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<br /> <b>Strict Standards</b>: call_user_func_array() expects parameter 1 to be a valid callback, non-static method unfancy_quote::strip_quotes() should not be called statically in <b>/home/martingo/martingordon.org/blog/wp-includes/plugin.php</b> on line <b>166</b><br /> Martin Gordon's Blog / user interface

Crazy Easy

Merlin Mann on iPhone development (from the SF iPhone Dev Camp):

Think about having the courageousness to make an app that is crazy easy. Instead of making a circus that’s really fun to play in, just make something that’s easy to get in and out of quickly without hassle.

Yes! This is exactly what I'm going for with Flickup. I wanted it to be dead simple to post photos to Flickr and I think I've gotten pretty close. While I don't want to add frivolous features, there are some that are reasonable to consider - uploading to a set, security settings, etc. I struggled to fit the metadata view onto one screen and now I'm faced with the challenge of adding these new features without undermining the simplicity that I was going for in 1.0.

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Custom iPhone Web Clip Icons

I was planning on writing about the Apple TV that I'm planning on buying soon, but instead I got caught up on iPhone Web Clips. Right after I installed the new iPhone update, I went to add my three favorite mobile sites, Twitter, Google Reader, and Facebook to my home screen. Suffice it to say that I was pretty disappointed when the three icons looked like white squares with some specks of dirt, thanks to their mobile-optimized design. I tried for about 10 minutes to come up with a way to write a page that will prepend the icon link to the mobile sites and give me custom icons, but nothing came out of that exercise.

Today, I came across a post by Paul Robinson linking to a solution to this by Matt McInerney. The solution is rather simple, and involves a few lines of Javascript to redirect visitors to the intended site after 2 seconds, enough time to hit the "+" button in MobileSafari and bookmark the page. I created pages for the three sites noted above, bookmarked them and then changed the redirect timeout to 0 seconds and voila, custom icons!

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Windows Mobile 7 Details - It's Not Pretty

Inside Microsoft has exclusive details on the next major release of Windows Mobile. As expected, Microsoft has taken notes from Apple and Windows Mobile 7 will feature touch controls and motion sensing technology. Reading the notes from the document raises a bunch of issues regarding Microsoft's take on this-gen (for the iPhone) and next-gen (for everyone else) phone OSes:

  • It seems to be meshing too many interaction paradigms - in addition to the new touch/motion controls (flicking to scroll, tiliting and shaking, etc), they're also leaving in button controls (the old Windows Mobile menus everyone loves to hate) and finally "[a] stylus will be required on devices meeting certain screen size, orientation, DPI and resolution marks." Three interaction paradigms makes for a steep learning curve and a lot of energy wasted by users when they have to remember to switch input methods because an action can't be performed in the current interaction mode.
  • Shaking to wake up your phone? Definitely not as classy as sliding to unlock.
  • The phones will use the camera as the motion sensor. I can't see how well this will work in a dark room or when the camera is obscured, such as when you're holding it in your hand.
  • It's coming in 2009. This should be out mid-2008 at the latest if Microsoft has any hope of stopping the iPhone juggernaut. By 2009, Apple will have had a two year lead. Competing with the 2007 iPhone in 2009 makes Microsoft look foolish and reactive; similar to how they looked when Vista was released to match features with an Apple OS that came out two years prior.

So while it's nice to see that Microsoft is actually doing things to advance it's mobile offering (unlike Palm), again, my criticism of Microsoft's efforts boil down to too late and too complex. This report makes it seem as though they're making Windows Mobile 6+1 by bolting on iPhone features to a broken UI instead of doing what they should be doing: starting from scratch and developing a consistent and enjoyable user experience.

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Wii Initial Impressions

I was in New York today not following Steve Pavlina's advice, and I had a chance to stop by the Nintendo World Store (Flash mandatory, ugh) in Rockefeller Center and spend some minutes with the Wii. After braving the "crowd" (~15-20 people playing on about 10 Wiis), I finally got my hands on the Wiimote.

The first game I played was Excite Truck. This is your typical off-road arcade racer controlled by holding the Wiimote horizontally and tilting it to steer. Aside from it being a touch sensitive, it was very intuitive and the new control style made what I would have otherwise considered a standard racing game a lot of fun. The graphics were noticeably subpar (below even my lowered expectations), and were only made worse by the beautiful ~37" HDTV I was playing on.

After one race, I stepped over to the next Wii and played Madden. Again, after playing Madden on the XBox 360, the graphics failed to impress. The controls, however, made the game really fun. Snapping the ball and passing it with motion were a lot more fun than simply pushing "A". The run game also becomes much more interesting and intuitive when I can shake the nunchuk or Wiimote left or right to juke/stiff arm instead of having to remember whether it's "X" or "LB". The only trouble I had was getting the kicking motion down. Luckily the tutorial available from the pause menu helped me a bit (though it still took me 8 tries).

Finally, I got a few minutes on Call of Duty 3. I'm sorry to say that this was a complete disaster. I just couldn't hold the Wiimote at the right position in order to get the controls to respond the way I wanted. I was often spinning around in circles or looking at the floor or sky. I eventually turned to sensitivity down but that just made it impossible to respond to enemy attacks. Of the three games, this was the only one where I was completely disappointed.

It's well-known that the Wii isn't a graphical powerhouse. I didn't think this would bother me that much, but I've gotten really used to pretty visuals (or mediocre visuals in standard def). The motion-sensing part of the controls works perfectly, but the pointing aspect needs some work. Also, even though some controls seem intuitive once you learn them, because of all the hidden motions that are possible, you're gonna have to pop out the instruction manual or run through the tutorials. For better or for worse, button mashing is over.

Still, I think that the awe of the new controller will keep me interested in the Wii for far longer than great graphics and shallow gameplay ever could. See you all in line Sunday morning!

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Design Cleanup

I've gone ahead and cleaned up the site, switching to a customized K2 theme that I've been working on myself with much thanks to Paul's excellent K2 customization guides. From my limited experience working with other themes and now with K2, I find K2 much easier to work with. There's only one CSS file to edit and I feel a lot more comfortable making changes to it.

I've also gotten rid of the Stand Up lyrics, which had no place on the site, let alone on the main page. The album's been out for over a year now and official lyrics are available on the band's site.

It's always going to be a work in progress, but I think I've now built a good base to start from. I've always been hesitant to keep things simple, always wanting to put more on the front page, but now I want to really scrutinize every little thing I put on the main page and whether it belongs there or not.

It may soon be time to switch The Blog That Jane Likes over to something other than the default Kubrick theme, but its been working fine without any real customization, so I'll focus on this blog more.

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Tip: ABC.com Shows in Quasi-Full Screen

I only watched an hour of the Desperate Housewives last night and forgot to set it to download this morning. Instead of waiting hours for it to download tonight, I decided to take ABC.com's online streaming out for a spin. I tried it out right when it came out but the site was so bogged down that I couldn't get through 5 minutes of an episode. This time, things went without a hitch, except for the fact that the player window is a bit small.

The ABC.com stream only offers something like a 700 x 400 pixel window but I quickly fixed that by turning on OS X's universal access features zoom functions. Cmd + Option + 8 toggles the zoom on and off and Cmd + Option + = and Cmd + Option + - zooms in and out. Unless you like staring at your mouse cursor for 40 minutes, go into the zoom options and click "Only when the pointer reaches an edge".

I'm sure one could accomplish the same thing using Windows' magnification feature, but without a Windows machine present I can't provide detailed instructions.

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Yahoo's New Home Page Won't Do Them Any Good

TechCrunch reports that Yahoo is testing a new home page. It won't do them any good. It's still too cluttered. Even MSN Search (and Ask.com, too) got that one right. Not only that, but the old site compartmentalized content a lot better than this new one.

Seth Godin said it best at his talk at Google. The techies send non-techies to Google because they'll know what to do and won't come back to bother you.

If Yahoo is going after Google, they should stick with an uncluttered site for everyone and let My Yahoo! users make their personalized pages as cluttered as they want. If they're not going after Google anymore, well, then they should probably let the world know.

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Google Calendar Trumps Desktop Calendars Too

I'm liking Google Calendar more than the other online calendars and more than offline calendars. Why? The interface is much cleaner and much faster (even faster than iCal and Entourage). What else could I ask for?

I definitely see GCal + GMail as a great alternative to Outlook/Exchange because of the open standards it uses to achieve the same functionality. Yes, GCal is only replicating Exchange's functionality, but with GCal's use of XML, I can mash up the feeds and do whatever the hell I want with them. Want to embed an image or audio enclosure to the XML GCal generates? Shouldn't be too difficult. The possibilities are endless. Try doing that with Exchange.

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Google and Craig's List Redesigns

A SXSW panel entitled "Design Eye for the List Guy" redesigned Craig's List yesterday. The "Design Eye for the _____ Guy" is actually a series of "experiments" (this one is number three) put on by a group of web designers calling themselves the Design Fab Seven. The mockup looks great, I hope that Craig's List actually implements it. The blue/grey/white theme works great for del.icio.us, but IMO there's too much going on on the Craig's List homepage to have it be so sparse.

Andy Rutledge redesigned Google about a month ago. I recently discovered a Greasemonkey script that will replace the Google homepage with the redesigned one. Some comments I saw complained about how Google's simple page was part of their branding and that it'll never change. I rarely use the Google homepage, but on the off chance that I do, at least it'll look pretty.

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Firefox 1.5 and Tabbed Browsing on OS X

Firefox 1.5, released yesterday, breaks the Cmd+Tab/Cmd+Shift+Tab shortcut for switching tabs that I had grown to love so much and was one of the primary reasons I've stuck with Firefox over Camino and Safari. Instead, Firefox now uses Cmd+Option+Left/Right, which requires use two hands and some hunting around.

Enter keyconfig, an extension designed to allow users to add and modify keyboard shortcuts. A comment on the extention page details how to add next/previous tab functionality to keyconfig using gBrowser.mTabContainer.advanceSelectedTab(±1); Unfortunately, that command didn't allow for looping through tabs, so I modified the code a bit to allow for that functionality. Here it is:

Next Tab

if (gBrowser.mCurrentTab.nextSibling)
     gBrowser.mTabContainer.advanceSelectedTab(1);
else
     gBrowser.mTabContainer.selectedIndex = 0;

Previous Tab
if (gBrowser.mCurrentTab.previousSibling)
     gBrowser.mTabContainer.advanceSelectedTab(-1);
else
     while (gBrowser.mCurrentTab.nextSibling)
          gBrowser.mTabContainer.selectedIndex++;

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