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Archive for February, 2003

Powerpoint Haiku

Friday, February 28th, 2003

Following from yesterday’s post:

Powerpoint is bad
It hurts my elegant words
I just want to speak

Powerpoint is evil

Thursday, February 27th, 2003

I hate Powerpoint.

Actually – I don’t hate Powerpoint. I hate the presentation culture that expects me to stand up and talk in front of a screen full of silly dot points.

I write well, and I speak fairly well. I love telling stories as part of my presentations – I watch the audience, and stories are the parts that people really listen to.

However, when I’m forced to distil an otherwise good story into a few dot points, all of the power of the story and the elegance of the narrative disappears. I am held to the rigid listing of points on a screen. They control me and try to make me elaborate on each as a point, rather than weaving them together into something lovely.

Oh, I know that I can use them as reminders and triggers, but when the audience expects to use the slides as a takeaway of the presentation, this just isn’t enough.

So, what should I do – retain the eloquence of the verbal presentation, or provide the audience with the visuals and takeaways…maybe I can find a way to provide some combination of both

Focus groups

Wednesday, February 26th, 2003

I went to a focus group/workshop today. Normally I’m not a big fan of these for requirements gathering – I have previously experienced the well-documented problems of users not being able to verbalise what they do, dominant personalities etc.

For this one, I had done a set of user interviews as input – around 25 hours of interviewing. I had some great discussions, saw some interesting things, had a few good insights, and came up with a good set of user requirements.

Interestingly, after a full day discussion, with around 20 people (programmers, users and facilitators), the end result was the same set of requirements I had, with a lot more person hours…

New computer

Wednesday, February 26th, 2003

I have a new computer, and its fast (you really need to hear the sound effect that goes with that). Photoshop loads in a blink (on my last one, opening Photoshop was a good time to make a cup of tea)

But, it is very odd having a fast computer, and still a slow Internet connection – I guess satellite is our next move…

Users think

Tuesday, February 25th, 2003

I heard something today that I didn’t like.

Someone replaced the words “I think” with “users think” in order to boost their argument…

Moods & writing

Monday, February 24th, 2003

It is amazing how much my mood affects my writing.

I’m working on an article tonight. I had already written the intro, and started working on the middle. I was a bit tired, and a bit stressed about a ‘target practice’ meeting I’m presenting at tomorrow. What came out of my fingers wasn’t worth reading. It was garbage – boring, linear and very uninteresting.

I packed away and went to watch my favourite TV show (actually, the only TV show I regularly watch). This show always picks me up, and by the time I came back to the computer I was feeling much better. I got back into my normal voice, rewrote all of the paragraph intros and most of the guts of the paragraphs. Easily – it just rolled out.

Now I like my article. Just a bit more tidying, some illustrating, some tightening of the end and it’s ready to go…

Criticism

Monday, February 24th, 2003

To create is to be criticised.

It is the ability to listen to the criticism and hear the undercurrents that is important and allows us to improve our creations.

I figured it out

Thursday, February 20th, 2003

In the time it took me to make a cup of tea (one of my study habits), I figured out the answer to my last post.

It all has to do with the transition in my routine.

Over the last few months, I have been holidaying – pottering around the house, making new curtains, putting a warp on my loom, watering what little garden I have in the drought, watching X-files DVDs.

Next week I start back into study routine – daughter to bed at 8.00, study 8.30-10.30 every night, no pottering, less TV. More thinking, more structure.

This week is my transition. Clean up the desk, get excited about thinking non-work related things, get the ideas bubbling.

It all seems so obvious now I have thought it…

Busier and busier

Thursday, February 20th, 2003

My whole life prioritisation is severely messed up.

Why is it, when university starts next week (which means both studying and tutoring), that I suddenly get motivated to do things that I should have been doing since November last year? Just this week I have started to:
- work on this year’s version of the Murrumbateman Field Days site
- update my portfolio & CV
- write my paper for a conference I’m speaking at (warning – that link is to a pdf)
- draft an article I want to write for boxes & arrows
- read up on pattern languages in preparation for a new project

One day I’ll learn to pace myself…

(on second thoughts…I’m sure I won’t)

A resourced Intranet

Wednesday, February 19th, 2003

Gosh I’m lucky!

I spent today (and will do so again tomorrow) at an Intranet seminar, where there have been lots of interesting discussions about various aspects of running an Intranet.

And I am so lucky – on the Intranet I’m redesigning, I have:
- management support
- money
- fabulous staff
- time to do my job well (actually, a bit too much time)
- and the freedom to talk to users whenever I want

How great is that….

Complete failure

Tuesday, February 18th, 2003

I did an ‘expert review’ of an application today – as I do frequently (I do at least 2 per month, within and outside of work).

Today is the first time ever I have come across an application that I consider to be completely unusable. The first time ever I have written “if you release this application in its present format it will be a complete failure.”

Wow!

Bananas & marketing?

Monday, February 17th, 2003

And in looking for Nick Earls books on Amazon, I came across one of the strangest book titles I have seen:

The Welcome to the Creative Age – Bananas, Business and the Death of Marketing

Somehow I don’t think this will make it to my wish list

Nick Earls

Monday, February 17th, 2003

It’s my last week of freedom before uni starts again, and I’m absorbing fiction.

I’m re-reading Nick Earls Zigzag Street and have decided that he is my favourite author – I again offer great thanks to my friend Bill who introduced me to his novels.

To save or not to save

Wednesday, February 12th, 2003

I’ve been having a dilemma this week.

A few weeks ago I advised a developer of a browser-based application to remove all of the ‘save’ buttons from it. After all, the computer was completely capable of saving all by itself, so why should we force the users to do this unneccessary step (and they would have to do it frequently).

At a demo/play with the system (at which I wasn’t present, so I don’t completely trust the analysis) the feedback was that the users weren’t sure what to do next, and whether their info was being saved.

So, the dillemma is – should we make users press irrelevant buttons simply because they have been doing it for years, or should we try something that will actually make life easier in the long run (and do you think I could write a more loaded question than that)…

More functional specs

Thursday, February 6th, 2003

While procrastinating rather than working on the functional specification I should have been working on, I found a couple of interesting articles about writing them:
- Functional specification tutorial (from Mojofat)
- Painless functional specs in 4 parts (from Joel on Software)

Part 1:Why bother
Part 2: What’s a Spec?
Part 3: But… How?
Part 4: Tips

This stuff is good – I think I can do it!