January, 2009

  • Canadian UX Blog

    Why I want to try Windows 7 Beta?

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    After coming back from a week of professional training at Microsoft headquarter Redmond, I finally got a chance today to watch Steve Ballmer’s Pre-CES Keynote. The public availability of Windows 7 Beta was the big announcement, and starting last Friday, everyone can download the Beta to try out. Of course, as a UX designer, I’m interested in Windows 7 UI improvements. As I was watching Charlotte Jones demoing Win7 Beta UI, the phrase “Small Multiples” came to mind.  Just a brief look at UI, you probably don’t feel there’s much changed from the Vista desktop. However, through her demo, I was impressed by how these salient changes that were made such as in taskbar, windows management, and network setup made a big difference in people’s productivity. That’s why I want to try out the new Windows desktop and will keep you posted about my experience.

    Windows 7 Center has a detailed blog post on changes in UI in Windows 7 from Vista with great screenshots. One UI feature I’m not sure about and waiting to try out is the “jumplist.”

    Users access an application’s “jumplist” by right clicking the icon in the taskbar. This gives users the quick access of recent work and frequent tasks. I like the idea, but I’m not sure about the discoverability of this feature since there’s no visual indication why users would want to right-click on the icon. However, once the an user discovers the feature, I think he/she will be able to use it no problem. I’m interested in hearing about the usability study result behind this.

    Anyway, my manager John Oxley has started trying out the Beta build of Win 7. If you are on twitter, you can use the hash tag #cdnwin7 to share your experience with him. I’m looking forward to getting mine installed tomorrow. Happy Beta testing! :)

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  • Canadian UX Blog

    Community Silverlight Site

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    I came across SilverlightShow this morning. It's an independent Silverlight community, and the goal of the site is to "help Silverlight developers to find solutions to common problems, to stay up-to-date with the latest news, to learn the best practices by providing quality articles, tips, examples, showcases, books and many more." The site has lots of great information. For example, they aggregate Silverlight news by day from popular blogs and provide a summary for each. I'd like to point out one piece of news in particular because it's a great follow-up to my TechDays talk on Silverlight Control Framework:

    Steve from the team blog of the Expression Blend and Design products has published the article “A UserControl base class for Visual State Manager”. If you want to write your own UserControl  then you will need to add your own states to the control and you will also need to know how to handle events and call VisualStateManager.GoToState() to transition between your states. In this post you will find one base class which could be a good starting point for you.

    SilverlightShow team also launched a contest called "Silverlight: Write and Win." Developers and designers, enthusiasts and professionals from all over the world are encouraged to enter. The goal is to share what you've leant, made, and know. You have to simply write an article about your concept (application, control, whatever) related to Silverlight 2 and provide the code (under an OSI approved license) and you’ll be entered – submit as many times as you want.  A mix of community members and Microsoft folks will be reviewing the content and code. The contest ends on Jan. 31. I know many of you have created tutorials and write papers on your own blogs, so why not enter the contest and share your knowledge with the bigger community?

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  • Canadian UX Blog

    Microsoft Innovation News

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    Here is a list of innovative projects from various Microsoft labs. Many of these projects are handy tools that you can try out today.

    From Live Labs

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    Thumbtack lets users collect snippets of information from Web sites and share the collections with others.

    Political Streams

    "Social Streams is a Live Labs project whose mission is to aggregate, store and mine all social media content. The Social Streams Platform has been used to support a number of applications and research efforts, and to date we have made one of these applications called Political Streams."

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    Seadragon AJAX was written from ground up using JavaScript allows users to zoom in large images, which provide a similar experience as DeepZoom in Silverlight. However, the difference between Seadragon AJAX and Silverlight DeepZoom is that the later allows collection creation. In other words, developers have much more control to manipulate the sub images within the DeepZoom composition.

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    Seadragon Mobile "Seadragon has gone mobile.  Now you can try out our first mobile version to see graphics or photos on your iPhone in greater detail than ever before. Create your own content with the Deep Zoom Composer or PhotoZoom and view it on your phone. "

    From Office Labs

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    "Touchless enables touch without touching by using a webcam to track color based markers. Touchless includes two parts: "Touchless Demo" is an open source application that anyone with a webcam can use to experience multi-touch, no geekiness required; "Touchless SDK is" an open source SDK that enables developers to create multi-touch based applications using a webcam for input, geekiness recommended."

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    Sticky Sorter is a desktop application that allows anyone to use it to collaborate and organize ideas electronically, using a familiar sticky note interface.

    From Startup Business Accelerator

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    Response Point is a an advanced software-based telephone system for small businesses. It supports voicemail and multi-party calling in addition to two party VoIP calls. It features innovative voice recognition technology to manage calls and voice mail. Voice mails can also be sent to e-mail where they can be retrieved and archived.

  • Canadian UX Blog

    Ignite IT Award – Share Your Story

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    image Have you worked on a project recently that you are proud of? Whether it’s a mobile application, a rich interactive online service, a re-design of a website, a software solution that helps people’s productivity in a particular domain, or even an innovative demo of what IT could help improve people’s lives tomorrow, then you’ve got a great story to tell. Why not submit your story to the Ignite IT award?

    It’s an award that recognizes and rewards the efforts of people working in the Canadian IT field who are doing great work. You can be a designer, developer, or IT professional either working in the industry or at school. You can submit your own IT story or submit a project that’s done by your team. There are two main awards: Developer/Developer Team of the Year and IT Pro/IT Pro Team of the Year. Designers are often part of a developer team. Each award contains: Prize of $5,000 and the Crystal Trophy.

    The top 5 Developers and top 5 IT Professionals voted by the community will also receive a Microsoft Software Kit including a full edition of Visual Studio Pro - an approximate value of $1,000. The deadline for submitting your story is Feb. 15.

    I was looking at the submissions so far, there’s already a submission on mobile interface design, which the readers of this blog will find similar projects to it. Check it out! My colleague Christian Beauclair has also posted some details on submission process. What are you still waiting for? Submit your story today or email me (qixing.zheng at microsoft.com) your story and I’m happy to help submit your story.

     

  • Canadian UX Blog

    Thanks for Coming out to TechDays!

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    It’s a wrap! We finished our last TechDays stop in Vancouver today. We made so many great connections along the way and learn what we can do to improve the conference experience from city to city. Here are some examples:

    Starting TechDays Montreal, we had hosts for each track so that we could better keep each track on time and inform attendees with different activities that were going on at TechDays. In addition, the host of a track made sure speakers were comfortable and ready before each talk and were properly introduced. In my case, I also helped fellow speaker and colleague Joey to complete his accordion performance.

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    Starting TechDays Calgary, we added a “Tell Your IT Story” booth which allowed us to hear about great projects you and your team are working on and give us feedback about our technology. In Vancouver, we also added “Ask the Expert” booth so that attendees could ask speakers questions and get to know the speakers after their presentations.

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    The connection I personally involved a lot is the Women in IT connection. I met more than 100 women at the conference. It was my pleasure to meet each of you and thanks for giving me the opportunity to hear from you. We shared our challenges and opportunities as women working in IT. The challenges may be different and evolving as we enter different career stage, but it’s very important to learn from each other and work together to overcome these challenges. Learning from previous cities, in order to make the WIT network area more inviting and easy to spot in Vancouver, we distributed pink sweatshirts at the area. Here’s a group photo of us in pink. :)

    DSCN0220 by you.

    Thanks for coming out to TechDays! It has been a really fun journey.

  • Canadian UX Blog

    Design Student of the Month – Emily Smith

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    There are a lot of creative students in Canada who are doing innovative work to improve people's life through interactive, visual, informational, and other aspects of User Experience Design. I invited them to introduce who they are and share their work with you. To nominate a Design Student of the Month, email us. The Design Student of the Month for January 2009 is Emily Smith! Congratulations!! Let's hear from Emily.

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    Who is Emily?

    Here in Vancouver, I recently earned a diploma in Digital Design with an emphasis in Interaction Design and User Experience. Before VFS, I went to the University of Western Ontario in London and earned a degree in Visual Arts. I have always thrived in an environment that offers both functional and artistic components, and Interaction Design and UX is the perfect place to exercise those perfectly.

    I am a passionate about design and draw inspiration from my interests in art, architecture, music, Sustainability, the Dewey decimal system, Cradle-to-cradle Industrial Design, DIY/Crafts, UX, Interactive and Interaction Design, Typography, Print Design, painting, drawing, and other Analogue Mediums.

    What cool things is Emily working on?

    After graduating from VFS, I was asked back to the school to complete a post-graduate scholarship in which I was asked to create a project management application along with my classmate, Vincent van Haaff. We felt that applications like Basecamp and MS Project were really useful tools, but that information wasn’t as easily retrievable as it could be. We decided to create a single screen project management tool, in which all information would be more centrally located within a Work Breakdown Structure, a tool commonly used in project management to break down tasks into their component parts. Shaped like a tree diagram, the spatial Work Breakdown structure became the backbone of our site, upon which things like time tracking, file uploading, quality control, and delegation of tasks could be set within the nodes of the structure itself. For this project, I worked on competitive analyses, persona research, conceptual development, sitemap, wireframes, information architecture, as well as the graphical components for the site. The application is currently in the development stages and for more information about the project, feel free to contact me at me@emily-smith.ca.

    What are Emily’s plans after graduation?

    Right now, Emily is actively pursuing a career in Interaction Design.

    Want to learn more about Emily?

    My current website is www.emily-smith.ca and will be updated soon. Also coming soon as a blog at www.emily-smith.ca/blog.

  • Canadian UX Blog

    Happy New (Niu, OX) Year!

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    image little OX candy on B'day cake 2 by you.

    Happy the year of OX, everyone! May the new year bring you and your family joy, good health and wealth! The pronunciation of OX in Chinese is very close to the English word “New,” so it’s very popular to say “Happy Niu Year” to each other here.

    This is a special new year celebration for me personally because my birthday is on the same day as the Chinese New Year, and more importantly, I get to celebrate in China with my family and friends. Since I first went to North America 10 years ago, it had never worked out timing wise to come back home during Chinese New Year. Finally, I made it this year and it felt great. Here are some yummy birthday cakes to share with everyone. Well, hope it’s at least eye-delicious… :)

    B'day cake 1 by you.B'day cake 2 by you.

    For Chinese readers of this blog:

    祝大家:新年福贵平安!牛气冲天!

  • Canadian UX Blog

    WIT @ Vancouver TechDays

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    Vancouver is our last stop for TechDays. I’m sitting at Toronto airport now and waiting to board my flight to Vancouver. I look forward to catching-up with my graduate school classmates from UBC and meeting new friends at TechDays next week. Similar to Toronto TechDays, we’ll have a Women in Technology Connection area setup during breakfast and lunches of the conference. So far, I had the chance to meet close to 100 women at TechDays in other cities. It’s a common consensus among the women I met that we need to build a better network to foster communication and career development. I’m interested in hearing your ideas about how we can get this done.

    If you are attending TechDays Vancouver, I’d love to connect with you at the WIT area. Here’s a picture of me taken over the holidays for your reference. Below is my contact information. Feel free to drop me a line or give me a call to schedule a meet-up. 

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