UX Wins, Fails, and WTFs
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UX Wins, Fails, and WTFs
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Google's Oculus-defying VR headset is made of CARDBOARD – no joke

Google's Oculus-defying VR headset is made of CARDBOARD – no joke | UX Wins, Fails, and WTFs | Scoop.it
DIY virtual reality for the masses (if you don't mind headaches)
Aaron Gilliland's insight:

Oh snap! From paper prototypes to paper products. This is actually less of a product than a tool for developers; a cheap prototyping tool for Virtual Reality or otherwise immersive environment projects. The folding cardboard frame holds a pair of lenses while some velcro holds a smartphone up to the lenses. There's even a button that can interface with the phone. 

 

Oculus Rift it ain't, but this would be like Christmas morning to the starving developer.

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Flatten your Skeu, Skeuen your Flat, or What? iOS Design Choices

Flatten your Skeu, Skeuen your Flat, or What? iOS Design Choices | UX Wins, Fails, and WTFs | Scoop.it

Much has been said and written about iOS7 already with its new look UI being the standout point of contention. Polls and surveys have been run across the real and virtual world with personal opinions sometimes deeply divided, although it would appear that consensus is moving in favour of the “new kid on the block”

 

Whether you're a proponent or a hater, the 'flat' design appears to be here to stay and that leaves apps developers with a dilemma!

Aaron Gilliland's insight:

A quick overview of app design options for iOS developers - specifically, how the differences between iOS 6 and iOS 7 will make your life... interesting.

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The Ultimate UX Design of a Google Glass App

The Ultimate UX Design of a Google Glass App | UX Wins, Fails, and WTFs | Scoop.it
In this series Marcin Treder of UXPin – The UX Design App explains how to design the User Experience of the most important ingredients of web and mobile apps.
Aaron Gilliland's insight:

A good overview of Glass in its current form and where it should be going in the near future.

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RDV Weekly's curator insight, February 7, 2014 4:05 PM

How Google Glass plays into UX (or the other way around)

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[Android] Collection Of UI Design Tools

[Android] Collection Of UI Design Tools | UX Wins, Fails, and WTFs | Scoop.it

These Design Tools are made by a range of different authors.

Aaron Gilliland's insight:

Templates, wireframe apps, icon packs, etc. for any aspiring Android interface designer. Not the slightest bit funny.

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Electrify Your High Altitude Bed, For Some Reason

Electrify Your High Altitude Bed, For Some Reason | UX Wins, Fails, and WTFs | Scoop.it
Look in the believe-it-or-not category at the Bed Bath & Beyond website, and you'll find the 8" Power Bed Riser.  I don't mean it's a powered lift like hospital beds use.  It's a set of rubber ...
Aaron Gilliland's insight:

So... It's a power bar with only 2 sockets and some charge-only USB ports, and it lives under a leg of my bed. WTF? Why? It doesn't solve any "unsightly cord" problems - it has to be plugged into the wall like a regular power bar. I don't get it at all.

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Huawei Goes FULL "Zack Morris" With Phablet Phorm-Phactor

Huawei Goes FULL "Zack Morris" With Phablet Phorm-Phactor | UX Wins, Fails, and WTFs | Scoop.it
You can't toss a stone without hitting a 7-inch tablet nowadays, so Huawei's just announced the MediaPad 7 Vogue with a not-too-common feature: voice
Aaron Gilliland's insight:

Let's all sit quietly and reflect on that photo... You'll have to speak louder, I'm holding a giant piece of glass to one side of my head. It's trivial to include mobile phone functionality in a tablet, but that doesn't mean anyone should do it. Asthetic and oily hair concerns aside, this is a step backwards in user-centered design. A landline phone from 40 years ago was more respectful of user expectation and affordances than this flat slab. See how the model is holding the device in the photo? Looks comfy. Where should you put your ear? What part should you be speaking into? Good instructions and trial & error can answer those questions, but nothing is obvious or natural.

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Gaping Glass Google Goggle Gizmo Guts Given Graphic Gadget-Geek-Gawk

Gaping Glass Google Goggle Gizmo Guts Given Graphic Gadget-Geek-Gawk | UX Wins, Fails, and WTFs | Scoop.it

We eagerly brought Glass back to the lab to begin the dissection. Speculation reigned: what if the entire body of Glass is potted with epoxy requiring strong solvents to access? Which part is the battery in? How hackable is this thing? Where are the sensors? Any extra hardware features yet to be unlocked by future software updates? But first, where to even begin opening it?

Aaron Gilliland's insight:

A very recent teardown of Google Glass. UX/UI points of interest: bone conduction speaker obviates the need to shove anything into your ear canal, also acts as a switch; projected display is only 640x360px, but resolution should be less important for HUD-like use cases; flat laptop-style touchpad with no variable tactile feedback, just continuous smooth surface. Where muh ridges, dawg?

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Challenging Checkboxes Choke Chaps, Chapettes

Challenging Checkboxes Choke Chaps, Chapettes | UX Wins, Fails, and WTFs | Scoop.it
If I told you that a company is shipping a product to hundreds of millions of users right now, and included in the product are several prominent buttons that will break the product completely if you click them, and possibly lock you out from the Internet — can you guess which product it is?
Aaron Gilliland's insight:

Amusing and informative article by Alex Limi, formerly UX head at Firefox, about the perils of checkbox choices. The problem isn't really the checkbox itself, it is casual, uninformed, inappropriate, and misguided use of checkboxes. In the article, Limi demonstrates how an apparently simple proposition, like "Load Images automatically (yes/no)", can make it nigh-impossible to use Google's search page. A proper usability analysis, including trials with real users, could stop this kind of problem, or -- at least -- make it less of a "wtf, whars muh googals?" experience.

 

Give it a read.

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"Crap CAPTCHAs Curtail Complaints, Constitution," Blasts Blind Body

"Crap CAPTCHAs Curtail Complaints, Constitution," Blasts Blind Body | UX Wins, Fails, and WTFs | Scoop.it
The National Federation for the Blind says its members are unable to sign an e-petition calling for printed material to be more accessible to the visually impaired because of "Captcha" security.
Aaron Gilliland's insight:

A bit hard of sight, are you? Here, sign this online petition to the White House; you'll demand accessible versions of government documents, and we'll be required to answer. Oh, BTW, spammers are on us like the dickens, so be a sport and do this simple VISUAL CAPTCHA... You know, that squiggly, out of focus, distorted series of letters and/or numbers that everyone hates and is hard for computers to read? Right, that thing. Get your COMPUTER TO READ IT TO YOU. Oy.

 

User analysis? Usability testing? What are these strange words you are speaking?

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Always On, Not Always Known: UX, UI, and Capture

Always On, Not Always Known: UX, UI, and Capture | UX Wins, Fails, and WTFs | Scoop.it
Microsoft's Xbox One and its Kinect camera have caused concerns for one major German government minister.
Aaron Gilliland's insight:

I spoke about some of the security implications of Xbox One and Kinect2 on a different stream, but I'd like to note some UX and UI issues for always-on input devices. In general, webcams use a small LED to tell the user "Hey man, I'm watching you!" Kinect 1.0 uses the same scheme; the light is on, I'm watching; the light is off, I'm not watching.

 

The problem: generally, the camera does not control the LED. The LED and the camera are (usually) independently controllable devices, and it is up to the computer to make sure that the LED and the camera are in the same state. It is trivial, however, to make the camera function while the LED is off, leading users to a false assumption about their privacy. The Kinect2 can violate this assumption even further since it can appear to be off or "asleep" while actively watching and listening... and it does this by design, not by exploit. 

 

I'm writing an article about this issue, so keep watching the skies!

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ALL HAIL THE HYPNOLAMP (BRAZZBZBARAZBAZ)

ALL HAIL THE HYPNOLAMP (BRAZZBZBARAZBAZ) | UX Wins, Fails, and WTFs | Scoop.it

Many factors helped birth the HypnoLamp: At Toorcamp 2012, I learned to program microcontrollers. Jeff of Olympia Circuits blessed me with addressable LED strips, at the aforementioned event. Jeff was also at the Portland Mini Maker Faire, showcasing (among other things) glass Ikea lamps with LEDs inside. I decided to build my own version!

Aaron Gilliland's insight:

Cool all by itself, the Hypnolamp hints at possible UI channels. Inside, the lamp is a few off-the-shelf LED strips connected to a simple microcontroller, plus some analog dials and a button. An upgraded microprocessor with USB or Bluetooth would give you a cool, low-resolution display that can light your room AND provide meaningful output (new message waiting signal, system status indicators, etc. etc.). Cool cool cool.

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Mutator: Mute Your iPhone...With a Twist

A loud & unruly iPhone is no fun. Finally, an easy, elegant solution that keeps your phone quiet. Mutator™ makes mute simple.
Aaron Gilliland's insight:

I'm granting this a WIN-FAIL rating: BIG WIN for adding functionality and a new user interface channel (twisty knobby pyramid that goes clicky-click), WIN for bypassing Apple's not-really-a-mute-switch limitations, FAIL for using up the entire audio jack (I understand, d00d, but come on, give us a pass-through). A very heartfelt OMGFAIL to Apple for making a Mute switch that doesn't mute.

 

This is a Kickstarter project, so you can pre-order the device and you'll only be charged if they meet the minimum funding goal. 

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STROKE this mouse to make apps POP, says Microsoft • The Register

STROKE this mouse to make apps POP, says Microsoft • The Register | UX Wins, Fails, and WTFs | Scoop.it

Microsoft has unveiled two mice that for the first time pack a button that sends users straight to the Windows 8 Start screen, the unloved abode of The interface Formerly Known As Metro (TIFKAM)...

Aaron Gilliland's insight:

Another BRILLIANT idea from MS: a nice, big "Frustrate me NOW!" button. In the old days (Windows 7) hitting the Windows key on a keyboard would just bring up the start menu; now you can accidentally hit a mouse button and find yourself falling through a trap door all the way back to the Start Screen thingy. Name one function key or mouse button that has the power to change the entire screen with one click? 

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XBMC's Add-On Corruption Cringe-fest

XBMC's Add-On Corruption Cringe-fest | UX Wins, Fails, and WTFs | Scoop.it

If you've heard of the Raspberry Pi, you've probably heard of RaspBMC - a version of the XBMC media center software. RaspBMC lets you easily turn a $30-50 Raspberry Pi device into a media player for your TV using free software. That's cool.

 

Being free, the end user can't expect lightning-fast resolutions to software bugs or implementation of REALLY GOOD IDEAS. Case in point: unhelpful interfaces. I installed the latest version of RaspBMC and it was relatively flawless... until I tried to install some Add-Ons. Add-Ons are the apps of the XBMC/RaspBMC universe - you can install a YouTube add-on, a SoundCloud add-on, a Gmail add-on, etc. A device running XBMC maintains a list of all add-ons that can be downloaded and installed by the user. 

 

The problem: the database can become corrupted, but the user has no explicit way of knowing when it has happened or how to fix it. The system brought up a warning dialog telling me that the Weather Underground add-on was listed as "broken" in the add-on repository (basically, the database). When I decided to look for a different weather add-on, I discovered that the list of available add-ons was empty! There are options (again, non-obvious ones) to update or force-update the database, but neither of them solved the issue. I had to search through several XBMC/RaspBMC forums to find fixes - most of them unsuccessful.

 

The solution: I had to use another computer on the network to browse the RaspBMC's file system, looking for a file called " Addons15.db". It was located at /home/xbmc/.xbma/userdata/Database. I deleted the Addons15.db file, as well as a journal file also called Addons15, then rebooted the device. After booting up, several notifications flashed on the screen telling me that individual add-ons had been updated, including Weather Underground. The list of available add-ons was fully populated, and no further problems were encountered.

 

How to fix this for everyone: well, that's easier said than done, but simple additions or changes to the interface could go a long way. 

 

1) Error names or codes. As much as I hate the way they are implemented in the real world (I'm looking at YOU, Windows), they can make troubleshooting a lot easier, and even a cryptic "Database error - Addons15.db" message would be more helpful to the user than a generic "Add-on is listed as broken. Disable, Y/N?".

 

2) Make fixes or update buttons easy to find. In XBMC, the update and force-update buttons are hidden in a Context menu. A novice user wouldn't know that they existed, much less how to find them. Strangely, there is already a context-ish menu implemented as a slide-out pane on the left side of the screen, but it only includes meta options for sorting lists. If everything was combined into the left-hand sliding pane, novice users would be more likely to spot it.

 

3) Better error-handling... Ideally, a database error like this would have been caught by the software itself (running an integrity check, comparing hashes, etc.) and the database would have been dumped and rebuilt from scratch, never bothering the user. If this were a paid product or even a freemium product, I'm sure the devs would have the time and the inclination to do this. As it stands, errors like this are probably stamped out in future releases.


P.S. errors are very annoying to users, but users who whinge at developers of free products are even MORE annoying.  

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Yet Another Eye Tracker Peripheral? Don't Mind If I Do.

Yet Another Eye Tracker Peripheral? Don't Mind If I Do. | UX Wins, Fails, and WTFs | Scoop.it
The Eye Tribe Tracker is an aftermarket eye tracker currently available for Windows-based tablets and computers and serves many functions from gaming to reading.
Aaron Gilliland's insight:

Do want. Except for the Windows-only juju... I can understand where they're coming from - there's a large install base of Windows devices - but I can't imagine anyone saying "You know who takes UX seriously? Windows users." 

 

Really, though, I tip my hat to anyone bringing such a device to market. And, in fairness, iOS and Android support are on the way. Good luck!

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How Open-Minded Is Your BYOD Policy? Cuz I've Got This PS4...

How Open-Minded Is Your BYOD Policy? Cuz I've Got This PS4... | UX Wins, Fails, and WTFs | Scoop.it

NVIDIA SHIELD runs Windows games like a thin client, why not Windows apps too?

Aaron Gilliland's insight:

An interesting question is raised by The Register: if my company is okay with the Bring Your Own Device concept, can I bring a game console to work? It sounds like the start of a "this is why we can't have nice things" story, but there's a case to be made for BYOW (Bring Your Own Whatever). 

 

User acceptance and UI expertise would be there from the beginning (assuming they bring something they already use). Gaming-style handheld controllers, with their ability to utilize all of the fingers on both hands simultaneously and the added UI channel of force feedback, could better suit tasks where a mouse and keyboard would be cumbersome or inefficient. Users would also have the ability to install UI or UX helper apps as they pleased - something not likely to happen on a company machine.

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It's Dark Outside - Touch Your Robot Skin... Or Do Something Useful

It's Dark Outside - Touch Your Robot Skin... Or Do Something Useful | UX Wins, Fails, and WTFs | Scoop.it

Imagine how awesome — or distracting — it would be if human skin lit up every time something pushed on it. Pulsing arteries, mosquitoes, a rude shoulder-check on the sidewalk, or scratching an itch would transform a person into a blinking light show.

Now, scientists at the University of California, Berkeley have designed an electronic skin that does actually does this: Super-thin and flexible, the skin lights up when touched. More pressure produces a brighter light, the team reports July 21 in Nature Materials.

Aaron Gilliland's insight:

Serious materials science? Realistic use cases? No no, let's focus on the simple proof-of-concept demo and extrapolate it to levels of "Hey man, imagine if we were all, like, panda bears-" pothead babble. Wired was kind enough to do that for us. 

 

The actual research goal was to combine touch sensitivity (input) and visible display (output) on a single substrate. In this process, a single sheet of silicon acts like a blank canvas onto which many things can be printed, as opposed to layering physically separate devices on top of one another. Think of a smartphone - the touch-sensitive part, the digitizer, is really a thin transparent window laying on top of the LCD or LED screen, not part of the screen itself. With the researchers' technique, screen and digitizer would both exist on a single sheet, resulting in much thinner device. It also means that the device need not be a flat slab - a single sheet can bend any which way without the distortion (or onion-skin effect) you see when folding two pieces of paper or two magazines, one on top of the other.

 

Anyway, I just want you to mentally separate the input function and the output function. The light need not turn on when you touch the "skin". The light is independent of the touch sensor. And, if a robot shows you some skin and asks for a light, you should run away.

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More Pixels, More Pleasure? Son, We Need To Talk...

More Pixels, More Pleasure? Son, We Need To Talk... | UX Wins, Fails, and WTFs | Scoop.it

The next time you watch TV or go to the movies, bear in mind that you are not actually going to see any moving pictures at all. The movement is an illusion and it’s entirely in your own mind.

What is actually on the screen doesn’t move. It is a series of still pictures that are each held there for a short while before being replaced.

Currently, the obsession is for ever higher pixel counts, an approach that disregards how we actually see moving images. If broadcasters have their way, we could be on course for some ridiculous format decisions.

Aaron Gilliland's insight:

Guest article on The Register tells us everything that's wrong with TV and Movies - except for Will Smith. It comes down to religion... Er, Pixel Religion, not the "Just kidding about evolution; please stop lighting me on fire" religion. Pixel Religion is the idea that our viewing experience is most dependent on how many individual dots make up the frame of each picture. Similarly, Frame Rate Religion says "No no no; more pictures per second is the true path to salvation/enjoyment of Miss Congeniality 3." The linked article tells us the truth: our eyes aren't cameras, so we should stop treating them as though they were. We don't process the world in a set number of snapshots per second, nor do we encode all parts of an image as equally important sub-units arranged in a grid.

 

It's only three pages. Read it or perish!

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"Fumbling Feedly Furnishes Frustrating Flaws" Reports Raging Rambler

"Fumbling Feedly Furnishes Frustrating Flaws" Reports Raging Rambler | UX Wins, Fails, and WTFs | Scoop.it

The Google Reader shutdown looms large on our horizon, and it seems no last minute reprieve from the governor will be coming before that switch is thrown. Many choose to stick with the service until the bitter end -- and it will be bitter at that point, trust me. So, where to go? That is the question.

The most likely landing spot seems to be Feedly. Do not do it.

Aaron Gilliland's insight:

Sir Alan Buckingham (I knighted him personally) at BetaNews vented his Feedly rage for the delight of everyone. I've been using Feedly for several weeks -- in anticipation of Google Reader's ode to "Brian's Song" -- and I agree with Sir Alan on several points. The return of the Zombie RSS Data was a pain in the uvula; as part of the migration from Reader to Feedly, users found that their "marked as read" posts had suddenly become "unread" and that deleted feeds were now being followed. It was a one-time event, not a feature of the service, but it doesn't make for a great experience or a confident userbase. I'm not ready to jump ship just yet...

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Haptic Headphones Bring Bass Beats By Banging Bones, Smacking Skin

Haptic Headphones Bring Bass Beats By Banging Bones, Smacking Skin | UX Wins, Fails, and WTFs | Scoop.it
In case you hadn't noticed, \"next-gen\" is sort of the theme of E3 2013, and the term applies to far more than just video game consoles. Take headphones,
Aaron Gilliland's insight:

Engadget reviews a new entry in the electronic earmuff department: headphones that make you feel, bro. AblePlanet's plans are for cans that take ABBA fans' audio and output it via speaker AND via physical conduction. When wearing the headphones, the ear cups are in contact with skin and effectively in contact with bone. While the speaker plays the music, an electroactive polymer simultaneously induces vibrations in the skin and bone of the listener. 

 

This is a cool idea. Neither pure audio nor pure conduction is a perfect mode for delivering sound. Audio is what the ear was made for, but loud environments (like a gym or a beat poetry cavalcade) can saturate the audio channel, even with canal-sealing earbuds. Conduction can transmit audio by using the body's bones as waveguides, but there is usually tissue in the way that can un-awesome the sound. When the brain senses something via multiple channels, say by hearing and by feeling, it uses data from those channels to create a more vivid experience. By combining physical sensation with audio sensation, the brain says "omg d00d this is super real and super important, let's pay attention, k, cuz some singing feel-sparrow might be trying to attack us with its music beak." But, uh, ya. Read the article.

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Rocking Reflected Radio: Wayward Wi-Fi Watcher Witnesses Waving

Rocking Reflected Radio: Wayward Wi-Fi Watcher Witnesses Waving | UX Wins, Fails, and WTFs | Scoop.it

Researchers have shown it’s possible to leverage Wi-Fi signals around us to detect specific movements without needing sensors on the human body or cameras.

By using an adapted Wi-Fi router and a few wireless devices in the living room, users could control their electronics and household appliances from any room in the home with a simple gesture.

Aaron Gilliland's insight:

Cool beans from UWashington: tracking gestures with radio instead of light. Optical trackers like Kinect watch how light -- visible or IR, usually -- is reflected or emitted by of our bodies in order to map positions and orientations. You shine a light on something, a camera watches the light. This new prototype uses the same idea, but with radio-frequency waves instead of light. Wi-Fi devices can emit waves and then listen to how they are reflected. Depending on the number of antennae and their placement, the system can identify arm and hand movements. Cool beans.

 

From the Buzzkill Department: this isn't going to replace optical trackers for anything but gross gesture recognition, at best. It brings the potential to repurpose comms gear for user input, and that's huge, but it won't be doing fine-grained facial tracking.

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KinectHacks.com Saves Guy From Mild Official Headache, Cat From Hat

KinectHacks.com Saves Guy From Mild Official Headache, Cat From Hat | UX Wins, Fails, and WTFs | Scoop.it
The latest in Kinect hacks, hacking and everything to do with Kinect. View the latest hacks and share some of your own!
Aaron Gilliland's insight:

A word of thanks from a weary user (me). Found a spare Kinect 1 lying around -- you know how it is -- and decided to hook it up... to an XBox 360. That was my first mistake. Mistake #2 happened when I tried to calibrate the sensor; calibration card was nowhere in sight. Son of Son of Mistake The First was using the XBox Support site to locate a printable image of the calibration card; they offer no such image and advise you to order a new card...

 

And so we come to KinectHacks.com. I found the image right away and calibrated the living hell out of the sensor. Calibration can't fix everything, though. 10 minutes of Kinectbox360 was all that I could stand; voice commands worked better than I expected, but the UI is blech.

 

DO YOURSELF A FAVOUR: plug Kinect into real computer, visit KinectHacks, click click click. Click. 3rd party UI in the hizzy.

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Archos launches a kitchen tablet called the ChefPad - Liliputing

Archos launches a kitchen tablet called the ChefPad - Liliputing | UX Wins, Fails, and WTFs | Scoop.it

French tablet maker Archos won’t rest until there’s a tablet for every conceivable situation. Over the last few years the company has introduced dozens of Android tablets with screens as small as 2.8 inches and as large as 13.3 inches. We’ve seen specialized models designed for children, or as glorified alarm clock replacements

.

Now Archos wants a place in your kitchen. The company’s new ChefPad is a 9.7 inch tablet designed to be a cooking companion.

Aaron Gilliland's insight:

... What?

 

Why? How does this merit the designation "kitchen tablet"? It's a cheap Android tab wth a stand. Is it waterproof? No. Does it have sensors to detect the done-ness of your quiche? No. Does the screen look great after being touched by a thousand cookie dough hands? Untested.

 

To make some lemonade out of this citrussy nonsense, ask yourself "If you wanted a kitchen tablet/computer device, what would it do to improve your cooking experience?" BONUS: how would you use a Kinect-style 3D tracker in the kitchen? 

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Screenshots of Despair

Screenshots of Despair | UX Wins, Fails, and WTFs | Scoop.it
This is a poem we found on the internet. Click on the random button or submit something yourself.
Aaron Gilliland's insight:

Beautiful. If anyone asks you to explain the role of a UX professional, show them the SoD tumblog, shed a single tear, and say "To make sure this never happens again."

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Roentgenizdat: Sentimental Songs on X-Ray | THIS IS WEIRD VIBRATIONS // the politics of sound

Roentgenizdat: Sentimental Songs on X-Ray | THIS IS WEIRD VIBRATIONS // the politics of sound | UX Wins, Fails, and WTFs | Scoop.it
In the 1950s, music enthusiasts in the Soviet Union made copies of banned Western records using sheets of x-ray film purchased from clinics and hospitals. The records are receiving lots of attention now.
Aaron Gilliland's insight:

I know, I know. This is a bit weird for a UX stream; but I think there's some UX-WIN to be had. The short version: waste X-Ray film could be pressed with an audio track just like a vinyl album, and it came with its own artwork! These records had lower fidelity than vinyl, were certainly more of a bother to use (you had to weigh them down with a coin, lest they float motionless on the turntable), but provided unique artifacts that owners/users could bond with... Standard black vinyl discs look much like one another, labels notwithstanding; a semi-translucent sheet cut into any shape you wish, embedded with wondrous images, made just for you (or by you), THAT is something wonderful.

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