From the latest layer tennis match:

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You can find out more about layer tennis here.

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http://www.robweychert.com/virtualstan/: best understood by viewing.

To begin, I recommend speech option seven: ‘zorthron’.

The universe tends toward maximum irony. Don’t push it.

Really wonderful post by Jason Fried at 37signals on the reason(s) why enterprise software – that is, software developed for and sold to big business – sucks.

I know this to be true, because every day I got to work for five-and-a-bit hours and use enterprise Windows software. Then I come home, and well into the evening most days I use what I guess you’d call non-enterprise software on my Mac, for web design and database-drive web development. And I spend most of those five hours at work weeping inside, because the enterprise software just doesn’t compare.

I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately, in a more general sense: what drives the companies behind enterprise IT solutions to routinely make such poor products. Windows has always been the classic example for me – it’s a cliche, perhaps, but it’s amazing just how bad this software can be.

I’ve noticed this particularly since I switched to a Mac in 2005. In Windows’ case, I tend to think that it’s a case of not having to work to make good software: an attitude something like, ‘we’ve got the monopoly so why try harder’. But more generally, I agree completely with Jason: when you buy something for someone else to use, based on your own desires about what the product should be rather than on the user’s needs, things just ain’t going to go well.

In setting up Sevenoak Design as a web design/development business, I’m constantly thinking about ways to avoid such mistakes: mainly I do this by just talking with clients to find out what they need, and what they don’t. But I also spend a lot of time putting myself in other people’s shoes, asking, what would the user want? Is the feature or web page I’m working on intended to benefit someone who’s actually going to use it, or is it just being developed to make me look good? If you can focus relentlessly on the users like this, and let go of yourself, your products will be all the better for it.

For Mac users: a list of some of the major security updates due in 10.5 Leopard (via DF).

And an ‘unofficial’ response…

Like, um, yeah. If you buy an iPhone and smash it apart with a hammer and eat the pieces, you’re gonna get sick. We were going to have a big warning label somewhere inside said, “Harmful if swallowed. Do not ingest.” But then we realized that nobody in their right mind was going to try to smash and cook and eat an iPhone.

(from Fake Steve)

Clay Shirky on arrogance and humility in design:

MySpace demonstrates that users prize participation, even at the expense of clarity.    

I couldn’t agree more about the lack of clarity part; MySpace is just a terrible user experience. But I think it’s just popularity that encourages people to use MySpace; it’s a case of ‘everyone else is doing it so I’d better do it too’. Sure, the participation and social networking are important but if the interface is bad, and there’s a better alternative, people are going to take that alternative. I know a lot of people who’ve left MySpace for Facebook because Facebook is more pleasant to use.   

Update: Clay says that ‘design is arrogance. The designer says, I know what you want better than you. Here it is.’. I think a better word is insight: insight and confidence.

I’ve not listened to all of this yet, so I can’t pass full judgement — the first track sounds pretty good though. Free download from Benedek Records.

Cover Art


I just love that punch line. From xkcd.com.

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