Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Random Thoughts From A Down & Out Windows Machine Owner

My new computer hard drive, 30 days or so old, blue-screened this morning. This is after spending several weeks getting everything up and running after last month's crash. I've backed up most things after last crash, but lost 5 drafts for blogs I was working on. I spent 4 hours this afternoon taking in the old machine to the Squad O'Geeks and purchasing a new machine. I am convinced the old Gateway was pure evil. I purchase Best Buy's best HP CPU and a 24" monitor, get home, unpack everything, connect the myriad of wires and...You must be kidding...The new machine won't boot up. It is stuck in a loop of trying to start up and then going into disaster recovery mode. This is right out of the box. I end up packing everything back up and returning it all. They were out of 24" iMacs, otherwise I would be writing this on more comfortable surroundings. Unfortunately, I'm doing so on a relic of a Windows machine from the closet. Sigh. Computers really do suck sometimes.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

What News Website Am I Looking At?

I noticed that have redesigned their website. I have a lot to say about the redesign, but before I blog about that there was something else I wanted to talk about. The first thing I noticed about the design is how similar the latest news headlines section is to (Redesign coming there soon?). I then took a journey to a few dozen websites to see how many people are using similar designs for their latest headlines section on their homepage. Enjoy the above montage of blue text! Blue is so corporate. So newsworthy. So trustworthy. So 1990 hyperlink color. So…blue. It was also interesting to note the similar camera icon on a handful of them.

Sunday, September 2, 2007

Blogging Tools Are Very Immature and the Resulting Experience is Frustratingly Bad

Authoring blog entries over the last year has been a great experience…Except for the authoring part. What I mean is that blogger’s web app has consistently screwed up what I put in their editable text box. I am constantly going in and tweaking the HTML by hand. Do most bloggers know how to do this? Sometimes Blogger will even edit out a whole bunch of text for no good reason when you publish your blog entry. My workaround for this has been to work in Microsoft Word, use Notepad to tweak characters that won’t show up well on web pages, publish in Blogger, and then finally still have to tweak the HTML code every time. It’s 2007 and the term blog is ubiquitous these days. Shouldn’t this experience be a simpler one?

I’ve taken my frustration with Blogger to the next level and have made the decision to use a new authoring tool. Contribute CS3 and Windows Live are such better and smarter environments to work in. You get all the features of a Microsoft Word, but you are working directly in context to your Blog. Unfortunately, Blogger (owned by Google) doesn’t let you totally integrate these great tools with them. Contribute CS3 will sometimes post articles to Blogger such as this:

[User Experience Arts] ##TITLE## ##CONTENT##
Posted By Michael Grossman to User Experience Arts at 12/31/1969 07:00:00 PM

Posted on New Year’s Eve 1969? I don’t think blogging was around the same year that Zeppelin released their first album and John and Yoko married. It also has problems editing past entries. Both pieces of desktop software are incapable of letting you add images, because Blogger blocks them from doing so. Awful! Just testing all these things took me hours.

My next step is trying to migrate to WordPress. There is an import feature in WordPress that allows you to import your blog entries from Blogger. Of course, Blogger has blocked these efforts as well, and I wasted a couple dozen hours trying. Sigh.

Message To Blogger & Google: If you want to keep me as a customer, make the experience better. Don’t hold me hostage!

How nice it would have been to just have been blogging for all of these wasted hours. The fact that Microsoft Word 2003 still underlines “blog,” “blogging,” and “blogger” says it all.

Saturday, September 1, 2007

Why Do People Rob Banks? That’s Where The Customer-Friendly Branches Are

There was an article in the New York Times a couple weeks ago about an increase in bank robberies. Interesting thing is that police were putting some blame on banks being too “customer-friendly.” This reminded me of all the business requirements meetings I’ve been in where you have people representing all important parts of the organization. This would always include Security. Not only that, but security would always be on the mind of everyone involved. When authenticating someone in an application, there are things you obviously think about.

I wonder if this were true when these new bank branches were being designed. Did the interior designer meet with a bank-robbery specialist? Seems like the answer is no. They seem solely focused on designing the branches to draw more clients into the branch, do less to thwart robbery attempts.

When I read the article, I was also struck by the thread of all the recent silly bank robbers I’ve heard of in the news. They seem to be pointing to a new bank robber persona:

Where are Bonnie & Clyde? Where are Mr. Orange and Mr. White casing the bank? Where are Sonny Wortzik and Salvatore Naturile (The real Dog Day Afternoon bank robbers). The nostalgia we have for old skool bank robbers has been replaced by bumbling n00bs. Now they wear flip flops, silly hats, duct tape or even underwear on their heads. They clearly don’t spend lots of time planning their robberies. Is this because they don’t have to? Have the smart ones moved on to the field of Identity Theft or pyramid schemes? Will the next era of bank robbery movies have these knuckleheads as the main characters?