Taps 6

I already wrote about the tap which needed waving in front of it. This one has a similar nice hand symbol and a "PUSH" note. Although some might argue that tap interface with "instructions" is not really good :).

BinCam - a self-reflection into one's recycling

At BCS HCI 2011 I finally saw this BinCam that Daily Mail took out of context. It takes a photo of rubbish every time one opens, puts something in the bin, and closes it. It then uploads the photos to the Facebook and visualizes recycling behavior. It compares this behavior with other people in one's social network. 

It is certainly about personal data and privacy concerns comes to mind. But the idea behind the lid is not to shame people if they don't recycle. The bin and recycling is just a way to study how social influence can change one's behavior.

Cure to recycling?

So as some other people blogged about it, I don't think this bin can a be a cure to recycling. I can divide people into three groups:

  • people who don't recycle because they don't care
  • people who care, but don't recycle because it is not easy to for any particular reason (city councils not recycling, complicated recycling schema, no clear guidance what can be recycled where, no space for bins, bins not regularly collected)
  • people who care and recycle no matter what

Converting the second group needs just making recycling easy enough so they don't see it as a burden anymore. City councils should poll people and find out what burdens them and try to tailor recycling schemes to different people, housings, etc. While converting the first group is to educate them. Is education through social embarrassment a way to do it? For some people yes, for some not. So it is not a one size-fits-all solution.

Social influence

BinCam is a game. A few students were given the bins and they first realized than they were bad at recycling which turned out to a competition on who will recycle better. As the game industry already knows, there must always be something interesting to keep people in the game. So it is such solution good in the long run? It is possible it would work, as most people like to bee seen as "good citizens" in the eyes of their friends. And recycling is all about being green, which is fashionable nowadays.

BinCam is not meant as Orwelian government plan to check on people's recycling. It is just a research idea and something else could be used for this project.

Reflecting upon personal information

What really interests me is the self reflection on ones behavior through visualizing personal information. I already blogged about visualizing email which could reveal content of conversations, rhythms, life changes, etc. I also wrote about Poyozo and self reflection of content someone is leaving online. So I see the BinCam as an interesting self reflection tool which in my opinion could well exist without a social component. I might like to share my achievements with others but not necessarily.

Bike repair cheap man stand

I just wanted to share my cheap man stand I use to adjust derailleur on the bike. It needs 2 chars and a post. I takes 15 seconds to set up. I keeps my bike 10cm from the ground and works fine for me. No need for hooks on a ceiling and ropes (which seams to be popular solution too).

For something more permanent, sturdy and nice DIY projects visit these links


Are five users enough?

That 5 users is enough, is an often misused and misinterpreted conclusion from Jacob Nielsen's Alertbox (dated 19. 3. 2000) "Why you only need to test 5 users?". In some circumstances this is the case, but in many not! Nielsen specifically talks about cost/benefit of software usability study with 5 participants in each of three stages of iterative software development process. And nothing else.

Here is an blog about how many users is enough, based on what kind of study and what kind of questions do we have! Worth reading!

Alan Dix, Are five users enough?, June 4, 2011

Scrollbars - what we lost in technology (de)evolution

I while ago I wrote about scrollbars and their positions on the right and on the left of the applications windows. I won't go into details whether left/right is wrong/right (more about arguments can be found in the mentioned post). I recently read about what we lost in scrollbars in an article about what we lost in the technology evolution (or as the authors name it de-evolution). An worthy mentioned example are "clicky" keyboards such us IBM Model M.

Bill Cattey argues that today's scrollbars are too simple:

"I'm disappointed in the direction scrollbar behavior has evolved," Cattey laments. "In the early days of user interface toolkits (think back to the X Window system, Sun Open Look and the CMU Andrew Toolkit of the early 1980s), Windows, MacOS, and UNIX Workstation platforms explored many possible aspects to scrollbar action beyond just dragging the bar to move the text."

"The CMU Andrew Toolkit had very complex scrollbars that took a while to master," say Cattey. "Once mastered, they provided two features I miss very much: left-click to bring this line to the top of the window and right-click to bring the top line of the window down to here. I could comfortably read online documents by paragraphs and other logical groupings by positioning the mouse appropriately in the scrollbar and doing a quick left-click or right click. It quickly became a habit that required no thought."

This complex scrollbar behavior "looked like it was becoming accepted," according to Cattey. "I remember being pleasantly surprised to find it available in Emacs built against the Athena Widgets. It was there for a while, but then it was gone. The more popular Mac and Windows platforms evolved very different ideas about whether to offer the ability to support a right mouse button, and what behavior it should have. Scrollbars got simpler. Too simple for my tastes."

"To this day," says Cattey, "Whenever I read an article online, be it in Adobe Reader, a text editor, or a web browser, I try to get an uninterrupted paragraph on the screen, fail, curse, and move on, knowing that online reading used to be a far less turbulent and far more graceful experience before popular and simple displaced complex and useful."

Before there were scrollbars, command-line interfaces to Unix and DOS would paginate output and pause when the screen was full, until you requested the next screenful with the "more" command -- which required being included in the command line, e.g., "grep fnord * | more" ("search for the character string 'fnord' in all files in the current directory, and pipe the output through 'more').

Interesting enough. No mentioning of left/right but worrying about simplification of scrollbars. Some screenshot and scrollbars behaviours can be found in already mentioned post.