Holy cow, I wrote a book!
I got up at 5 this morning to spend the day at Product Support Services answering
phones: today was the day the Blaster
worm launched its second wave. And by a startling coincidence, the person at the
station next to me was Michael
Howard our Senior Security Program Manager and author of Writing
Secure Code. Getting Michael Howard to help you secure your computer is like
getting Lance Armstrong to help you change a flat tire on your bicycle.
As enlightening yet humbling experiences go, for a software designer, it's hard to
top (1) watching a usability session, and (2) answering product support
calls. You get to observe users -- customers, the people your job it is to make more
productive -- struggle with the software you helped create.
Usability sessions are particularly frustrating since you are hidden behind a one-way
mirror, watching somebody struggle to accomplish something you designed to be the
most obvious thing on the planet. It's a hard lesson to learn: Not everybody is a
geek like you. (Watching a usability session is a lot like being a member of the studio
audience at The Price Is Right trying to help the contestant on stage guess the price
of a new car.)