Persistent Inappeasable Mind
thoughts about personal information management, human-computer interaction, interfaces, software ...
Sunday, October 27. 2013
I admit I was left puzzled after upgrading from Snow Leopard to Maverick. The first thing I noticed was that dragging two fingers towards me was not resulting in the scrolling (I also learned that this was added in Lion already). At first I thought that something went wrong with the installation and things were not working as they supposed to. I attached my mouse but scrolling the scroll wheel towards me was not working either?!? I could not scroll anymore!
Then I accidentally scrolled it in the opposite way (away from me) and it worked! After a few tries I realised that Apple has changed the direction of scrolling. But the question is not why! Rather, the question is why now.
If we take probably the oldest "scrolling screen" invented - the scrolling pergament as seen on the photo below, scrolling the upper stick away from us results in the scroll moving down. Scrolling the bottom stick towards us results in the scroll moving up.
(Photo courtesy: http://i620.photobucket.com/albums/tt284/malena_malena/a-scroll.jpg)
The touch screen interfaces (used on smart phones and tablets) use this concept. If we imagine that the sticks of the pergament are on bearings and fixed, dragging the paper down moves the pergament towards the top. The same way as dragging the finger down on the touch screens makes the e.g. web page move to the top.
The scrolling on Mavericks works the same way. It's weird at first but I love it even though I have a hard time to scroll even after a day of use. Nevertheless, some concerns remain such as:
- Users using Windows and Mac (separate machines) would find it hard to switch between different scrolling directions.
- After a few decades of "unnatural" scrolling, would most users really want to switch to more "natural" way of doing it.
This move raises some questions as well.
- Why was scrolling so far been "unnatural"? I have searched the web with no success. One possible reason I see is that the earlier way of scrolling (mouses with no scroll wheel) was to hold the scrollbar handle and move it downwards to go towards the bottom of the document. Introducing the scroll wheel kept the behaviour and scrolling it "downwards" (or towards us) moved the documents towards the end. The trackpads kept the same movement -- early trackpads that supported such movements had a dedicated space on the right side of it resembling scrollbars. And I suppose the multi-touch Apple's scrollbar kept the behaviour.
- Why this sudden change? One possible reason is to keep the behaviour the same on touch screens and on desktop computers. But was this change really necessary? The trackpad/mouse interaction is to a certain extent different than the finger interaction on touch screens. Moving objects around is for example the same: point, click/hold, and move. While scrolling for me is not the same. I cannot map the "dragging the scroll wheel down moves the page of the document up" concept in my head. I cannot associate dragging two fingers over a trackpad with "holding the page document" as it happens with the touch screens. But maybe I'm just to used to the old model of doing things.
Anyway, for the time being I'm sticking with this (for me at least) new concept. As scrolling has always fascinated me I have to experiment how it goes.
Edit 28. 10. 2013: Even my wife decided to stick with the new direction of scrolling. Her response to whether she wants the old behaviour or not was that she'll get used to it. Even if she uses Windows at work. I'm curious.
Saturday, September 21. 2013
I'm slightly sad I wont be able to join the PIM workshop this year. The new format (working jointly on new problems rather than presenting previous work) is very attractive and can contribute to new ideas and great work. However, I have participated the similar event three times already -- called Tiree Tech Wave or TTW.
TTW is what I'd call a "slightly different" workshop. It has no official schedule to follow and is a great getaway from everyday work routine to do some research/work on things that otherwise don't get on our schedules. The location of the workshop is ideal: the remote island in the Inner Hebrides.
"The cutting edge of wind-surfing boards is now high technology, but typically made by artisan craftsfolk, themselves often surfers. Similarly hardware platforms such as Arduino, mobile apps for iPhone and Android, and web mashups enabled by public APIs and linked data are all enabling a new maker culture, challenging the hegemony of global corporations."
Monday, September 16. 2013
From Rob Capra:
"As many of you know, this year's PIM workshop (held at ASIST 2013) involves a change of format and focus from previous workshops. The workshop will serve as a gathering to collaborate on real, productive, focused work, as opposed to a forum for sharing existing findings. Proposals are solicited from cross-organizational groups outlining real steps to move PIM research and practice forward. Those steps will be initiated at the workshop, and then carried forward by participants afterwards.
We have received some great proposals and are looking forward to those that are yet to come! Some people asked if there was a way to help facilitate connecting people who were interested in joining together to submit a group proposal. We'd like to encourage this, so Jaime Teevan set up this shared SkyDrive document that can be used to connect people and project ideas: http://sdrv.ms/14xBC8R
You can add your project ideas to the shared document to help find interested collaborators (use the "edit in browser" option). You are in no way obligated to submit a proposal for projects that you add to the list. The purpose of writing down an idea is to start a conversation that may (or may not) result in a submission. Feel free to write down more than one idea.
Remember, proposals are due on Sept 22 and should be sent to Rob Capra ( r c a p r a [at] u n c [dot] e d u ).
The main website for PIM 2013 is: http://pimworkshop.org/2013/
We'll be using the #pim2013 hashtag.
Also, feel free to share/tweet/post this email and links.
Monday, September 9. 2013
I found this one at the bottom of my Lenovo X61s laptop. Lenovo has a long tradition to label all the screws what they are for. So one doesn't end up unscrewing the whole thing just to take out the keyboard for example. On my Lenovo there's also a keyboard sign with a droplet on the top with no screw besides.
I thought that this might be for spills and after some research I found that with T60 series Lenovo redesigned the keyboard so that if some liquid is spilled over it is caught by rims under the keys and drained out through the canals at the bottom of the keyboard. I wouldn't dare to try it though!
I have come across debates on the web against the URLs showing up in the browser's left bottom corner if one hovers the mouse over a link. I advocate against hiding the URLs (except in some occasions such as in this guy's giving a presentation) for security reasons. See the below example:
This is an email with an invoice from supposedly NetSuite. But hovering over the link in the email the URL in the left corner reveals that it is not from netsuite.com but rather from saav.fr.
Maybe it looks ugly, maybe a lot of people don't care, maybe a lot of them don't want it. But don't take it away from power users please (as MS took away the status bar in Windows Explorer). I often want to see where the link I'm trying to click on will take me.
I also want to keep the browser's address bar! Am I a lonesome cowboy with such view?