Help Wanted (PHP)

Well I thought I might give this a shot here on my web log. Taiwan is a Microsoft island and though I have met many talented engineers during my stay in Taiwan far too few are into open source software. There are many people like myself who know enough about PHP to be dangerous but I am looking to meet people who live and love this language. I have a number of projects languishing due to slow development.
Here’s what we are looking for:
PHP developer
We’re looking for a local PHP developer to work on some neat projects we’ve been developing. Required buzzword-y skills: PHP, MySQL, XHTML, CSS, Javascript (including AJAX), Linux. Design skills and usability experience wouldn’t hurt. Familiarity with wiki’s and social software would be cool. Some English ability required.
I am also looking in the near future for a Chinese speaking Community Manager but I think I will have far less difficulty with finding a partner to fill that role.
These are ‘partnerships’ and we work on a monthly revenue share payment system.

Luke Wroblewski on Refining Data Tables

Luke Wroblewski writing for UX Matters:

After forms, data tables are likely the next most ubiquitous interface element designers create when constructing Web applications. Users often need to add, edit, delete, search for, and browse through lists of people, places, or things within Web applications. As a result, the design of tables plays a crucial role in such an application’s overall usefulness and usability. But just like the design of forms,there’s more than one way to design tabular data.

Refining Data Tables on UX Matters

Ross Lovegrove Presentation via TEDTalks

From the TEDBlog: “Ross Lovegrove is an industrial designer, best known for his work on the Sony Walkman and Apple iMac. In this highly visual presentation, he presents his recent work — from furniture to water bottles — which is organic in form and inspired by nature. (Recorded February 2005 in Monterey, CA. Duration: 20:14)”

Open Source DIY MP3 player

Wow, the Sakura open source MP3 player kit opens up all kinds of possibilities for installation projects.

For around $30 in parts and a good amount of patience, you can have a completely open source and hackable mp3 player ready to go. It can be modified to accept serial commands, be embedded in an art project, used as the voice of your next smart talking robo-sidekick, or filled with music and used as is. Put in whatever size card you want, up to the theoretical limit of the MMC format! All the source and schematics are here for free as part of the Creative Commons. I have kits available if you don’t feel like scavenging for the parts yourself.

The Sakura: The World’s Simplest Open Source DIY MP3 player!

Hinet’s Tubes Clogged

Hinet Taiwans tubes must be clogged. Since coming back to Hsinchu I have been experiencing some real network latency and general ‘suckiness’ in my broadband connection.
There seem to be excruciating delays at Hinet’s usa-paix router making American sites (about 99% of all sites I visit) quite time consuming to use. It’s been along time since I have had to use the refresh button multiple times just so a page will load.
Taiwan generally has great broadband so I hope the problem will clear itself soon.

Research as a Political Tool

This is exactly what lead to my interest in user research and the formation of our user experience group at a former employer. The “value of user research is often to cut through the politics and convince stakeholders to make good design decisions”. (Adrian Chong)

Next time you read an article about a user research success story, ask yourself if the conclusions of that research weren’t just common sense (or at least common sense to good UI designers) to begin with. Ask yourself if a good designer couldn’t have concluded the same conclusion that the user research seemed to reach.
Then ask yourself if you could articulate your “common sense” recommendation to a person who doesn’t understand design at all. To someone who may, in fact, be hostile to your so-called “expert” recommendations?
This is one area where research can help: explaining a user interface design strategy to stakeholders, peers, and bosses who have their own agendas and biases.

The comments to the article are quite informative.
User Research Smoke & Mirrors, Part 3: Research as a Political Tool.

Late Projects

Some quotes from a thread on 37s:

“How does a project get to be a year behind schedule? One day at a time.” -Fred Brooks, software engineer and computer scientist
“We release things when they are ready to be released, not based a we-can-predict-the-future schedule.
Priorities shift, products change, new ideas bubble up, we discover new techniques and concepts, mistakes are made, external circumstances reveal themselves.
All those things make schedules a waste of time. They don’t account for surprises, new opportunities, gut feel, and human error. Schedules are too theoretical for our tastes.
The only time we start thinking about dates are when we’re really close to release. Then we can say “let’s try to get this out next Monday” or “Let’s do what we can over the next couple week and then go live with it.” Our schedules are relative.

Image of the Environmental Cost of War


BEIRUT: At least 10,000 tons of heavy fuel oil have been spilled into the Lebanese sea, causing an environmental catastrophe with severe effects on health, biodiversity and tourism, environmentalists and the Environment Ministry said Wednesday. Two weeks ago, Israeli bombs targeted the Jiyye power station, located on the coast 30 kilometers south of Beirut. Part of the oil in storage tanks has been burning ever since and the other part is leaking into the Mediterranean.

I always find it amazing the power of an image to relay a message – especially in times of ‘war’ (which seems to be never ending – wars are an economy onto themselves). While we can sometimes manage to see imagery of the human suffering that always accompanies the barbarism of modern conflict, photos such as these help in a small way to illuminate the other effects that only those living there experience.
(The photo is from BBC News; the excerpt is from the Lebanese paper, the Daily Star.)