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A few cool flash apps:

Looks like Yahoo! is getting into flash in a big way. Embracing flash player 7, so quickly for its rich ads. Using Laszlo RIA’s for SBC Yahoo! personalization settings. Now, a promotion for its ISP service with SBC in flash, one of the best flash pages I’ve seen. Also, Macromedia seems to be returning the favor by using yahoo for the central payment gateway.
Enough corporate theories, here’s another neat flash presentation, the LEGO factory demo. Makes nice use of video(?) to show details.

Ray Ozzie makes a case for Rich apps:

A post on Ray Ozzie’s blog makes a case for rich applications and why they are becoming more important than ever. “Agreement on common formats and protocols can yield powerful network effects and unintended positive consequences. We’ve been teasing ourselves and our users with the power of componentized function, rich object models, schemas and persistent storage in the form of integrated application environments. No single framework has achieved PC-like or browser-like ubiquity; as powerful as they are, these environments have and will likely remain islands of function and islands of users. WinFS is an attempt to get a higher level of interoperability between programs through agreement on schemas.”
The schemas in central also try to achieve the same goal. He also says, “the rich clients are back with a bang with two significant factors: storage and communications.” The storage and communications are not ony becoming richer, but also thicker. ‘Rich’ in Rich Internet Applications is there because of two reasons, richness of data and richness of content. Richness of data because, all the applications in the Central or WinFS framework will have many ways of creating, editing, viewing, publishing and otherwise manipulating this vast array of content and will demand and embrace the fact that such content is stored, indexed, and searchable in a way that is standardized, long-lived and open to our choice of application. Richness of content because of the thick storage devices and communication pipes that RIA’s have access to. We can now interact with large stacks of photos, videos, presentations, and digital media and get better experiences.
Also, in an interview with Dan Gillmore, he says, “Everybody is agreeing on: Objects on the client and services as a way of dealing with servers. It’s looking good for the customer, because it doesn’t matter what’s on the client and what’s on the server, we’re all going in the same direction. The client is still about moving from a world of APIs to a world of objects.”

Ease of Use @ IBM:

IBM systems journal of this month is devoted to Ease of Use. Lots of interesting articles on wireless devices, remote usability, accessible visualizations and personalizing sites, but mostly dealing with IBM’s usability processes, User-Centered Design process(UCD) and User Engineering (UE). THe UCD process helps designing products with the single goal of making it easier for the users. The UE process builds on the UCD process with the objective of delivering value to all stakeholders: business, engineering and customers.

Blog posts on your local map:

Mikel Maron provides another variation of his Flash based GeoBlog, “Localfeeds visualized“. He takes rss feeds from and shows them on your local map. Just enter your zip and see blog posts popup around your house. While you are there be sure to click on the banner on his homepage, it hosts a small version of the Life game.

Making usability work:

Scott Berkun from Microsoft posted this nice article dealing with the intricacies of conducting usability benchmarking. Summary: Usability benchmarking can be used as a reference point that can be measured against in the future and can make usability an explicit project goal (Its one of the top reasons why ease of use doesn’t happen in engg projects). He lists three steps:

  1. Explain benchmarking and involve the team in setting the benchmarks and in day to day results.
  2. Pick core tasks and measure:
    • Success/Failure within a time threshold
    • Time on task
    • # of errors before completion
  3. Keep presentations simple, quick and include screenshots.

Scott Berkun also maintains the Best of chi-web & sigia-l lists.

Exploring numbers:

Lots of interesting facts about numbers on BBC’s site, Exploring numbers, by Simon Singh. Some intesresting questions are:
Is it true that any map can be coloured with just 4 colours so that no two neighbouring countries have the same colour?
What is largest known prime?
How many shuffles are sufficient to achieve an acceptable degree of randomness in a deck of 52 cards?

Best of the new technologies in 2003:

Popular science lists the best of the new technologies in 2003, arranged into 12 different categories. If you love Gizmodo or gadgets, you will like what you see. Via Emergic. Even time magazine has its own Coolest inventions 2003.

Laszlo’s new shopping RIA:

I found a new shopping RIA on Laszlo’s main page. Amazon music shop with a nice intuitive interface and lots of TabSliders or accordion panes. Also, Laszlo and Icon Media Lab (you remember this RIA Demo, right?) joined hands to write a Profitability White Paper(pdf). I found it through a search on google for usability, on google’s ads. Laszlo is targeting “usability” to market RIAs. Hmm, Does using RIA’s always improve usability? Voisen has more news on best flash usability practices.

Beat power law through saved searches:

The problem is, “How can we find new, interesting, little-known content when we all read what everbody reads and points to?” Not only in the blogosphere, but even in applications like ITunes, where people tend to see what the majority sees, this is a problem. For example, the top 25 songs are listned to way more often than the others. The solution:Providing a way to store search results along with other links, like Top 25, will help overcome the power law. Giving easy access to stored search results can bring up some pretty interesting, little known information. Andy Edmonds writes how he uses feedster rss searches and aggregators to beat the power law. Also, I started my own feedster track, I previously used only google alert.

RIA categories:

CHris MacGregor over at Flazoom, splits RIA’s into different categories in his “RIAs that Work” series, with lots of examples. The categories also answer the question, “Which tasks are Rich internet applications currently used for?” Some of the categories are, The Configurator, Simplified Forms, Product Finders and Applications. The application category is kind of broad but, takes care of the misc category. If macromedia provided RIA templates for each of these categories, it would help RIA adoptions.

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