Grand Larseny



What's a sweatshop without a little fun?

One Project Down…

BrewControl 1.0 is done and waiting final approval for the app store.  It is one sexy app, but still a bit immature.  Gotta refine just a couple points before I can be happy and move onto bigger additional features.  I’ve got ideas, baby, I’ve got ideas.

My new project now seems to be trying to get the news out.  It’s kinda interesting in that I actually enjoy telling folk about the app.  It’s not hard or unnatural.  This is what I was looking for.

Incidentally, you can follow @BrewControl on Twitter at http://twitter.com/BrewControl or visit the website at http://brewcontrolapp.com   And I’ll have that link to the app store as soon as it’s available.

Switchblade

Wow gang, this post is a long time coming. A while back (around 11 months ago to be precise), I created a little web app for the iPhone that was a simple version of the NET Bible. I didn’t really tell too many people about it just because it was small, designed for myself, and lacked a few features that I thought were key.

Today that changes. I’ve completed the modifications, and now app has all the functionality I originally wanted. Please add a bookmark for the Switchblade web app. It has all the annotations, search based on your current browsing context, and a completely iPhone native look-and-feel.

I’ve added a link to the app on my sidebar, and if you are interested I’d love for you to tell your friends about it. Enjoy!

Twitter Hash Tags

Twitter is mainstream now, which is awesome. As more people use it, more ideas of how to use it float around. One idea that has come to prominence is tagging all your tweets by using a specific character for future reference. Just like you might tag a photo “Hawaii” or “Flower” or “Uncle T,” the idea is to tag your tweets so that you and others can find them later.

This is much better than just trying to do a search for the word “Hawaii” or “Flower,” because you can tailor your search results to find only the tweets you want to as you are creating the tweets. So, you think about what you might want to search for in the future, and you tag the tweet as such. It’s a pretty good system.

My problem is reading the tags. See, the hack that they use is to put the hash symbol right before the tag, making the “Hawaii” tag look like “#Hawaii.” This has become annoying. It’s not so bad when tags are at the end of tweets, where you can mostly ignore them, but there are many times where tags are not at the end of sentences. There are also cases where tweets use multiple tags for different reasons, making them harder to ignore.

Hash tags add more noise to an already quiet signal. When you only have 140 characters to use, adding 10-20 characters of noise is too much for me.

What I propose, however, is not to do away with hash tags. As I’ve said, they are very useful, and it’s not really possible to reproduce their functionality without doing something stupid, like completely overhauling Twitter’s back-end system. I believe that a simple UI trick can work.

I believe that tags should appear without the hash in front of them as a link to the search results for that tag. I’ve included a few mock ups of a couple scenarios in the scientifically proven best Twitter iPhone app, Tweetie.

Here’s a screenshot of the way hash tags are currently formatted, that is to say unformatted.

img_0001

You can see in the tweet by Clint the hash tag for #short_url. Check it out as I would like it.

hash-mid-tweet

While this may still be too jarring for some, I believe it flows better in the reading process than having to interperet random hash characters. If time allowed, I would like to play with subduing the colors, or perhaps doing away with the button altogether and just changing the text color for the tag itself to indicate a link. In any case, I firmly believe that the hash character itself must dissappear if the tweet is to be readable.

Just for fun, here’s an example of a tweet with multiple tags at the end, to see how it might look.

hashtags-redux1

Hopefully this may stir your creative energies, too. Goodnight.

Southwest Ding! Revisited

A while back I installed the “Ding!” application from Southwest Airlines. Today, I am uninstalling that application.

While the application does have some upsides, they are not the upsides you want. The app is unobtrusive. This is good for most applications from a simplicity standpoint, but it’s not great to have your users think “at least I don’t have to look at this all the time.” After opening the application from the system tray, where it resides full time, you are greeted to a window with a questionable color palette and one link.

ding1

The buttons on the right are not buttons at all, but rather links to Southwest’s airlines. While this program is not malware of any kind, its dishonest design generates worlds of mistrust.

Lastly, the app is not useful for me at all. Every “Ding!” price that I’ve seen so far in the past few weeks has been for a one-way trip. I have no use for one-way tickets. I’m sure there are people out there who do buy one-way tickets on a whim, but they don’t have any immediate family, job, or other commitment to speak of.

If you install this app, it won’t cause any harm beyond taking up space on your machine, but that’s all it did for me.

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