August 28, 2016

The beauty with Cloud

The beauty of Cloud...

Not only are they amazing formations of condensed water floating around in the sky, creating dramatic views,  protecting us from direct sunlight, sometimes carrying snow or rain - the clouds, visible from far away.

Clouds that with a little bit of imagination can become whole cities, teddy bears, trolls, miners, dragons and tiny little fairies. 

Then there is also the other thing with Cloud. Cloud from an IT perspective. 

Cloud for storage and cloud for running software as a service, SaaS. 

I am not sure how and when it sneaked up on me, the cloud, I think it was just something that happened, over time. I remember being suspicious, and then suddenly realising I was a convinced user without understanding how that happened - a bit like when I started to eat olives - I will tell you about that in a separate post, some other time. 

The cloud was really just sneaking up on me, it just happened. 

It started a long time ago, really - and the first steps was, I guess, storing everything on the server - it just made it easier to both switch computer and to recover from crashes - like that time when me and my poor computer got drenched by a tropical rain. I survived but my computer didn't, another story for another time...  

The support team at work had a spare computer for me a day later, and another two weeks later I had a new computer. All the data intact, just took some effort to set up getting the data that had been synced onto a specific server to sync back with my PC - time consuming because I had so much documents and I had to be on the LAN when I started the full sync - and never the less it was far better than having data stored locally. I was very happy I had insisted on setting my computer up that way, when most of the others had manual backups they did, now and then, to an external hard drive. Not me, I used the server.

No manual work where automation makes sense!  

At home I still stored information locally though, stored it locally and worked with it locally - with backup, but not synced.

August 21, 2016

Santa Cruz has a piece of my heart

Santa Cruz - a city to fall in love with

In May 2016 I was in California for Google I/O , a huge developer conference, where Google presents the latest and the greatest - a conference that started in Mountain View, went to San Francisco only to return to Mountain View again this year. 

I loved it, very inspiring - as you may have gathered from previous posts where I mention talks from I/O. However it was just not attending one of the biggest tech conferences in the world seeing and touching new technology, talk about new ways of getting work done - Firebase functionality for example, and updates to Material Design. However it wasn't just the conference and all the interesting people there that made the trip special, it was also fantastic to be back in California, with the amazing nature - and I also get to catch up with some friends, win-win really!

I learnt a lot from this trip - like I do at every conference, also from the people I meet, not just from the talks and presentations. I also learnt other things. I learnt more about the public transportation and trains in California, and the shuttles (makes me very happy to live in Europe, by the way, we really are lucky with our public transportation here) - and I did transport myself around sans car, without car the whole time I was in California. It is kind of a sport to see if it is doable, and in this case: I really didn't want to be stuck in traffic or try and find parking, and Google had arranged shuttles from the train station as well as from various hotels, so there was no need, at least not during the conference. 

June 30, 2016

UI/UX challenges - decipher that phone number

The user experience - feeling safe

I know. We can't think about everything, especially not when it comes to design - we simply have so much that we take for granted, so many things that are a given for us but may not be for others - read Norman's book "The Design of Everyday Things" if you don't know what I am talking about. We had an interesting discussion at our latest GDG Düsseldorf meetup, after our Accessibility talk, about that.

We also, in our discussion after the talk about how we use different concepts for different audiences - user centred design.  And we should.

Different user groups have different needs, and different expectations

However there are some things that they have  to work regardless of the end user. Some things that are so essential that if no one sees them, sees the problem with them, I just don't know what to think. There are many examples (and I like to collect them - both so i can learn and because they are great as anecdotes for talks).

Below is one example. It is from a bank, but as I don't want to out the bank I didn't use a screenshot, but created my own, and of course these numbers are made-up Hollywood numbers (so don't try and call them).

showing phone number in clear text and one which has been masked and only shows the four last digits
Can you guess the secret number?
The bank, a European bank, sends a text to your phone every time you need to confirm a payment

Great. To be safe, they have made sure they block the main part of the number, the way we do with credit card numbers, and the way we do when we want to show you that "we have your number but we want to keep it safe, so we never display it in clear text".  

June 29, 2016

Accessibility - Usability taken to the next level

Accessibility. It's Usability taken one step further. And it is good business, too

Recently (June 28 2016) I presented at GDG Düsseldorf. I've talked about accessibility before, and I get involved in usability a lot, both when it comes to design and leading/advising on projects. 
It isn't always easy to get the business to understand the impact on the business when you don't consider usability and accessibility - especially not when times are tough and you need to deliver.

However I firmly believe that accessibility is really good for the business. For most businesses. And if you don't think it is for you - well, that's fine, but at least make sure it is because a conscious decision you made and not because you "didn't think about it".  

This is not a tech heavy talk, but more of a generalist talk, to get your attention - and that is completely on purpose. I may build on this and do a more tech heavy talk in the future, but I am also convinced that every developer and every designer is fully capable of finding the information they need - we have a world of knowledge at our fingertips.   It is also not a talk with fancy pictures, and animations - that is the part I do myself when I present.