Innovation, Portfolio

One Shot, a Tumblr theme

One Shot Tumblr theme I know it may not look like much, but I just put the finishing touches on a new Tumblr theme for “single serving sites” called One Shot. About two years ago I came across the site amiawesome.com and immediately knew what to do with a domain I had been holding onto for a while: eliotsucks.com. Am I Awesome? was hosted on Tumblr so I decided to do the same thing. I just cut and pasted the static page source into the “custom html” section of Tumblr and used their simple domain mapping. Eliot Sucks had the word “FALSE” in big black letters. Continue reading

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Innovation

Invert-Z

Vulnerable iPhone

First person shooter video games often have the option to “invert Z axis” as part of the controller scheme. Normally when you press down, the character’s gun points down. When inverted, the camera will look up when you press down. Inverted Z movement was actually the traditional behavior in games. Players using joysticks with flight simulators would naturally pull back on the stick to bring the nose of the plane up. It was when gamepads became more abundant that regular Z movement became standard. The stick/pad is much shorter and you just point where you want to shoot. That doesn’t mean inverted Z is “wrong” in newer games. The game is showing you the perspective of the player. If you think of the view being generated by a camera on a tripod you would push down on the tripod’s handle to make the camera look up. I used to play with Z inverted, but I’ve learned to play normally with recent console generations.

Right now I’m typing this on a MacBook. I use two fingers on the trackpad to scroll. As I sweep down, the text on the page goes up. Sweep up, and the page text moves down. When I switch to the iPhone or the ADP1, my fingers and the text move in the same direction. On these devices, the direct interaction with the text “makes sense”, but going back to standard scrolling on a computer just seems odd.

I wonder if we’ll start inverting Z again.

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Innovation

Mahalo is live

mahalo
Jason’s new human powered search engine, Mahalo, is live. Last week the engineers were trying to figure out a weird load spike around 3PM every day. At least today they know what it is: people clamoring to access the site. I’ve been in LA recently to hang out with CK since he’s been working on this project since leaving Netscape. (If you want an appropriate ringtone for Jason or CK I suggest this one that I grabbed from Pimp My Ride.)

There’s no shortage of press coverage:
Webware
Wired
TechCrunch
Battelle
Search Engine Land
WSJ
Fox
Winer
D5 AllThingsD
ZDNet
CK
Jason

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Innovation

the Uncanny Valley of user interface design

Bill Higgin’s “the Uncanny Valley of user interface design” discusses why Windows apps should look like Windows and web apps should look like the web. Unfortunately he shuffles the fact that the web app Zimbra intends to replace Outlook into a footnote. He is right that it makes an odd looking web app and I do find our company’s SAP jarring because it’s web based and used to look like a crappy Windows app. I think it’s interesting that the new Netscape browser’s Netstripe theme pulls it in line with current web apps even though it is a web browser. It gives a much stronger mental connection with the content than Firefox’s random bits of color. As a long time Linux user I grew used to inconsistent interface. It didn’t matter to me what it looked like as long as it worked.

Another aspect of the robotic ‘uncanny valley‘ that we’ve already run into is the chrome not matching the intelligence; manufacturers of real looking human skin for robots have found a lack of acceptance because the robots appear to be mentally challenged humans (sorry, I couldn’t find reference for this). In software, this is Microsoft Bob.

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Innovation

Twittering to doom?

Annalee recently posted relating Twitter to an article on how “life pace” increases exponentially with population growth. Most articles on Twitter fail because they attempt to cram it into a known space. Twitter became a roaring success because of its amorphous nature. Even Evan didn’t know what it was in the beginning with most of his posts sounding like “we built this thing, we don’t know what to do with it”.

The big punch was SXSW where it became the Dodgeball replacement (not that DB was being used outside of the bay). Twitter kept its ground through its ease of use; you could post via web, IM, or TXT. It didn’t define itself as a service solely for broadcasting location either. As people left SXSW, they switched to using Twitter for microblogging. Some people embraced Twitter because it lacked the permanence of actual blogging. Annalee’s article is crippled by its geographical awareness. Twitter doesn’t care whether you’re in a city or rural, whether you have internet access or cellphone access, or even if you’re posting your current task or your location. As the world flattens, relating online movements to physical world problems is just going to become even more ridiculous. I don’t think Twitter is taking us to some singularity pace that will eventually cause our demise (i.e. burnout). It’s created a new disposable outlet of expression that will hopefully reduce the number of “I got up and had a piece of toast” entries on regular blogs while increasing the number of people talking in our industry.

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Innovation

MySpace conditioning

myspace reward
This is for the people that don’t use MySpace: Every time you send a site mail message on MySpace you’re rewarded with a giant 430×600 True ad featuring a sexy model. I can’t think of a better way to encourage people to send more messages and view more ads.

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Innovation

Apple iPhone

iphoneYes, I’m posting about the Apple iPhone just like everyone else today. Engadget has more pictures like the one above. I am excited, but there is at least one thing I want cleared up: They say it runs OSX, but I want to know if it truly is running their BSD based system on an x86 or if it’s just using similar looking applications. Killer app for me would be sharing the EDGE connection over WiFi and other fun *nix stuff like SSH.

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