Archive

Interface innovations

A while back I had an idle wish for a firefox extension that autogenerated a 2d barcode (semacode or other) from the URL of the current page/thing/resource, so I could quickly snarf it into my mobile and take it with me.

Instantly-mobile deeplinky goodness with no fiddly typing.*

A random thought tonight while staring at my browser: how much info could I store in a favicon, if I made it a 2d barcode?

semafav_URL

A favicon is 16×16, and readable datamatrix 2d codes go down to 10×10 and 3mm. Of course, readable here means by an industrial scanner from a crisp printed sticker, rather than a mobile phone and a fuzzy LCD display.

Here’s the semacode for the wikipedia entry on Blogjects (it was the 2nd workshop that Julian and Nicholas have run on those blighters this week, so it seemed an appropriate choice!)

blogject_semacrop

As you can see, a fair slice of the data is cropped if we try for 16×16 in order to make a favicon.

Still – I wonder if there’s anything doable there? Could something useful and/or diverting be done in this little space in the address field?

If not, my original lazyweb wish for a firefox extension to create instant takeaway datashadows still stands…

—-
* Yes, before Charlie gets all-up-in-my-face (;-) – I know winksite has semacode integration – but I want EVERYTHING I visit to have a code ,whether they like it or not!

I’ve started playing with Radar.net from Tiny Pictures.

Nothing much to report yet, but there is one little design detail that I’ll be stashing away for my own stuff (as long as Mr. Poisson et al don’t mind) which is not only going for a URL that is t9/predictive-text friendly, but also issuing identity elements (an auto-generated unique posting address to MMS pictures to, in this case) that are t9-compliant.

This makes it far, far easier and more pleasurable to set-up the service and integrate it with your mobile, which with these sorts of things is 75% of the battle won. Makes the thing feel very polished and considered from the start, which gives me the confidence to trust radar.net with a little bit more of my digital life perhaps.

My feeling is that despite all the hoo-haa about uglydesign/undesign’s success in Web2.0, it just won’t carry in the Mobile Web 2.0 world.

If you are anything like me, (a) how are you finding it? and (b) you probably have a lot of entries in del.icio.us tagged “toread” or “to_read” etc. etc. which you have not got round to actually, y’know, reading.

Yesterday I made the effort to actually print out some of the things I had tagged to read, and – read them!

What I’d like, LazyWeb, therefore – is a site/script/widget/thing that would

  • grab the URLs of what I have tagged “to_read” (or an arbitrary tag, of course)
  • goes and gets the text found at those URLs (this doesn’t have to be pretty)
  • then smooshes them together into a file I can then print or save for later printing.

How about it?

Almost guaranteed fame on lifehacker/43folders would be yours, as well as my undying gratitude.

UPDATE:

Matt Biddulph contributes this:

OK, you need lynx installed to get a nice dump of html to text file.
For a mac, http://www.osxgnu.org/software/pkgdetail.html?
project_id=226&cat_id=211
might have what you need.

Paste this in a terminal window on any mac or unix machine:

for a in `curl http://del.icio.us/rss/blackbeltjones/toread | grep
'<link>' | cut -d\> -f 2 | cut -d\ toread.txt

and it’ll make reading.txt with a html2text concatenation of all your
toread links.

Excellent – will try this on the weekend and report back…

Cheers,
Matt.

BBC News Video in RSS!!

Just found this in the BBC News site’s video player… You can now subscribe to the video via RSS.

A quick bit of copying and pasting from the little orange buttons gives this list of A/V feeds:

Just subscribed to the Sci/Tech feed to check it out, and it works nicely in Bloglines: clicking a headline pops you to an individual pagelet for the video – which is another subtle advance, IMHO.

BBC News Video in RSS!!

One thing they could do is add the duration of the clip to the headline or description so it shows up in your RSS viewer.

Very nice stuff – I imagine this will mean a few interesting ‘mashups’ and alternative interfaces might be showing up on http://backstage.bbc.co.uk in the near future. Look forward to that…

Now, if only they were Quicktimes… or PSP formatted…

I like this thought from Martin Geddes of why video conferences have never taken off:

“Without having something to gesticulate at — other participants, a diagram, the window — you’re left limp and lifeless. So perhaps there’s a Superman-style blue backdrop screen type of technology that can re-insert those elements.”

Perhaps this is a job for EyeToy hackers, or those with an iSight, Quartz Composer and a spare afternoon?
—-
Bonus link: some lovely Quartz Composer work at zugakousaku.com

.flickr-photo { border: solid 2px #000000; }
.flickr-yourcomment { }
.flickr-frame { text-align: left; padding: 3px; }
.flickr-caption { font-size: 0.8em; margin-top: 0px; }



Swordplay, revolution-style, originally uploaded by blackbeltjones.

The Nintendo Revolution controller has been revealed, and I am predictably overexcited.

It’s made me more convinced that embodied and tangible interaction has a big, juicy, interesting mainstream future.

The video of it in action [via Russell Beattie] is wonderful, especially the way that a wide-range of genres of gaming and play can be inferred just from watching people’s movements and hearing a bit of soundtrack.

Who needs HiDef?

Or as Gillen puts it:

“Either you want more polygons or you want the Future.

Choose a side.

“Revolution! Revolution! Revolution! Revolution!”

Also, go read Andy Losowsky’s imaginings of where the Revolution could take us:

“if it’s that depth sensitive, if you’ll be able to use it to draw outlines around things in the room? Or people?”

He also has some great ideas about possible other nunchuk-plug-in peripherals.

And I was just calming down again, too.

Sony's magic wand patent

Via Jim Rossignol’s Esoteric Beat (Reg. Reqd) comes this news of a patent registered by Sony for what sounds like an extension to Eyetoy.

“Sony’s new idea is to plug a webcam into the console, and give the gamer a handheld wand similar to a pocket flashlight. The wand has a battery, a few mouse-like buttons and several different coloured LEDs that can be switched on and off in various combinations.

By pressing the buttons and waving the wand towards the webcam, the gamer can click to shoot aliens, drag-and-drop images on screen and navigate menus.”

Moreover – the affordances of a wand give a whole pallette of gestural interface for games developers to work with – adding ‘compositional’ control to rhythm – and possibly a whole other level of emotion to interface.

Sounds perfect for god games or RTS games, and even action games with elements of ‘compositional commands like Okami or even Darwinia if it ever made it to Playstation.

This effort of MMDC’s stood out from the scores of ‘transparent’ screen tromp l’oeil pictures created in the latest Flickr flap.

Why? The transparent terminal window floating in mid-air, mid-screen. Beautifully done.

Made me think of laptops from a possible augmented-reality future, where a vestigal frame of the screen is kept by industrial designers as a social cue, to be flipped up as an interruptions shield… even though the reality you are interacting with is just light scattered directly on your retina.

The faceted, messy world of folk/tag/free/ethnoclassification seems to be a natural fit for zoomable user-interfaces, or ZUIs… or Zooeys*.

The latest in Flash-to-Flickr interfaces for Tag browsing by Felix Turner does a particularly nice job of using mouse-gesture, zooming layers and just good, tasteful visual design.

Here’s a grab for the tag "London" for instance:

Tagbrowse_london_1

* Zeitgeistfully, in the new film of HHG2TG, Trillian is played by a Zooey

One upside of being down for the count over a long weekend is that there’s no guilt in eating an entire boxed set of TV all at once.

I sat down (well, lied down) to take in Joss Whedon’s aborted cowboy space-opera, Firefly; and was pleasantly surprised.

It’s no wonder it was cancelled – it takes ages to get going, it’s got a huge cast each of whom “have a secret” and some of the best lines are in Mandarin it seems.

One thing that did strike me about a couple of episodes was how very few ‘screens’ feature in Firefly’s vision of the future – and in general how tangible and situated digital technology seems in that universe.
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