Monday, January 30, 2006

Design > Usability

Tonight's post is so late because I spent a disgusting amount of time on a pair of physics problem that were being difficult because my calculator was being a punk. Anyway, the best thing to come out today was the new article on Joel Spolsky series on design, and today's topic is "What Makes it Great?" I'm sorry to harp on it, but it's a really good example: how is it that mp3 players like the Zen have been massacred by the iPod? Do they hold less? Do they less features? Actually, it's quite the opposite, and yet Apple's little gadget is so just so much prettier. I personally think that you have to combine that with high customer satisfaction ratings and amazing marketing tactics, but none of that would be anything without a winning design. Isn't that kind of funny? When I was looking around for headphones for my Shuffle, I picked up some Sony clip ones because they looked nice and functional, but they were horrible. I exchanged them for some cheaper Phillips behind-the-ear cans, and they were a lot better at staying on my ears. Sure they're uncomfortable sometimes and I don't even know if the sound quality is better or not, but I swear by them. Why? Because the design is such that I can always trust them to be on my ears (unless a barbell catches the wire or something). One reviewer of the headphones was agitated by the sound quality of them, but what mattered to me was that they just worked. I think the same holds true for the iPod: it's really just plug-and-play. I consider design as that balance between beauty, simplicity, and functionality.

There are a couple of Microsoft interviews both about Vista. One of them mentions that Microsoft Antispyware won't be bundled with it, presumably for business reasons, but they've kept mum about that. If I had to guess, I'd say that they're either getting heat from the competition or they don't feel like they'll be ready with a decent version of it by launch. The other one confirms that they really don't care whether or not it works on Macs, which I guess is a given, but it's always nice to hear it right from the horse's mouth. That brings me to a really big story: the Core Duo chip seems to be sucking power from the USB ports. It's not the chip exactly, it's more like the chipset as a whole, but the claim is that it's due to Windows XP SP2 drivers. I wonder how many days before someone tests this out on a new iMac to confirm? If you do get one of these shiny new iMacs, by the way, you can actually upgrade the chip later because it is not soldered on. That's just nice to know. I'm getting tired, so I'm going to end this paragraph with some of the most anticipated games of the year, though Halo 3 and Half-Life 2: Aftermath top mine. I'd say Starcraft: Ghost, except that it's delayed too much.

Click to enlargeI know that shot looks weird, but it's the best one of Kirsten Dunst as Mary Jane in Spider-man 3 that I could find from the new set of pictures. I'm guessing that this is Mary Jane in some play, but who knows. We do know that Theresa Russell will be the Sandman's wife, but who is that? Some are speculating that it's the Black Cat, but I don't think they'd have so many big characters in this one. While I'm on comic book movies, Latino Review found out that Doom will make an appearance in the Fantastic Four sequel, in case you care. Casino Royale supposedly started filming today, but doesn't a movie usually have a full cast before starting actual shoots? Go figure. The Razzies nominations are up and they don't look pretty, not that they ever do. The only nomination I'm really disappointed in is Katie Holmes for Batman Begins because I really think they let the Tomkat stuff cloud their judgement. She really didn't do all that bad in it. Lastly, IGN has a new clip from The Hills Have Eyes for the horror fanatic inside you.

I'm going to go with Monday's a Bitch again this week because they have a neat theme going on about the 7 deadly sins:


1. In your opinion, what separates a healthy sexual appetite from being a slut?

If you have to have it every day, you're probably a slut. If you have multiple partners within a span of about a month, you're probably a slut. I think it's the point where it infringes on normal life.

2. Would you date a really nice, attractive, person with herpes?
Probably not since I have plans for abstinence until marriage (I said plans, as in not written in stone). It shows a lack of restraint and self-education to contract herpes.

3. Have you ever experienced coyote ugly?
Not that I know of. Unless my room mate has been messing with my while I've been sleeping!

4. WhatÂ’s the lowest youÂ’ve stooped to get the object of your desire?
I don't think I've really stooped that much. Sure, I've been a little artificially nice sometimes for one, but I don't think I've really degraded myself much (that I can think of, I wouldn't be afraid to admit it if I had).
5. Who do your loins burn for?

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