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Showing posts from February, 2010

Mapping Kiosk User Interface Design Concepts

Last year we worked on requirements for Zion Hospital in Chicago for a mapping kiosk application, the project never reached to its implementation stage but the software UI designed was envisioned since my HKG days when I knew that touch screen kiosks were going to be big in accessing and serving up information in the easiest possible manner at public hot spots. I had first seen these beautiful touch-screen kiosk interfaces at the IFC tower in Hong Kong and the screen showed a 3D interface of all the different levels of offices and shops along with your current position and the easiest path to get to your destination. After I had seen this, the common sight on streets of Hong Kong was observing tourists holding their maps and trying to figure out where the nearest MTR station is or searching for the nearest restaurant is or where the next touristy spot was and what bus/taxi/subway connections take.

The interface attempt for the hospital sprung up from design ideas of installing standin…

Re-Design of the Parking Meter

The parking meter is an interesting piece of public equipment and many a downtowns have these weirdly shaped posts (mostly ugly) standing or planted on the sidewalks, an important source of revenue for the city. Here are some pictures to amuse you and the first definitely reveals the total chaos of people trying to figure out the condescending parking meter. Look at the images below there are at least six people trying to figure the parking meter a sight not so unusual for unfriendly user interfaces.

A closer look at these parking meters reveal traditional parking meters haven’t changed mucy from the 1930’, oh for sure once in while we see cool looking meters with easy interfaces like the one in Harvard square that look at least new agey but I have had a hard time finding one with easy to use interface. Thinking on those lines I decided to design an interface conceptualizing what it should look like.


Unordered buttons
Most of the parking meters have a myriad of buttons all o…

Wondering If Intuitive Designs should be the norm?

This post will start off with a posing question that is different from the title of the post- Should Intuitive Designs be built into systems or is the adaptability to such systems/interfaces already built into us?

I often wonder about the above question and  problems  like this do stay to bother. A architect/system designer/UI designer or a product designer always (well…not always) wrestle with these kinds of questions. On the left here is the pic of my daughter playing with my mac, when this was taken she was not even three, she is now four and knows how to use cell phones, and almost all the digital devices that her dad uses at home ranging from (ipods, iphones, wii, blu-ray player, hdtv’s etc.)….sounds scary isn’t it but again I begin to wonder if this is the world we live in now, as a parent I am confused whether to be proud of it or not? However these question still loom up in the air…

As I dissect these ponderings let me come at it from the angle of first answering the title to …

Microsoft Future - Productivity Vision

I have been reading and discussing a lot about user interfaces and the ideas of how intrefaces are going to change the way we interact with different systems. Pranav Mistry's from MIT media labs talk on of his research on sixth sense technology is one aspect of these kinds of development we have seen lately. My favorite place these days on the web is following Microsoft's vision of the future and the neat research they are doing. Feel free to follow their blog and get a perspective on what's happening there. I have included here a video for you to enjoy. Most of the scenery you see in the video is Hong Kong, Chep Lap Kok Airport and buildings in Central, HKG.

Talking about productivity when it comes to user interface's these words pop in my mind "Intuitive", "simple", "logical" (even for dummies), "transference" (digital to real world and real world to digital).

INVIVA's Campaign for Microsoft XUI Concept

INVIVA a user experience design company recently created a campaign for Microsoft. I thought it was cool how they communicate through the ad the changing face of XUI which stands of experience user interfaces. If you have followed closely R&D at Microsoft research labs, and some of the products occasionally they show-case they justify that our interfaces are going to drastically change and mimic more of the real world objects, the ideas now while driving cars, or using a computer, or ordering the next drink or a meal is wrapped around in bringing a better user experience.

Included here is the video of the concept INVIVA developed. Enjoy!

Introducing the Blend Art-board

The one thing I like about the Blend is the idea of moving towards a system where the designer, architect and programmer can visualize and talk to each other with ease. Not only intuitive user interfaces is the order of the day but building them fast and with ease is also on the high priority with software manufacturers. This post is to introduce you to the different parts of the Blend Software's UI.

The work surface is referred to as the artborad where you will design your Silverlight or WPF applications.  The artboard is your work surface, where you can visually design a document in your application by drawing objects and modifying them.

1. The artboard background color can be changed to suit anything you want, it is like the canvas where the majority of your work will be done.  To change the color you can use the Tools >> Options menu to do so.  2. XAML Editor : The code that is generated is called XAML and can be edited in this window. If you look at indicator 5 it will giv…

HTML 5 Sketchpad

HTML5 being touted as the wave of the future in markup languages. Just do a google search if you’re curious about html5 and you’ll find a ton of info on what it is. HTML5 is being developed as the next major revision of HTML (Hypertext Markup Language), the core markup language of the World Wide Web. The Web Hypertext Application Technology Working Group (WHATWG) started work on the specification around June 2004 under the name Web Applications 1.0.[1] As of February 2010, the specification is in the "Last Call" state at the WHATWG - which as mentioned earlier stands for WEB HYPERTEXT APPLICATION TECHNOLOGY WORKING GROUP. The main purpose of HTML 5.0 is to reduce the need of plug ins for RIA applications like Adobe Flash, Silverligh, Apache Pivot, JavaFX etc.

I won’t bore you with all the details about coding, but I found this cool online sketchbook while browsing completely flash free sketching application. It will be interesting to see if this will be cross system embeddab…

Now that I have a iPhone -Darn!...Windows Phone 7 comes out

Well everybody is feeling it, I am just saying it aloud. After the first leaks of the widows phone 7 user interface t it seems the user interface is mind blowing – "totally awesome". Tiling and Spacing and the money muscle of Microsoft is going to change the landscape of the smartphone markets. If you haven't seen the videos of this awesome interface check out Giz's post for pics and videos.

The one thing I want to point out here is smart intuitive user interfaces is another key for market acceptability, market capturing and market leadership. The software as I suspect is going to integrate with Microsoft Auto's - My Synch and your media center PC at home. True integration of the automobile, home and your self. Now you are truly mobile indeed...!

Microsoft expects the first phones running the software to be available by the end of the year, and says that network operators including Deutsche Telekom, Orange, Verizon and Vodafone, and vendors including Samsung, LG,…

Operations Research - A Thought - 'Optimization'

Operations Research is one of my favorite topics in Management Science, I view this subject something as “wisdom from God”, the biblical characters that come to mind immediately are Joseph and Daniel who stood in the courts of Kings and answered in wisdom…essentially saving their kingdoms from great destruction.  Genesis 41 verses 25-33 gives us the account about the exceptional wisdom Joseph displays in advising the Pharaoh:

25 Then Joseph said to Pharaoh, "The dreams of Pharaoh are one and the same. God has revealed to Pharaoh what he is about to do. 26 The seven good cows are seven years, and the seven good heads of grain are seven years; it is one and the same dream. 27The seven lean, ugly cows that came up afterward are seven years, and so are the seven worthless heads of grain scorched by the east wind: They are seven years of famine.
 28 "It is just as I said to Pharaoh: God has shown Pharaoh what he is about to do. 29Seven years of great abundance are coming throughou…

Is Agile Project Management even an an appropriate term?

To give you a break from my silverlight and WPF babbling I will branch out occasionally into different topics to keep you interested and at the same time tone down my boredom from talking about the same topics again an again.  As the title suggests lets explore if "Agile Project Management" is even an right term that is being so loosely used these days.. To understand we need to first answer what Agile software development is?.

Agile software development has it roots in OOP (object oriented programming) where iterative development, use of a particular functionality could be reproduced, ability to plug in cross-functionally or design development methods for re usability of components could be done in an easily gave rise to the practices of agile software development into being.  This was extended across development teams for collaborative purposes during development or the life cycle of the project. Agile software methods break tasks into small increments and avoid long term p…

Full Screen Applications

Often there is a need to run a Silverlight application full screen. This is often achieved by creating a small button or a link which toggles the application to full screen and using an escape sequence toggling back to small area within your website. The code to do this is quite simple and straight forward:

if (!Application.Current.Host.Content.IsFullScreen)
Application.Current.Host.Content.IsFullScreen = true;
Application.Current.HostContent.IsFullScreen= false;

The explanation to this piece is quite simple so here its is - the if statement checks the current state if the app screen is in full screen mode or not. The if condition starts of by asking If Application is Not full screen then do something in this case set it to full screen or else do something else (in this case set back the app mode from full screen to its original state running within the web page.)

What's a XAP file?

A few days from now you will see a lot of sliverlight/Blend blogs coming up. If you get bored send me a note or an email but I will try to incorporate something that I am externally reading on technology be it something on hull design or something in pure sciences. The idea is to see everything holistically and borrow tool sets when and where required or needed in that branch of application to solve a problem. Anyway let me come back to the title of the post and answer that question. All blend developers probably know, if so move and let the illiterate in this area learn:

A XAP file is a Siliverlight application file commonly voiced as the ZAP file that follows the compression algorith of a common Zip file. So in short a file with .xap extension is a a compressed output for the Siliverlight Application. When you create a Silverlight application in Visual Studio or Expression Blend two files are created App.xaml and the Page.xaml. What's a XAML? - XAML is extended access markup lan…

Raving About Some iPhone Apps

Smartphones have changed the way we work, communicate, translate, and do almost anything that our work and personal spheres entail us to do. I have been liking the way I intereact with my iphone and use some apps to enhance the productivity of my life. You will find anywhere on the internet the top 10 or the top 50 or the top 100 iphone apps but here I am going to introduce the ones that have changed my life.
Top on the list is EasyTasker a Project management App that allows you to track work projects, projects due, emails, and ability to push work to assigned individuals and synch tasks when and where you needs them all wirelessly. The ther cool things it can do is track timesheets, invoices, user groups and even paypal integration to buy tools that may be necessary for the project. All activites can be synchronized across all your computers.
TurboScan is next on the list, it allows me to to scan receipts, bills, documents save them as images and push them tas PDF to my business or p…

What the iPad should have been?

Almost two weeks ago the Steve Jobs introduced the iPad, all the speculations and the almost two year frenzy of expectation, rumors and what it will be came to an end with this beautiful product launch. Though priced a little high, lets cut to the chase before the praise at the end of the day its merely a giant ipod touch. From the form factor point of view I like the product but am thoroughly disappointed especially after keeping tabs on 'Microsoft Courier'. If you haven't seen that one I have included a video for your right here.

So my takes of what the the iPad should have been. From the video above you may have guessed it right away, dual screen that closed as a portflio file would have been cool with features of flicking things from one screen to another of utomost importance. At least 128 GB starting solid state hard drive with options that would upto at least 1TB, a minimum of 5 mega pixel camera and ability to make video conferencing calls and some really cool so…

Bits, Bytes & Bricks - Sam's Official Tech Blog Unveils

OK I have been meaning to do this for a long time, in the past many incarnations of my so called tech blog have appeared and disappeared in cyber space from time to time but as I get into the habitual writing, learning and exploring things, I hope this one lives on the internet for some time. And for that time I hope to put my thoughts here as I learn and explore stuff in the technology realm and its confluence with business. It will be an effort to outpour my rants, raves, geek, nerd, business, sci-fi, far and near future in form of bits and bytes mostly (so far haven't figured out how I will use bricks, but it rhymed in the title) in the up coming blogs here. So, bear with me and hopefully you will like what you read here. If you are interested I also run (I mean write)  a faith based blog called sdnautilus  (strange name isn't it...will let you know the tech nomenclature secret in the future here) where I write about my spiritual journey in things that I am learning as a Ch…