Thursday, May 29, 2008

Microsoft gets "touchy"

Microsoft has proposed that it's next OS will be touch-sensitive. This would replace (or supplement?) the mouse.


The mouse was invented in the 60's, and became widely used with windows 3:1, since then we've only really seen two major advancements, 1 - the laser replacing the ball and 2 - the introduction of the scroll wheel.


Touch interfaces are definately coming into the forefront, and yes, the iPhone's impact isn't lost on me. But an OS pleging to be touch sensitive is surely a major advancement and could revolutionise the way we interact with devices. I've been saying this for awhile, but I believe that once this comes in the next version of Windows we're going to see an overhaul in web-design and I feel sure web-design will become more focused on interaction with pointing fingers than a precise cursor.



Microsoft demos 'touch Windows'

By Maggie Shiels

Technology reporter, BBC News, in Silicon Valley 



Please turn on JavaScript. Media requires JavaScript to play.


Microsoft demos touch control in Windows 7


Microsoft's next operating system (OS) will come with multi-touch features as an alternative to the mouse.


It is hoped the successor will have a better reception than the much-maligned Vista OS, released last year.


Scheduled for release in 2010, the new fingertip interface lets users enlarge and shrink photos, trace routes on maps, paint pictures or play the piano.


"The way you interact with the system will change dramatically," said Microsoft chairman Bill Gates.


Speaking at the All Things Digital conference in San Diego, Mr Gates said Windows 7 would incorporate new forms of communication and interaction.



 Despite issuing more than 140 million licences for Vista worldwide, it's seen by many as a failure

Darren Waters, Technology editor, BBC News website



"Today almost all the interaction is keyboard-mouse. Over years to come, the role of speech, vision, ink - all of those things - will be huge."


Chief executive Steve Ballmer described the limited demo of the multi-touch screen at the conference as "a small snippet" of the next version of Windows after admitting he wants "to do better" than Vista.


Even though Vista has suffered from a poor public image and a lukewarm welcome from many firms and users, Mr Ballmer said the company had shipped 150 million copies of the program.




Industry watchers say Microsoft is hoping that Windows 7 can change the way people interact with PCs in the future.


"Touch is quickly becoming a common way of interacting with software and devices," writes Windows product manager Chris Flores in a blog post.



"Touch-enabled surfaces are popping up everywhere including laptop touch pads, cellphones, remote controls, GPS devices and more."


When challenged as to who would get to market first with a new touch screen device, Microsoft or Apple, Mr Ballmer said it was not much of an issue.


"We'll sell 290 million PCs and Apple will sell 10 million PCs.


"They're fantastically successful and so are we and our partners. But it's a different job. Steve [Jobs, Apple chief executive] can flip his hand and sell a few models and I don't take a thing away from him."


Website Beta News reports that "beta testing of the product should begin later this year although a lack of touch-screen devices could slow widespread trials of the new interface".


We walked away


During the conference, Mr Ballmer also talked about the company's failure to buy Yahoo, following its offer of $47.5bn.


"Look, we made a bid for Yahoo. It was out there for three months and there was a difference between bid and ask.



Please turn on JavaScript. Media requires JavaScript to play.


What does Windows 7 mean for the mouse?


"We thought we could accelerate our business. We were going to be financially disciplined about it. We walked away. We are talking with them about other ideas but we are not re-bidding on the company. We reserve the right to do so. That's not on the docket."


Mr Gates said: "I've been supportive of everything Steve has done. Totally supportive."


World's best search


While many attending the D6 conference focused on the Windows 7 announcement and comments on Yahoo, a spotlight was also turned on Mr Gates himself, counting down to his last day at Microsoft on 1 July.



At a reception earlier in the day, he chatted to reporters about what the future holds for him. He said even though he was retiring from his "daily duties" at the firm he founded, he wouldn't be letting go completely.


Instead of spending 80% of his time at Microsoft and 20% at the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation he would now reverse that.


Mr Gates, who will remain as chairman of Microsoft, said he would still have an office in Redmond and spend time writing, thinking and working on a variety of pet projects, including the next generation Microsoft Office.


"I'm very involved in search, the internal development," he said. "We will build the world's best search."



Story from BBC NEWS:


Published: 2008/05/28 14:07:50 GMT



Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Always have a plan

Recently we started a project without a project plan – madness you may think, but surely this is a common situation? Sometimes the pressures to kick-off are overwhelming, you just have to get going. However, in this situation we didn’t have accurate estimates (we were developing on an unknown platform).


The rule – always have a plan, even if it’s ideal delivery dates and milestones, have a plan.


Friday, May 23, 2008


If anyone knows if the BBC ever plan to release their Wildlife on one, Wildlife on two and Natural world series on DVD please please tell me. These documentaries are wonderful, and I've grown up with them but yet missed so many. It's the sort of thing I would love to own and watch over and over.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Contact reports

A great tip for writing contact reports is to write them in the meeting (if you can). Just whip your laptop out, open up a contact report template, and fill it out as you go along. You then just need to tweak it later (if you take good notes) and can send it out.

And yes, they are useful, and invaluable when a client changes their mind later on.

Contact reports

A great tip for writing contact reports is to write them in the meeting (if you can). Just whip your laptop out, open up a contact report template, and fill it out as you go along. You then just need to tweak it later (if you take good notes) and can send it out.

And yes, they are useful, and invaluable when a client changes their mind later on.


Aren’t trains great, I’m on the way to London in a very lovely First carriage.


They provide plus, isn’t that great – why can’t they have wireless too? I feel so disconnected. It’s like I’m missing a limb.


Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Tip for career progression

Keep your CV up to date. It'll help you remember what you've done, monitor progression, and it doesn't help to put it out there and get a few practice interviews in once in awhile to stay top of your game.

Source: me

Monday, May 19, 2008

Free stuff

BBC click (broadcast on 17/05/08, and watched over the free and wonderful iplayer) has pointed me some free stuff that useful:


Some of this stuff I’ve heard of before, some is new.


As an alternative to OSX or Vista try Linux.


Free browsers try Safari or IE7


Free virus protection for home users try AVG (I’ve used this before and it’s great)


Free storage try


Remote access and control of your computer try (I’ve used this before and it’s great)


Free music organiser -


And a free online version of photoshop -





I’d also point you to (and this is coming from me):

-          Winamp – free music player

-          Windows Media Player – free for windows users and a great player

-          Skype and MSN – two great and indispensible instant messengers

-          Hotmail – free e-mail

-          Google’s calendar and e-mail, free and brilliant. There’s a new widget that lets your sync your outlook calendar with google’s calendar too.

-          Google earth – this is just fun. Download great images of anywhere on the planet.

Job boards

A good piece of advice a friend of mine gave me (a friend who’s well paid and in a top job) is to use the job boards often. Even if you aren’t looking for a job, just check every so often to see what’s in demand. This you can use to help steer your career. It might be that you’ve been pushing hard at Prince 2 when everyone is going over to Agile, or you find Information Architecture is where the  money is and you decide to ditch the account manager pathway.


In the digital sector Monster, planet recruit, jobserve IT are good. For those based in Bristol try contacting Ad-Lib or checking the Bristol Media job board, for those in London check out chinwag.


Project Nirvana

I had an interesting conversation with a friend of mine this weekend. He runs a marketing agency in Cardiff and it was interesting, comparing notes, on how the same problems facing an agency seem to occur again and again regardless of size.


These are things like under- or over-scoping, being under-resourced (or over), clients not paying invoices, clients changing their mind, delivering on time, internally everyone having their own way of doing things (which can be incredibly frustrating when it’s not your way (which is obviously the better way)), long hours.


It seems these are challenges that face all agencies and we wondered what happens if you reach project nirvana where everything does go smoothly? Does finding the perfect process, and avoiding all these complications lead to your work not being as creative as in a more chaotic environment? Who can say!


Friday, May 16, 2008

Cardiff be warned

It’s my mates birthday this weekend,


Cardiff watch out. Hugh’s coming back for boozy times.


Thursday, May 15, 2008

Demanding clients

Something I’ve learnt is that it doesn’t matter how much a client is paying they will always demand the same amount of love and attention.


If a client pays you million pounds they should get star treatment, presentation should be supurb

If a client pays you a thousand pounds they should get star treatment, presentation should be supurb


A clients money is their money no matter how much they are paying, and if they don’t feel they are getting the star treatment they will kick up a fuss. It’s much easier to put in the extra for everyone as you’ll save time, have happier clients, (and get more of the ones willing to pay millions)



It's so easy to miss stuff when costing, you might think you've remembered the project management, the IA, the developer, the moodboards and interface design, but whoops, I forgot about QA, upload, I forgot about a few key documents which while they don't seem much still add several days on to a project.

The solution is to add to and always use a checklist. This checklist will be a list of everything you could possibly need for any project ever, and you ask yourself on each item ... do I need this? If yes, what times, what resource, and you build your estimate up with this.

Functional vs. Technical spec

What's the difference?

A functional spec outlines the functionality of a site, it could include the wireframes and IA.

The technical spec includes the technical detail, i.e. hosting, etc.

To show or not to show

A thought I've had is should you show a client the schedule? The answer is no, this is an internal document. There is too much detail and it just causes confusion, particularly if there are large gaps because one of your resources is on holiday. Instead issue a milestone document which identifies all the points where the client should get involved.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Scheduling idea

If you run a master schedule I've found it's useful to add enough detail that you know what that person is doing. i.e. Project - interface designs. It's also useful to note the time e.g. 7 hours, AND how much time remaining e.g. 1st day of 3, 2nd day of 3, etc.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Difference between task and activity

It may seem a subtle difference but I wanted to know what that difference was when I saw a project costed with two columns, 1 for task and 1 for activity. The best explanation comes from:


generally, as I think, 'activity' has a wider sense.
Activity can consist of tasks.”


“It also may depend on the context field. This from psychological research:

"The distinction task vs. activity is particularly relevant to
task analysis and usability evaluation. A reliable measure
of the distance between what is prescribed (task) and what
is actually performed (activity) could lead to refinements
in the task model and (re)design decisions."”





I just can't wait to be king

I'm listening to the lion king soundtrack,

and loving it!

Useful tip

Book trains in advance! It saves money and stress.

Google breaks down the barriers (and earns a buck?)

Google helps the web to go social
Maggie Shiels
Technology reporter BBC News Silicon Valley

Friend Connect is Google's new offering

Google has joined the drive to make the web more social by introducing tools to enable people to interact with their friends.

Friend Connect follows plans announced last week by the world's two biggest social networking sites, MySpace and Facebook.

Data Availability and Connect let users move their personal profiles and applications to other websites.

"Social is in the air," says Google's director of engineering David Glazer.

During a conference call at Google's California headquarters, Mr Glazer told reporters: "Google Friend Connect is about being the 'long tail' of sites becoming more social."

"Many sites aren't explicitly social and don't necessarily want to be social networks, but they still benefit from letting their visitors interact with each other. That used to be hard."

Charlene Li, principal analyst at Forrester, told BBC News: "Google is tapping into the 'all things social' heat of the moment, but it's adding a different perspective, not as a data source and social network 'owner' but as an enabler."

Gamut of uses

At the heart of Google's service is the use of Open Social which will allow third parties to build and develop applications for the site.

Social networking is going mainstream

David Glazer

The company says with Friend Connect, any website owner can add a snippet of code to his or her site and get social features up and running right away without any complicated programming. This will run the gamut from invitations to member's gallery and from message walls to reviews.

In an example of how it will all work, Google cited fans of independent musician Ingrid Michaelson who can now connect with other fans without having to leave the site.

Visitors will be able to see comments by friends from their social networks, add music to their profiles and see who is attending concerts all at Ingrid's website.

"Social networking is going mainstream. It used to be proprietary, but now it's going to be open and baked into the infrastructure of the net, not just one site or one source," says Mr Glazer.

Walled garden

MySpace was first out of the gate when it announced plans last Thursday to loosen its grip on the estimated 200 million personal profiles its users store on its site.

Data Availability will allow members to share select information with four partners, Yahoo. PhotoBucket, Twitter and eBay.

Google doesn't do anything without thinking about... how can it benefit Google

Charlene Li
Principal analyst, Forrester

Essentially the user will still be tied to MySpace which aims to put itself at the centre of the web by encouraging users to store all of their core data at the site to begin with.

One day later Facebook entered the fray with a service called Connect.

With its 70 million users worldwide, their plans differ from MySpace by allowing users to take their personal profiles to any website that wants to host them and not just the sites that have partnered up.

So what's driving this move to dismantle the so-called "walled garden" where social networking sites have jealously guarded their users profiles?

Charlene Li, principal analyst at Forrester told BBC News in the end it all comes down to money.

"It's a smart move by Google which is trying to play the role of United Nations secretary general by making sure everyone talks nicely to one another, getting the data to where they want to move it back and forward, and participate in open standards.

"Remember Google doesn't do anything without thinking about, not only how can this benefit the larger community, but how can it benefit Google."

As 99% of sites are not currently socially enabled, Friend Connect has a big potential market in front of it and Ms Li says the route to all things profitable in this space will be through tapping into "the deep profit and user data flowing through Friend Connect."

In other words, mining that information through advertising.

Google is being cautious about approving sites to use the new code and is creating a waiting list for requests to use Friend Connect. It says it expects to give the go ahead to a few dozens sites in the next few days.

As to opening out to a wider audience, Google says it estimates that will happen over the coming months.

Meanwhile MySpace and Facebook anticipate rolling out their offerings over the next few weeks.

Monday, May 12, 2008


I’m really loving Blogger,


Did you know you can set it up so that you can send posts to an e-mail address and it’ll post these up for you?





I've given myself an aim of learning something new everyday. Today I'm posting about MoSCoW

MoSCoW is a method that is used in business and particularly in software development to get an understanding with the customer on the importance they place on the delivery of each functional requirement. It originated as part of the Dynamic Systems Development Method. Sometimes called a MoSCoW list or a MOSCOW Analysis. MoSCoW stands for:
M - MUST have this.
S - SHOULD have this if at all possible.
C - COULD have this if it does not affect anything else.
W - WON'T have this time but WOULD like in the future.

(Source wikipedia)

Just to confirm, a must priority is a showstopper, a project failure if not executed.

Anything labelled as “MUST” has to be included in the project delivery timebox in order for it to be a success. If even one “MUST” item is not included, the project delivery is considered a failure. “MUST” is also an acronym for the Minimum Usable SubseT” from wikipedia.

To put this in context if we take one of the items, RSS feeds, its reading if BCC cannot offer RSS feeds of community users’ blogs, you view the project will have failed.

The MoSCoW prioritisation process is to weight the requirments to assist in executing the project. It would be great if we could have a chat and go through these. Mainly need to get a bit more balance across the prioritisation.

(source - wikipedia and someone I work with)

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Six Career Tips To Help You Grow

This has really helped me think:

Six Career Tips To Help You Grow________________________________________
Learn something new every day
When I was a lowly intern right out of college doing grunt work IT application clean up and light UI design, I asked harassed, my dear colleagues to teach me something every single day. They thought I was bright-eyed, cute, and naive and I ended up learning a little about each of the web developers, system integrators, project managers, web managers, web architects, computer support teams. Bit by bit, I soaked in each little morsal about web in the enterprise and it fueled me to learn more. Leo Cheng, Jason Martorano, Oliver Cheng, Dave Giffen, John Perera, Kunal Malik, Jeff Cavano, Aileen Cheng, Robert Cartelli were so good to me, thanks guys.

Often, the fastest way Up is Out
Often, the fastest way up, for those who enjoy working in companies, is out. In most cases, incremental raises are often single digit changes (keeping you above the inflation waterline), and the occasional promotion will be low double digits. For those that I’ve met and move to new job positions, outside of their company they can often expect a 20%-40% increase in salary as they join a new company. It’s interesting to see that firms may value outside talent as more important than inside experience talent, in some cases, a fresh skillset or experience may be what’s needed.

Reverse engineer the job you want
Another useful tip is to reverse engineer the position that you desire to be in. Earlier in my career, I aspired to be a web manager, so I took job descriptions of web strategists and looked at all the skills and experiences needed. I printed out the job description (circled the salary) and taped it to my bathroom mirror, I saw it every morning and night, a double dose of self-reflection. Over time, you start to piece together the projects, programs, and apply new skills to learn how to do this. With time and perseverance, your resume will catch up to where you want to go.
Education matters, but not as much as you thought
For very specialized jobs, where in school training is essential (law, medicine, sometimes programming) this bullet doesn’t apply to you. More and more executives I meet have degrees in something they didn’t study in school for. For most jobs, they hire you because of what you can do for them, not what school you went to. There’s a reason why education falls to the bottom of the resume, and the ‘value statement’ is at the top, quickly followed by real world experience. Don’t get me wrong, education is very important, a bachelor degree is really expected in today’s workplace, but I often lean on the broad, theoretical knowledge I gained as a primer (or glossary) for me to dive in deeper in the business world.

You are a company of one
The other observation I share with my friend (and now you) is that you are a company of one. Even though your paycheck is being delivered through your employer, you are solely responsible for your direction, what you learn, how you perform, and how much you’re paid. I firmly believe that you are paid what you’re worth, so when I hear people complaining “they are underpaid”, in my mind, I translate that as you’ve “undersold yourself”, get skilled, spend time on weekends or early mornings to learn more, and apply new projects, programs and skills –or leave. Therefore, you are your own CEO, CMO, CFO, COO, CTO, you’re in control of your destiny. As you can tell, I don’t believe in fate, you are driving your ship of one.

Develop your plan, and put it in writing
If you’re with me so far, develop your own plan, both short term and long term plans, and set goals on how to reach them. Often, these goals don’t have titles or companies in them, but they describe the environment, or the end outcomes of which you want to reach. Over time these goals will change, and that’s ok, but at least you’re looking forward. I learned this from my buddy’s dad when I was growing up, he had several businesses, and one of his dreams was to have a Ferrari –he achieved it.

Source: unknown