It was about one year ago that we switched to Git. Previously, we used Subversion, through the Mac app Versions, which (rightly) holds an Apple Design Award.
I made the executive decision to leave our comfy world of Versions because it seemed clear that Git was winning the Internet. There was much grumbling from my teammates, who were busy enough doing actual work thank you very much.
But I pressed forward. We signed up for accounts on Github. We learned how to type
'git pull'. We became more confident. Git is just like any other source control system! But it wasn’t long before one of our devs called me over to look at a…situation.
“Humans are incapable of securely storing high-quality cryptographic keys, and they have
unacceptable speed and accuracy when performing cryptographic operations. They are also large, expensive to maintain, diﬃcult to manage, and they pollute the environment. It is astonishing that these devices continue to be manufactured and deployed, but they are suﬃciently pervasive that we must design our protocols around their limitations.”
~ Kaufman et al.
If you search for “fox” in Google Images and ignore all the photos of Megan Fox, you’ll spot my reference photo.
About 15min of work after a 10 year painting hiatus…
Once in a while, I like rewatching this clip as a refresher.
Yes. Jackie Stewart.
Beyond the slides- why COMS W4170 is an important class.
Since I’ve been approached by 3 different CS students in the past semester lamenting how horrible Columbia’s COMS W4170 (User Interface Design) class is, I feel obligated to make one of my first long posts about a class that has helped me shape my views on developing high quality applications. I want to urge any aspiring application developers to approach the class with an open mind and give it a chance.
Admittedly, the class is delivered rather poorly and the material is presented in a really dry manner. I mean, you’d imagine a class that focuses on user interface and user experience would be delivered using something other than hundreds of pages of PowerPoint slides.
Despite the shortcomings in delivery, I truly believe there is a lot of very important lessons to be learned in COMS W4170. The trick is to be able to constantly see beyond the hundreds of research papers and design principles the instructor hurls at you and see how everything fits in well-designed applications of today. While the instructor does attempt to tie many of these principles back to real world applications, most examples are too antiquated for any undergraduates in year 2011 to make an emotional bond with. History is nice, but so is taking a nap in a dim classroom right after lunch. To capture the student’s attention, the very least an instructor can do is give examples students can sympathize with. Furthermore, the endless bullet points of design rules that are unloaded on the students do nothing but derail the purpose of the class. For example, one of the laws we were taught was Fitts’s Law. I never took it seriously until I saw that designers actually make use of it (like here). Of course, blind application of design rules goes nowhere, but that’s a topic for a different post. Here is another great example of a designer analyzing interfaces rigorously, specifically why the cartographic design choices in Google Maps is superior.
Design mantras, law, paradigms, principles (or whatever you want to call it…) that surround user interface design are extremely important. Teach it poorly and you end up with a really dry class. Teach it well and you begin to see things you’ll never notice before (like in the Google Maps example above). Go into the class with an open mind and see beyond the bullet points of principles to memorize. You’ll never see interfaces the same way again.
[Image from A List Apart]
Revisiting the readings from my Interaction Design class at Columbia University in Spring 2010. I didn’t have time to read every one of them as thoroughly as I should have. What college senior in an engineering school had time to read? A list of must reads for anyone interested in user experience design/Interaction Design.
The Elements of Typographic Style -by Robert Bringhurst
Cognition in the Wild -by Edwin Hutchins
Vision Science: Photons to Phenomenology -by Stephen E. Palmer
Spatial Schemas and Abstract Thought -by Merideth Gattis
Semantic Structures -by Ray S. Jackendoff
Metaphors We Live By -by George Lakoff
The Society of Mind -by Marvin Minsky
Information Ecologies: Using Technology with Heart - by Nardi & O’Day
The Measurement of Meaning -by Charles E Osgood