Looks like fun!
Another video was recommended to me by a good yoga friend, and chronicles the misadventures of Ogden, the inappropriate yoga guy.
When a design has a usability problem, it's because someone made a wrong decision. They chose to take the design in a direction that creates frustration for the user. A different design choice would have prevented the frustration.
We consider a usability test to be successful when the design team members receive the information they need to make the right decision. Successful usability tests produce informed decisions.
There are two outcomes from poor decisions: either the user experience is worsened because of a change that just shouldn't have happened; or a valuable opportunity is missed to improve the design's user experience. Either way, when usability tests work, these results are significantly less likely.
- Not knowing why you're testing
- It's not about how the user "feels"
- Its about telling where the UI causes frustration.
- Pose behavioral questions
- "Usability testing is all about seeing the design through the eyes of
the test participants. As they work their way through the design, you
get to see and hear what works well and where it becomes frustrating to
accomplish their goals."
- Not bringing the team together
- Do the test nearby the team.
- Video the test
- Not recruiting the right participants
- Don't focus on demographic (age, income)
- Do foxus on distinctions that make users behave differently (fluency in the content area).
- If they don't have the right experience, they'll get stuck in places where the real users will breeze past.
- "What attributes will cause one user to behave differently than another?"
- Not designing the right tasks
- Users want to please you by following directions, so make it a bit more freeform.
- "You can get around this mistake by constantly exploring the "context of
use." When designing tasks, ask yourself, "What events or conditions in
the world would motivate someone to use this design?"
- Not facilitating the test correctly.
- Not boring for participants or team members
- Not planning on sharing the results
- Get the info to the design team
- Reports don't work very well - they don't get read
- Instead use "review sessions that happen right after each test, starting an email
discussion list to talk about the test and various interpretations, and
interactive workshops to review the design and what we learned"
- Not iterating to test potential solutions
- "Usability Testing is great for identifying problems. Yet, it's horrible at identifying solutions."
- "we've never run into a design team that couldn't generate a half dozen
possible solutions to any problem, within moments of its discovery."
- "Plan a round of testing, to validate any yet-to-be-discovered potential solutions."
(Not that I consider myself by any stretch to be a counter example!)
I like this, though:
After software, the most important tool to a hacker is probably
his office. Big companies think the function of office space is to express
rank. But hackers use their offices for more than that: they
use their office as a place to think in. And if you're a technology
company, their thoughts are your product. So making hackers work
in a noisy, distracting environment is like having a paint factory
where the air is full of soot.
IMHO it's a big yawn. After watching the YouTube video I was not impressed with the technology - and no, not because it's Python-based. I actually believe that it embodies an old architecture - gives developers tools they think they need, like templating, but actually don't. Granted, it appears to solve a few glaring problems with modern webapps: simplified builds, reliance on api rather than SQL, simple deployments. That's all good.
The Web 3.0 architecture doesn't need templates, and it's hard to get excited about something that just offers an already cheap resource even cheaper.
I'm trying out Pandora now (as a substitute for the KCRW music stream). So far so good. I really like the interface, and it's all in flash. I like the chunky interface with clear indications of channels, active channels, tunes, etc. It's a nice visualization of streaming audio.
Pandora itself is a bit of a mystery. What is their revenue stream?
(It bugs me when people complain about being treated like mindless drones in an office environment, or how inscrutible the actions of "management" are. Well, lift up your head and look around! What are the forces driving the business in which you work? The internet has made this information more accessible than ever.)
(I stumbled on this article while looking up an arcane finance term "OIBIDA" - which is itself a very easy-to-understand wikipedia article.)
The article is only 5 pages long, and so doesn't go into any great depth. For example, there is a whole class of wannabes who are quite successful in their own spheres, but who are still nothing compared to the superclass. And they know it. The wannabes are successful businessmen who are only worth a few tens of millions. I suspect that this is the real reason why wealthy people continue to invest, and to work - they know that they haven't really made it.
I suspect that "Unified Communications" will be a big buzzword.
One of those titles is "hedge fund manager", according to a recent article by the NY Times. Some excerpts:
The rewards for managing hedge funds — lightly regulated private investment pools for institutions like endowments and wealthy individuals — have been lucrative for some time. Yet the survey also shows that for the hedge fund elite, the rich are getting much richer in a hurry.
To make Alpha’s list, a manager needed to earn at least $240 million last year, nearly double the amount in 2005. That is up from a minimum of $30 million in 2001 and 2002. Combined, the top 25 hedge fund managers last year earned $14 billion — enough to pay New York City’s 80,000 public school teachers for nearly three years.
“You had railroads in the 19th century, which led to the opening up of the steel industry and huge fortunes being made,” said Stephen Brown, a professor at the Stern School of Business of New York University. “Now we’re seeing changes in financial technology leading to new fortunes being made and new dynasties created.”
For its rankings on compensation, Alpha magazine includes the managers’ share of the firm’s management fees, usually 2 percent, and performance fees, or a share of the profits, which typically start at 20 percent.
That structure means that some hedge fund managers can still earn a huge income even with mediocre returns because of the huge size of the assets under management. Raymond T. Dalio, head of Bridgewater Associates, which has more than $30 billion in hedge fund assets, for example, took home $350 million last year even though his flagship Pure Alpha Strategy fund posted a net return of just 3.4 percent for the second consecutive year.
I found this article deeply disturbing, and suspect that there is a huge breakdown of the market at work here. What is happening is that large numbers of individuals like you and me, are contributing relatively small amounts to investments like 401(k)s, and then that money is invested in various "funds", which in turn make other investements, and so on. The problem is that each time the money moves through another middle man, a moral hazard is reached - the investor is not investing their own money, and so is less likely to behave correctly. And we, the "first order" investors, can't be bothered to investigate where our own money is going. Investment is a black box into which money goes, and more money comes out. The less we know about how that happened, the better.
We don't know if our money is going to produce guns or medicine, we don't know if 2% or 5% is being paid to someone for simply moving the money from A to B (and even more if there's a profit). And we like it that way.
There's an effect here, too, that I mentioned in my book review of "The Age of Turbulence": creative destruction is all well and good keep money liquid, but problems arise when there's a huge incentive to artificially keep that process going. If someone can profit tearing down a working business to make another business that works only just as well as the first, and they make their 5%, then it will happen. But after 20 times, the broker will have all the money and there will be no business.
This effect is seen at the poker table. For each hand of poker, the table takes a "rake" - basically a flat-fee paid to the casino for the priviledge of using their table and dealer. Typical rakes come out to about $.50 a player. 30 or 40 hands an hour are dealt. That's $15 to $20/hour per player. With 9 players per table, that's $135 - $180 per table per hour. (And these numbers get much higher when you factor in tipping, and the ridiculous "jackpot" fee some casinos have taken to collecting)
At a $100 table, the HOUSE is consuming the buy-ins of 1.5 players per hour. But the players are generally not aware of it because it looks like small money compared with the big stacks of chips they have in front of them. "Constant and small" events will always be ignored for "Random and big" events. And that sets the stage for a market breakdown. Casinos and hedge fund managers have cashed in on this effect, big time.
The solution is simple: don't play poker at a casino. And don't make investments that you can't control. Diversification may be a good idea - but you've already made a few percent in saved fees by NOT investing in a fund.
(The problem is that the picture is all sketchy, especially in the reds. There's also a strange whiny sound, like a bad fan or some other moving-part problem. I suspect that the two problems are related.
Thanks in advance for your help!