Thursday, March 24, 2005

Atoms - Imagined Apple products

Business 2.0 Magazine hired former Apple designer Robert Brunner to speculate with some future Apple designs. Sweet!

Now put the display from the iPod watch into the Apple Shuffle.

Music bits - A reader emailed yesterday asking what I'm listening to as I don't put that information in my blog. Some blogs post weather, mood and music choices. I think that's a little too much information but here ya go. I'm listening to, a German version of what use to be before they sold it and it bcame commercialized. yesterday I was listening to the electronic ambient selections. Today, it's the jazz artists listed on the charts.

Monday, March 21, 2005

Atoms - Frozen Fish Sticks

Grocery store layout is somewhat like Web information architecture. You categorize products and their proximity to other products based on relationships much like content is categorized and placed into various info buckets.

Recently I ventured to a grocery store, starts with an "R" and went to the frozen foods section to pick up a box of fish sticks. Another woman, with three sugar-soaked kids were looking for the same thing. Thinking I just couldn't see the fish sticks, I walked the three-frozen food isles at least four times. If men don't ask driving directions, do they also not ask where frozen fish sticks are? I eventually did ask and the manager said he'd show me.

By the direction he took off for, I knew they were in an entirely different area of the store. As we passed the lady and her kids, I told her to follow as the manager was showing me where they were. We walked to the northeast corner of the store, next to the meat counter where the fresh fish counter is. Next to this counter is a small frozen food display, where frozen fish sticks and a couple of other fish products are available. I asked the manager what the hell they were doing way over here. Using this methodology, I may also want chicken strips and does that mean I need to go to the butcher counter? Or maybe I want vegetarian hamburgers, made with black beans so I need to go to the produce section? He and I could both tell I was being a smart-ass but still, he thought frozen fish sticks should be next to fresh fish and not in the frozen food isle.

He soon left and the woman and her three kids walked up. She was confused but glad to finally find the fish sticks, although her kids had changed their minds and now wanted chicken strips.

This is what makes designing Web sites tough. For the vast majority, one option will work. But for the few that can cut themselves with a bar of soap in the morning, fish sticks are with fish, chicken strips are in frozen foods, frozen pizzas are next to frozen bagels.

I've seen this a few other times. During Christmas, certain products are pulled from the location in the store and placed at the end of the isle for promotional purposes. Most stores have the product in both locations, so if you want to pick it up from where you normally associate the product you can do so, or at the promotion spot. Every once in awhile, they pull the entire product and just put it at the promotion site at the end of the isle. I then have to check the end of each isle.

Now if the store wants me to walk each isle and every isle, that's just plain mean. As the customer, I want to get in and out fast and the store that helps me do that is the one that's going to get my business. Whether it's online or in-person it makes no difference.

A PDA download of the grocery store layout would make all of this a mute point. I could download it into the Palm when I enter and then query the frozen fish stick isle. The recent SXSW conference did this for me with all the keynotes, panels and featured speakers. It proved to be a very useful tool. However, I realize conferences are different than retail or food marketing. Grocery stores want me to walk to the very back of the store for the gallon of milk, just so I can pass all the other stuff that doesn't sell as well or that we really don't need.

Wednesday, March 16, 2005

SXSW - End of the Conference@ Bruce Sterling's Party

I had always planned to go to Bruce's party. In past, I would sit in the audience as he invited everyone in attendance to his house. However, the weight of the conference would take its toll and I would succumb to exhaustion. This year I was exhausted from all the brain food from the last four days and actually felt full. Brain full, like the fullness you feel after eating too much at Thanksgiving. But I changed clothes and decided I had to make the effort or I'd regret it next month and the feeling would grow until next year and the fear that there wouldn't be another Bruce Sterling party, as this year it wasn't at his house, but rather at the VFW Hall.

Bruce is teaching industrial design out in California. He may be too busy next year to make it back to Austin. He may be too busy running full-scale dinosaur 3D files through the ABS plastic printer.

This was to be the year I had to go.

I arrived a little after 7:15 p.m. The sponsor, WIRED Magazine had several people putting last minute touches on everything which indicated I was a little early. Not knowing what to expect, I wanted to get a good parking place and did so right up front. I went into the beer tent and grabbed a glass from about 20 that were ready available. As I made my way through the VFW Hall, only about ten people had arrived. They had the look of joggers preparing for a party marathon. Easy steps, not saying much, pacing themselves for the 26.2 miles that would later come.

As I made my way through the dining area three people were talking and drinking. As I glanced over I caught the name of Steven Wozniak on the SXSW pass. I did a double-take thinking someone was playing a prank with the badge. Maybe the theme was to come as your favorite geek or sci-fi writer. When I glanced at the face, it was Steve Wozniak, one of ten people to arrive at the party early.

I approached the group of three and Steve was holding up a sheet of two-dollar bills, stitched together and was discussing his use of them to a WIRED editor and friend. Steve offered to trade the editor a sheet of the bills for her non-stitched cash but she was reluctant. Basically, he offered two $2 bills for three dollars. A great trade but she was still reluctant. I offered Steve $5 for the two bills, a gain of $1 for Steve. Steve said that wouldn't do and offered a whole sheet of four $2 bills for the five-dollar bill. A gain for me and to made a trade with the incredible Steve Wozniak was precious in itself.

As some friends arrived and joined the conversation, we somehow went from the stitched bills to Segway Polo, a sport Steve is very active in, out in California. It seems to be catching on out there and Austin may become the next franchise for the sport. However, after hearing the repair cost for a Segway headlamp, it may be some time before I get to participate.

By this time crowds had filled the various rooms and even the large room upstairs. This is where Bruce was attending a table distilling wine into brandy with an interesting little still powered by three tea-light candles.

The party was well worth it and a great ending to the SXSW conference. Something I'd always heard.

Sunday, March 13, 2005

Bits - Sunday SXSW - 5:00 Panel

Open Source Infrastructure

Room's cold. Brrrr.

Network was funk again but once I grabbed another IP I was fine.

open APIs. Embracing open standards.

Tribecast - Canter Blog
foaf - ? code snippets, modules

It sounds like Martino (presenter has been hammered about his video blogging choice). I guess he chose the wrong one, maybe Windows Media Player. He says he selected the standard based on what his users wanted to use. Maybe. Maybe a media whore who will suck the MS teat to make a buck. What about you pick the one that's best, not the one that you think you'll sell your API to MS later on. And this panel was supposed to be Open Source. Infiltration of the Reds, the MS whores. Lock the doors.

Side note, just plugged in for juice and the plug's hot. So the defunct plug in 17ab was restricted to that room it looks like.

Marc Canter of OurMedia

Matt Mullenweg
who wrote WordPress

Paul Martino (Founder, CEO)

Side note - A woman two rows in front of me reached over her plug for juice. I saw where her juice plug lights up bright green when juice is flowing. That's a nice design element.

Back to the discussion. Paul Martino just got two more strikes against him. He said there's not a MySQL UI. There's plenty of them, maybe not the ones he wanted so that's what he should have said. Not that there's not a UI for mySQL. He also mentioned "Soup to Nuts". Hmmmm. Gladwell snap judgement here - he's a CEO and probably doesn't know what he's talking about as much as Marc or Matt. Gladwell's findings that over 30% of CEOs are 6' 2" or taller doesn't apply to Paul. Hmmm. What's going on here?

Off to the Web Awards.

Sunday SXSW 3:30 Panel

My coffee run precluded me from getting a good seat for the XHTML presentation. In fact, I couldn't even get through the door. This one looked pretty good and from the attendance, would've been one to see. I then went next door and about seven people were in attendence for the RedSox blog presentation. Hmmm, time to move on. Went back to room 17AB for the We the Media: Dan Gillmor Presentation. The bandwidth still sucked in this room.

Journallist turned blogger maybe with something to say. The powerpoint needed some work. Maybe good examples so I continued listening. I saw the slide, "Foundation Principle, with a bullet that reads, My readers know more than I do." No shit. I packed up and headed out to a cumfy chair and to blog and use the time more wisely. Plus, it was time to put Malcolm's findings to work and make a snap judgement. Hopefully, a good one.

Sunday SXSW - Keynote Malcolm Gladwell

Sitting room only again in room 17AB of the convention center. The network is funky and the SSID isn't correct when I boot up. Hmmmm.

Malcolm has no powerpoint and walks around the stage enlightening the audience with his findings on snap judgements; the basis of his book Blink.

Many, if not all of the examples spoke of in the presentation, can be found in Malcolm's book or in these notes.

Richard Posner's contrary view. Messenger-Inquirer contrary view.

Personally, I think there's a lot to be said that Malcolm brings forth and the examples he draws upon. I do believe that there are snap decisions made by each of us based on experiences through our lifetime and contributed from millions of years of DNA construction. But then again, this is a snap decision on my part and I'll have to look at more evidence. Or would Malcolm say I've already made my snap decision which will be the same as my researched decision and so I shouldn't waste my time. Now I'm confused. I think I'll trade this tall coffee for my free SXSW beer for the day.

Regardless, Malcolm was a good presenter and made me think. One of my four criteria items for a conference. Side note, it doesn't look good for the swag I mentioned earlier. It's another of my four required conference items. I didn't do a thorough walk-through of the tradeshow but the booths I did pass (80%) most had cheap pens, gum, Starbursts or nothing. More when I get a chance to really check it out.

Saturday, March 12, 2005

Atoms - Conference Minimum Requirements

Still debating whether or not to hit any of the parties tonight. May just wait until tomorrow.

I did have a thought about the minimum requirements a conference must provide after getting nothing from the Zeldman presentation.

So here are my minimums and they're all atoms.

1. The conference should provide me the information about what it does, a method to communicate and allow me to make choices of where to go, what to do, etc. in a quick and easy way.

SXSW has provided me with the full catalog, the PDA schedule (sponsored by Ask Jeeves) and a little late but better late than never. It's also organized well. Thank you.

SXSW has a community blog but not an easy link from what I can find on the site. I remember in years past an easy to get to blog. Still looking.

The SXSW forums haven't been updated today which leads me to believe these are dead for the conference. Maybe they'll be revived.

2. The conference should give me something for attending; i.e., a t-shirt, a cup of coffee, a glass of wine or a bag are a few of the things that come to mind.

SXSW has provided me with the bag. Great to use at the library and the grocery store or to bundle up dirty clothes when camping.

SXSW provided free breakfast tacos, orange juice and coffee this morning. Excellent!

SXSW provided a late-afternoon beverage of my choice, including alcoholic beverages. Excellent! And will do so each day of the conference.

3. At the tradeshow, the booths should provide swag. I know the economy's been rough but if you're going to show up and have a booth, bring the SWAG. And it better be good swag. None of this chicklet crap or putt-three-golf-balls-in-the-hole-to-get-one-our-10-pieces-of-swag games. Good, crowd creating, elbow-my-buddy-out-of-the-way-swag.

The tradeshow opens tomorrow, so I'll let you know. A conference is sometimes judged on the amount of swag it attendees take home. So far the swag in the bag has been minimal, a couple of plastic CD covers (already have plenty), a key chain bottle opener and a couple of magazines (Linux Journal is good).

4. A conference should schedule panels that provide brain food to its attendees. Panelists, keynote speakers and presenters should provide at least one piece of brain food during their presentation.

Today's first presentation did that quite well. As soon as I get a grip on my schedule, the blogs and why my digital music player is messed up, I'll have time to think about everything Alexander spoke of in greater detail.

The Zeldman presentation didn't provide one piece of brain food. Not a crumb. A complete disappointment.

SXSW - Keynote with Zeldman

First day of the conference and already I've seen the best presentation and the worst presentation. Zeldman's keynote should have been the first panel and Alexander Manu's presentation should've been the keynote. I would shout ARGH!, but I was able to see Mr. Manu's presentation so all is good. However, Zeldman's keynote was packed past standing room only and people were crawling over one another in the aisles and in any remaining space in the corners. Most of these people missed a very good Manu presentation.

This keynote was promoted as "gives his perspective on the current state of blogging, design and the web standards movement." Hardly in depth, it was mainly a gloss-over of all three items. | A List Apart | Happy Cog

This guy has a lot to say and it wasn't said here today. He mentioned he was upset about his wife not being able to attend and that must be why he spent all of twenty minutes on the plane creating his powerpoint.

Sidenote - the powerplugs in the keynote suite (17AB) were not working. There was a brew-ha-ha last year whether or not SXSW participants could juice up their laptops or not. The convention center finally allowed it and turned the juice back on for the plugs. This year it seems they may be selective over which plugs get juice. I need to check the other suites to see if the same thing is happening there or the one plug I've so far checked is out.

Oh well... on to the 4:00 free drink and then the 5:00 panel. More to come.

Bits & Atoms - SXSW startin' up

It's hard to believe that a year has past since the last SXSW, but it has. Free breakfast tacos this morning were a nice welcome. Mmmmmmm!

There seems to be plenty of coffee carts around and later today the organizers are providing free drinks at the same temporary park facility where the tacos were plenty this morning. Mmmmm.

Weather's great, coffee's plentiful, bandwidth's adequate. Picked up my SXSW bag of goodies and purged the worthless stuff so I'm ready for the 2:00 p.m. keynote.

The first panel was perfect. Alexander Manu (Ontario College of Art & Design) presented a wonderful powerpoint The Imagination Challenge, explaining how we lost our "play" in everyday work.

Any presenter that starts out the powerpoint with a photo of his son playing with his balls (tasteful and in context) is going to get your attention and start a conference with a bang. Mr. Manu played one of his own inventions, a voice scratch player on his Palm Treo 600. This basically setting down the thought we should learn how to play more. We've lost that and need to regain it.

SXSW blurb | TT1 - Axis International

Key points of the presentation.

  • DJ Crush - we should listen to
  • Heart Attack - TV show we should watch
  • Tiger Woods - $52 million dollars paid to the golfer to "put the ball in the hole"
  • dichotomy between work and play
  • play is never a task
  • sense of seriousness should be in our play
  • corporations should create a "Chief Possibilities Officer"
  • Alexander reads Trend Watch
  • Lego mission statement - "Add value to plastic". Example - Bionicle line.
  • organized exploration of possibility = play
  • Alexander ends with "What if your toilet could speak?" and "What if your toothbrush could speak?"

I had my SD card primed with music yesterday and somehow blew out the tunes so I'm listening to KUT via the Palm radio. I picked up a SD card reader this morning so I can start grabbing some of that great SXSW music roaming about the net.