Numeric Filename Sorting: Your Doin it Rite

July 28, 2008

I just noticed that Windows correctly sorts filenames that have ascending numbers, even when the numbers have different digit lengths and no “zero” prefixes:

Not sure how long that’s been in there, but it hasn’t always been. Good job for once, Microsoft!

Photoshop Prototypes

July 28, 2008

As part of the design process of the webapp project I’m currently on, I’m creating a prototype in Photoshop (actually, ghettoshop). Yes I know – not ideal. But they tell me it’s the best way to help the business owners get a feel for using the application, as a part of requirements elicitation. So I’ll create mockup screenshots, wire them together into HTML files that actually have the user click where they need to click, etc.

This process has been one big challenge to my perfectionism. Here are a few things I’ve learned so far:

  1. Get the general requirements nailed down as much as you can at first. If you find out you need another column in a table, you’ll need to rerender all of your screenshots.
  2. Group things so that you can hide or show a “step” with one click. I think I remember that Fireworks had a great way to do this by grouping layers into folders, which you could hide or show all at once. Photoshop probably has this too. The Gimp doesn’t seem to have it, so I’m having to make do by merging down into one layer per step. Reduces editability, but it’s a necessary evil.
  3. Don’t let the ugliness make you sad. The pixels will be off, and there will be artifacts and garbage. If there isn’t, you’re spending too much time on it for a prototype. As long as it looks like a web page to the users, and lets them click through, it’ll meet the goals.

GIMP Image Editor Fails at Fixed-Ratio

July 25, 2008
GIMP Image Editor Fails at Fixed Ratio

GIMP Image Editor Fails at Fixed Ratio

Coffee Frog

July 25, 2008

One of my all-time favorites:

Coffee frog recommends the biscotti

Coffee frog recommends the biscotti


July 24, 2008
Ruh Roh

Ruh Roh

Priority-Complexity Difference

July 23, 2008

I tend to re-invent the wheel. I’m sure someone has already done this – what do they call it?

I had to decide which features in an application that we should plan to cut in the case of schedule slips. So I ranked them all by complexity, using a 1-to-5 scale that I learned from someone with an agile methodology background.

Then I ranked them all by priority – how much the users want it. 1-to-5 scale again.

Then I took the difference between the two – you could call it the Priority-Complexity Difference (PCD). That gave me a number from -4 to 4. Positive numbers are high-priority and low-complexity – keep ‘em in. Negative numbers are low-priority and high-complexity – take ‘em out. They aren’t worth it.

(Who knows – maybe the same guy that taught me complexity ratings taught me this, too. If so, I don’t remember it.)

Beating the Mac Drum

July 23, 2008

Whereas the Mac has always had one-window-per-document, many Windows apps (including Office 2003, and maybe later versions) have one-window-per-app, with documents as “sub-windows” within that window. OK, I say, it’s a different paradigm – give them the benefit of the doubt.

But now I have 2 versions of a spreadsheet I need to compare. I want to put them on two monitors, but the application window zooms up to fill just one monitor, and I can’t move the document window outside of it. I could try to manually stretch the application across the two monitors, but they’re different ratios, so it’s difficult to make it fit. I tried opening two “instances” of Excel (another concept that seems unfortunate to me as a Mac user), and that almost works – I can put one app window on each monitor. But then, when I want to copy a spreadsheet tab from one to the other, the two apps are independent and don’t recognize that the other is open.

One-window-per-document would be a nice solution!


July 23, 2008

Found in a Google Ad: “Learn to dance for your wedding! Swing, Salsa, Ballroom & more”

Google Ads: smart enough to know I want dance lessons, not smart enough to know I’m single ;-)

The Qwerty Principle

July 23, 2008

Has anyone already come up with this principle?

If I understand it correctly, the Qwerty keyboard layout was designed for mechanical typewriters to slow typers down, because fast typers would jam the typewriter. When computers came along and jamming was no longer an issue, everyone already knew qwerty, so the inefficient layout was preserved (in contrast to, for example, more efficient layouts like Dvorak that nobody knew).

So the Qwerty Principle would be, usability doesn’t happen in a vacuum. If people are already used to a paradigm that is “unusable,” that fact may itself make the paradigm actually more usable, as compared to alternatives which are theoretically more usable.

You can see this in OpenOffice. Because everyone is used to MS Office, OpenOffice mimics MS Office’s poor/confusing menus and dialogs. GIMP could probably benefit from this by more closely mimicing Photoshop’s keyboard shortcuts.

Yes. I mean no.

July 22, 2008

“I think Heath Ledger will get a supporting actor nomination, he did have enough screen time to be considered the lead.”

Let’s ignore for a moment the run-on nature of this sentence. There are few grammatical mistakes more jarring than leaving out a negative. He’ll only get the supporting nomination, although he “did” have enough screen time to be the lead? Sigh.


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