Saturday, February 28, 2009

Phising, Pharming and TUX (Trust User Experience)

Photo of a "spoofed " popup over a real website









Another informative presentation by our local Puget Sound SIGCHI. Jefferey Friedberg, Chief Trust Architect for Microsoft, gave a spirited overview of the Internet Fraud Battlefield and users' concerns about the vulnerability of their personal information. With the ever-increasing sophistication and types of scams Internet visitors are exposed to, how can they be sure the website they're visiting is for real and not a "spoof" that will steal their credentials or worse.

Friedberg points to a critical weakness in the "trust user experience", where user's often don't have the knowledge or guidance to make good trust decisions. In many cases the underlying system architecture is not much help and does more to confuse than to enlighten. With more sensitive personal information, such as health records becoming digital and the growth in Web 2.0 social networking, foolproof trust models are essential.

Trust User Experience (TUX) is a combination of well designed user interface, new system architecture and the user's own mental models of what security looks like.

Friedberg presented some interesting case studies, research and strategies for improving the Trust User Experience.

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Friday, February 20, 2009

Interaction Design | '09 Vancouver, Canada


Inspiring conference, workshops and talks by Interaction Designers from every corner of the world in a great city. Vancouver seems so much more urban and dense than Seattle.

There were so many choices, it was difficult to choose which workshop or talk to attend. Being on crutches after recent hip surgery didn't help much, but managed to attend the "Sketching Ideas" workshop. Great way to loosen up and make the connection between the brain and the tip of the pencil. The 'flow' and storyboarding exercises really got all of us thinking in new and unexpected ways.

Some of the other highlights for me were the "Gestalt or Where to put the Submit button" presentation, Prototyping with Fireworks and just being around so many inspiring people.

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Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Livescribe SmartPen - a great research and note taking tool


Having missed taking Gregg shorthand in high school and not being a fast typist, note taking has always been a problem. I'm always amazed that some folks can take notes on a laptop almost word for word. My notes, on the other hand, usually wind up as indecipherable scribbles as I try and keep up.
Until the Livescribe SmartPen shipped early last year, I was resigned to go on scribbling.
I was an early adopter the this very useful tool and have found it's made a difference in my ability to take notes and sketch in meetings, usability tests and interviews. I'm much more relaxed knowing I've captured the essence of a meeting or interview.
With the SmartPen and special notepaper every word is recorded and synced with your notes. Using a USB connection, you can download your synced notes to your computer along with full audio recording which can be edited with LiveScribe's software.
I understand Microsoft's OneNote has similar capabilities, especially paired with a tablet PC.
For me the 'sketchy' aspect of the SmartPen is a great combination of old and new technology.

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Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Goodbye desktop, laptop and keyboard!


It's been awhile since I had time to post anything on the site, being swamped with projects and trying to keep up with new technology. A friend sent these intriguing photos of a new computer being developed in Japan.

In the race for a more compact computers, scientists have made great strides with Bluetooth technology and miniaturization. Looks like you could carry this computer in your pocket, except I seem to always lose pens.

This "pen-like" device produces both the monitor as well as the keyboard on any flat surfaces where you can work you would normally do on your desktop computer.

I saw some of this technology awhile a go in a presentation from Microsoft Research. Amazing how far it's progressed. Probably won't see it at Best Buy tomorrow, but we seem to be heading in a very interesting direction.

Looks like it plays well with other devices too.

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Friday, July 20, 2007

"Sharewhere" and other developments

Between designing and facilitating usability tests, bugging people about late content and creating wireframes, here it is July already and I haven't had much time to post. Not that there haven't been incredible developments out there in Digitaland. The iPhone alone is using lots of bandwidth on several discussion boards.

As Bill Buxton points out in his new book, "Sketching the User Experience", so much of this technology that's only now coming to market has been in development for many years.

Had some folks from the Microsoft Research Group give a presentation a couple of years ago on what is now a real product – Microsoft Surface.

Being kind of a late-adopter and sometime Luddite, I'm not standing in line for the iPhone, although I've been a faithful Mac user since the IIe. Recently bought a Lenovo laptop to work in the Windows environment with Visio and have been pleasantly surprised with both the hardware and software. Still on XP though.

This YouTube Video caught my eye mostly for the GPS integration. I've been using GPS for at-sea navigation for years and it's interesting to see it migrating to the mobile space and seemingly everywhere these days.

Thanks to the folks at the University of Kansas (where they also offer an Interaction Design degree program)


Friday, April 27, 2007

"Magic Ink"

Came across a thought-provoking paper titled "Magic Ink", on the IxDA discussion board the by Bret Victor, a California based programmer, designer and visionary.

Although not a graphic designer by training, he makes an interesting case for interaction being more of a graphic design problem than merely a path for the user toward a specified goal.

I've always felt we humans were capable of absorbing and deciphering much more information than was previously thought. Brain research seems to be confirming this. Victor gives some good examples of this in some of his redesigns that use information graphics ala Tufte, rather than interaction to communicate.

That pixels are "magic ink" really struck a chord with me. A good read!

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Friday, February 23, 2007

User interface support for a multitasking workforce

Another informative presentation last night by Dr. Mary Czerwinski of Microsoft Research, sponsored by our local Puget Sound SIGCHI.

Personally, multitasking is a subject I find compelling, especially as it relates to running a small business. Somehow, I'm able to keep a lot of small details relating to projects I'm working on in my head and prioritize them. It often seems that other people on the team have a much harder time doing that. It's as if they can only keep one thing in their register stack at a time. Seems personality type has a lot to do with it, according to the Myers-Briggs intelligence types.

The question then becomes one of learning style, hard wiring in the brain, adaptability or some other yet-to-be discovered factor. How to design an interface that works for everyone?

Dr. Czerwinski presented some interesting videos of how her group's interface design templates worked for controlling the way multiple windows are displayed and manipulated.

But her answer to a question I posed about whether certain people are better at multitasking than others opened a whole new set of questions about how all this is changing the way we function in the world. She mentioned that that younger people in her study were comfortable writing code while listening to music and text message at the same time - with a possible slight drop in IQ.

My kids do the same. Well, maybe not the code writing. I'm amazed to walk into my son's room to find him reading a textbook, chatting online with classmates, checking his mySpace page, emailing, listening to music, watching TV and scratching the dog behind the ear - and still get good grades.

Is all this multitasking the cause of so much ADD/ADHD or a symptom? Then there's the research on how playing certain video games make for better laproscopic surgeons, as heard the other day on NPR.

The message is about how we can help people be in control - of their tasks, time, access and lives.

I've been impressed with the quality and scope of research going on at Microsoft, and appreciate the effort of folks like Dr. Czerwinski to create user interface systems that make life a little less frustrating for all of us information workers.