Graphics Archive

Fixing the Trash Can: Automated Deletion?

The trash can metaphor in computing is as old as the desktop metaphor itself. It was first introduced with the Apple Lisa user interface, and found its way to the Macintosh. Apple patented the whole idea, and sued anyone who tried to use the same name, resulting in other user interfaces implementing the exact same principle but just named differently. Despite its old age, and the fact it barely changed over the decades, many people have issues with the traditional concept.

AMD 780G Changes the Graphics Game

"AMD has done the seemingly impossible - made an integrated graphics part that does not immediately draw ridicule from all sides. It is actually good. The main trick AMD pulled out of the hat is to change the specs on what an IGP (Integrated Graphics Part) is. AMD decided to take a full GPU and put it on the chipset, so what you have is a full Radeon HD24xx (RV620) on board, video acceleration, 3D and all."

Rethinking the Progress Bar

"Most software packages employ progress bars to visualize the status of an ongoing process. Users rely on progress bars to verify that an operation is proceeding successfully and to estimate its completion time. Typically, a linear function is applied such that the advancement of a progress bar is directly proportional to the amount of work that has been completed. However, estimating progress can be difficult for complex or multi-stage processes. Varying disk, memory, processor, bandwidth and other factors complicate this further. Consequently, progress bars often exhibit non-linear behaviors, such as acceleration, deceleration, and pauses. Furthermore, humans do not perceive the passage of time in a linear way. This, coupled with the irregular behavior of progress bars, produces a highly variable perception of how long it takes progress bars to complete. An understanding of which behaviors perceptually shorten or lengthen process duration can be used to engineer a progress bar that appears faster, even though the actual duration remains unchanged. This paper describes an experiment that sought to identify patterns in user perception of progress bar behavior."

The State of Skinning: 2007 Edition

StarDock's Brad Wardell has published his yearly 'State of Skinning' article. He concludes: "So there you have it. 2007 was a bit of a sucky year for skinners. Vista was a pain in the ass to get existing things working on. If you want to create cool new stuff on Vista, it's very painful unless you use Windows Presentation Foundation but if you do that, you'll find that your app is incredibly slow until SP1 arrives. And with so many new platforms to choose from, the skinning community is extremely fragmented. And plus, Bill Gates retired which just makes me sad. But 2008 looks much better. The transition to Vista should be completed soon. The software will get polished. More focus will be put on the actual skins. And skinning will likely move from just being mainstream to ubiquitous. So hold onto your hats, this year should be a great ride!"

10 Mistakes in Icon Design

"It is much easier to criticize somebody else's work than to create something cool yourself. But if you apply a systematic approach to criticizing, make a numbered list and prepare illustrations, it will be regarded as a fully-fledged analysis! In my opinion, icon design is undergoing a transitional period. On the one hand, screen resolutions are increasing, hence enhancing icons. On the other hand, we still have good old pixels. Icons sized 16x16 and even smaller are still widely used. And so, here are the most commonly observed mistakes in icon design."

Why Can’t Free Software GUIs Be Empowering Instead of Limiting?

"It's one of the more popular culture wars in the free software community: GUI versus CLI (graphics versus the command-line). Programmers, by selection, inclination, and long experience, understandably are attracted to textual interactions with the computer, but the text interface was imposed originally by technological limitations. The GUI was introduced as a reply to those problems, but has undergone very little evolution from 1973 (when it was invented at Xerox PARC) to today. So why can't we do better than either of these tired old systems?"

Visualising Fitts’ Law

I detailed Fitts' Law not too long ago in one of my usability terms articles (the series will pick up later on, by the way, I am currently too busy with my bachelor's thesis), and this article is a very detailed addition. It is a little old (October 2007), though. "Back in school, I remember that it wasn't until I started taking classes in physics that calculus made any kind of real sense to me. I just need diagrams to function. In that spirit, I thought it would be nice to go over Fitts's Law, a staple in the HCI diet, with a few visuals to explain both the concept and why it's ideas are a bit more complicated than most would have you believe."

Three Unforgivable Usability Sins

"It's hateful when a developer takes a 'shortcut' that saves that individual a couple of minutes, but thereafter causes extra effort from every single user. Awful as they are, these application design errors - all the fault of lazy developers - are entirely too common."

pt. VII: CDE

This is the seventh article in a series on common usability and graphical user interface related terms . On the internet, and especially in forum discussions like we all have here on OSNews, it is almost certain that in any given discussion, someone will most likely bring up usability and GUI related terms - things like spatial memory, widgets, consistency, Fitts' Law, and more. The aim of this series is to explain these terms, learn something about their origins, and finally rate their importance in the field of usability and (graphical) user interface design. In part VII, as promised in part VI, we focus completely on CDE, the Common Desktop Environment.

pt. VI: the Dock

This is the sixth article in a series on common usability and graphical user interface related terms . On the internet, and especially in forum discussions like we all have here on OSNews, it is almost certain that in any given discussion, someone will most likely bring up usability and GUI related terms - things like spatial memory, widgets, consistency, Fitts' Law, and more. The aim of this series is to explain these terms, learn something about their origins, and finally rate their importance in the field of usability and (graphical) user interface design. In part VI, we focus on the dock.

New Computer Interface: Blow on the Screen

Perhaps huffing at your computer might get you somewhere if research at the Georgia Institute of Technology comes to fruition. Shwetak Patel and Gregory Abowd from Georgia Tech have published a paper that describes how to use a computer microphone to determine where on a screen a person is blowing. The technique, which they call BLUI for Blowable and Localized User Interaction, can distinguish between the different sounds air makes depending on where the breath is directed. Note: This won't be part of Grow. Just so you know.

Introducing Grow

The past few weeks, as you surely have noticed, I have written a few articles on various usability terms . I explain what they mean, their origins, as well as their implications for graphical user interface design. Even though the series is far from over, I would like to offer a bit more insight into why I am diving into these subjects.

pt. V: Modes

This is the fifth article in a series on common usability and graphical user interface related terms . On the internet, and especially in forum discussions like we all have here on OSNews, it is almost certain that in any given discussion, someone will most likely bring up usability and GUI related terms - things like spatial memory, widgets, consistency, Fitts' Law, and more. The aim of this series is to explain these terms, learn something about their origins, and finally rate their importance in the field of usability and (graphical) user interface design. In part V, we focus on modes.

pt. IV: Fitts’ Law

This is the fourth article in a series on common usability and graphical user interface related terms . On the internet, and especially in forum discussions like we all have here on OSNews, it is almost certain that in any given discussion, someone will most likely bring up usability and GUI related terms - things like spatial memory, widgets, consistency, Fitts' Law, and more. The aim of this series is to explain these terms, learn something about their origins, and finally rate their importance in the field of usability and (graphical) user interface design. In part IV today, we focus on a dead horse Fitts' Law.

Brace Yourself for Adobe’s Photoshop Overhaul

Adobe Systems wants to transform its flagship Photoshop software with an interface customized to the task at hand, a potentially radical revamp for software whose power today is hidden behind hundreds of menu options. A new user interface will help Photoshop become "everything you need, nothing you don't," said Photoshop product manager John Nack, describing aspirations for the Photoshop overhaul on his blog Monday. "We must make Photoshop dramatically more configurable," Nack said. "Presenting the same user experience to a photographer as we do to a radiologist, as to a Web designer, as to a prepress guy, is kind of absurd... With the power of customizability, we can present solutions via task-oriented workspaces," Nack said.

pt. III: Desk Accessories

This is the third article in a series on common usability and graphical user interface related terms . On the internet, and especially in forum discussions like we all have here on OSNews, it is almost certain that in any given discussion, someone will most likely bring up usability and GUI related terms - things like spatial memory, widgets, consistency, Fitts' Law, and more. The aim of this series is to explain these terms, learn something about their origins, and finally rate their importance in the field of usability and (graphical) user interface design. In part III today, we focus on the desk accessory, popularly known as the widget, applet, mini-app, gadget, or whatever the fashionable term is these days.

pt. II: the Icon

This is the second article in a series on common usability and graphical user interface related terms . On the internet, and especially in forum discussions like we all have here on OSNews, it is almost certain that in any given discussion, someone will most likely bring up usability and GUI related terms - things like spatial memory, widgets, consistency, Fitts' Law, and more. The aim of this series is to explain these terms, learn something about their origins, and finally rate their importance in the field of usability and (graphical) user interface design. In part II today, we focus on the pictogramme, popularly known as the icon.