Archive for the ‘business’ Category

How Microsoft Developed Office’s Ribbon UI

Saturday, August 1st, 2009

I started watching this presentation earlier this afternoon and couldn’t stop watching. A member of the Office 2007 design team, Jensen Harris, spends about an hour-and-a-half discussing how Microsoft build Office 2007, epecially the “Ribbon” user interface paradigm.

If you liked the recent documentary, Helvetica, if you’re into design, usability, UI, etc., you’re going to love this presentation. Which means, 99% of you will probably be better off skipping this link entirely.

Start watching here, and click on the video to keep watching (it’s divided into 10 parts).

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Category business, design, technology | Tags: Tags: , , , , , ,

Day One Hundred Eighteen | Almost Gone

Saturday, May 9th, 2009

This has been the last full day in Miami; tomorrow, in the late morning, I’m leaving back home to Orlando. As usual, that means it’s going to be an off day. It’s the flipside of a vacation. With the high of being away and free, there’s the equal low of being back.

Nevertheless, it’s been a good day so far. Louise and I took a page out of her Polish heritage and made a shit-ton of pirogies. I learned how to make them, so I’ve added a delicious new item to my growing cooking repertoire. Were this a role-playing game, I would have gotten a good number experience points in the cooking skill.

I had to take this shot for posterity, by the way. One day, these iconic Circuit City signs will all be gone forever.

118/365

Also posted for your convenience at blog.asurroca.com, complete with tasty RSS feed.

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Category business, photography, Project 365 | Tags: Tags: , , , ,

Day Seven | Kismet

Sunday, January 18th, 2009

Day Seven. This is a shot of a warehouse that’s probably next in line for demolition. They’re knocking down buildings to make way for a train station for the commuter rail that’s expected to open in a couple years.

I “cheated” for the first time so far today, and uploaded my photo late, but I had (good) reason to do so. At the time I shot this photo, I was on the way to get ready for a meeting with a prospective client, and that means work. Long story short, it was midnight before I got home from the meeting… and I landed the freelance gig. The money will buy me another month of living expenses, bringing my grand total “emergency fund” to three months worth of living expenses. I’m ready for an employment dry spell, even if I don’t enter one.

And the way things are looking, I won’t. I’ve got more leads on the horizon, and right now, I’m on my own.

Never burn bridges, that’s the lesson I learned today. I landed this gig through a friend I met probably a decade ago, and with whom I’ve only spoken on and off for years. She came out of the woodwork with work for me at precisely the time I needed it most. Never burn bridges, and don’t count anyone out. I believe in kismet.

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Category business, photography, Project 365, thoughts | Tags: Tags: , , ,

Mixed Signals

Sunday, January 4th, 2009

One does not start the day expecting to chat someone up at a call center. Well, I don’t. Friday was all about mixed connections, cross-country and across countries, courtesy of an issue T-Mobile is having with their text messaging.

It began this morning when I received a text message from a number in Jersey I didn’t recognize asking “who is this?” After some back and forth, this unknown Jersey guy accused me of sending pictures of his girlfriend to his phone, and I expected things to go south from there.

So, I called T-Mobile’s customer service number to have them check my text messaging log and ensure that my phone number did not send any message of the sort to this person, and block his number. Instead, I found that there was an issue that began around Christmas where T-Mobile G1 phones sending MMS messages over the 3G network were sporadically appearing as having been sent from the numbers of random other T-Mobile customers. Awkward.

I did something out of character, and instead of ignoring this Jersey guy or responding with a few expletives, I explained the issue and told him to Google it. A few minutes later, he responded saying that he read up on it, and we went on for a few messages about the issue, and that was that.

Through the Wires

Then, I called T-Mobile back to submit a support ticket for the issue, because the T-Mobile employees posting at the forum I had checked were advising people to do so in order to better trouble-shoot the issue. This is where I got way out of character and outside my normal boundaries.

After speaking to the support rep—Brittany—about the issue for a few minutes, I made some small talk because she had to look up something for a while, and awkward silences over the phone are annoying. Somehow, we got from talking about the obvious talking-to-customer-service small talk like “how’s the weather over there?” or “how’s so and so product?” to video games.

She started talking about playing Guitar Hero—on the Xbox 360—just before going to work, and before I knew it, we were talking for at least fifteen minutes about issues having nothing to do with T-Mobile, text messaging, or the G1. I found out she was Canadian, in art school studying photography, and a Sony buff (when it comes to cameras, not gaming, apparently). She found out I was in Florida, a web dev, and another photography enthusiast.

I finally said that the best thing I can do without maybe violating some workplace rule or doing something else awkward like that, is give her my Flickr address so that she could check out my photography, and encourage her to sign on and comment. And that was that.

Now, I’m kind of curious to see if she joins Flickr and keeps this story going.

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Category business, living, technology | Tags: Tags: , ,

Mozilla Labs’ Ubiquity: The Future of the Web

Wednesday, August 27th, 2008

I’ve seen the future of the web, and it’s right here in this video below. The web used to be static. Then, it got filled with dynamic information, and “web 2.0″ brought all this dynamic information together with web-based services. That was cool for a while, but Mozilla Labs’ Ubiquity prototype shows us the next step. Forget about words, just watch this video. Be amazed.

Now, I was thinking: drag-and-drop might be one of the most important functions to the user since the GUI, or multiple windows. Making the drag-and-drop function ubiquitous was probably one of Windows 95’s greatest contributions to the GUI. You might scoff, since drag-and-drop is rudimentary; well, that’s because Windows made it ubiquitous, mainstream.

Think about it: Want to open something in Photoshop? Before drag-and-drop, you had to a) open Photoshop, then b) locate and open the file(s) from within Photoshop. Now you locate the file(s), and drag them to the Photoshop icon to open the program and files with a single action. Want to attach a file attachment into an e-mail? Drag it into the e-mail window.

Ubiquity aims to make the web that simple. This user-focused simplicity does not exist on the web…yet. Ubiquity aims to change this. And I can’t wait! For a much more in-depth post on how this works, check Aza Raskin’s blog (he’s the dude behind this project).

The AFA’s Latest Boycott: Hallmark Cards

Sunday, August 24th, 2008

I love how thinly veiled almost-hate-groups use names that make them sound all warm and fuzzy. Take the anti-gay organization American Family Association for example. Hallmark decided to start making greeting cards for same-sex couples to go with their five billion other hyper-focused greeting cards. The AFA has decided to set their targets on Hallmark for doing this, so Hallmark can now join the laundry list of other major brands who have been boycotted by the AFA. Bravo.

Here’s the fun part. The AFA has a form on their website right here for people to send complaints to Hallmark’s chairman, so you should know where this is going: subversion, obviously. Here’s the letter I sent:

Dear Chairman Hall:

I’m pleased to see that Hallmark is offering greeting cards for same-sex couples in an effort to reach this burgeoning market. It makes sense from a business perspective, but some people outside the mainstream might think otherwise.

I encourage you to ignore the glut of form letters you are no doubt receiving from the American Family Association, and I’m fairly certain that their boycott will not affect your business. After all, they’ve already boycotted basically every other major brand to little effect.

In addition to being an anti-gay organization promoting intolerance against this group, The American Family Association is trying to restrict a private business from operating in the free market as they see fit. Don’t let them dictate the way you run your business, Mr. Hall.

Note that their form seems to be down, so you’ll have e-mail Mr. Hall directly (the form has a handy link to his e-mail though). And I encourage you to do so.

Also, a quick note on the whole gay marriage issue: Why is it that I am a believer and have no issue with gays, and know that God loves gays the same as he loves all his creations, and yet so many people see it as such an affront to God that gays don’t deserve the same human dignity as anyone else? Replace “gays” with “blacks”, or any other race/gender/orientation/affiliation/etc. and the same applies.

Walmart Misplaces its Asterisk

Thursday, August 7th, 2008


First off, I’d like to welcome WAL*MART—er, Walmart—to 2005! It seems the neighborhood-munching behemoth’s nearly two decade old logo wasn’t friendly enough to represent the company in this brave new world. Second, I wonder how long it took to develop this logo. Ten minutes? Fifteen? It probably took a year of focus groups consisting of old people who think lowercase proper nouns are cutting edge.

Business Week had the details on this change last month, and Brand New had a more snarky take—e.g. I enjoyed it thoroughly.

At least Walmart kept the capital; the same can’t be said for AT&T’s 2005 logo change. Hey, Walmart is working on being more environmentally friendly. All they have to do now is stop mistreating their employees, and destroying small-town America, and they just might back up their friendly new logo. In the same way that AT&T stopped being evil the moment they changed their logo. Oh, wait, never mind.

Golf VI, From Photoshop to In-the-Flesh Photos

Tuesday, August 5th, 2008

It must really suck to make a computer-generated guesstimate at a future car model just days before the real deal gets leaked onto the internet. If your Photoshop handiwork is pretty close to the real deal, that helps lessen the blow, but still….

Here’s what Autobild came up with, seen just a few days ago at The German Car Blog:

Golf MkVI render from Autobild

Golf MkVI render from Autobild

Cool, so they basically started off with a bodykit-wearing MkV Golf/Rabbit, added the front end of the new Scirocco, and the rear tail lights from the Touareg and called it a day. Anyway, literally the next day, I see leaked photos of the MkVI Golf in the flesh on Autoblog. And a few more photos popped up on World Car Fans the day after that.

Golf MkVI

Golf MkVI

Now, as for the design, I’m happy to see Volkswagen’s design language taking a step back from gaudy chrome to the glory days of the MkIV generation. You might remember that as the generation that started with the then-iPod of cars, the New Beetle, and basically brought Volkswagen from a near-defunct brand in the US to its former yuppie glory practically overnight. Basically, I’m already sold on the design.

Glasses.com

Monday, August 4th, 2008

I bought a cheap pair of glasses when my last pair broke because I needed new glasses ASAP, but I wanted to look for a pair that really suited me. See, when you’re buying eyeglasses because you actually need them and not for fashion reasons, you walk into one of several eyeglass stores and you’re fed upon by salespeople like you’re at a car dealer. Except, it’s glasses, and you can still see without having a car.

At any rate, I decided to start looking for a set of specs that suit me, and decided to use the internet the same way I do when making any purchase—check out reviews, compare specs, look for deals, etc. I’m just fine going to blogs for tech info, furniture info, etc., but eyeglasses? Clothing and accessories are a new frontier; everything I wear came with a Target price tag.

Innocently enough, I started by typing glasses.com. Which promptly redirected me to 1-800 Contacts. Well played, 1-800 Contacts, well played. Next, even though the term made me want to puke, I googled “where can I find fashionable eyeglasses?” and basically ended up with LensCrafters and Amazon.com listings. Damn, I could’ve thought of that without Google’s help.

The thing I like about eyeglasses: they’re the only item where the price disparity between no-name, brand name, and designer brand is next to nothing. No-names? Under $100. Ray-Ban? Oakley? $150-$200. Dolce & Gabbana? Burberry? Ferragamo, Prada? $200-$250. And then there’s the issue about insurance covering a good percentage on frames.

And in conclusion, these are the two frames I kind of settled on, after my exhaustive (15 minute) search. Kind of partial to the Burberry specs at the bottom for the Gordon Freeman look….

Swedish Furniture Name Generator

Tuesday, July 29th, 2008

I’ve got IKEA on the brain. I came across this name generator while perusing Apartment Therapy. Here’s what I got when I typed my (nick)name in:

Swedish Furniture Name Generator