go ahead, mac my day

a Macintosh girl in a Microsoft world

April, 2007

  • go ahead, mac my day

    UX positions open in MacBU

    • 1 Comments

    While I'm at CHI next week, one of my many goals is to find interesting and interested candidates for our open positions here in the User Experience group in MacBU. Right now, we're looking for two types of people: User Experience Lead and User Experience Researcher.

    We're expanding our User Experience team. Working here offers you a high degree of ownership of the user experience of technically challenging and market leading products. You'll have an opportunity to build great software experiences for the passionate Mac audience, to have a large impact on the way millions of Mac users around the world work, and to be a part of the largest dedicated Macintosh development team outside of Apple.

    What do I like about working here? The list is pretty lengthy, but two really stand out for me.

    The sense of ownership is incredible. Since MacBU is such a small group, your scope is massive. Unlike larger UX groups, you won't own a single feature or feature area. You'll own a whole application. It's a huge responsibility, and it's humbling.

    I haven't experienced passion like this before. MacBU has a lot of passion. We're all Mac users, and we really care about the platform and about our apps. Mac users have the same passion. Going to Macworld Expo, or speaking at a MUG, is a fantastic experience. You get to meet people who live and breathe their Macs. They all have a lot of opinions (a side effect of a high level of passion), and they'll tell you them for as long as you'll listen. There's a lot to be learned.

    If working here in MacBU sounds like something you're interested in, track me down at CHI. I'll be at the job fair, or we can meet up for coffee so that you can get some idea of what we're looking for and what it's like to work in MacBU. If you won't be at CHI, email me (and remember that I'm out of the office with limited time for email, so it might take me an extra couple of days to get back to you).

  • go ahead, mac my day

    twitter

    • 2 Comments

    In the interests of playing around with whatever is the New Hotness, I signed up for twitter. Now you can read my whinging about physical therapy in real-time!

  • go ahead, mac my day

    CHI2007

    • 2 Comments

    Anyone else going to CHI next week? I've got a huge list of the sessions that look the most interesting to me, and I'm immensely looking forward to it.

  • go ahead, mac my day

    blue and green and orange and purple all over

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    There's a new ad in the UK Get a Mac campaign: Office Posse. There's absolutely no way that you're going to get me into a purple Entourage suit like that. I work on all the apps, anyway, which means that there would be some monstrosity involving stripes or polka-dots. Ugh.

  • go ahead, mac my day

    something to aspire to

    • 2 Comments

    I thought I was doing pretty well with my music collection: about 200 GB. But Will Friedwald takes the cake with what's being called the world's largest iTunes collection. He's got 849 GB in there currently, for a whopping 809.2 days' worth of music there. 11,561 albums, 2935 artists. He says that's not even complete, he's got several sub-libraries that are gradually being added into the main library. I am in awe. The next time my boyfriend complains about my music-buying habit or the number of hard drives hooked up to our Mini, I'm going to point to this guy and say that I've got a long way to go before I'm as bad as he is.

    I share a complaint about iTunes with Mr Friedwald. He says:

    Essentially the problem is that iTunes was designed for people to buy music from the store, to put CDs on their iPods, and then, perhaps lastly, to store some of a personal CD collection in the library. It was NOT designed for what I am doing with it, which is to store, manage and access a major music collection of nearly 200,000 tracks. As a result, when I am working with the full 800 GB library, it is painfully slow, getting around the library, doing searches, and editing info on individual tracks or whole albums just takes forever!

    Even with my piddly little collection, I'm running into the same kind of problem. My G4 Mac Mini is the machine running my collection. When I launch iTunes,it takes an extra couple of minutes to load the library. There's a noticeable lag in trying to do anything with tracks other than simply playing them. Editing information is the worst. While I'm not at Mr Friedwald's 3 minutes, there's a pause of several seconds.

  • go ahead, mac my day

    deja vu

    • 3 Comments

    I'm going to choose to view this as great minds think alike, rather than someone just ripping off a post from me and re-working it: the five stages of Leopard delay grief.

  • go ahead, mac my day

    creepy

    • 4 Comments

    I checked to see the referrals to my blog posts. One of the referrals to my post the five stages of grief (iPhone edition) is from a search engine. The search term is 'pictures of the stages of death'. That's rather weird.

  • go ahead, mac my day

    a short guide to Mac user responses to the Leopard slip

    • 4 Comments

    In case you haven't heard this yet [1], Apple announced late yesterday that Leopard won't ship until October. The immediate responses from Mac users have been pretty amusing. I'll provide a community service today by giving you a shot guide to Mac user responses to the Leopard slip. This means that you won't really have to read the comments threads on the various Mac sites. Trust me, you don't want to do it. The MacRumors thread about this is now up to 42 pages of comments.

    Chicken Little: The sky is falling! The sky is falling! I’ve been waiting years for this!!!!! These users might also claim to have shed real tears when they heard the news. Terry Pratchett fans know that these users have a diseased mind, the visible symptom being their multiple exclamation points.

    wrist.staple.forehead: Steve Jobs has personally let me down. They're alienating their user base! These users might also have shed tears. These users differ from Chicken Little in that they take this news very personally.

    Nostradamus enthuiasists: There is some deep meaning to be found in this. Some say that Apple doesn't care about its computer business anymore, and we all should have seen this coming when Apple announced that they had dropped Computer from their name at MWSF. Others say that the delay of the AppleTV and Leopard signal deep problems at the company.

    Reality is for other people: No, no, Apple announced this now so that Leopard can be the 'one more thing ...' at WWDC. (Alternate form: This is an elaborate, but late, April Fool's Day joke.)

    Mac developers: Schedule slips happen. This is why companies don't like to commit to release dates unless the release date is tomorrow.

    Everyone else: Umm, why do I care?


    [1] Which probably means that this is the only tech blog that you read. If this is the only tech blog that you read, you're probably my mom. Hi mom!

  • go ahead, mac my day

    respect your user

    • 9 Comments

    Walt Mossberg wrote a great piece about the out-of-box user experience of buying a new laptop: Using Even New PC Is Ruined by a Tangle of Trial Programs, Ads. I’ve gotta say: preach it, brother. He had a bad experience with his new computer. It wasn't the set-up of the computer itself. One of his major problems was with the immense amount of other stuff that the computer manufacturer installed on his shiny new machine.

    I can't say this any better than he did, so here's a quote:

    The problem is a lack of respect for the consumer. The manufacturers don't act as if the computer belongs to you. They act as if it is a billboard for restricted trial versions of software and ads for Web sites and services that they can sell to third-party companies who want you to buy these products.

    This is a huge problem for users. Companies are forgetting that we're users, and that we're not just consumers. The user has to work harder just to get started. Make it hard for them to start up, overwhelm them with information and applications and trials and everything else, and you're making it hard for a user to be passionate about what they're using. Respect your user, and they'll reward you with more than just being your user.

    Respecting your user has many facets. Here are some of them:

    • Respect their time. Don't assume that your application is the centre of their world. Don't assume that they're going to read every single word in your help files. Get out of their way and let them get on with whatever it is that they're doing. The best user experience is the one that the user doesn't actually notice because everything is going smoothly for them.
    • Respect their intelligence. They're not idiots, so don't treat them that way. They also don't know the software as intimately as you do, so don't assume that they know what you call your favourite feature (and again: they're not idiots for not knowing this).
    • Respect their work. Don't interrupt their task if you can avoid it. If you must interrupt them, carefully consider why you are interrupting them and what impact it will have on what they are doing.
    • Respect their preferences. If the user has expressed a preference somehow, pay attention. Don't ask them for something if you can get the information elsewhere. I'm looking at you, Firefox: I hate that I switch my location in the System Preferences between my office and my home, but I still have to go into Firefox and change the prefs in there too.
    • Respect their privacy. If you want information from them, ask their permission, and specify what you're doing with it.
  • go ahead, mac my day

    in loving memory of Usenet

    • 7 Comments

    The next book that popped up in my reading queue is Silicon Snake Oil by Clifford Stoll. Written in the mid-90s, it's a little blast from the past. One thing that Stoll talks about several times in this book is Usenet.

    I miss newsgroups. Blogs and web forums just don't feel the same to me. Maybe this is just me being a crotchety old lady, screaming at those damn kids to get off my lawn. But neither blogs nor web forums seem to facilitate the same kind of conversation that happened on newsgroups.

    Blogs are more of a one-way conversation. I make a post to my blog. You can comment on my posts, but your comments are secondary to my post. Lots of people won't see your comment because they always have to click to see your comments. For RSS users, they have no way to know whether there are comments without opening up my post. It’s difficult to have a conversation in the comments, especially between commenters. It happens, but it’s not as easy or friendly.

    Web forums are generally a two-way conversation, but it's too fractured to be really effective. Back in my day, you whippersnappers, you opened up one piece of software and read the newsgroups that you wanted to. Finding new newsgroups was trivial, and there wasn't that much overlap in discussion topics. Now, you have to know where to find the web forums. Since anyone can set up a new web forum for whatever topic they want, some web forums feel pretty clique-ish. (Not to say that some newsgroups didn't also get that reputation.) But it also feels like the conversation isn't in just one place, but rather split up amongst several different locations. I either have to devote more time to get the same level of debate, or I have to suffer through a lesser debate because fewer people are participating.

    Maybe there's not actually a change, maybe it’s all just me. Maybe I've mellowed in my old age. (Those of you who have met me in person can contemplate what I must have been like then, if this is mellow now.) Maybe I'm being a cranky old woman who's looking at the past through rose-coloured glasses, and isn't willing to learn how to effectively interact with these new forums.

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