World Usability Day: Sonic Toothbrush

Happy World Usability Day! In honor of it, I am giving out my award for usability...drum roll please... And the winner is...my Sonic Screwdriver Toothbrush.

You thought I was going to say my new Tivo Series 2. The enhancements on my Tivo Series 2 are excellent. I especially like the removal of the power switch. There is not a single power button on the whole thing, you can put it into Standby in the menus, but the removal of all of the faceplate options is awesome. One downside though is that I can't lose my remote if I want to watch TV. To go along with the removal of the buttons on the front, I need a remote locator or something...and as myself and the kids constantly lose the remote, I have to ding the Tivo for usability since now if I can't find the remote, I can't USE it.

BUT, I love my sonice toothbrush. I just bought it, it is totally sleek. There is a single button on it for three speeds. The button is easy to touch and cycle between the speeds. The holder is built for three different heads and it is built to remove the heads easily between uses. This allows my son (who also loves the sonic toothbrush) to replace the heads simply without any stress to the engine. The most interesting thing on the toothbrush is the built-in timer. Every 30 seconds it stutters and at 2 minutes it has a more distinctive stutter to ensure you know that you can stop at the 2 minute mark (the recommended time to brush).

The handle is perfectly formed for my hand and the brush head is curved.

Very cool. Sonic Toothbrush, happy World Usability Day. Now all you need is a screwdriver setting so I can use you as a power tool.

I am looking around my desktop for some software that meets usable criteria. I have to say I am VERY unhappy with all of the IMing software, and the built in blog tools are awful all over (but getting better). The Tivo Desktop software is terrible and so is Amazon Unbox. Built-in RSS readers to the browsers are still annoying (its called a WEB PAGE...get over it) and mashups are definitely interesting, but developer focused. BitTorrent is not very user friendly either, but the reason to use it occasionally overcomes the usability issues (could someone please figure out how to get Interaction Designers to work with and be recognized by the open source community?). All of those online mail improvements using Ajax (I'm talking to you Google, Yahoo and others), you don't get the usability award since you seem to have just reproduced Thunderbird and Outlook but inserted plenty of locations for movie trailers.

So, drum roll please...my usability award for software goes to...THE WEATHER BAR ON THE BOTTOM OF MY FIREFOX BROWSER. Whoo hoooo....Forecastfox, you rule.

And finally, Ajax, you get the Usability Plumbing award. You have all of the potential to bring the web to the point that X Windows/Swing and so-called "Fat Clients" were decades ago. Granted, you are awfully smooth and polished in many of your incarnations (often smoother than existing "fat clients") and I won't tell anyone that you are secretly a "fat" client with tons of supporting infrastructure from the browsers and secretly consuming lots of browser resources to download and cache information locally. Nonetheless, I welcome AJAX to the web experience this year...now if only my web-based blogging tool could learn from AJAX.

So, if you are an application builder, call up your Interaction Designer and tell them you appreciate their input (even though you may not always listen to it).

Happy World Usability Day!

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