Day two impressions of my Strida bike (see below for background):
Day two impressions of my Strida bike (see below for background):
“If 85 percent of child cyclists wore helmets for one year, we could save up to $142 million in medical costs.”
— Bicycle Helmet Safety Institute
Their stats page reveals some interesting facts:
Just received my Strida today. I want to jot down some notes that I can eventually compile into a whole page of impressions – there’s a serious lack of opinion on the ‘Net about this interesting bike. I haven’t even ridden it yet but…
Another Blogger test – does the first post of October archive September’s posts like I think it should??
Expanded bashing of WebCriteria (see original earlier in month):
I feel compelled to offer the contrarian view because this product scares me! Our usability tests are done with demographically targeted individuals, but WebCriteria uses one agent (“Max”) that falls short of even a generic human. Max doesn’t understand content or is influenced by it, he has a perfect memory, he doesn’t back track, and he doesn’t know how to perform a search.
WebCriteria’s objective measures, like load time, are certainly useful. But other measures like accessibility are too cookie cutter for my taste. They don’t take into consideration, for example, visual ways to direct the user’s attention.
Notice the subtle Jedi mind trick in their documentation:
“The WebCriteria Accessibility measurement does not consider all the factors that affect ease of navigation in a web site. Obviously the user will be affected by compelling content, clear wording and offers of free cars. Nevertheless Accessibility is an effective measure of the effect of the structure of the web site on ease of navigation.”
Also, their “freshness” measurement basically says new = good. What if we’re dealing with classic content that shouldn’t or couldn’t change? While we could provide disclaimers explaining the limited usefulness of WebCriteria’s results, I’m afraid clients will forget this, instead feeling justified in making decisions based on hard cold statistics.
It’s interesting that in most areas of knowledge we look to experts for authoritative information, yet when it comes to our most important and visible news we rely on general corespondents for the story. Why have a “White House Corespondent” that tries to cover everything from foreign debt to national health care? Why not a health care corespondent that covers all health care issues?
Obviously, there are logistic issues involved. But soon, being at the “press” conference won’t be a factor; a corespondent will just tap into the feed from home or the office and supplement it with context and analysis,publishing the result.
THIS SITE’S MUSIC! A neat little algorithm available here uses your IP address to generate random midi music. The personal aspect is a bit affected when you realize your IP address isn’t really that personal; I don’t know a single soul that has selected their own, as if that was readily available. It’s a cute hook though, a reason to listen to algorithmically generated music which most poeple need!
Additionally the author(s) are accepting votes (like or dislike?) to build a database that will train their neural network. You have to wonder what cross-sections of people are looking at their site and the music these people like, and then imagine a neural network trying to reproduce that music. I can’t, and it’s wonderful that this system will evolve and produce music we can’t imagine.
Or maybe it’ll produce Top 40 hits.
Recently ordered a Strida and boy am I excited to get it. Definitely only a bike for short trips, but it looks like great fun to turn the walking part of my commute into a riding part.
I find the WebCriteria approach interesting but I’m still suspicious of it. The objective measures like load times are useful, but I’m not convinced an agent can replace usability testing, though those aren’t perfect either.
It’ll be interesting to see if in the future they spawn other agents in addition to “Max”, each modeled after particular types of users. Whereas Max tries to be Everyman and Everywoman, it might be better to have a stable of agents representing different people. Or a customizable agent you can plug demographics into.
Last weekend I went on a bike ride with the bike club I belong to. Coming down this wonderful twisty downhill I hear yelling around the corner up ahead. I brake to slow down and, turning the corner, see one of our riders on the ground. He lies unconscious on his side, but his head is turned upward, turned a little further than seems natural. His legs are scraped and bruised, and a small stream of thick blood flows from somewhere behind his helmet. His little Brompton folding bike, which I discussed with this Brit just before the ride, rests on his legs. I move the bike to the side, but all we can do is wait for the medics, not wanting to move him for fear of a spinal injury.
Later in the week I get a call from the bike club president – the rider “didn’t make it.” Some people in the group are seeking counseling, and plan to get together to talk it out. I have a emotionally removed perspective on the situation – he wasn’t riding very safely for his level of experience, several others in the group weren’t riding safely, accidents happen, death is not a bad thing but a beautiful, natural part of life – and wonder if I’m ignoring the shock of this. Victor Frankl said we like to watch death in the media because it says it is others who die, not us, helping us ignore our own terrifying mortality. I like to feel smug and think I’ve accepted my own mortality and, more so, not shocked by other’s like the rider last weekend.
A posting below rambles on about the importance of wearing a helmet while bicycling, at least if you care about protecting your head. But this guy was wearing a helmet. I didn’t hear the official cause of death, but by the sound of his breathing it sounded like he had internal injuries with blood in his lungs. So I think of this from the perspective of acceptable risk. We all accept risk and must balance it with the rewards. This went through my mind this past weekend as I went out on a solo ride near where the rider fell and was suddenly spooked. I was not only more careful but a bit afraid too.
Now reading “Now Zen” by Charlotte Joko Beck, a wonderful little pocket book, small enough to carry anywhere and even then only need a few pages to get you learning about new ways to experience life. It does seem a bit obtuse at times, but she makes several passes at each idea and one is bound to hit its target. It’s not the masterful teaching of Robert Bly, but valuable still.
Some ideas from the book and some inspired by the book:
We would rather be ruined than changed,
We would rather die in our dread
Then climb the cross of the moment
And let our illusions die
While cleaning up the items in my Apple Menu I discovered this new item called “Favorites” and, not immediately knowing how it worked, I used the help feature to learn more. It basically acts as a folder to store aliases of commonly used items, whether they be servers, folders, documents, whatever. Not a groundshaking concept, we’ve been doing this for years, they just made it easier to set up.
What whacked my brain is
Another note on yesterday’s search engine rant: the search sites probably got away with being so lame because they were “dancing bears” – we didn’t care they didn’t work so well ’cause the fact that we could even get to that information was amazing for the time.
I think a lot of the early, and current, search engines have mis-managed expectations of what they can deliver. They’ve offered a simple search box with a bit of instruction and imply that’s mainly what the user needs to find what they’re looking for.
Imagine if you walked into a library and had a question but didn’t know what kind of collection to start searching through. You might seek out a librarian to help you. Would you approach them and say “London weather information”? Or would you say something like, “I’ve just started a new job which will require me to travel to London at various times throughout the year and I’d like to find out what the weather is like at all of those times.” The former is what we type into a search engine query box, and the latter is how much information the search engine actually needs to give you decent results.
A site like Ask Jeeves has done a bit to correct those expectations. They’ve changed three things:
Other ways of doing this:
WHEW WEEEE… We’d had an off-site meeting yesterday of a bunch of the Information Designers from Razorfish. There were so my ideas thrown around that at the end all our heads just exploded. Here’s some the the random ideas I jotted down:
Contextual site maps – instead of drawing one supermap consider drawing them according to a particular use or user.
For dynamic, modular sites, site maps may not make sense. I’m thinking of working on a combination of a screen schematic and site map, where a callout (composed of a description, module, thmb nail of an entire screen element) is used to describe how that module will morph into something else. It seems like each dynamic site will work differently and might require its own documentation solution.