Categories
User experience, web, technology

Next week: IUE2009

I’ll be at the Internet User Experience 2009 conference in Ann Arbor, MI this week with a crew of coworkers.

In addition to the conference itself on Wednesday and Thursday, I’ll attend 2 full-day tutorials:

  • Use Cases in an Agile World
  • Field Research for User Experience Design

I’m looking forward to the events, and intend to blog about the highlights. Stay tuned!

Categories
Lila and Eva

Fatten me up?

I was captured. Eva had my right arm and Lila had my left. They were walking me back to my house in St Charles, and they were pretending to be evil witches.

“Let’s put him in the dungeon so we can eat him!” schemed Eva.

“You’re going to fatten me up before you eat me?” I asked.

“No, you’re already fat!” said Eva the witch. “That’s why we chose you!”

Lila the witch cackled sinisterly.

Categories
Lila and Eva

Lila’s whiteboard art: EVA

Categories
User experience, web, technology

DSS.MIL is not to be trusted

Unsigned cert warning at dss.mil website
Unsigned cert warning at dss.mil website

It’s funny that the Defense Security Service (Provides security services to the Department of Defense and defense contractors. Mostly counter-espionage and physical security tasks.) homepage triggers an SSL certificate error. Is that some sort of first lesson: TRUST NO ONE! Heh.

Categories
Davin

“God is so good” rendition by Adam

My friend Adam posted this to Youtube. Nice job Adam.

Categories
Davin

First pistol practice of the season!

I made it to the range today! The afternoon was sunny and seemed like it was in the high 30s. My fingers were stiff on the cold pistol, but the lighting was beautiful and the wind was light. This was the first time I’ve shot at the Saginaw Field & Stream club. It has an excellent 50 yard pistol range.

I had a small mixture of .22 ammo, which I shot in this order:  50 rounds of Remington Target (standard velocity lead), 5 rounds of Federal Lightning (high-velocity jacketed hollow-point), and the remaining 35 rounds were Remington Thunderbolt (high-velocity jacketed).

Thoughts on the ammo

This was the first time I’ve shot Remington Target rounds, and, frankly, they were great. They felt very consistent and they functioned reliably in my old Ruger Mk II.

The Federal ammo was cheap stuff, and, oh man, was it bad. Of the 5 rounds, 3 stovepiped. And, they felt very inconsistent. The Remington Thunderbolts are also cheap stuff, but they were consistent and functioned fine.

I ran through a practice 900 match (conventional bullseye pistol).

So, here’s how I shot.

Slow Fire National Match Course Timed Fire Rapid Fire Total
SF1 SF2 SF TF RF TF1 TF2 RF1 RF2
88-2X 88-1X 81-0X 93-2X 97-3X 94-3X 93-3X 97-1X 91-1X 822-15X

That adds up to 822-15X (out of 900 possible). Average score of 91.3.

Really, I had no right to shoot that well, since I haven’t practiced at all for over a year. So, this is a good benchmark to start the season with.

I hope to get out to the range every week, starting in mid-April, and I would like to compete in at least a couple matches by the end of the outdoor season.

Categories
User experience, web, technology

The Google AdSense conundrum

I have a little side project over at rangelistings.com. The site contains a page for each state with a map of where shooting ranges in that state are.

This is the first time I’ve posted advertisements on a site I’ve created, and I’ve run into a compelling question on how to make the ads more effective.

The ads that show up are on-topic, generally. However, an effective ad speaks to the audience, not to a topic, right?

I intend the audience for the rangelistings.com site to be shooters who are looking for places to shoot. Perhaps they, as in my recent case, are moving and want to to find shooting facilities in their new area.

Here is a sampling of the first lines of ads that show up for one of the state pages currently:

  • Personal Security Online
  • Monitored Security Alarms
  • Personal Security Device
  • How to Defend Yourself
  • Self Defense Pepper Spray

Topically speaking, those are all geared towards self-defense in some fashion. For an audience of shooters, one of them even seems silly (would I rather use pepper spray or a .45 for self-defense?).

So, what ads would be better suited to result in people visiting the site actually clicking on them? Here are a few ideas that I think would work better:

  • Ammo: big selection, low price
  • Gunsmithing classes
  • IPSC videos
  • Gun parts and shooting supplies
  • 1500+ gun auctions right now

So, ammo, gun parts, and gun auctions have little to do with the actual words listed on the pages of the site, but from the context of the people visiting the site, they actually make sense.

The site just launched, and Google hasn’t even fully indexed it yet, so I’ll not be hasty. However, I’d like to see the ad revenue at least pay for domain registration and hosting fees, and ads that actually appeal to the audience would sure push that goal forward.

The question is, how?

(And I’m not thrilled with the idea of subjugating the content of the website in order to twist the ads that show up. That’s pretty backwards.)

Any good ideas out there?

Categories
Davin

Is it Spring yet? I got stuck on a muddy road.

The weather today was sunny, blue sky and mid-forties. The Winter is long, and on days like today, it is easy to think the season has changed. No dice.

I’m sick. Some sinus, upper-bronchial thing. I left work a little early; I was in no shape to start writing an XML schema. At home I decided the most therapeutic thing was for me was to go to a shooting range. Makes sense, right?

So, I transferred an extra gun into my box, scrounged up a single paper target (25 yd slow-fire target), found 5 rounds of .22 and 15 rounds of .45, and left. Yeah, not exactly geared-up for a good shooting session, but I think Spring-fever may have set in.

So I get to the club and the long dirt road to the pistol range is pretty mucky. So naturally I gunned the engine and took my chances.

Well, the mud won.

I finally gave up trying to drive out, and walked down to the pistol range from where I heard shots. An amiable guy in a pick-up truck with a tow strap gladly pulled me out.

Shooters rule.

I left the club without hitting the range. I can’t wait till the mud dries.

Categories
User experience, web, technology

Tim Horton’s WIFI page…fitting

I just connected to the wifi connection at a Tim Horton’s restaurant near Saginaw, MI.

I opened a Web browser, and was sent to google.ca…Google for Canadians. Vivé la Tim Hortons!

Small detail, but funny.

Categories
User experience, web, technology

Let’s stop playing Frankenstein

Consider the monster from Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein:

The creature is described as being about eight feet (244 centimeters) in height, with translucent yellowish skin that “barely disguised the workings of the vessels and muscles underneath”, watery, glowing eyes, flowing black hair, black lips, and white teeth. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Frankenstein%27s_monster#Appearance)

I read that phrase describing the skin of the monster, that it “barely disguised the workings of the vessels and muscles underneath.”

My hands have worked on Web pages that were little more than that yellowish skin.

It’s no wonder customers fled in terror.

By now, most of my nameless monsters have died off, thanks to the hyper-life-cycle of the Web, but recently I gained a new perspective of how ungainly, ill-proportioned Web sites are created.

HOW TO MAKE A MONSTER OF A WEB PAGE

If you want to create a monster of a Web page, the trick is quite simple: Work, work, work at it, one page at a time. Write the code, make it work, make sure the forms submit. Whip up some error text, insert some confirmation screens. Check the boxes on your to-do list of functional requirements. Light it up, and let it out onto the world.

But wait…isn’t that how most of us get our jobs done? These days, we like to call this kind of heads down, busy-work “Agile.”

HOW TO STOP PLAYING DR. FRANKENSTEIN

Step away from the keyboard, Doctor.

Pick up a pencil. Draw out the whole process from the point of view of each actor, be it a person or some agent like a search engine robot. Draw pictures using easy graphics, like Garrett’s visual vocabulary palette, and be sure to include every point of contact with an actor.

Having done this recently, it became clear immediately that there was a series of email messages interspersed amongst Web pages, and that those emails were as important as any single Web page.

Also, the timing of those emails was important. For instance, Jim uses a Web page to send an email message to his friend Bob. Jim then sends an instant message to Bob asking if he signed up yet, assuming that Bob did in fact receive that email message and was able to decipher it. Those are two tough assumptions.

Each piece of a larger process overlaps with its adjacent pieces in a series of feedback and feedforward communications. Once we have these communications, these pages, emails and so forth, laid out with balance, proportion, and clear purpose, a more beautiful creation can take hold.

Nurturing and shaping this flow of interactions between people using a system is a great step in putting an end to the monsters we’ve become so good at creating.

Once we’re into this process, we invariably realize there are many more questions to ask, but the point is this: Design processes, not pages.