Friday, July 23, 2004

A Childhood on Ebay

Is it just me, or does it seem that everything ends up on ebay? I was reading some rss feeds and ran across a post on K.I.T.T. (Knight Industries Two Thousand) from Knight Rider being on eBay. I remember as a kid, that this was one of my brothers and my favorite shows. It was on Friday nights at 9pm, on NBC. I remember this so well, because our bedtime growing up was 9pm. With Friday nights being the exception, we were allowed to stay up till 10pm to see the end of Knight Rider (What can I say we were rebels through and through).

It seems like there isn't any toy or electronic from my childhood that I can't find on ebay. The CEDs we use to watch instead of having a VCR. All the game systems that my brother K has had over the years are there. (Yes, folks he is a gamer. Don't play grand turismo 3 with him unless you feel like losing by a lot. We are talking he will lap you in a less powerful car then you are driving) I am sure that with enough eBay searches,  I can find the "Incredible Hulk" bike I had as a kid, that was stolen out of our yard. Now, I don't mean one like it, I mean the one I had.

So it gets me to thinking, should we really buy the toys, and object of our childhood? Does the nostalgia bring back the same feelings or does having those things as an adult change you prospective on them. I think somethings are nice to have. Your baseball glove that you had when you were a kid, you know things that remind you more of spending time with your family. The electronics have come so far, that you will be sorely dissappointed. And as for your favorite TV show from when you were a kid, I would suggest skipping the reruns. Awhile back I got to see an episode of Knight Rider, and as an adult, I have no clue how that show stayed on the air for as many seasons as it did. But I still have a soft spot in my heart for the car from the show. I wonder how you ask a loan officer for a 50-60 thousand dollar loan to buy K.I.T.T. off eBay?

Staying up late...Paying for it in the morning

Last night, was a bit of a long night. I was here till 1am with two of my co-workers trying to migrate to a new Database server.  Fortunately or unfortunately we ran in to some serious issues. I personally think it was a good thing. I rather have the problems with the machine before it is put in production that way we can have it fixed and reliable, instead of trying to make it limp along.

One of my co-workers from our impromtu night shift had taken the train in to work. Of course at 1am the trains in Los Angeles just don't run. So I took him to his car in Irvine. I just didn't see any reason for him to stay at work overnight. It turned out to be one of those great car ride conversations that you learn alot about the other person and they learn a lot about you. It was really quite nice, and I came away feeling good about people in general.

The ride home was nice and uneventful. So at 2:30am, very drowsily I get home, change into PJs, but the little boy in his bed (he is asleep on my side of the bed), set the alarm, and then fell asleep within about 20 seconds after my head hit the pillow. So then what feels like about 45 seconds later the alarm goes off. It's already 7am. So I get up, turn the alarm off, take my shower, shave, brush my teeth, and I suddenly realize that I have done the whole  "getting ready for work" ritual with my eyes closed the entire time. I figured this out when I actually had to open my eyes to pick out my clothes.

I drove today, so that hopefully I could get home early. I get here about 8:30am, not so bad. So I am working away a little bit, trying to get my eyes to focus on the screen, and the phone rings. Its the other web developer. He's got some things going on at the house with the paint contractor he has doing work and lets me know that he will be rolling in to work around 11 to 12 today. I just had to laugh. Since 6am on thursday morning I have been home a grand total of 5 1/2 hours, while in the same time period he has only been at work a grand total of 5 1/2 hours. So I realize what I have to do, I need to paint the house.

Tuesday, July 20, 2004

Users Fixing Website Design Flaws

 This morning I ran acrossed a very interesting article on (actually in is from the rss feed) Apparently a math student named Matt who found the web site of his favorite movie theather chain hard to use, so he made a version that was more usable and hosted on his site.

 So I took a look at the orignial site, and the truth it, the site is amazingly hard to use, even for me. The site takes a long time to load and has a lot of competing elements.  And of course the page doesn't even render properly in Mozilla (the javascript menus don't even show), I didn't even bother to try viewing the site on my Mac.

 So in my opinion Matt did a good thing. He created something that should of made the theather chain reconsider the design of their site and redesign it with usability being the first consideration and design being the second right? Nope, they sent Matt a cease and desist order. Okay so why did the lawyers get involved and not the web developers/designers? There is a disheartening trend among corporate websites. The flash intro/Ad, and navigation that is almost hidden. These sites take an extremely long time to load and even more time to find the information you desire. The other trend I have noticed is that many site are virtually "IE Only Sites", meaning that if you are on a browser other than Internet Explorer that you either can't view the site at all or have limited functionality with the site.

 These trends can't continue and I don't believe they will be allowed to continue for several reasons. First, the statement that the Department of Homeland Security made about Internet Explorer. "There are a number of significant vulnerabilities in technologies relating to the IE domain/zone security model, the DHTML object model, MIME-type determination, and ActiveX. It is possible to reduce exposure to these vulnerabilities by using a different Web browser, especially when browsing untrusted sites" The recommendation was to using another browser like Mozilla. The second reason would be Section 508 accessibility. It is going to become necessary for financial institution to make sure their sites are Section 508 compliant.

 The question that pops into my mind is, why is it that websites in 1997 were easier to use then sites in 2004. I can come up with a couple of reasons. First, there were some elements that all sites had. Everyone had a links on the top and bottom of their pages. Another element was site maps. Site maps helped you cut through the paths that the design team/marketing department wanted you to go through and get right to the information you needed. Also Flash wasn't as prevelent. While Flash is a great web technology, it doesn't always have designers that create the most usable web interfaces.

 Something that I have found interesting is that usability and easy of publishing are coming back around again. Blogs have been at the for front of this movement. People are using pre-build, simple yet effective designs, and the easy to use publish tools that are offered. This is reminds me of what made the Web great to begin with. That just anyone with a text editor and a couple of hours could learn to write their own web page and express themselves in this "new media".  I hope that the trend of usability and easy of use, so that everyone can publish to the web continues.