Inject Ruby into any running OS X application

Inject Ruby into any running OS X application:

RubyInject is an intriguing new tool that can “inject” a Ruby interpreter into any running OS X application. Why? Well, along with RubyCocoa it allows you to interact with an application “from the inside.” If you’re a RubyCocoa aficionado you can probably think of a few cute tricks to use this for already. If not, then just think about AppleScript on acid. All of this fun and games does require OS X 10.5 (Leopard), however.

Source: Ruby Inside

US A-List bloggers start to line up against Facebook?

US A-List bloggers start to line up against Facebook?: The thing about this is that these sort of guys are pretty influential – of these things are tipping points made.

Last year we predicted that 2007 would be the year that Privacy really hit the headlines, though we never believed Facebook would be the catalyst – my money was on Google or some small rapacious startup. Facebook was then a very benign player.

How things change….now, on the one hand, we have a desperate-to-monetize-at-$15bn company with (observably) less humble management, on the other a mounting storm in the blogosphere, increasing legal/regulatory interest, and early reports from customers about being caught by their friends with their wallets open being less than happy! [Hmmm.]

The next step in Digg clones

The next step in Digg clones: Imagine Digg in the old days, when there were just 25 people using it. Maybe that wasn’t enough. Maybe it didn’t really get interesting until there were 100 users or 250 or 1000. It was good, the articles were gems, things we weren’t finding on our own, there were huge numbers of them, but they were prioritized, and the community had a heart of gold, people were doing it for love. The maturity level was high.
[A friend and I were discussing a very similar idea, so I’d toss the following into the fire. Create an API for the blog readers that “marks” a story as highly rated by your community. The point it to avoid having a feed of highly rated stuff, but maintain whatever org system you want and just see that this story is recommended.]

Blasting the Myth of the Fold

Blasting the Myth of the Fold – Boxes and Arrows: The design behind the design: Stop worrying about the fold. Don’t throw your best practices out the window, but stop cramming stuff above a certain pixel point. You’re not helping anyone. Open up your designs and give your users some visual breathing room. If your content is compelling enough your users will read it to the end.

Advertisers currently want their ads above the fold, and it will be a while before that tide turns. But it’s very clear that the rest of the page can be just as valuable – perhaps more valuable – to contextual advertising. Personally, I’d want my ad to be right at the bottom of the TMZ page, forget the top.

The biggest lesson to be learned here is that if you use visual cues (such as cut-off images and text) and compelling content, users will scroll to see all of it. The next great frontier in web page design has to be bottom of the page. You’ve done your job and the user scrolled all the way to the bottom of the page because they were so engaged with your content. Now what? Is a footer really all we can offer them? If we know we’ve got them there, why not give them something to do next? Something contextual, a natural next step in your site, or something with which to interact (such as a poll) would be welcome and, most importantly, used. [Nice report.]

Useful products for parents…

For those of us of the tech world a couple of useful items that I can’t find. Maybe there out there, in which case I hope you folks can point me to them…

1) A decent sized screen (7 – 9 inches) with a couple of speakers that I can attach to an iPod (preferably wirelessly), to play video. Please no fancy switches on the front, or other enticements for little fingers or feet. The screen should be able to display behind the front seat headrest, preferably from a nice strong bracket rather than straps of some sort. It should cost something reasonable rather than twice the cost of an iPod. Alternate uses, a portable system for displaying presentations, or catching up on various bits of, ahem, culture.

2) A small something that I can insert/stick on/into his favorite toy or whatever that sounds an alarm when that small item gets more than a few feet away from the unit in my pocket, with a distance setting. A couple of common scenarios… Kid in stroller, falling asleep, grip loosening on favorite toy. Toy falls out of stroller quietly so parents don’t notice who then frantically have to search for it later… Or on a sneaker which someone’s child loves to remove… etc. Should work on bottles and other stuff, although I understand the range issues here may prove difficult. Let’s see though, OK? Alternate uses for this include not forgetting or losing keys, wallets, phones. etc.

Lemme know?


Time to write our own rules

Time to write our own rules: My own version: Stop petitioning Facebook and Google to solve our problems for us. They’re not creating those problems alone. We’re been allowing them to create those problems in the first place, and we’ve been doing that for too long. Time to come up with some new rules of engagement — ones that work for us as well as them. [A continuing problem as the inversion of control will take time to build strength.]
Source: Doc Searls Weblog

Making Rules, II

Making Rules, II: What matters is the first point. (Forgive me, but the others are red herrings, even if you’re an entrepreneur hoping to make money on the advertising gravy train.) Facebook crossed a line here. They lured us into a vast stockyard, and then began to monetize us in ways that violated our quaint notion that we are not in fact cattle.

Treating users of free services like cattle is as old as TV, radio and billboards. It may be as old as people painting in caves with charcoal and spit. The difference now isn’t in Facebook’s manners, which are no different than those of NBC or the New York Times. The difference isn’t even that this time it’s personal. That’s been a holy grail for advertising since the beginning as well. Facebook is reaching for a golden ring here, and I’m inclined to forgive them for doing that. [A must read about marketplaces and understanding our role in it (or what our role should be).]
Source: Doc Searls Weblog

Social Networks Aren’t Products

Social Networks Aren’t Products: On launch day, I found that traffic was very strong, but hardly anybody was signing up. I literally got more e-mails from people saying “what a great site!” than I actually got sign-ups. Same for the following few days. So I decided to try an experiment. I put up a preview screen saying we were taking sign-ups and allowing customers to build their profiles, but I hid the page that allowed site visitors to browse other profiles. In this way, nobody was able to see how many (or, more accurately, how few) other members of the site there were at the time. The next day, sign-ups multiplied by several staggering orders of magnitude.

I learned from this experiment early on a lesson that would repeat itself for the next two years: a social network isn’t a product as such. Rather, the product that a social network provides is access to a large pool of other people. Every social network, whether it be a subscription-based dating site or an advertising-funded general community, must grapple with this ineluctable fact. It’s what makes the rules for social networks different from utility applications like Basecamp and BlinkSale.

If a new member signs up for Highrise today, she can use the application, put in some contacts, appreciate the app’s interface and functionality directly and, if she likes it, leave a happy paying customer. Highrise with one customer is a product with one happy client who might just become an evangelist to others. On the other hand, a social network with one customer, even if it were infinitely better than MySpace in every regard, is a company with one bored and angry customer, which is to say: an utter failure. In the taxonomy of Web applications, social and utility applications are entirely different species. [Excellent grounded story.]
Source: Vitamin Interviews

Product pages: so much suck, so easy to fix

Product pages: so much suck, so easy to fix

We’ll get to the practicum in just a moment but first, let’s talk — very briefly — about some super basic UX tenets:

  • Be nice to your users and customers (and potential customers).
  • Design as if your main goal is to inform and educate.
  • Be honest and forthcoming, while you’re at it.
  • Help your users and customers to do what they want, not what you want them to do.
  • Be consistent with your message and quality of service (and I’m including software design here, folks).
  • Scientific, measurable “usability” doesn’t necessarily make for a good experience.
  • Good design makes people feel good.

[Nice article… the graph was particularly helpful.]
Source: Vitamin Interviews