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Ask Slashdot: Convincing a Team To Undertake UX Enhancements On a Large Codebase? 192

unteer writes: I work at a enterprise software company that builds an ERP system for a niche industry (i.e. not Salesforce or SAP size). Our product has been continuously developed for 10 years, and incorporates code that is even older. Our userbase is constantly expanding, and many of these users expect modern conveniences like intuitive UI and documented processes. However, convincing the development teams that undertaking projects to clean up the UI or build more self-explanatory features are often met with, "It's too big an undertaking," or, "it's not worth it." Help me out: What is your advice for how to quantify and qualify improving the user experience of an aging, fairly large,but also fairly niche, ERP product?

737 'Tailstrike' Caused By Typo On a Tablet (arstechnica.com) 366

An anonymous reader writes: In August of last year, a Boeing 737 operated by Qantas experienced a tailstrike while taking off — the thrust wasn't great enough for the tail to clear the runway, so it clipped the ground. The investigation into the incident (PDF) has finally been completed, and it found the cause of the accident: the co-pilot accidentally entered the wrong plane weight data into the iPad used to make calculations about the takeoff thrust. "First, when working out the plane's takeoff weight on a notepad, the captain forgot to carry the "1," resulting in an erroneous weight of 66,400kg rather than 76,400kg. Second, the co-pilot made a "transposition error" when carrying out the same calculation on the Qantas on-board performance tool (OPT)—an iPad app for calculating takeoff speed, amongst other things. "Transposition error" is an investigatory euphemism for "he accidentally hit 6 on the keyboard rather than 7." This caused the problem: "For a weight of 76,400kg and temperature of 35C, the engine thrust should've been set at 93.1 percent with a takeoff speed of 157 knots; instead, due to the errors, the thrust was set to 88.4 percent and takeoff speed was 146 knots."

Averaging Inanimate Objects Together Produces a Very Human Face 103

StartsWithABang writes: It's well known that by aligning and averaging a wide variety of human faces together, an eerie "average" human face can be arrived at. But we see faces in things all the time, from natural scenes like terrain to artificial ones like cars, coffeemakers and combination locks. For the first time, someone averaged together a large number of images of objects appearing to have faces, and the result, strikingly, was an eerily human face. You'd think this might say more about the algorithm than the images themselves, but when noise was used, no human face emerged at all.
The Almighty Buck

Dorms For Grownups: a Solution For Lonely Millennials? 412

HughPickens.com writes: Alana Semuels writes in The Atlantic that Millennials want the chance to be alone in their own bedrooms, bathrooms, and kitchens, but they also want to be social and never lonely.That's why real estate developer Troy Evans is starting construction on a new space in Syracuse called Commonspace that he envisions as a dorm for Millennials. It will feature 21 microunits, each packed with a tiny kitchen, bathroom, bedroom, and living space into 300-square-feet. The microunits surround shared common areas including a chef's kitchen, a game room, and a TV room. "We're trying to combine an affordable apartment with this community style of living, rather than living by yourself in a one-bedroom in the suburbs," says Evans. The apartments will be fully furnished to appeal to potential residents who don't own much (the units will have very limited storage space). The bedrooms are built into the big windows of the office building—one window per unit—and the rest of the apartment can be traversed in three big leaps. The units will cost between $700 and $900 a month. "If your normal rent is $1,500, we're coming in way under that," says John Talarico. "You can spend that money elsewhere, living, not just sustaining."

Co-living has also gained traction in a Brooklyn apartment building that creates a networking and social community for its residents and where prospective residents answer probing questions like "What are your passions?" and "Tell us your story (Excite us!)." If accepted, tenants live in what the company's promotional materials describe as a "highly curated community of like-minded individuals." Millennials are staying single longer than previous generations have, creating a glut of people still living on their own in apartments, rather than marrying and buying homes. But the generation is also notoriously social, having been raised on the Internet and the constant communication it provides. This is a generation that has grown accustomed to college campuses with climbing walls, infinity pools, and of course, their own bathrooms. Commonspace gives these Milliennials the benefits of living with roommates—they can save money and stay up late watching Gilmore Girls—with the privacy and style an entitled generation might expect. "It's the best of both worlds," says Michelle Kingman. "You have roommates, but they're not roommates."

The $6,000 Computer Desk That Lets You Lie Down While You Work 116

HughPickens.com writes: We've all read about standing desks and treadmill desks but now Rachel Gillet reports at Business Insider about the Altwork Station, a workstation that allows users to sit, stand, and recline while they work on their computers. Designed to accomodate two computer screens, the manufacturer says their new product is the ultimate combination for workplace productivity. "Most experts agree that humans should change positions and move throughout the day. We believe movement throughout the day is important," says the company who targets "high intensity" computer users, which it defines as people who spend at least four hours a day in front of a computer and are required to focus on complex tasks for extended periods of time. If the $5,900 ($3,900, if you pre-order) reclining workstation is not for you, there are other options you may want to consider including the scooter desk, bicycle desk, and hamster wheel desk.

The Box That Built the Modern World 216

HughPickens.com writes: Andrew Curry has an interesting article about how more than any other single innovation, the shipping container epitomizes the enormity, sophistication, and importance of our modern transportation system. It's invisible to most people, but fundamental to how practically everything in our consumer-driven lives works. "Think of the shipping container as the Internet of thing," says Curry. "Just as your email is disassembled into discrete bundles of data the minute you hit send, then re-assembled in your recipient's inbox later, the uniform, ubiquitous boxes are designed to be interchangeable, their contents irrelevant." Last year the world's container ports moved 560 million 20-foot containers. Even cars and trucks—known in the trade as "RoRo," or "roll-on, roll-off" cargo—are increasingly being loaded into containers rather than specialized ships. "Containers are just a lot easier," says James Rice. "A box is a box. All you need is a vessel, a berth, and a place to put the container on the ground.

Consider the economics of a T-shirt sewn at a factory near Beijing. The total time in transit for a typical box from a Chinese factory to a customer in Europe might be as little as 35 days. Cost per shirt? "Less than one U.S. cent," says Rainer Horn. "It doesn't matter anymore where you produce something now, because transport costs aren't important."

Hurricane-Resistant SURE HOUSE Wins the 2015 Solar Decathalon (energy.gov) 51

Kristine Lofgren writes: The SURE HOUSE, designed and built by the Stevens Institute of Technology, was announced today as the winner of the 2015 Solar Decathlon. The uber-efficient house exceeds Passive House standards and uses less than 10-percent of the energy that a standard house consumes. But beyond solar-powered efficiency, the house is also designed to be open and breezy when the weather is good, but when a hurricane strikes, the house can be locked tight against the onslaught. In fact, it's so tough that it can act as a solar powered community center for an area hit by a natural disaster. Congratulations to the SURE HOUSE team! The team's website has some additional pictures, as well as more explanation of their design decisions.

Microsoft Now Uses Windows 10's Start Menu To Display Ads (betanews.com) 578

Mark Wilson writes: We've all become used to the idea of ads online — it's something that has become part and parcel of using the internet — but in Windows? If you've updated to build 10565 of Windows 10, you're in for something of a surprise: the Start menu is now being used to display ads. We're not talking about ads for Viagra, porn, or anything like that, but ads for apps. Of course, Microsoft is not describing them as ads; 'Suggested apps' has a much more approachable and fluffy feel to it. Maybe. This is a 'feature' that's currently only being shown to Windows Insiders, but it could spread to everyone else. Will it be well-received?

Google Helped Cause the Mysterious Increase In 911 Calls SF Asked It To Solve (bbc.com) 166

theodp writes: Android users have long complained publicly that it's way too easy to accidentally dial 911. So it's pretty astonishing that it took a team of Google Researchers and San Francisco Department of Emergency Management government employees to figure out that butt-dialing was increasing the number of 911 calls. The Google 9-1-1 Team presented its results in How Googlers helped San Francisco Use Data Science to Understand a Surge in 911 Calls, a Google-sponsored presentation at the Code for America Summit, and in San Francisco's 9-1-1 Call Volume Increase, an accompanying 26-page paper.

An Ice House Design Concept For Mars Bets Long On Liquid Water 63

The Times of India reports that NASA has awarded a $25,000 first prize to Space Exploration Architecture for their design, called "Mars Ice House," of a habitat suitable for Mars. The concept relies on the (predicted) availability of Martian water, as well as on 3-D printing; according to the text accompanying the design. The 5-cm thick shell of ice which would serve as both skin and support structure for the shelter "protects against radiation without compromising life above ground." Two other teams (Gamma and LavaHive) were awarded second and third-place prizes, respectively.

Pokemon Go: What Nintendo Needs To Learn From Ingress 61

An anonymous reader writes: Pokemon Go marks Nintendo's biggest move into mobile yet: the augmented reality mobile game makes use of your location as well as your phone's camera to let you interact with pocket monsters in the real world. It's an audacious idea — with an accompanying trailer — but as one writer points out it will have to nail a lot of different systems to build up an active community in the same that developer Niantic has done for its previous game, Ingress. The author looks at Ingress to see where Nintendo and Niantic may draw inspiration, pointing out that the game's portal modding system could prove a great mechanism for allowing Pokemon evolutions. Expect plenty more Pokemon amiibo to interact with the upcoming wristband, too.

Google Changes Logo 132

An anonymous reader writes: Yesterday, Google announced a logo change that many on Slashdot have probably already encountered. The logo, according to the technology supergiant, was updated to reflect the fact that people "interact with Google products across many different platforms, apps and devices—sometimes all in a single day." This differentiates from the past when people only used a desktop PC to access Google's services.
Open Source

"Hack" Typeface Is Open Source, Easy On the IDEs 211

Ars Technica writes that "At SourceFoundry.org this week, programmer Chris Simpkins debuted the 2.0 version of Hack, an open-source typeface designed specifically for use in source code." The revamped font is "characterized by a large x-height, wide aperture, and low contrast design in order to be 'highly legible' at common coding text sizes," and the font specimen shows how legible it is right down to downright tiny sizes, though Simpkins says the sweet spot is between 8 and 12 pixels. Hack's roots are in the libre, open source typeface community, and the project expands upon the contributions of the Bitstream Vera & DejaVu projects. ... Simpkins has been working on the project throughout 2015, and he tweeted that this latest version includes "new open type features, changes in weights, significant changes in spacing, Powerline glyphs, and more." The typeface now comes with four font styles: Regular, Bold, Oblique, and Bold Oblique.

Former Apple CEO Creates an iPhone Competitor 143

An anonymous reader links to Fast Company's profile of Obi Worldphone, one-time Apple CEO John Sculley's venture into smartphones. The company's first two products (both reasonably spec'd, moderately priced Android phones) are expected to launch in October. And though the phones are obviously running a different operating system than Apple's, Sculley says that Obi is a similarly design-obsessed company: "The hardest part of the design was not coming up with cool-looking designs," Sculley says. "It was sweating the details over in the Chinese factories, who just were not accustomed to having this quality of finish, all of these little details that make a beautiful design. We had teams over in China, working for months on the floor every day. We intend to continue that process and have budgeted accordingly." Obi is also trying to set itself apart from the low-price pack by cutting deals for premium parts. "Instead of going directly to the Chinese factories, we went to the key component vendors, because we know that ecosystem and have the relationships," Sculley says. "We went to Sony. It’s struggling and losing money on its smartphone business, but they make the best camera modules in the world."

Life With the Dash Button: Good Design For Amazon, Bad For Everyone Else 259

vivaoporto writes: A scathing review published on Fast Company describes Amazon's Dash Button, the "Buy Now" button brought into the physical world as "the latest symptom of Amazon's slowly spreading disease", "an unabashed attempt to disconnect customers from the amount of money we're spending." The author's criticism centers on Amazon's lack of focus on customer experience, a core UI that doesn't make sense, limited and expensive product selection and a store UX "no longer designed for your convenient shopping", but rather "designed for their profitable selling."

Hotels are tired of getting ripped off. I checked into a hotel and they had towels from my house. -- Mark Guido