Monday, September 28, 2009

I was working on a couple of things earlier today and realized that some of my Windows 7 features weren't working any more. Specifically, I couldn't get the taskbar thumbnail peek feature to work.

After about 30 minutes of fruitless googling, I switched my theme, thinking maybe it just needed to be reminded of its inherent Aero-ness. This seemed to work.

A little more googling turned up a possible reason for the loss of my Aero desktop - Remote Desktop. Apparently it can muck up the Aero settings real good.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Well, after Tuesday Updates this week, my Vista computer was left with many many problems. Between the windows printer dialog being totally MIA, and Office crashing randomly and repeatedly, I made the decision to reformat.

However, being the enterprising young geek that I am, I'm not satisfied with simply reinstalling Vista Ultimate. I'm going for broke. Windows 7, here I come.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Zhang et al (2009) insist that "incorporating a human computer interaction (HCI) perspective into the systems development life cycle (SDLC) is critical to information systems (IS) success and in turn to the success of businesses." The problem, they remind us, is that typical software development progresses with the needs of the organization in mind, rather than the needs of the individual using the software. In their article "Integrating Human-Computer Interaction Development into SDLC: A Methodology", Zhang et al provide a new methodology for developing holistic systems which include human factors requirements.


Zhang et al provides 5 strategies for utilizing Human-Centered SDLC

  • Focus on human AND organizational needs early in the process

  • Develop the HCI in conjunction with other activities, not as an

  • Evaluations throughout the process

  • Use an iterative process

  • Consider the user experience, not just usefulness

On the topic of usefulness, an early critic of Twitter once supposedly said "Twitter is interesting, but not useful" (paraphrased). A quick witted fan replied "Neither is Ice Cream". User experience can enhance a product to the point that even a seemingly useless application can live long enough to find its niche.

HCI Principles

In addition to the strategies above, the authors also give 6 principles to follow in HCI design

  • Improve Performance while reducing effort

  • Prevent Errors

  • Strive for a fit between tasks, information needed, and information

  • Enable an enjoyable user experience, not merely a useful one

  • Promote Trust

  • Keep the design simple


Given the strategies and principles listed, I would think that most modern Agile techniques would suit themselves well to developing HCI elements of software in conjunction with other elements. Even the basic OO requirement gathering process is a matter of observing real-world activities and converting them into software objects. Considering the elements from a usability and interaction perspective could improve that process.


Zhang, P., Te'eni, D., Carey, J. & Tremaine, M. "Integrating Human-Computer
Interaction Development into SDLC: A Methodology". Retrieved September 11, 2009, from

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Thanks to @Subdigital for this awesome suggestion: