Notebook

BiDi Screen was demonstrated at SIGGRAPH Asia this year. It is a thin, depth-sensing LCD for 3D interaction using light fields.

The BiDi Screen is an example of a new type of I/O device that possesses the ability to both capture images and display them. This thin, bidirectional screen extends the latest trend in LCD devices, which has seen the incorporation of photo-diodes into every display pixel. Using a novel optical masking technique developed at the Media Lab, the BiDi Screen can capture lightfield-like quantities, unlocking a wide array of applications from 3-D gesture interaction with CE devices, to seamless video communication.

More demonstrations and paper at Matthew Hirsch's BiDi Screen page.

The OmniGraffle Wireframe Icons and the Royalty Free EPS/PNG icons have been updated.

In the OmniGraffle version, all icons have been converted to vector format so they are editable in OmniGraffle. You can now modify the shapes and easily change their colors. The vector icons also reduce file size of OG documents. In both OmniGraffle and EPS/PNG versions, I've cleaned up all existing icons for consistency and added new icons including: globe, wrench/screwdriver, lightning bolt, spaces, desktop, gun sight, cloud, bug, books, presentation, twitter bird, bullhorn, megaphone, rocket, windows, mac, and more.

If you've purchased either of the icon sets in the past, you can re-download the updated versions by logging in and visiting your user profile. In your profile page, access the Files link below your username to download the new version.

Issue 2 Volume 1, Fall 2009, of the Journal of Information Architecture is now available. Includes the following articles.

Byström, Pharo & Resmini
Editorial: Open 24/7

Stefano Bussolon
Card Sorting, Category Validity, and Contextual Navigation

Brigitte Kaltenbacher
From Prediction to Emergence

David Walczyk & Cedomir Kovacev
Mediation as Message

Read Issue 2 of the Journal of IA.

UserPlus.org wants to share usability knowledge with web designers, web developers, usability specialists and all others interested in creating user friendly websites. By creating design patterns and best practices we want to make the existing knowledge usable in daily practice.

The Axure RP Pro 5.6 for Mac Alpha is now available for download. You can follow progress and find information on licensing at www.axureformac.com. The alpha version expires February 28, 2010. A valid alpha/beta will be available until the final release of 5.6 for Mac so your work will not be interrupted.

I finally made some time to read through Luke Wroblewski's excellent review of the changes in the Apple store's redesigned checkout form. According to Wroblewski, "...retail sales data shows that Mac sales were up 21% year-over-year in the months of October and November. So it's interesting to note that Apple's primary online sales channel (Web-based checkout) was redesigned during this time.

I wasn't surprised that the single page checkout form is an improvement over the paged version. What I was particularly interested in reading was Luke's observations about the problems with the move to put labels in inputs on so much of the form, and the improvements made with error messaging and breaking up secondary actions via tabbed sections.

I consider this a must read, and as always it's great to read whatever Luke continues to provide as an update to the form book. Read it on Functioning Form.

CSS and Javascript experiments are fun to play around with. I tend to talk about them here because of the questions they raise about whether a technique is worth implementing or if it does more harm than help. Straight forward and familiar are the safe route. Sometimes experiments lead to better ways of doing things, other times they seem like they're gratuitous.

I came across an interesting, if problematic experiment to convert form fields into editable fields that are masked table cells until each input is in focus. I don't think this would be particularly familiar to a user if they're editing a form for the first time. However, it does provide a nice problem to deconstruct and review.

I'm sure there is a specific application they have in mind here, e.g. displaying a view of tabular data as a masked form to a user that has permission to edit it. But I think that could just be accomplished using javascript to transform individual fields and submit via AJAX. One of the problems with transforming the text to input and back to system text again is that the user might believe that the transition implies a submission, when nothing is submitted in this form, I presume, until the Edit button is clicked. If the case was that editing each input submitted the data, however, this feels like it could be an appropriate concept.

As far as the concept of masking input fields here, I think the issue I have has to do with familiarity, usability, and efficiency. But to make it more usable, the form could give the user a cue as to how to start using this form. The first input might be put in focus so you know that you're able to edit form fields. Clicking an edit icon to start seems inefficient, although tabbing is also possible.

Some tricks run the risk of turning a simple function into what might be perceived as a gimmick, or worse, might fail to perform its primary function of getting the user's data input. Form fields feel like a dangerous place for me to confuse.

Just discovered Mike Rohde's Sketchnote Army.

Sketchnote Army is dedicated to finding and showcasing sketchnotes and sketchnoters from around the world, from events, conferences, workshops or wherever sketchnotes are captured or created. If you sketchnote, send your sketchnotes URL to Mike Rohde to have them featured there.

Via @katerutter

Remote usability testing service Usabilla has officially launched with tiered payment plans and PDF reports for all your test results. They will continue to provide a free service for up to 5 pages which lets you analyze the results of the first 25 participants of each test.

The Amsterdam based usability startup has been making impressive progress since their launch nearly six months ago. With the help of beta testers Usabilla have been able to build a useful tool to collect feedback on webpages, mockups, sketches, and other images. According to their press release, more then 2500 usability experts, web designers, online marketeers and other web professionals are using Usabilla to conduct remote usability tests and collect feedback.

I have been a beta user of Usabilla during their pre-release this year, and Usabilla is a Konigi sponsor.

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