Archive for November, 2006

Tivo strays; audience sighs

Friday, November 24th, 2006

Another foray into interactivity on your television appears to have gone awry… TiVo’s attempt to branch into new functions has drawn some scorn from a well-publicized AP review.  The main challenge is really user interface:

The rest of TiVo’s online features struck me as spare, less
user-friendly imitations of tasks that seem better suited to a computer.

When you have a machine designed for a single purpose and stray from that task, your executives should be shouting “Danger! Danger!”  I understand the need for TiVo to add functions and revenue options, but why not aim more like Apple’s iTV possibilities and make your service something that leverages what you do best – television?  After all, you never want a user to say:

I soon found it pretty tedious to enter information like usernames and
passwords into an on-screen keyboard with the up-down, right-left
buttons on my TiVo remote.

That spells doom, no matter how you enter the text.

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Voting machines didn’t claim headlines in elections

Monday, November 20th, 2006

For all nervous nellies like myself, it was a great relief when election results didn’t generate as many articles after the election than before it.  When you’re seeing severe usability issues leading up to the election, it sounded like the US was going to suffer another 2004.

Voting machine glitches may have determined a race or two, but nationally the results – news stories, agitations, protests – look pretty minor.  That’s really good news for all users.

Creativity to solve security issues

Wednesday, November 8th, 2006

The Internet Storm Center had a growing problem with form spam but wanted to avoid using captchas, so they decided to use creativity.  Their solution is one great way to separate machines and humans when they fill out the forms – but their readers came up with a few more that also got posted that are even more interesting.

The common thread in all the solutions is that computers are very literal and find it hard to be flexible, and humans cannot help but be flexible.  I have dealt with enough captchas – and struggled with some, and failed some – that I think these ideas are wonderful from a user’s standpoint.  Plus, as the ISC post states: . Pictures of cute kittens! How can one NOT use that approach ;-) ?

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