SuperRob SuperRob UI Geek

Niner since 2004


  • Bill Gates - A short chat with Microsoft's Chief Software Architect

    Very nicely done, Robert.  For the next time, I'd like to hear more quaestions about Microsoft's investments in companies, technology, research, etc.  Details about how the company is spending it's money give a lot of insight into where they see technology leading.

    If you want to really ask the "tough" questions, I'd ask about why Microsoft allowed Internet Explorer fall behind the internet standards, or how Microsoft plans to become more agile when it comes to dealing with unexpected (and missed) trends.

    But overall, very well done!  Smiley
  • Sanjay ​Parthasarat​hy and Ben Riga - Healthcare demo of Windows Presentation Foundation (AKA Avalon)

    With great power, comes great responsibility, Michael.  Wink
  • Peter Loforte - The Tablet PC has changed my life (in bed)

    Thanks for the comments, Lora.  However, a couple of my artist friends found out after the fact that Tablet PC's can't replace a high-quality digitizer or the ol' paint and scan for detailed artwork.  The Tablet PC just doesn't have the necessary resolution.

    My other issue with using a pen as an input device is that because of the way I write (I have a very unique writing style ... think of a right-handed person writing like a lefty), my hand drags on the screen, and I am covering up a lot of the screen ... and that just annoys me.
  • Peter Loforte - The Tablet PC has changed my life (in bed)

    My only real issue with the Tablet PC is that for someone who types 120 WPM, going back to using a pen for data entry seems a great deal backwards.  Not to mention my terrible handwriting.
  • Kam Vedbrat - What influenced the visual design of Longhorn?


    Please, don't confuse "UI" with "art" or graphics.  They are linked, but not one in the same.  I know great artists that don't know anything about designing a usable interface, and I know great UI designers (myself included) that can't create outstanding art.  But you team these two people together, and as long as the UI guy (or gal) is in the driver's seat, you'll get a beautiful and more importantly, USABLE interface.

    As for your suggestion that they not make the interface too "fun", I completely disagree with you on that point.  As long as they give you the OPTION to turn off these "fun" enhancements for those that don't want to see them, I have no problem with them being included for those that do.  It's about CHOICE.  UI should be solid, consistent, intuitive.  DESIGN should be beautiful, eye-catching, and non-invasive.  But quite frankly, after using computers for as long as I have, I'd like something to make daily computing a little fun again.
  • Kam Vedbrat - What influenced the visual design of Longhorn?

    Fantastic video.  This is the exact right approach to design ... identify goals, and get feedback as to how you're approaching those goals.  What the users think about it is really irrelevant, since many users will either over-analyze or nitpick a design.  What's important is the gut-reaction, the visceral reaction that they might not be able to fully articulate.  The idea of using "cue cards" is very cool, and certainly explains why Microsoft's hardware design teams are so good at what they do.

    I'm dying to see Aero.  Absolutely dying.  And I'm sure that every other UI designer out there is too.
  • Sara Ford - When you talk about learning at Microsoft, what do you mean?

    Personally, I just love technology, and learning things about new technology is fun for me.  Being able to use it every day is great, but there is something to be said for learning for learning's sake.
  • Bill Hill - How does ClearType work?

    Well, he didn't really explain how ClearType works, just people's reactions to it.  That was disappointing.

    I'm also a little surprised that Bill didn't mention that this isn't really a new technology, and that sub-pixel font rendering was being used way back on the Apple II computers (created by the geek-messiah himself, Steve Wozniak), and many applications and systems since.  Don't get me wrong, ClearType was LONG overdue, but I'm not sure why Microsoft is co-opting the technology and not giving Woz his due.  It was a righteous hack.
  • Joe Beda - Is Avalon a way to take over the Web?

    Karthik wrote:
    SuperRob, this is in response to your comments --

    There was an analysis of 3d Desktop Environments a long while back, that I'd seen on some usability forum.

    It will not work out - simply because you are trying to convert a 2D windowing environment into 3D, and by doing so, the effort required to access any object rises exponentially for the third dimension (think Fitts law).

    I'm not saying its not possible - similar things have been attempted before (ofcourse, not using your specific idea, but quite similar ones) - its just very unusable.

    Oh, I understand that concept very well.  I know quite a bit about usability.  My main concern is that while simplifying the OS for the mainstream users is fantastic, people that think differently (no, not Max Users) need a different way to interact with the OS.

    That's one of the reasons why I like the idea of using the Tilt Wheel to manipulate the Z-Axis ... if you don't want to use the 3D aspects of the OS, you wouldn't even know it's there.

    Microsoft has historically done this very well, but I'm concerned that the reliance on tasks and wizards (while innovative in its own right) is eventually going to catch up with them.  The task panes on all these windows overlap and are obscured, and the idea of these tasks will literally get lost in the window glut.

    Objects weren't a bad idea way back when, but I think the problem was that we didn't have a 3D space to interact with them.  I mean, if you show someone a printer, they know they can do with it.  Show someone a multi-fucntion device, and they know that they can print, scan, copy, fax, etc.

    The problem with these "task panes" is that you have to assume that you know what the user wants to do with it, and present them with those options.  While the CD burning task is effective, I find that simply putting my files into the CD burner and telling it to burn is MUCH simpler, and more intuitive.

    I think that there are ways to do both, I'm just wondering how much more research Microsoft is doing with it. 
  • Joe Beda - Is Avalon a way to take over the Web?


    I don't know if you're at liberty to shed any light on this, but I'm interested in the 3D on the Desktop plans.  I know that until now, 3D desktops have been nigh unusable, but I can't help but think that if anyone could get it right, Microsoft could.  Smiley

    What I've envisioned is a fairly simple interface for manipulating windows on the desktop in 3D, using the Microsoft Mice featuring the Tilt Wheel as the centerpiece.  Standard mouse movement works in 2D, with the Tilt Wheel manipulating the Z-Axis.  An applet like Apple's Expose could temporarily bring all windows back into reach in case you "lose" them in the 3D space.

    It all seems fairly straight-forward to me, and I'm surprised that we haven't seen anything like this.  Any chance this is where Microsoft is looking to go with Avalon/Aero?