WebOS

All posts tagged WebOS

Part 1 of my 2 part article on TouchUI is now up on DiceNews. In it I talk about the current state of TouchUI in the setting of responding to Josh Clark’s views on it. I want to make it perfectly clear, I think he is on the right track. However, he seems to miss some of what we have learned about user interfaces the past 25+ years.

In order to fit in the format, I pulled a section of the article where I brainstormed about how I believe a TouchUI should work as a foundation for adding custom gestures and interfaces. There are probably problems with some of these ideas, but it is just a cursory glance at what a baseline UI should have. I am throwing it in here for your consideration. As always: intelligent feedback is welcome.

Some are obviously inspired (“ripped off”) from WebOS, and some are from Android and iOS. However, for the most part a cohesive convention of how things should be done that is translatable to all manner of touch screens has not emerged. This is my “first” public swing, but I think about this stuff all the time, especially whenever I am using a frustrating interface. Continue Reading

Apple has really turned the corner in the last 6 months. They finally settled a court case to replace the defective design of the first generation mag-safe adapters.
When one I had was intermittently failing, I took it in (after being forced to make an appointment and wait a week) and was told that because it was currently working, I could not get it replaced, despite the fact that the court case settlement was to do just that.
Next, I tried to find information in their online pages, including their knowledge base and about a particular issue. When all documents lead to a less than helpful landing page, I was seriously discouraged.
Then, my 2 year old MacBook Pro lost a little plastic foot, and I can see the hard drive beneath it. I called Apple requesting a replacement be sent. Even though I have AppleCare the help desk person on the other side didn’t care about the problem and refused to send me a foot. I told him I could install it myself, and it was a 50 cent part at most and to send the laptop in for service was a huge waste of time and money. When I asked to speak to a supervisor, he refused to patch me through. The call ended with him hanging up on me. I haven’t called back, and oddly the usual email that Apple sends out asking how my support experience was, never came.
Now, I found a glitch in iOS that caches passwords even after a person logs out of the iTMS apps section on an iOS device. I tried to report it, and I didn’t hear back for a few days. My only recourse was to pull all my account info. I do not think I will be reentering it. When support finally did get back to me I took the time to explain what happened. The response I got was something other computer companies are infamous for doing: it was a cut and paste set of links to very basic knowledge base articles that did not address my problem. I wrote back and the support rep then copy and pasted the exact same basic “newbie” article into the email. When I wrote back and told “Trina” (no last name to protect horrid service) that none of this addressed the problem, I got another canned response. I didn’t realize Apple was hiring illiterate email support people. Either that or Siri is now handling email parsing: this would explain the lack of human responses and concern.
I have been an Apple Customer for about 25 years, and this is worse than when I had to strong-arm Apple into replacing my friend’s faulty 7200 logic board, that was among a series of defective boards.
Sadly their software is probably the most efficient for getting things done in a GUI environment, and the integration of things like Tapbot’s Pastebot, their own Airplay, and tons of donation-ware—including set and forget backup apps that are better than commercial Windows small network backup apps. Let’s not even mention the apps in my recommended list. I depend on these apps many times a day.
I am not tied into he ecosystem because I ripped virtually all my own media from hard copies. Also, after working with Windows, Linux and Macs for years at various companies, I have no doubt I could fix any problems. But the thing is, I know the added hassle that come with the other 2 platforms. So, I could leave, but where would I go?
If HP hadn’t completely bungled WebOS it might be a potential replacement. Linux is too much of a patchwork OS as is its mobile equivalent: Android. Every year the companies that make Android phones promise to update current models to the new OS when they are released, and many times the companies retract that after the models are discontinued. So, that is out as well, considering timely updates are a crapshoot. I feel I would have better odds breaking even in Vegas.
Windows 8? Not a chance. I know how horrid the underpinnings of the OS are. The second to have to do anything a tech would do the settings to do it are still buried, and some only easily accessible via a command prompt. Also, despite what novices and the unexperienced think, without purchasing subscription software to manage and protect he machine, it would be only a matter of time before I either lost or had data stolen.
Also, the interface to Windows 8 is a joke. Really? Tiles with seemingly arbitrary colors with small thin text in them that updates. I can do the same thing by tiling 8 console windows, changing the background color and tailing the logs of 8 programs. But to make is as unreadable as Windows 8’s tiles, I would have to chose the lightest version of a font with an awkward x-height.
I would probably also have to do what my old roommate did: wipe the HD every 6 months to keep the Windows stable and speedy with the number of programs that I have to test. Unless I missed the memo, Microsoft still relies on a monolithic single point of failure file that is written to all the time and is in control of the entire system.
About testing: I can test Mac, Linux and Windows apps on one machine. This is not the case for either Linux nor Windows boxes (which are identical).
So, I’ll have to wait until a better OS comes out (doubtful, considering all the OSes are getting facelifts to look thrice as stupid as their predecessors, and 9 times less efficient.) It is no wonder browser based OSes are gaining mindshare: all the big OS’s UIs are being driven by Toonces and browsers are great for inefficient local computing paradigms.

UPDATE: Looks like others are cluing in on this as well: Bad Apple
Also, on the 19th, I spoke to a DSL field technician that makes anywhere from 5-10 house calls a day and he commented that people are starting to notice Apple is turning into Microsoft. Sad.

The tablet wars have yet to be decided, but so far every iPad killer has ultimately met with failure. Even in the smartphone space, despite Android’s lead, every study found that iTMS’s AppStore collects more money than competing digital stores. About the only thing you can say with certainty is that UNIX derived mobile operating systems (mOSes) have won the first battle in the mobile space. Why is this? Taking a glance at the history of mobile computing tablets gives us some clues…

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Well by now those savvy tech people have already heard that HP today decided to fold its tablet device offering not long after cutting the price by $100. This doesn’t mean much in isolation, but then news comes that Galaxy Tablets will be given away with purchase of large LED HDTV at Best Buy. Is Samsung also suffering more than they can accept from the iPad’s dominance in the tablet space? Probably. I read a recent survey where about 90% of the people who were considering a tablet planning to purchase an iPad.

Just from personal hands on experience with several different tablets and their respective OSes, I can see why. Android, with its splatter painting approach to UI consistency and no quality standards is great for people who want the flexibility to customize everything and don’t want or need a walled garden approach. However, the geeks and technology hipsters are vastly outnumbered by the people that just want to get stuff done on a portable device. They, the unwashed masses, don’t care about customization beyond the very basics: wallpaper, app arrangement, alert/notification systems and what case they think looks cool or will protect their device best.

After 15 years in tech related jobs, I too am sick of the added complexity of managing aspects of eye candy the way Android and other OSes handle it. Also, most of those features the device manufacturers are touting are like greek to the average consumer. Who cares it your device runs on a 1.6GHz dual-core Atom or Snapdragon or whatever the marketing department’s “hot processor” du-jour is. What people really care about is how difficult it is to use your product, and how easy it is to learn. When you do update the OS, users expect the interface not to dramatically change and leave them lost until they relearn the GUI. Oh, and if your device crashes, you might as well count every crash as decreasing the likelihood of repeat business by 1% or 2%.

This is where Apple has the upper hand: They not only make sure things are consistent, and test the hell out of the stability and foundation of their UI standards on top of the research they put into making the UIs intuitive as possible. They also add things later that, in a way, make sense. In the rare case that a convention is changed, it is with thought and often allows the older users the option to do it the old-fashioned way. None of the other mobile platforms can claim this level of scrutiny and planning.

Sure it’d be easy to brand me an Apple Fanboy and move on. But read on. Everyone who knows me knows I’ve been an advocate of a lot of Apple products.  But what is less known is there are times I reject requests to purchase Apple hardware or software based on what’s available. This was when OS X was just getting off the ground and Apple’s product line up wasn’t nearly as focused as it is now. Newton and the first rev of the AppleTV were rejected based on their lack of focus as products or features.

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