World Usability Day Posters

World Usability Day may have come and gone but the posters will last as a visual statement of what life might be like without it (it being usability). The examples are good but one only needs to look at almost any device today and see serious problems. I do think they work well.

The idea behind the 2006 campaign was to build an appreciation for usability by showing what life might be like without it. This was demonstated by visually removing or changing elements of everyday objects and consequently rendering them unusable.

More images from the posters after the jump.

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Hulger Wooden PIP

A beautiful departure from the disposable concept of just about every other phone made today. This phone is designed to wear in not wear or be thrown out. Produced by Hulger, their first ever wooden pip*phone is fashioned from the distinctively grained African hardwood Ziricote, “normally used for decorative objects, this phone blends innovation with tradition. The Ziricote* comes in it own wooden box and is accompanied by a pot of wax, for treatment”. Cost for this one time item is about $3850US – courtesy of Digital Wellbeing Showroom.
It will be some time before we see a break from the throw away model of consumer electronics. Where will your iPod shuffle be in 10 years? and Zircote One Off.

Uglist iPod Case

I am all for recycling, especially when it’s for 3c products and accessories which are designed to be obsolete as quickly as possible. Handmade is good too – it means attention to detail, quality, and likely something unique. But I just can’t imagine placing an iPod inside a case made from recycled truck and tractor tire. It’s not the material as much as what they have done with it. It’s ugly.
Passchal’s iPod Case

The device formerly known as the cell phone

Ipods are just repurposed computers and mobilephones are gradually becoming the same. In Asia you see mobiles being utilized for a variety of uses beyond traditional voice calls and text messaging. North America with it’s locked/closed cellular market has always lagged behind but is now getting set to unleash a flood of innovative mobile gadgets and services which will help transform our understanding of just what is a mobile phone.
Some notes:

Park Hyun-A is someone you might want to watch. A 21-year-old student at Korea University in Seoul, she’d like to be a marketing executive for a telecom or fashion company someday and enjoys playing matchmaker for friends looking for the perfect mate.
But what’s really intriguing is the way Park uses her Samsung mobile phone. Each day she waves it over a reader at a turnstile in the train station to pay her fare. Then, during the long ride to school, she flips open the screen and rotates it 90 degrees to watch satellite tv. On the same screen, Park pages through an e-book version of Joachim de Posada’s Don’t Eat the Marshmallow…Yet!: The Secret to Sweet Success in Work and Life. She sends an average of 66 text messages a day, snaps pictures of cute guys and sends them to friends, and plays an online game in which she runs a virtual fruit store.
South Korea and Japan have emerged as oracles of mobility. More than 3 million Koreans regularly use their mobile phones to log on to the giant Cyworld social networking site.

Upward Mobility

Windows vs. Linux vs. OS X

John Halamka, CIO of the Harvard Medical School and previously a dedicated Windows user, spent a month each with new notebooks running Red Hat Linux, Mac OS X, and Windows XP.

“I used to think that the Macintosh was something used by free spirits just to be different,” he says. “Now I realize the Mac has such superior human factor engineering that it’s used by people because they can be more productive. If Apple comes up with a 2- or 2.5-pound 12-inch-screen laptop that runs cool, has better integration with Exchange, and if Vista turns out to be the beast it could be, then I probably will move to a Mac.”

Windows vs. Linux vs. OS X – Final Conclusion – advice_opinion – CIO

Five Products by Apple that never saw the light of day

For every Apple product we see on the shelves, there are dozens that never make it to production. Sometimes, these rare gems surface on the web for us to take a look at, and ponder what might have been. Scouring through the interweb, I’ve compiled this list of 5 Apple products that only the most hardcore of hardcore MacAddicts have ever stumbled across.
Surprisingly, some of these products, over 10 years old, are still being speculated about in one form or another to this day. Will we see new products based on these old prototypes? It’s far more likely that anything resembling the devices listed below have been rebuilt from the ground up, but still, it’s fun to look back on the products that didn’t make it to the mass market…

My favourite among the list is the Apple PenLite a combination of a PowerBook Duo and a Tablet PC. The device was developed at the same time as the Newton, and Apple chose to cease development of this device to avoid market confusion by having too many Tablet-styled devices out at the same time. Unlike the Newton Messagepad 100, which was a PDA, the PenLite was a full blown Mac with all the bells and whistles. The tablet also connected with all of the Powerbook Duo accessories and docks.
Apple Prototypes: 5 Products We Never Saw by Apple Gazette

Work Smarter Not Harder

Do you end the day wishing for more hours? If this describe you, there are ways to get more from your day without having to need more hours.
Time management is a very important skill for anyone working in a flex-based environment. For mobile workers it can be the difference between sanity and insanity.
Creating and keeping a schedule will require some effort initially but once you get into this routine, it will become second nature to make plans and stay organized. You will need to breakdown your activities based upon Work and Home/Chores.
If you analyze the time spent doing various activities over a period of one or two weeks, you will see patterns developing. Those patterns are what you need to track. They will be either time wasters or maximum use of time.

Analyzing Your Time – Work Smarter Not Harder

How to work from home

Some tips on how to work from home from Matthew Stibbe.

The benefits of working from home are obvious. If you’re a regular employee: you skip the commute and there are no office distractions for the day. If you’re an entrepreneur: reduced overheads, no commuting and a congenial working environment.

A couple of my favourite tips from his list:

Keep work and home separate. Ideally, you need a separate room or outbuilding for work. It’s good to shut the door on work at the end of the day.
Everywhere is your office. I use a local club for interviews and meetings. Starbucks or Cafe Nero are just as good. Other people rent meeting rooms from local serviced offices, such as Regus. I also use my server to give me mobile email on my Orange C600 smartphone. This means I can synch inbox, diary and contacts anywhere.

Bad Language / How to work from home

Wireless in Bangkok

Unlike many I don’t always find a change in location exactly conducive to increased productivity. That’s the what I am finding as I work from Bangkok this week. The city is big, hot, and it seems to take ages to get from point A to point B. The people are, as they seem to always have been, some of the most hospitable anywhere. The touts excepted.
One of the most dramatic changes I have seen in Bangkok over the past year is the build up of wireless access points. Broadband penetration and speeds still lag far behind other parts in Asia but wireless cafés are everywhere now. And really, unless you are addicted to downloading torrents, the speeds are quite acceptable.
It’s quite interesting to walk around and see lots of young people with their new Macbooks working at various cafés through-out the city. This is old hat elsewhere and perhaps can only be appreciated if you have tried to get online here years ago. I think this will soon make Bangkok a wonderful choice for working remotely for at least part of the year. I can’t think of many locations more inspiring.
A number of companies including true are offering paid access through out the city almost guaranteeing you the ability to stay connected no matter where you are in Bangkok. One point of criticism is the cost. Coming here on business 150baht for 60 minutes may seem quite reasonable but surely for long stay or locals this a bit prohibitive. It’s certainly out of line with the costs of other activities here and not a cost I would want to keep incurring.
Luckily there are some great free access points. I noted a list from a venerable Bangkok website back in May and though it’s a short list I have found it quite useful. Plazes (click detailed list) is a good service to consider as well.
In the past Bangkok’s large size, traffic congestion, and lack of wireless infrastructure, make working on location challenging for those working on the road. Broadband has been here for years but it was slow and restricted to wired access points. With the proliferation of wireless access points you can choose your location from where to work allowing you save more time to enjoy the city and perhaps a good massage.

Blackberry Pearl review

At this point in time, a BlackBerry is just about standard issue equipment for anyone who needs to be easy to reach. There are a number of other options, most notably Windows Mobile smartphones, but the BlackBerry remains the tool of choice for business users. The company did this by catering their products to business users- their phones are great with email, are easy to use, and are packed with productivity features. In order to make the products even more attractive to coporate types the company left out many of the things that might be a security risk, like a camera, as well as leisure features, like a media player.
Despite the restrain BlackBerry showed in sticking to phones aimed at professionals, the consumer market was just too attractive for them to stay away. The company had a proven formula, so with a few additions and some polishing they could have a very capable phone on their hands, something that could compete with all the smartphones on the market.

The Blackberry Pearl

Windows Mobile 6.0 for PPC review

Key changes in the mentioned in the review and the conclusion at the end:

  • Revamped outlook, refined icons;
  • Totally re-mastered sound theme;
  • Increased interface speed;
  • Bundled IP-telephony (VoIP, SIP standard);
  • Smart Dial 2.0, fast search through contacts, call history; removable on-screen virtual keyboard;
  • Any tune can be assigned to any event;
  • Support for shortcuts in Outlook Mobile;
  • Full-fledged meetings arrangement system;
  • Support for HTML in messages;
  • Smart Filter – handy and fast search through messages;
  • Numerous MS Exchange 2007-tailored changes;
  • Integration with Windows Live online-services;
  • Marketplace – purchase, download, and install  directly from the device;
  • Encryption – bundled memory card encryption

Regrettably, this world lacks miracles and this case is just another proof of that. The system still doesn’t offer support for several active windows in Internet Explorer, so that you are limited to a single window at a time, also profiles are missing in WM; the office applications haven’t been enhanced either. Nor were the multimedia tools. What the company has really got to do is keep on tuning Office Mobile, extending Windows Live, release Windows Media Mobile 11 and so on. Review of Windows Mobile 6.0 for PPC (Crossbow) operating system

7 tips to extend your mobiles battery life

When it comes to batteries it looks like we are at the same point we were 10 years ago. Batteries don’t last longer than a few days. But to be fair to the battery designers we have to admit that nowadays’ smartphones require much more energy than phones 10 years ago. We can’t really compare them but what we can do is use them with more care. Here are a few good tips how to go about it:
1. Turn off your Bluetooth – I find Bluetooth to be the most power hungry application; turn it off when you don’t use it
2. Disable sounds and vibrating alert – you don’t really need keypad tones to be on, do you? What about vibrating? It is surely useful on the meetings or in a cinema but most of time you’ll do just fine without it; I usually set up a vibrating profile to be used in places like cinema or theatre and in all other profiles I have vibrating turned off.

More on: 7 tips to extend your battery life

Mobile e-mail heading for the masses

ccessing e-mail from a cell phone is no longer just for corporate bigwigs. New services are arriving that make it easier and more affordable for everyone, from soccer moms to college students, to check and send messages from regular mobile handsets.
Experts say that two things have limited the adoption of mobile e-mail: ease of use, and price. Most consumers don’t even realize they can access e-mail on their phones. Anyone with a WAP browser on their phone, which is pretty much anyone who has bought a new phone in the past two years, could access personal e-mail from a WAP-enabled site such as Google, Yahoo or Hotmail. But accessing e-mail this way is cumbersome and requires users to type a mobile address and click through several menus to access the e-mail service.

Mobile e-mail heading for the masses | CNET