Victoria Crosby

Ramblings, quotes and stuff....
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If only there could be an invention that bottled up a memory, like scent. And it never faded, and it never got stale. And then, when one wanted it, the bottle could be uncorked, and it would be like living the moment all over again.
Daphne du Maurier, Rebecca (via thequotehaven)
All our life, so far as it has definite form, is but a mass of habits—practical, emotional, and intellectual—systematically organized for our weal or woe, and bearing us irresistibly toward our destiny, whatever the latter may be.
William James

Size does matter. Particularly when it comes to both the size of the target and the spacing between actions. It’s considered best practices to allow 2mm between touch targets for mobile web design. Here’s a screen shot of the Android and the iOS’ native contact apps. You can see how much better Android has done at providing me with the space I need to search. I am not sure about you, but I have tried to press that teensy weensy magnifying glass on the iPhone and hit the A or the B more times than I can count. Apple is not the only one guilty of this design oversight. In fact, it’s pretty common. I hope touch targets and the space around them will get a little bigger in the future.  As far as I know, the average thumb or finger size has not shrunk much recently.

I recently switched from an iPhone to an Android and I’ve found the transition to be both exciting and frustrating. I’ll talk about all the exciting bits later. Here’s my frustration and my advice to the manufacturers making Android phones out there.

If you want to lure iPhone users to your new device, do one thing: subtract.

There’s too much on these Android devices. Too much of everything.  In my opinion, the Android OS offers too much customization, leaving some users confused. But this is a double-edged sword, with benefits as much as disadvantages, and worthy of its own post.

One thing is for sure. There are way, way too many apps on the device when you buy it. Why does the consumer have to wade through all these crappy “sponsored” apps that they don’t want on the phone?  When you buy an iPhone, you get just that. An iPhone. It does not come with a lousy News and Weather App. It sure as hell doesn’t come with an ATT&T app on it.

And there’s too much branding.  Why do I have to watch a Samsung ad and an ATT&T ad every time the phone starts up? If I was to go one further, I’d tell Samsung to grow a pair and take the ATT&T logo off the phone itself.

Less is more. Get out of the way with all these ‘extras’ so your consumer can enjoy the technology.  Instead of a smiley face on my texts, I now get a smiling Android robot. What would you think if iPhone texts came with grinning Apple cores? 

If it’s not useful and it’s not pretty, get rid of it.

All the manufacturers out there need to take a page from Apple on this one.

Reduce, refrain, restrain. Sometimes all you want is a smile.

rtsnance:

I am surprised (and a bit disappointed) that apple is not only continuing the kitsch of overly literal visual elements on their interfaces that don’t actually use the metaphor they refer to (Calendar pages that don’t flip or wooden bookshelves that scroll) but getting worse with…

Both The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal have recently reported on  the imminent demise of Google+.  In these social ‘prebituaries,’ the reporters tackle the issue of user numbers admirably, but in their zeal, they also get a bit carried away and say things like, Google+ is a “desolate wasteland” or use the example of one photographer’s departure as indicative of the entire social site’s failures when - I know for a fact -Google+ is brimming with beautiful images from professional photographers.

The Wall Street Journal really got the bit between its teeth and let the horse lead the rider when it printed the following:

Facebook and Twitter helped change the way people discover new things on the Web, rivaling Google as the chief gateway to the Internet.

Facebook is now rivaling Google as the chief gateway to the Internet?

You have to be frickin’ kidding me right? 

Facebook is a gateway to Facebook. If you want to get to the rest of the web, you use what’s called a search engine.

And right now you can do that one of three ways: you can choose Bing. You can use Yahoo (otherwise known as Bing), or in the case of 66.2% us, we Google it.

And I think 66.2% is enough of a majority to safely say that Google still owns search. 

Despite its excitement over Google+ biting the dust, The New York Times does seem to suggest Google is approaching “social” in quite a different way than Facebook, explaining how Vic Gundotra (Google’s vice president for engineering) sees “Google Plus as a social blanket that envelopes the entire Google experience.”

What’s the Google “experience” he’s referring to - well it could be YouTube, or Chrome or Android apps, but it is most certainly one thing. Search.

And let’s clarify that until something really big changes, a search engine defines how we experience the web. You cannot navigate your own ship. I think people forget sometimes that somewhere, out there someone has created a formula and that’s what determines what pops up on your browser. You don’t control it. You can influence it, sure. But you’re not really in charge. And guess what, neither is Facebook.

Facebook is found in a search. It does not power search. In fact, anyone who’s tried to search within Facebook and who doesn’t end up either weeping or swearing is a more patient human than I.

That makes search a pretty powerful ally to Google in these social wars and don’t doubt that Google plans to leverage it.

I think it’s safe to say that Google has more in mind than playing catch-up with Facebook as the WSJ suggests. 

I would like the media to sit down with Facebook (preferably Zuckerberg himself) and ask the following question: How can a social site such as Facebook that’s so huge and profitable get away with offering its users such abominable search functionality?



The New iPad is beautiful and packaged with 4G LTE will help with speed in terms of its connectivity but make no mistake- the A5X chip with “quad-core graphics capacity” is just that- better graphics. They’ve improved the GPU (graphic processing unit) to deliver high resolution display and not the central processing unit. I don’t want to be the one to pour cold water on such an exciting new mobile device- but it is surprising to me- particularly when Apple is pushing the tablet to be a flagship for what it calls the “post PC era.”
If mobile technology is to replace the PC, it needs to be more than pretty. It needs to be as fully functional, powerful as your laptop, and we’re still not quite there.

The New iPad is beautiful and packaged with 4G LTE will help with speed in terms of its connectivity but make no mistake- the A5X chip with “quad-core graphics capacity” is just that- better graphics. They’ve improved the GPU (graphic processing unit) to deliver high resolution display and not the central processing unit. I don’t want to be the one to pour cold water on such an exciting new mobile device- but it is surprising to me- particularly when Apple is pushing the tablet to be a flagship for what it calls the “post PC era.”

If mobile technology is to replace the PC, it needs to be more than pretty. It needs to be as fully functional, powerful as your laptop, and we’re still not quite there.

Asker tumblrbot Asks:
WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE INANIMATE OBJECT?
victoriacrosby victoriacrosby Said:

My phone. :-) But increasingly it’s more and more animate.


Beauty is as beauty does.

If the latest generation of phones are anything to go by, there’s certainly new truth in this old adage. Many of the most exciting mobile technologies all have one thing in common: quad-core CPUs. And believe me, they’re not that exciting to look at (just refer to the photo at the top for confirmation).
But, my oh my, could they be an incredible development for mobile users.
A few of the more exciting quad-core phones include the Samsung Galaxy S III rumored to arrive in April. And then there’s the darling of Mobile World Congress, the HTC One X and the many others showcased in Barcelona this year. For a round-up, check out Endgaget.What’s in your iPhone or the Samsung Galaxy S II now? Dual Core.What’s in your PC (or my PC anyway)? Quad-core.  So phones are gonna be like very little PCs? Well, let’s not get ahead of ourselves. They will be a little closer to PCs in their functionality.Still, it sounds pretty good, eh?What’s quad-core processing anyway, you ask? Good question. Well here’s the layman’s answer. Mostly we’re talking about chips. Specifically, the central processing unit (CPU). Previously we had single core processors, allowing us to run one application or process per chip concurrently. However with more “cores” on a chip, you can do more stuff at the same time, more quickly.  Thus the advantage of four- or quad core technology.Simple right? Well, not actually. There’s other elements required, including “software that can be parallelized.”  This is pretty important if you want to do two things at once. The applications themselves need to be programmed such that they can run parallel with other apps.
But one aspect is simple. You should see a dramatic difference in performance with a quad-core phone. For one, it’ll improve performance for those “intensive multimedia applications” such as photo editing, video editing, facial recognition (waa!?) and of course-gaming. Nvidia likes to talk about the incredible experience of gaming on Tegra 3-enabled devices. Apparently it’s visually stunning and “real-time physics” mean you can practically feel the wind and the spray as you go ‘water-skiing’ on your mobile phone.  They even say players can add their own input, customizing the game itself. And then of course the quad-core makes it easier to multitask. Do you want to check Facebook and upload that photo to Instagram all while listening to Spotify? Assuming all these apps can be programmed to play nicely with each other…well then, quad-core is your friend.
 I’m not sure encouraging our addiction to multitasking is a good thing. This overwhelming need to be everywhere at once, sometimes makes me think, we are never fully anywhere at all. Still, multitasking is probably what defines this generation, and as a busy mother of two, I understand how it can be necessary to just get what needs to be done, done.Personally, I’m tremendously excited at being able to navigate the mobile web as I do on my PC. Nvidia makes a big deal about how we’ll be able to do just that with “faster web page load time” and with multi-tabbed browsing. Apparently Chrome and Firefox are multi-threaded and “highly parallelizable,” which means they’re perfect for quad-core optimization.
This means, I could, in theory, move through the web on my phone, much as I do on my PC- with multiple tabs and with speed. (Or course, you do still have limited real estate on a smart phone. Here’s where we rely on clever and empathic user experience design.)
Nvidia says the quad does all this while using less power than its dual core technology, citing “workload sharing” and a “Variable Symmetric Multiprocessing” technology that uses a fifth “low power” core that handles some of the less demanding tasks, keeping the drain on your battery to minimum.  Another key to improved performance is of course- connectivity. And it’s still unclear if all quad-core phones will come packaged with 4G LTE. The most talked about manufacturer right now is Nvidia.  Others will also come forth with their own. (Qualcomm is releasing its quad-core Snapdragon in the near future) and still others are including their own quad-core technologies in their phone (Huawei).
Does make me wonder. What do you think Apple will be releasing in its iPhone 5? Hmmmm.

Beauty is as beauty does.

If the latest generation of phones are anything to go by, there’s certainly new truth in this old adage. Many of the most exciting mobile technologies all have one thing in common: quad-core CPUs. And believe me, they’re not that exciting to look at (just refer to the photo at the top for confirmation).

But, my oh my, could they be an incredible development for mobile users.

A few of the more exciting quad-core phones include the Samsung Galaxy S III rumored to arrive in April. And then there’s the darling of Mobile World Congress, the HTC One X and the many others showcased in Barcelona this year. For a round-up, check out Endgaget.

What’s in your iPhone or the Samsung Galaxy S II now? Dual Core.

What’s in your PC (or my PC anyway)? Quad-core.  So phones are gonna be like very little PCs? Well, let’s not get ahead of ourselves. They will be a little closer to PCs in their functionality.

Still, it sounds pretty good, eh?

What’s quad-core processing anyway, you ask? Good question. Well here’s the layman’s answer. Mostly we’re talking about chips. Specifically, the central processing unit (CPU). Previously we had single core processors, allowing us to run one application or process per chip concurrently. However with more “cores” on a chip, you can do more stuff at the same time, more quickly.  Thus the advantage of four- or quad core technology.

Simple right? Well, not actually. There’s other elements required, including “software that can be parallelized.”  This is pretty important if you want to do two things at once. The applications themselves need to be programmed such that they can run parallel with other apps.


But one aspect is simple. You should see a dramatic difference in performance with a quad-core phone. For one, it’ll improve performance for those “intensive multimedia applications” such as photo editing, video editing, facial recognition (waa!?) and of course-gaming.

Nvidia likes to talk about the incredible experience of gaming on Tegra 3-enabled devices. Apparently it’s visually stunning and “real-time physics” mean you can practically feel the wind and the spray as you go ‘water-skiing’ on your mobile phone.  They even say players can add their own input, customizing the game itself.

And then of course the quad-core makes it easier to multitask. Do you want to check Facebook and upload that photo to Instagram all while listening to Spotify? Assuming all these apps can be programmed to play nicely with each other…well then, quad-core is your friend.


I’m not sure encouraging our addiction to multitasking is a good thing. This overwhelming need to be everywhere at once, sometimes makes me think, we are never fully anywhere at all. Still, multitasking is probably what defines this generation, and as a busy mother of two, I understand how it can be necessary to just get what needs to be done, done.

Personally, I’m tremendously excited at being able to navigate the mobile web as I do on my PC. Nvidia makes a big deal about how we’ll be able to do just that with “faster web page load time” and with multi-tabbed browsing. Apparently Chrome and Firefox are multi-threaded and “highly parallelizable,” which means they’re perfect for quad-core optimization.

This means, I could, in theory, move through the web on my phone, much as I do on my PC- with multiple tabs and with speed. (Or course, you do still have limited real estate on a smart phone. Here’s where we rely on clever and empathic user experience design.)

Nvidia says the quad does all this while using less power than its dual core technology, citing “workload sharing” and a “Variable Symmetric Multiprocessing” technology that uses a fifth “low power” core that handles some of the less demanding tasks, keeping the drain on your battery to minimum.

Another key to improved performance is of course- connectivity. And it’s still unclear if all quad-core phones will come packaged with 4G LTE.

The most talked about manufacturer right now is Nvidia.  Others will also come forth with their own. (Qualcomm is releasing its quad-core Snapdragon in the near future) and still others are including their own quad-core technologies in their phone (Huawei).

Does make me wonder. What do you think Apple will be releasing in its iPhone 5? Hmmmm.

With Mobile World Congress wrapping for another year, it seemed timely to remark on a book I’m reading called Mobile First written by Luke Wroblewski.

Wroblewski was co-founder of Bagcheck, Chief Design Architect (VP) at Yahoo! Inc, and co-founder of the Interaction Design Association (IxDA) just to name a few so yeah…he knows his stuff.

The premise of the book is both simple and quite groundbreaking: you should design the mobile version of your website first. Yep- you out there, with your e-commerce store (with really cool t-shirts, btw) or the non-profit making a positive impact on the environment, or the media company targeted at women (age 18-35)- you should all design a mobile site. Now.

He has a number of valid points as to why. For one, the sheer mind-shattering growth of mobile.

  • In 2010 more smartphones were sold than all PCs (the combined total of laptops, desktops and notebooks).
  • There are an estimated 5.9 billion mobile subscribers (that’s 87 percent of the world population) and over 85 percent of new handsets will be able to access the mobile Web.
  • There are now an estimated 1.2 billion mobile Web users worldwide, and a significant proportion of these mobile Web users are mobile-only, and this number, according to Cisco is expected to increase 56-fold by 2015. That means, there will be a huge population of people who simply do not have a laptop or desktop computer at all.
  • Moreover, the mobile web will soon become more accessible through faster connectivity as, according to Cisco, “mobile network connection speeds will increase 9-fold by 2016,”  making the mobile web a much more efficient space in which to navigate without the current headache of slow load times. 

But in addition to the sheer volume of mobile use that’s taking place, there’s another reason we should adopt mobile first thinking.  Mobile web design is inherently limited.

And this, says Wroblewski, is a good thing.

You have a much smaller screen size and you have to take on the realities of spotty coverage (for now) and a user who’s prolly pretty distracted. Although it’s a myth that mobile is most often used outside of the home (84% of people use their mobile phone at home). They’re still often using a mobile device in ‘shorter bursts,’ while doing something else, forcing us to create web design that can, as Wrobleski says, work for “one eyeball and one thumb.”

Navigation takes a backseat to content. Yea!

Get rid of all those sub navs. Only what’s absolutely essential stays in.

Mobile requires information architects and UX folks work harder and get their user what he needs immediately. (This is in part because “urgency” is one of the key reasons people use their smartphones. And when you read the book you can see all the other “critical mobile behaviors.”)

But, isn’t that what every site should do anyway? Get us what we need right away?

Cut out all the extraneous fluff often used in traditional web design and build simpler, cleaner, more user-friendly websites.

You also need to everything you can to speed up load time. (Again. What you should be doing anyway for the desktop.)  

Over and over, he explains how this ‘design under duress’ makes us better at design itself.

Wroblewski goes on to list the many advantages of designing for mobile: location detection, device orientation and of course -the many advantages of touch-enabled screens, which is both organic and offers the user many creative, intuitive means to interact with the web.

Although he does touch on native application or apps- Wroblewski seems to be pushing for adoption of a mobile web solution because- as he quotes Jason Grigsby, “Web links don’t open apps, they go to web pages.”

It’s true the browser is still inherently limited without (yet) access to hardware features such as the camera, audio etc (but this, I believe is changing and may be possible on the Android OS through HTML 5)

In my mind, designing for the browser makes sense as it decreases the current fragmentation you see that’s inherent to stand-alone native apps.

The issue of fragmentation is a big one and another blog post altogether. Many folks have been writing on it recently particularly after the announcement that Facebook, Microsoft and Mozilla (talk about strange bedfellows!) are forming a consortium to “clean up the mobile web” and address this issue of severe fragmentation.

In the meantime- I suggest you grab a copy of Mobile First. It covers a lot of ground, but is simply written and packed with powerful information, making it useful for everyone- from web designers to tech enthusiasts such as myself.

You’re gonna need it because soon-much sooner than you might expect- the mobile web just might be… the only web.