December 25, 2004

Winter wonderland

Merry Christmas from Ottawa!

On clear Ottawa winter days, around 3pm when the sun is low in the sky, you get great golden light casting long shadows. Given the colour, it ought to look warm, but it makes me shiver — clear days are the coldest. Here's a set of outdoor shots from around my parents' house.

Posted by madhava at 04:23 PM | Comments (3)

December 18, 2004

Something for everyone

There are some new photos, all taken at night with the new camera.

It's going to take me a while to really get used to the whole SLR thing, I think, which is, in some ways, a very satisfying feeling.

There's a great article in Wired about psychology and traffic design with a lot of parallels to human factors design principles. It also touches on some issues in modern city design.

The psychology of driver behavior was largely unknown. Traffic engineers viewed vehicle movement the same way a hydraulics engineer approaches water moving through a pipe - to increase the flow, all you have to do is make the pipe fatter. Roads became wider and more "forgiving" - roadside trees were cut down and other landscape elements removed in an effort to decrease fatalities. Road signs, rather than road architecture, became the chief way to enforce behavior. Pedestrians, meanwhile, were kept out of the traffic network entirely or limited to defined crossing points.

Trying, through design, to influence behaviour and guide a user to his or her desired outcome is very much what interface design is about. Imposing rules on behaviour that aren't built into the design — prescriptive roadsigns — end up frustrating users.

This line isn't from the article, but it could have been, and I like it: "trying to solve traffic congestion by widening roads is like trying to solve obesity by loosening everybody's belts."

Some of you may remember this past post. This, found on my call display the other day, is a startling contrast and a little more intimidating:

Plants in technology, and vice versa:

David Foster Wallace on lobsters. He wrote this now (in)famous article, Consider the Lobster, for Gourmet magazine "to work out and articulate some of the troubling questions that arise amid all the laughter and saltation and community pride of the Maine Lobster Festival."

And finally, a little reading about user-interfaces: an interview with TiVo's Director of User Experience, Margret Schmidt. [PVRBlog]

Posted by madhava at 04:54 PM | Comments (1)