In the News: Summer 2011

Inside Indiana Business, Oct 18, 2011 – Purdue working on STEM innovations

Journal & Courier, Oct 2, 2011 – BoilerCribs owner taps crowdsourcing to hone West Lafayette project

The Atlantic, Sept. 2, 2011 – Social Media’s Slow Slog Into the Ivory Towers of Academia

Journal &  Courier, Aug. 3, 2011 – Keynote at Lafayette Digital Media Conference

Lafayette Online, July 29, 2011 – Lafayette Digital Media Conference

Lafayette Online, July 7 – Social Media Marketing Workshop for Artists

Journal & Courier, June 7 – West Lafayette Police Adopt Social Media Policy

Journal & Courier, June 9 – Steffey’s mother joins search for missing student

Journal & Courier, June 14 – Slow start for applying social media ethics









Comments on Mac OS X Lion

The actual title of this post is “A couple of things I hate about OS X Lion.”

So, what’s the big improvement in Mac OS X Lion? What does it enable users to do that they couldn’t do before?

In terms of interface, it seems to be a political, not user-oriented movement. The interface decisions say to me: “we’re moving laptops towards touch-screen interfaces.” It may be a strategic step in the next direction for the company. But does it work for the user?

The biggest, and, pardon my French, stupidest mistake/bad idea in Lion is “natural scrolling.” By “natural scrolling” they mean reversing the scroll direction, so now you scroll up if you want to go down a page. Why is this stupid? Let me count the ways:

  1. It takes a behavior that is so ingrained, for some people, since birth – for others, since they started using mice in the early ’70s – a behavior that’s more than second nature, it is automated and memorized by the body and it attempts to reverse it. Good luck with that. After trying natural scrolling for a bit, I got so confused, I don’t know which way is up or down. Good thing you can turn it off.
  2. It takes a behavior that is indeed natural in a touch-screen device when you interact directly with the content, not with the scroll bar and imports it to another, very different device. Just because this behavior is natural on the iPad, where you are touching the page, not the scrollbar, it does not make it so on the computer interface – where design conventions are different, and scroll bars still exist, even if Safari won’t display them.
  3. It forgets that people interact with computers via mice, not only track pads. Don’t get me wrong, I love the track pad. I love the feel of it and the way it works. It’s just that after using it for 6 months without a mouse, my hand hurts so badly, sometimes I think I broke a bone (or more). So I can’t use the track pad, because it literally hurts my hand. I use a mouse. Where scrolling behavior is so automatic (see #1) that all of us are too old to learn a new trick. And where scrolling up is a much more difficult, inconvenient, painful gesture than scrolling down. So, when using a mouse, this natural scrolling is bad, bad, bad for the 3 reasons named before.

Good news: you can turn it off. System Preferences > Trackpad > Scroll & Zoom

What else does Lion do, besides trying to persuade me my MacBook Pro is an iPad?

The Mail interface is much better now, and I can begin to tolerate it – because it looks more like Outlook, which is the only Microsoft product I like. BUT.

They added these silly, annoying animations that are a complete waste of time and, after you’ve seen them once, become a plague. When replying to an email, upon hitting the reply button, the email message I’m replying to does this little dance. It hops out of its place, floats to the top right of the screen, then it settles down in front of me and only then can I begin to type. Cute, the first time. Completely unecessary annoying waste of time after that. Life’s too short to watch email messages dancing on the screen a hundred times a day. I swear I saw Safari dancing around a bit (or some unnecessary animation) when I started it. I haven’t figured out if or how to turn these off.

iCal is pretty much the same. They moved some buttons around, hopefully based on usability studies. No problem there. But they made it look cheesy. The top bar looks like leather (really?!) and it has little marks where you see you “tore off” the previous page. Really?! Talk about adding unnecessary cutesy stuff. And cutesy is a matter of taste. So if you add it, you must allow people to customize it. But I haven’t figured out a way to do it, and am not sure it is possible. If it is, I shouldn’t have to spend 20 minutes trying to find it. Right click, baby. Can we still do that? Oh, wait, two finger tap. Why is that wrong about iCal?

  1. Things that pretend to be what they’re not are tacky. That is not leather. I don’t want it to look like leather. In fact, I don’t really want it to get my attention.
  2. Many people hate leather.
  3. Many people hate that ugly color they chose for the “leather”
  4. The paper calendar metaphor hurts computer-based calendars by imposing on them paper-based page limitations. Cooper wrote about that a long time ago (see pp 37-38). I wonder why nobody listens?

I’m also experiencing some erratic behaviors, like random windows being brought to the front when I select an email address in the To field in Mail… but I assume those were not intended as a way to add excitement to users’ lives.

Tell me, what do you love/hate about Lion?