Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Netbook Usability Review

gnetbook2.jpgNetbook Nightmare: My Experience With the Sylvania g Netbook: February 13, 2009

Caitlyn Martin of O'Reilly Media writes up her usability review of the Sylvania g Netbook. The term netbook refers to a small laptop that has a basic operating system and minimal software that capatilizes on web applications and cloud computing. Martin's review concludes that there are still some interface barriers that are being worked out in this early beta stage. The major difficulites resulted in the software and hardware problems. Most of the operating systems of these netbook are gOS (Google Web Apps + Linux Operating system) based and as a result are having difficulty with patch, drivers, and software updates. In addition, on the hardware end, the touch pad is too small to be functional and does not include a CD drive needed to reinstall operating systems.

Using Don Norman's priciples for the "Design of Everday Things", it appears the interface failures are primarily due to design constraints. The netbook designers have not found the right balance for the cost/benifit contraints of the physical size of the netbook. For example, it seems as they might have gone to small to be effective and efficency with the touchpad causing users to make the portable device more clunky by forcing users to plug in an USB mouse. Secondly, Martin talks about a nightmare process of updating the Linux OS drivers and updates. Norman would argue this could be culturual/logical constraint to average mainstream users who are unfamiliar with Linux and culturally programmed and logically familiar with an Apple or Windows operating system.

My questions:
1) It is not a matter of if but rather when the bugs get worked out and this class of cheap computers hits mainstream in particular our schools how will it transform education when parents starting buying their kids these new "school supplies" to bring into the classroom?

2) Why doesn't Linux make more effort to design their usability interface to meet average main stream users to assist them in crossing over?

See Also:
Don Norman's Design Principles a roll up lectures, powerpoint, resources on his work

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Don Norman's Design Principles

Don Norman: The Design of Future Things Video Lecture

Good short summary Don Norman’s design principles
His 5 principles of visibility, natural mapping, constrain, feedback, and conceptual map prove to be an effective framework to review and evaluate a design.

Good 19 Slide Power Point Summary Design of Everyday Things

Friday, February 13, 2009

XMind: Free Concept Mapping Tool

XMind has switched from proprietary commerical software to free software (freeware)!

Not only does it do mind maps but you can include spreadsheets, fishbone diagrams, tree charts, and org-charts. It works on Windows, Mac, & Linux.

It also has "Social Brainstorming" features that allow you to share, collaborate, and publish your mind maps.

Sign up for an account, download the free software, and then you can upload your maps.

See the EdVibes Screencast demo we made

Also check out XMind Tutorial

See also:
Mind Mapping: A Guide & Resources

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

A Taxonomy of Human Computer Interaction


This document was adapted from Section 2 of the ACM SIGCHI Curricula for HCI, ACM Press, 1992.

Right vs. Left Brain Hemispheres

Which is the dominant side of your brain?

Review the diagrams and watch the video below.






So which side do you think is your dominant?

1) Press play on the video below to test yourself.
2) Try some of these quick web surveys:
    Brain Dominance Test
    Hemispheric Dominance Inventory Test

Saturday, February 7, 2009

How to Find Free Open Source Software Alternatives

If you haven't heard the term open source or FLOSS (Free/Libre/Open Source/Software) read up and welcome to a whole new computing dimension.

So instead of purchasing that evil proprietary commercial vendor-lock in software (e.g. MS Office), I type into google:

"Open Source alternative to (MS Office)"

I will usually find in the top 5 results a gold mine of a site:

Open Source Alternative

Where you will find a list of free alternatives (e.g. Open Office one of the most famous and most successful FLOSS)

Have fun.

See Also:
What Why & How to Screencast for the easiest way to learn how to use your new software

Friday, February 6, 2009

HCI Courses At MIT

Thanks to the MIT OpenCourseWare and the Electrical Engineering and Computer Science Department:

6.831 User Interface Design and Implementation is an graduate level course that was taught in the Fall 2004

6.883 Pervasive Human Centric Computing (SMA 5508) is an graduate level course that was taught in the Spring 2006

Thursday, February 5, 2009

What Why & How to Wiki

Wiki 101: How To Get Started

What are Wikis:
For the Wiki wikipedia entry click here
To see Google's collection of definitions click here

Video: Wikis in Plain English
Video: Blogs vs. Wikis
Video: Anatomy of a Wiki

Why Wiki

*Quick, Easy, and Free Web Publishing
* Take a constructivist model of learning by having students create meaningful and authentic learning products
*Builds Community
*Good for remote asynchronous collaboration
*It's democratic

See Also
Email vs Wiki Collaboration
Read Only vs. Read Write Web

How to Wiki
Choosing a Wiki Services
Google Sites (wiki): The Easiest Way to Start a Free Webpage
How to Track & See Wiki Changes in Google Sites

Read Only vs. Read Write Web

Click on the images to zoom in

Email vs Wiki Collaboration

wiki_collaboration2, originally uploaded by edvibesproducer.

An effective visualization of the problems with email collaboration and how wiki's make collaboration easier

Choosing a Wiki Services

There are a couple of big and complicated matrices and comparison charts for software and web-based wiki services. But for educational purpose the four easiest and most popular web services are:

I personally prefer google sites since I am a big fan of all of google's services and sites allows you to mashup and combine all into it's wiki.

Monday, February 2, 2009

How to Track & See Wiki Changes in Google Sites

(click on the image to see a zoomed in and clearer version)

One of the challenges of Wikis as a "live" document is keeping track of all the changes and edits from all the members of the group. I have taken a screen shot of a google site (wiki) page to show you three places you can check to see any changes that have been recently updated. There is also a subscribe to this site or page option where you can get an email alerting you every time the wiki has been updated and how.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Google Sites (wiki): The Easiest Way to Start a Free Webpage

1) Go to Google Sites Overview Page watch the tour and read up

2) If you don’t have a Google Account sign up for one

3) Watch some tutorials from a Youtube Playlist from Google to get you up and started:

At least watch these:
How to create a new google site
How to edit a google site
How to embed content into a google site

4) Explore and start building

Video: Anatomy of a Wiki

YouTube - Anatomy of a Wiki: Using Wikispaces, they take you through a nice tour of all the main components of a wiki such as the navigation, history, and discussion

Video: Wikis in Plain English

YouTube - Wikis in Plain English

Video: Blogs vs. Wikis

YouTube - Blogs vs. Wikis: A fictional debate between JFK and Richard Nixon on the propriety of using blogs vs. wikis.

One main separation I have heard a lot of educators use for the students and educational purposes, blogs are for opinions, ideas, and journaling whereas, wikis can be used for facts, resources, and projects.

Video: Podcasting in Plain English

YouTube - Podcasting in Plain English