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Comment Re:Usability is a matter of opinion (Score 1) 690

(1) "Usability" is in the mind of the user.

Yes and no. All users have a mental model of how a system should work. When a design deviates from this model drastically, it creates usability issues. Designs should be intuitive, and should require little explanation (no one ever reads manuals or help files).

As a UI professional the general rule of thumb I use is if the user doesn't figure it out by his or her second "guess", your design is bad and needs to be redone. Good designs are the ones where the user doesn't really notice the UI (or its relative complexity) at all. Basically in most cases if a user can't "grok" what to do by just looking at it, you have a problem.

There's also no substitute for conducting usability tests. The results from these tests can't really be argued with, if there's a problem or stumbling block, it needs to be addressed. You'd be surprised how dumb little things like a misplaced button will cause a 2 minute task to average well over 15 minutes.

(2) "Designers" who can't code have absolutely no business "working" in software.

Nope. Like everyone else on this thread, I'm calling bullshit on this. In my particular case, I actually am a developer and can code the layouts I design, but that hasn't been my focus (or job) for quite a while now.

While it definitely helps to have a background in development (or at least a good understanding of what can and can't be done easily on the backend), I wouldn't say it's critical. My assumption with regards to open source projects is that most design suggestions are often summarily shot down or ridiculed, partly because developers rarely understand the reasons why things should be done a certain way (most common response is "that's stupid"), and because the nature of post-UI design often slights the developer who created it by having to change what they implemented.

The easy usability gains are having a consistent UI (having well defined design and behavior), and sticking to existing standards (unless there is a really good case or gain to be had by ignoring it). Products immediately become inherently more usable if they are consistent in how they present information.


Revolution, Flashmobs and Brain Implants in 2035 327

siddesu writes "Marxist revolution, WMDs, flashmobs and other sci-fi items are coming soon in a country near you, according to the UK Ministry of Defence. 'Information chips implanted in the brain. Electromagnetic pulse weapons. The middle classes becoming revolutionary, taking on the role of Marx's proletariat. The population of countries in the Middle East increasing by 132%, while Europe's drops as fertility falls. "Flashmobs" — groups rapidly mobilised by criminal gangs or terrorists groups. This is the world in 30 years' time envisaged by a Ministry of Defence team responsible for painting a picture of the "future strategic context" likely to face Britain's armed forces.'"

Mobile Carriers Cry "Less Operating Systems" 217

A NYTimes story says "Multiple systems have hampered the growth of new services, mobile phone executives say. " The story does a good job of capturing some of the changing dynamics in the mobile OS market — but rightly raises the point that given the sheer size of the mobile market, it's unlikely we're going to see the homogenization we have in the desktop market.

YouTube Leaves Google Vulnerable? 208

PreacherTom writes "Yesterday's big news was Google's $1.65 billion deal to acquire popular video hosting service YouTube. But will it be a good deal? The market thinks so, as Google's stock rose about $10 per share after the purchase. On the other hand, YouTube increases Google's risk of copyright infringement, opening the door for significant liability...if Google cannot solve this issue. Will their planned video 'fingerprinting' be enough, or just a billion dollar mistake?" From the article: "YouTube's policy is to remove copyrighted clips once alerted to their existence. Content providers say the company needs to be even more proactive ... Todd Dagres, general partner at Boston's Spark Capital, says that Google's large market cap of $130 billion makes it much more vulnerable to lawsuits than a private company such as YouTube. 'Once Google starts to apply its monetization machine, there is going to be more money at stake and people are going to go after it,' says Dagres. 'You cannot monetize other people's content without their approval.'"

Chinese "Cyber-Attack" US Department of Commerce 161

Kranfer writes "The register has an article about how the Chinese have recently launched an attack against the US Department of Commerce. From the article: '...attacks originating from computer crackers largely located in China's Guangdong province are aimed at extracting sensitive information from targets such as the Commerce Department's technology export office. Security consultants and US government officials reckon the assaults have at least the tacit support of the Chinese government...' This is not the first time Chinese hackers have attempted to gain access to US Government systems."

Suit Blames Videogames for Homicides 623

An anonymous reader writes "Family members of three victims of a shooting by a 14-year-old have filed a $600 million lawsuit against the makers of Grand Theft Auto: Vice City. From the article: 'The $600 million lawsuit names several companies and Cody Posey, who it alleges played the game ''obsessively'' for several months before he shot his father, stepmother and stepsister in July 2004 ... The plaintiffs accuse the corporate defendants -- Sony Corporation of America, Take-Two Interactive Software Inc. and its subsidiary, Rockstar Games -- of a civil conspiracy, saying they should have foreseen their entertainment would spawn such copycat violence.'" It may or may not be a coincidence that Jack Thompson is the plaintiff's attorney.

Browser Vulnerability Study Unkind to Firefox 253

Browser Buddy writes "A new Symantec study on browser vulnerabilities covering the first half of 2006 has some surprising conclusions. It turns out that Firefox leads the pack with 47 vulnerabilities, compared to 38 for Internet Explorer. From Ars Technica's coverage: 'In addition to leading the pack in sheer number of vulnerabilities, Firefox also showed the greatest increase in number, as the popular open-source browser had only logged 17 during the previous reporting period. IE saw an increase of just over 50 percent, from 25; Safari doubled its previous six; and Opera was the only one of the four browsers monitored that actually saw a decrease in vulnerabilities, from nine to seven.' Firefox still leads the pack when it comes to patching though, with only a one-day window of vulnerability."

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