World Usability Day

November the 12th has been designated World Usability Day for 2009. The principle advocated by the Usability Professionals Association is to dedicate one day of the year to promoting some aspect of usability, and to evangelize good usability to the broader engineering and design community. This year’s theme is ‘Designing for a Sustainable World’. Last […]

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Gallery of Icons

I came across this link recently:http://www.guidebookgallery.org/iconsIt has a set of icons from a number of different operating systems, and from different versions of those operating systems going back years. Many of these symbols will not apply in an embedded system, but others are more global – like ‘help’. It is a handy place to browse […]

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Form Over Function and Battling with DVD Menus

At the Embedded Systems Conference in Farnborough two weeks ago, I delivered my ‘Top Ten Usability Mistakes’ talk. The last item in the list of ten is the awful lack of respect shown for the user’s time in the experience of watching a DVD. They usually force you to watch some legal-eagle’s copyright notice, and […]

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Embedded Systems Conference Show Report

I spent three days at the Embedded Systems Conference UK in Farnborough last week. At these shows I sometimes hunt for the answer to a specific question and other times I am keeping an eye out for trends. One topic that got a mention at the “Current State of MicroElectronics” panel discussion was the increasing […]

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When you have nothing to say …

Many embedded devices have a simple text window, capable of displaying a few dozen characters. These are handy for giving the user simple instructions or displaying error messages if the device, or some connected equipment, misbehaves. In some designs there is an obvious text message to display when the device is not being used – […]

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Long number Entry and Equal Opportunity

I recently worked on a security application where the employee used a swipe card to identify themselves at certain locations. The event of identifying themselves was transmitted to a server, which had a database which contained the mapping from the serial number of the swipe card to the name of the employee. All o f […]

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Measurement Changes Everything

Introducing an electronic or computerized system to a human activity often opens up opportunities to measure aspects of the activity that could previously not be monitored in any cost effective way. This column strays a little from pure usability issues, but the nature of the measurements you take is partly a feature-set decision, but it […]

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More Smooth Sounds

People are not very good at distinguishing the pitch of two sounds, unless they hear them close together. My Casio watch makes good use of a fairly subtle change in tone. The watch has several modes: normal time, stopwatch, set alarm and dual time. The mode button changes from one to another. When I am […]

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Sounds Exciting

Sounds, beeps, buzzes and clicks can make a useful addition to your user interface, or they can form the most exasperating parts. Subtle sounds can give feedback that a button press was detected and less subtle sounds can inform you that urgent action is required or your machine, or car, or patient might be permanently […]

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(Code) Size isn’t everything…

I have been looking at some code sizes recently and wondering why GUI code gets so darn big. I can understand that compiling in fonts and bitmaps are bulky and so the executable size can get big, but even when measuring lines of code the number of lines taken up by the GUI always seems […]

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