The three oracles of good design - simplicity, usability and quality

Published 01 February 2019 | Posted under Usability

I don’t claim to be an expert on all things cooking, but I know when a kitchen utensil is crap. I like simple, usable tools. If I am making a cup of coffee, I don’t want to use a complex coffee maker. I just want to push one button and get the good stuff in my cup as quickly as possible. The same applies to just about everything I encounter. Simplicity, usability, quality.

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John E. Karlin, the father of usability

Published 01 February 2019 | Posted under Usability

I am keenly interested in usability and Human Factors but I admit I didn’t know who John E. Karlin was until I read an article in the New York Times a few years ago. John Karlin, a South African, is widely considered to be the father of human factors engineering. After moving to the United States, he worked at the famous Bell Labs from 1945 until his retirement in 1977. According to the New York Times article, “He was a quiet, unassuming mathematical psychologist, electrical engineer, and professional violinist.” He developed a new approach to technology design, surprising in its simplicity and surprising that no one had ever thought about it before - he believed that the human experience was the number one priority when designing human-technology interactions, not the “coolness factor” of the technology itself.

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Writing in Canada

Published 01 January 2019 | Posted under Creative Writing

I’ve been told that Canadians are excellent writers. Well, if there ever was an overstatement, this certainly is one of the best. Yet Canada has produced some world renowned authors. Think Margaret Atwood, Alice Munroe, Lucy Maud Montgomery, Yann Martel, Leonard Cohen, Northrop Frye, Malcolm Gladwell. I could go on and on. So, what is it about Canada that produces good writers?

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Securing access to a Windows 10 account

Published 01 December 2018 | Posted under Tech Tips

With Windows 10, you can ensure security for your computer by requiring users to enter their user name and password to access the login screen. You can provide added security by requiring users to press Ctrl_Alt+Delete to access the sign-in screen. Additionally, you can set a screen saver wait time so you can have the peace of mind and calming Zen feeling knowing only you can gain access to your computer when you are away eating dinner, having some profound thoughts on the toilet, or just taking a walking break from you intense work.

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Human Factors Principles

Published 01 November 2018 | Posted under Usability

Designing usable products use Human factors principles. Here is a summary of the key principles. Good design ensures the users are always informed about the current status in the product. The user should be familiar with the terms and phrases used in the product. The user should always be in control, not the system. Everything should be consistent in the system - don’t change the meaning or function of a task in another part of the product. Errors should be clearly described in error messages. User’s shouldn’t have to remember information from one dialog to the next. Tasks should be as efficent as possible. User’s shouldn’t have to deal with noise, just the information. Finally, provide help to users.

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