracting. Hopefully we’ll see more of this as time goes on.

Mac OS Invert Screen Battery Life Tip

Monday, January 28th, 2008

Mac OS Screen Colors Inverted

I was at Colin Moock’s AS3 Tour when I glanced at the guy’s screen next to me. All the colors on the screen were dark. At first I thought he had a custom interface on the app that he had darkened. But then I noticed that when he switched apps it was still all dark and that photos were also inverted. I asked him what was up. Without a word, he motioned to his keyboard ctrl + option + ⌘ + 8. I pressed those keys and my world changed. I now got more battery life on my MacBook Pro when I needed it at the cost of color accuracy. No problem for surfing or blogging. Plus it’s a neat trick even most power Mac users don’t know.

Macworld ‘08 Yawn…

Tuesday, January 15th, 2008

So like most Mac faithful I await Macworld eagerly each year. After the Jesus Phone announcement last year, I didn’t know what to expect this year. The rumor sites said it’d be a thin notebook and it was. Hooray?! I mean, the MacBook Air is clearly an engineering marvel and I appreciate that, but why? Why do we need a laptop so thin we can put it in an envelope for dramatic effect? I know I don’t. Businessmen who are always on planes? Is that the audience? The only thing that piques my interest is the 5 hour battery life. Please Apple, make a tablet. Or at least a Macbook Air that’s a convertible. I want to use it to design the ultimate remote for my home entertainment system.

The iTunes rentals/AppleTV were also expected. That’s actually slightly more interesting to me. But I’m still waiting for the LG/Netflix streaming stuff that was announced at CES. Somehow I’m not a fan of paying $5 for only 24 hours of access. It’s highly unlikely that I wouldn’t finish watching a movie in 24 hours. But the psychology of that much restrictiveness is what bugs me. Maybe I’m just too American.

Sadly, the only product that I really wanted that was unexpected was the Time Capsule. Too bad I bought and Airport Extreme less than a year ago. Oh well, I’ll just pick up on of those drives from G-Technology. Maybe their prices will drop with increased volume after being bought out.

Seems like Wall Street wasn’t too pleased with Macworld either. AAPL was down $15 in during market and after hours trading combined. Maybe it was the less than spectacular product announcements or more likely the “only” 4 million iPhones sold thus far. Thankfully, I got rid of that stock last month. Unfortunately I’ve done just as poorly where I reinvested those proceeds…damn economy.