Notebook

JazzMutant creates the Lemur and Dexter, multi-touch hardware controllers for audio production, live music and media performance.

What I like about this is that it shows how much closer multi-touch brings devices to the experience of using analogous hardware controls like knobs, buttons, and sliders without any physical limitations. I once blog bitched about the fact that the Traktor DJ software I played for a few years limited the fun, and the ability to mix with two hands because at the time you could only use one input device, the mouse, to control the mixer. That was before other midi controllers that worked with Trakktor existed. It was nothing like simultaneously controlling sliders and knobs with two hands on a mixer. I jumped that ship and went to M Audio's Exponent, which filed the 2 hand gap better.

Devices like JazzMutant's Dexter prove how versatile a single touch screen can be. They show the tablet being used as a mixer, light controller, and even for controlling parts of cool production tools I can handle, like Ableton Live. Check out the video below showing the 2 hand control of Live (intro in Italiano). Jump to :20 for the demo.

Sweet. All the multi-touch table demos for consumers and everything is cute. But the super cool stuff to me is where multi-touch is being used in pro apps like this.

The Printed Blog is an interesting project that aims at publishing a newspaper of weblogs and user generated content. I like the idea of using this as a PDF rather than as a printed newspaper, since I no longer read printed newspapers. I also like the newspaper format, and have been using Tabbloid to peruse my must read daily feeds rather than using my RSS reader lately.

I wonder, however, about taking online media and making analog versions of it. I can see this being most useful on mobile devices and ebook readers for someone like me, but I don't know that I want an actual newspaper. Would help if I commuted every day I suppose. For PDF and any electronic format, I think you'd want a single column layout rather than multi-column, however, because it's a pain to scroll up and down on smaller monitors. Would be nice if they eventually offer this as a service for ebook/pdf reader software or via their own mobile apps. Then they'd have me.

Nice short article in UIE by Luke Wroblewski illustrating the issues to think of when designing previous/next buttons in forms.

I posted on Twitter about how frustrating it can be to have to use email. With every day that I use Twitter via Twhirl I become less and less interested in using email. So I moaned to my Twitter peeps about the pain I feel. Some people wanted to know what I wanted, so I responded with the ideal flow, using Mac OS X's Growl alerting app as the starting point:

Growl alert. Click and a Quicksilver-like diaogue appears. Click. Reply. Done. Gmail archives. Optionally tag the thread.

Coincidentally, I've been designing a feature on the product I'm working on that does something like this. We have a plugin for our app, a CMS, that turns a project into a Twitter-like micromessaging application. It's only in release 0.1, but I've designed a few iterations ahead, which we plan to review.

The gist for me is this. At work we use Jabber to get alerts for new activity on our internal CMS. We use our Live Blog micromessaging project to do status updates, and other discussion in real time. We want something as easy as IM, as easy as Twitter.

So I've been doing all this stuff that makes the stream of messaging easy to respond to when I see something urgent that needs attention. And I begin to notice email differently, and think that it's a big speed bumps in the day when I have to look at it. There are some messages that come in that I wish I could just quickly reply to because they're urgent. But I hate having to load Gmail or Mail.app to stop what I'm doing.

Now, I know with added intrusions into your day, this could add to your already full, multi-tasking life. But I simply feel like I want and need it. I want email on my terms until it goes away. So I took some of the ideas I was working on in a project I'm doing and saw how those behaviors might apply to email. The wireframe you see above is part of that.

I've posted the files below so you can look at this single page storyboard if you're curious. If you're interested in taking a peek at how I wireframe, download the OmniGraffle document too and play with it.

Download the files

A lot of people won't agree that email should work this way. If you don't agree, feel free to tell me why email is fine just the way it is, or tell me that this is a good idea. If you know of an app that has all of these features and functionality, please tell me, because I need it. If you want to develop it, go ahead. I'd be happy to be involved because I want this.

UPDATE: Chris Messina reminded me about MailPlane, which I tried preview releases of last year. Turns out that when you click Mailplane Growl alerts, MailPlane will open a window with the message, and you can click reply to enter your reply, click send, and close the window. This comes close enough without being quite as subtle and effortless as what I've wireframed above, so this is the solution I'm going with for now.

Swedish agency Akestam Holst has created a contextual banner ad for retailer Playground Stores that selects an appropriate jacket for you depending on the weather where in your location. The demo seems hard coded, but is kind of neat. Would be really weird if they could figure out my gender and favorite colors.

Via Creativity

xSort is a card sorting application for researchers and information architects that want to get a better idea of their users' mental models for any given application or task. The software is free and works on Mac OS X.

The Konigi OmniGraffle Wireframe Icon Set is a set of grayscale cursors and icons that come in handy when designing wireframes, aka user interface schematics. This product includes a standard set of cursors, and many of the icons you need for the design of web-based user interfaces.

This set of icons is designed to work well with your wireframe stencils. You'll find rich text editor controls, file system actions, social interaction symbols, ratings and voting, and a host of other icons for most of the behaviors you may want to communicate with an icon.

Your purchase of this icon set entitle you to free upgrades forever. If you have suggestions for icons you'd like to see included in this set, please feel free to suggest them.

devSnippets collects 10 examples of multi-level navigation menus using Javascript libraries and CSS, and adds a little annotation about the methods and how they effects are accomplished.

Via @nourayehia

Boagworld looks at 10 ways to design an effective call to action.

Having an effective call to action is an essential part of any website. A call to action is not just limited to ecommerce sites. Every website should have an objective it wants users to complete whether it is filling in a contact form, signup for a newsletter or volunteering their time.

A call to action provides...

Focus to your site
A way to measure your sites success
Direction to your users

See the full article on Boagworld.

iPlotz is another new product offering web-based services for wireframing, mockup, and prototyping of websites and applications. This service allows users to create multiple projects, wireframe them with sketch-style editable components, generate images or PDFs of the wireframes, manage tasks associated with screens, and solicit comments from team members.