Wednesday Apr 25, 2012


This is bizarre. At least it is not the originally intended use for an iPad. But it makes sense in some situations to be able to access your corporate desktop from anywhere.

The photos show the Oracle Virtual Desktop Client app connecting to Oracle Virtual Desktop Infrastructure, providing a Windows instance running on VirtualBox in the data center.

VDI Login Screen on iPad

Windows on iPad via Oracle Virtual Desktop Client

Tuesday Mar 13, 2012 design patch

The bad thing about being a UX designer is that you recognize poor design all over the place. The good thing is that you take the issues as design challenges, and come up with better solutions.

Several times a week, I visit the Roller home page of Without summarizing all my usability and design findings, let me simply present my modifications in a way that does not bother me anymore.

Before_ screenshot


better design and usability for

Some of the benefits:

  • less wasted space in the head section – more space for latest blog articles and popular blogs.
  • delicious' and flickr-like design for the tag cloud
  • improved skimming for recent blog articles
  • numbering for popular blogs. This might not be of big interest for the visitor, but it is a very simple and effective way to provide feedback to the blog authors.

The update just involves changes to a cascading style sheet. Firefox / Chrome / Opera users can install the Stylish extension to apply my CSS patch as well.

Then you can get the patch via - oracle-blogs-home.


Friday Mar 02, 2012

Interaction 12 - Critique

I’ve summarized my highlights of Interaction 12 already on this blog: Day 1 / Day 2 / Day 3

And there are many more, hidden between the tracks. It is an open secret that the interesting stuff happens in the breaks. Meet and greet with long-time-not-seen’s, meeting virtual friends for the first time in RL, and getting in touch with other interaction designers around the world. To that extend, IxD12 was very good.

But I want to bring some light to the dark corners as well. The opening party took place at the Trinity College in the center of Dublin. A wonderful location. I’ve never been so close to the Book of Kells, but this is another story. – What do you expect from a welcome party? To be welcomed. To say Hello to friends. To talk about the first day of workshops. etc. But you I do not expect a long series of presentations on the first evening already. This was an unfortunate attempt to pick up speed and get us me into the mood for the upcoming three days. Have just a party, or do a Pecha Kucha when the audience is I am open to pay attention. All of the presenters would have deserved a better setting.

My second point of crit concerns the main three days of the event: It was a professional conference. Hugh? Yes, for my taste it was too slick. After all those years we are still a young profession. And that could have been better represented with a little more spontaneity, or unconference feeling. For some time I want to write about the idea of a conference experience. You can design conferences much like you can do with tools and software. Just imagine that your app runs for three days (in fact it runs much longer if you include the pre- and post-conference activities, and the twitter stream is still active with all the redux events) and that you have 700 simultaneous users. Live. It is much more like theater or circus.
Then, why do you let the Conference Center choose the music between the talks? Why do you not have some interactive game or art installations during the breaks? Why don’t you encourage (more) Q&A? The audience felt rather tired or uninspired to me. No debates at all. Hey, we do not meet that often. What was going on? Where is the energy in our field?

I should mention –my third point– that I gave up during the 10 minutes short talk sessions. I understand the idea that you want to give as much air time to as many presenters as possible. But the pulsing of 10 minutes talk - 5 minutes nothing or switching between sessions - 10 minutes high - 5 minutes low - etc. was not in synch with my bio-rhythm of attention. Now I would have appreciated the fast paced short talks from the opening party, w/o the 5 minutes breaks of course.

Dear Organizers,
please take my opinion as constructive feedback. I’ve been in your role a few times before. You’ve done a tremendous job to get all this together. But maybe future or other conferences can benefit from my impressions.

cheers, and memorizing the highlights of IxD12 once again.

Monday Feb 27, 2012

Typing. Clicking. Dancing.

This is my invited talk at SirValUse Academy last week. I’ve presented my idea of a historical framework for HCI paradigms from CLIs, to GUIs, to TUIs and NUIs by comparing them with the development of children according to Jerome Bruner’s Mentalities theory. Enjoy_

References at

Monday Feb 20, 2012

Interaction 12 in Dublin - Highlights of Day 3

Dublin, Feb-4, 2012. The forth day of Interaction 12  –  actually the third day with a regular conference program in the Conference Center Dublin. BTW_ The CCD reminds me of a database drum, much like the architecture at Oracle’s headquarters in Redwood, CA, just a little bit tilted.

Congress Center Dublin //image by ericthebell

Interaction's workshops were held on Wednesday, which I did not attend because I conducted "my own" VDI workshops with my engineering colleagues at Oracle in Dublin.

Biomimic Infographic

The most beautiful presentation – both visual and by content – was given by Pete Denman. Pete argued that typical business charts only express very simplified aspects of data sets. To demonstrate the flaws of pie-charts he compared the famous illustration of Napoleon's war against Russia 1812-13, made popular by Edward Tufte, with a typical modern pie-chart: 95% French men fucked, 5% kind of fucked (see slide 5 and 6 below).

Pete found inspiration in nature to better represent huge data sets on screen. He developed an app for iPad to display medical data. The photos on slide 9-14 can only give a faint idea of the beauty of animated flowers of data. Very well done. And hopefully an example that encourages other to go into the same direction as well.

In anticipation of the conference, core77’s interview with Pete.

Restoring a Sense of Wonder

Too slow to be really good was Michael SmythCritical Design: Restoring a Sense of Wonder in Interaction Design. He presented a series of examples how design and (street) art and urban installations shift the perspective of the observer. Indeed, yet another reference to McLuhan. I liked most the project digitalAntiques (slides 20-22) where antique statues were projected on the walls of Split during the night.

Rage Against the Machines

The closing keynote by Genevieve Bell was an entertaining Rage Against the Machines – Designing our futures with computing. She joined Intel in 1998 with a fresh PhD in anthropology. Her boss told her to do research for Intel on two questions:

  1. Women - half of the population on earth!
  2. ROW – rest of world – in the sense of "everything outside of the USA"!

Well, others complain about more restrictive research agendas... As said, a very amusing talk.

She continued to provide an short overview on the history of mechanical automata, like the Digesting Duck by Jacques de Vaucanson (1739) and the Mechanical Turk by Freiherr von Kempelen, that eventually lead to a meetup of generations between Furby and Siri:

Mrs. Bell lost me when she indicated that it was Joe Weizenbaum’s intention to pass the Turing Test with his Doctor Script for Eliza. In my opinion it is irritating to bend history just to make it fit into a story line. When such things happen, I start to mistrust other facts and conclusions drawn by the presenter as well. A missed opportunity for a good closing keynote at Interaction 12 in Dublin.

webcast of Genevieve Bell's presentation

>> Ciara Taylor's summary at core77



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