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Genius + Brilliant = Geniant

Last week was my last at Hitachi Consulting. I started at Geniant on Monday, and I am very excited to be here.

This was a gut-wrenching decision that kept me up many nights over the past several months. The people at Navigator (now Hitachi Consulting) have been truly wonderful to work with. The intelligence, work ethic, integrity, and fun that this group has surpasses any employer or client I have worked for before. There are too many co-workers and clients to name (well, the friends list at the right is a good start) that I am proud to have worked with while at there Navigator.

So why leave? The gig at Geniant will provide more opportunities for me to work on UI-specific projects with many talented UI designers and developers. It’s a chance for me to follow some specific goals I have for growing as a UI consultant.

As I get settled in at Geniant, I’ll likely be posting more about UI ideas and experiences here on my blog (yeah, actions speak louder than words, I know). I hope you’ll stop by the website once in a while, or better yet, subscribe to the feed in your favorite news aggregator

 
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Posted by on July 19, 2006 in fribble

 

my new first look for books is nerdbooks.com

Back in the day, I loved spending time (and money) in Taylor’s Bookstore on Beltline in Addison. It was the mecca of technical books in the metroplex. They carried lots of titles on technical subjects back before the big-box Borders and B&N was around, and they were much deeper then than the rivals that outlasted them are today.

At the Dallas UPA meeting last week, I learned about Nerdbooks.com. I’m not sure how they’ll compete with the likes of Amazon online, but for me it is great that they are based here in Richardson, and have a store front you can visit. If you struggle with instant gratification like I do, you can check the inventory online, then drive over to pick it up in less time than it would take to ship. The inventory is huge (over 20,000 titles in stock) and there are comfortable chairs to sit in while you sample your selections. They even have a free soft-drink fountain setup in a comfortable lounge.

The store is on the east side of Central just off Collins; its a potentially dangerous trap for me now being on the way home from many clients.

Support a local good guy next time you need a technical tome.

 
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Posted by on June 8, 2006 in fribble

 

We All Nowitzness

In honor of Dirk’s ridiculous performance last night, here’s a Dirk Nowitzki Witness wallpaper (1024×768), “We All Nowitzness”.

Go Mavs! Finish Phoenix Saturday night!

 
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Posted by on June 2, 2006 in fribble

 

Thoughts on iRise

This evening I watched a demo of iRise, the prototyping tool developed by the company of the same name. Here are some quick thoughts I took away.

The tool seems easy to use. Drag and drop screen and scenario painting looks straight forward. I can see how quickly you could develop a fairly deep prototype. It would be much faster than coding, even if you had a rich set of templates like protokit to start with.

The output has good visual fidelity. While it uses proprietary metadata to style the visual elements, it will import CSS. It appears that absolute placement of graphics doesn’t allow for a fluid layout, but there does seem to be a high degree of control over style attributes and placement. The interaction with “data sheets” provide rich data interaction simulation (something that we’ve been stratching our heads over on protokit). What seems to be lacking is rich DHTML (or as the kids call it “Ajax”) behavior. The few widgets they demoed when asked seemed to refresh the screen on each activation. There might be ways around this with hacks or in future releases.

The output has low mark-up or code layer fidelity. The output is a proprietary format similar to PDF. Like Adobe’s Acrobat strategy, a free viewer is available from iRise that will “run” prototypes (iDocs) developed by the iRise tool. Like protokit, this makes the prototypes very portable and easily viewed with or without a connection to a server. The downside is that there isn’t much (if any?) mark-up that can be reused by developers. This is especially not-good news if you’re documenting design to be shipped off-shore for development. I’d like to be able to specify accurate examples of what the mark-up should be.

The trade-off might be worth it. You save time developing the interactive model and can use some of that time to develop an interactive style guide with markup examples. You could even develop static HTML renderings of each screen, they just wouldn’t have the cool interaction that the iDoc offers.

So, when does one use iRise? Protokit? Just prototype in Rails using scaffolding? Well, any junior consultant will tell you the answer is always “it depends”. But iRise is a fascinating first step into automating the design process. Hopefully I’ll get an opportunity to evaluate iRise further to see if the mark-up side shortcomings can be overcome by overloading the available attributes and other documentation capabilities.

 
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Posted by on May 31, 2006 in prototyping

 

processing the desktop like your inbox

Keith Robinson had a great post today on spring-cleaning for your desktop. Here’s a tip that I have used to keep the new MacBook Pro’s desktop clutter free.

In addition to standard aliases (shortcuts, for my Windows friends) to important drives/directories I have a “downloads” folder on my desktop. Everything I save from the web or email goes in here. It’s easy enough to get to, being on the desktop, and keeps the clutter out of sight. Typically I then manipulate the file as needed, filing it appropriately or deleting it when I am done. If I get distracted or I’m not ready to use the file, it stays in the download folder.

Each morning I make it a point to “process” the downloads folder just like I do with my inbox. I look at each item and either use it (if it will take less than 2 minutes), file it where it belongs, or delete it if it isn’t needed anymore. If I’m still not ready to use it, it stays in the folder. At least I know it will be reviewed again the next day.

My old machines had very messy desktops, and I could never find those one-off files when I needed them. While I have only been using this new system for six weeks or so, it’s been very effective so far.

 
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Posted by on May 15, 2006 in fribble

 

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Have you seen what’s “noteworthy”?

Thanks for reading Mark-up, my personal notes made public. Most of you are here because we were already good friends and we realized that RSS is much more efficient than email at sharing our ideas about common interests. But I have been happily surprised to hear from old and new friends that are reading the blog as well. I’m glad you’re here.

This main feed is where I infrequently post my own thoughts or analysis. This area is reserved for entire paragraphs or new threads. If you’re purely reading these posts through a news aggregator and you’re only subscribed to Mark-up, you’re missing the “snippet” section that’s updated much more frequently with happy finds on the web. In the spirit of Coudal’s Fresh Signals or Firewheel Design’s Current Plugs (both prolific sources of amusing and inspiring links) I have a “Noteworthy” feed powered by del.icio.us. Links that I think my like-minded friends would also enjoy get an extra “noteworthy” tag when I post them to del.icio.us. View them online beside the latest posts on the home page, or through the magic of RSS in your own comfy news aggregator.

I hope you’re amused or inspired by these links as much as I was.

 
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Posted by on May 11, 2006 in fribble

 

BI Wisdom, from LOST

The Pearl station orientation video

Seems like the fictional Dharma Initiative on the TV show LOST understands the importance of Busines Intelligence.

Careful observation is the only key to true and complete awareness.

- Dr. Mark Whitman Wickman* (or is it Martin KandallCandle*?) in The Dharma Initiative 5 of 6 Orientation (Station 5 – The Pearl)

Namaste!

Update: My brother-in-law pointed out the obvious to me over dinner this evening. His names are Candle and Wickman. I should have realized.

 
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Posted by on May 10, 2006 in business

 

switch — the video

Update: Now with a soundtrack!

Just amazing stuff. Here’s a demo using VirtueDesktops to switch between OS X and Parallels with lots of eye candy. This is the solution I was hoping for back when the Intel announcement was made, only it plays much cooler than I anticipated.

Everything that I had an issue with before is now fixed in Beta5:

  • full-screen 1440×900 resoulution
  • guest can now see shared folders on the host
  • near-flawless mouse tracking (in the Parallels Tools, no tweaks needed
  • more than adequate performance

The only issue left is the ability to grow the drive-size past the original setting. There are a number of work-arounds for this, but I hope that a utility will be provided with the final release.

No need for Boot Camp any more—at least not for me. It’s time to buy pre-order a copy of Parallels Workstation.

 
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Posted by on April 27, 2006 in fribble

 

boot camp vs. parallels — conclusion

I haven’t booted into the Windows partition in over two weeks. The Parallels Beta4 is simply amazing. It now supports full-screen mode at least up to 1280×1024 (as much as I can handle on my secondary Dell LCD). I’ve been able to do everything I needed to (run web applications on the client network in IE, connect to others via NetMeeting, use the client’s Jabber network, etc) without any issues.

The irony: my largest “switchâ€? experiment failure is related to the OS X side of life. I have to do my graphics heavy lifting in Windows.

What? You have to switch to Windows for your most intense graphics work? Isn’t that why you got a Mac to begin with? Better graphics, right? What in the world can’t you do with 256MB of graphics power?

There are still no universal binary nor native x86 (if there is such a thing yet) solutions for editing PNG files. When I use Fireworks on the OS X side (via Rosetta emulation) it chokes on large files. By large, I mean a large canvas. One sign I was working on was only a 500KB PNG file, but it was 5400×3600 pixels (36×24 inches at 150 ppi) large. Fireworks beachballed when opening, and it crashed during printing or trying to print preview. This evening I plan on installing Fireworks in the Parallels VM to see if it handles large files better.

I’m dismayed that Adobe (Macromedia) is not going to release neither binary universals nor native apps until their next regularly scheduled versions. I hope Adobe doesn’t abandon Fireworks, as I have always preferred it to using both Photoshop and Illustrator. It does the best of both worlds (vector and bitmap manipulation) without the bloat of features I don’t need. If anyone reading this has a recommendation for a nice PNG editor (besides Gimp in X11) please share them in the comments for this post.

So for my needs, Parallels works great. It allows me to perform a few Windows-only tasks on my Apple OS X machine without rebooting into Windows. I’m convinced now that I’ll delete the 20GB Windows partition, and maybe reinstall it with 5GB or 6GB just incase I need it in a pinch. It’s a cool party trick to boot into Windows completely. Well, at geek parties anyways.

 
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Posted by on April 25, 2006 in fribble

 

basic elements for visual design

I’ve had “write post on elements of visual design” on my “someday/maybe” list for the past two months now. After a visit with Glenn a few weeks ago I decided to elevate it to a new project.

Writing that post now would be redundant considering Mike Rundle’s article published last week on Vitamin. I’ve used Robin William’s C.A.R.P. (or other memorable anagram of those four letters) for years when teaching developers and clients about the basic elements of visual design. It’s an easy means to understand why effictive designs work.

I recommend reading Mike’s article if you are a developer. It’s a good overview of the four basic elements. Using these principles in your own form and screen layouts will increase the value of both form and function.

I might still write a short series that goes a little more in depth on each. But for now, it’s back on the someday/maybe list.

 
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Posted by on April 21, 2006 in fribble