Not an iPhone review

There are plenty of iPhone reviews out there. This is not another. This post is just an observation as to why the iPhone is so different and inspires such goodwill from those who use it. It is simple really, but Apple has taken tasks that on most (all?) other phones are cumbersome, non-intuitive, and often just plain crappy and made them a joy. I am not really over stating this, the iPhone is really fun to use. Browsing the web is not reminiscent of the “real” real web, it IS the real web (ok a web without Flash – for now). Google maps works just like Google maps should. Email is great, not some crippled version, and the phone, despite what some have said, is very nice too. Almost all the interfaces are easy to use and it is easy to know where to go and what to do to make things happen. My previous Windows Mobile phone and my Palm PDA phone before that, took a while to master and it was only because I learned their backwards way of doing things was I able to manage on those devices.

This should serve as yet another lesson from Apple that design matters. Make interfaces (both physical and virtual) that are fun and intuitive and people will enjoy using them and tell their friends.

A couple other observations – No wonder there is a 10% restocking fee if you return an iPhone. With the amount of plastic they use – wrapping everything multiple times in their way. It would take a while to wrap all that stuff back up, I imagine. And what is up with the industrial glue used on the bags they put the phones in when you buy them. Not sure if it is the same at Apple stores but at the at&t store the clerk put the phone in this bag and then pulled away a strip between the two insides and the bag sealed up tight – had to use keys to rip a hole in the bag to open it. When we asked him about it, he said Apple was making them do that. Think different, I guess.

100,000 and counting

Today I received the 100,000th spam email in the past 30 days. I feel very honored that so many people consider me a great candidate for refinancing my mortgage or investing in the hot new stock. So many busty blonds want to meet me but I feel that they would be surprised to find that so many others seem to think I can’t get it up and that I may need C14L5 or \/14gr4. If you have sent me a message to which I didn

Agile design

At the MinneBar conference in May I presented a session titled Agile Design and a great discussion ensued. The talk centered around the concepts and ideas of the Agile Method, but, you guessed it, as it related to information and visual design. I have had a great opportunity in my current role to help to define and evolve our process and practices surrounding software design and development. I love the team I work with and hope to continue breaking new ground with them.

I also wanted to post a bit about some ongoing and upcoming projects I am involved in so you know what I have been up to and what to expect.

First, I am planning to launch a new site with some peers of mine that will be focused on the agile method and particularly how it pertains to the development of “web 2.0” apps. You might think of it as a Signal vs. Noise type blog with less of a marketing spin.

I am also helping to plan OpenBar for the fall of 2006. OpenBar will pick up where MinneBar left off but its entire focus will be on open source software, using open source in your business, and is aimed at developing, enriching, and bringing together Minnesota’s large but disjointed open source community.

I also have a Minnesota blog aggregation site brewing slowly, but my decision to write in Ruby and on the Rails framework (as my first foray into such technologies) is retarding my progress. Hopefully, I will post more on this soon.

Lastly, this site is on the verge of another facelift. I really like the new visual design a lot, but am more excited by some of the ways the new site will be organized as well as some of the additional features and content I will be adding. Not sure when this will happen, but I am hoping for a June launch.

Flickr UI improvements truly improvements

flickr photo page design refreshThe new improvements made to the Flickr UI are great and well worth the wait. When you go, what you won’t see are drastic changes to colors or brand, nor should you. What you will see are subtle enhancements (except for maybe the more radical improvement of the Organizr) that shouldn’t confuse veteran users too much and should allow for new users to more quickly utilize many of the more powerful features of this great social photo sharing application.

Here is a small set of screenshots and discussion of the changes.

minnēbar comes to a close

MinneBar was great. It was interesting, active, creative, technical, loud, hot, and fun. It is over for now. So far the feedback both in person and on the wiki has been overwhelmingly positive. There were some issues with the wifi staying up and we were pretty much at capacity with over 110 people attending. I plan to write a recap soon, but for now you can browse some of the Flickr photos tagged with MinneBar (there have been so many that MinneBar is a hot tag right now). And here are some links to the people posting them:
Jesse Ross
Sopheava (aka Margaret Andrews)
Tim Wilson
Mark Danielson
Ethan Galstad
Jamie Thingelstad
Peter Fleck

Minneapolis Central Library Preview and Google

New central library atriumAfter attending a presentation by Google about Google Earth, Google Books, and Google Scholar and came away with some very interesting back stories of each of these and a bit on insight on where they may be headed. While the presentations were interesting, the chance to get into the new Minneapolis Central Library was an opportunity I couldn’t pass up. The few photos I took don’t do it justice. It is a beautiful building and is going to be a great resource for many, many Minnesota residents. You can read more on the library here.

Google Calendar launches, is Google Office next?

I have put the new Google Calendar app through its paces and like many people, have found many things to like (invite features are looking good. I think evite is in trouble and Skobee is likely DOA) and some to dislike (still very buggy with refreshing itself after certain actions and there are some issues with duplicating entries for the same shared event). The purpose of this post, however, isn’t really about those things. It isn’t really even about Google Calendar. It is about what’s next for Google and the glimpse they have given us within this new application.

It is obvious that they will soon integrate their calendar and mail apps. My thought is, though, that they will not stop there. I think the time is ripe for them to unleash their first version of an integrate office style suite containing search, mail, calendaring, and word processing. I mocked up some screens as to what I think it may look like when it comes, posted them as a Flickr set and added notes to them as well. Here are some thumbnails:

  • Google Search as part of the Google Office Suite
  • Google Mail as part of the Google Office Suite
  • Google Calendar as part of the
  • Google Writer as part of the Google Office Suite