Wharton Web Symposium 2010

The University of Pennsylvania
Philadelphia, PA
July 21-22, 2010

Overall impressions and takeaways

This was an extremely good conference. It was also much more relevant than other technology focused (instead of higher ed focused) conference. I initially went into it thinking it was going to be much like the Penn State Web Conference, but it was very different. In particular, Wharton was able to book two keynote speakers that were worth the price of admission alone – Dr. Donald Normal (founder of the Human Interface Group at Apple among other credentials) and co-founder of Second Life, Cory Ondrejka.

Both keynote speakers gave insight to higher level trends that were both entertaining and thought provoking. However, most of the sessions gave me practical skills and techniques I can put into practice right now.

One surprising take away was about agile development. Cory made references to agile development during the keynote, and the ACU mobile team also talked about SCRUM – a form of agile development. Especially in today’s changing market and environment, agile development intrigued me and I hope to get into some larger projects where we could put some of those principles to use.

Day 1

Keynote 1: Living with Complexity

Don Norman

Complexity is not only good, it is essential. Our lives are complex as are the activities we do. Our tools must match the activities. People think they want simplicity, but they are wrong, as evidenced by the fact that when offered the choice between a very simple product and one with more features, they opt for the feature-laden one. We don’t want simplicity: we want understanding. Complex things can be made understandable: that is the role of good design. One solution is modularity, which is why we have so many different kitchen utensils. Which is why owing a portable computer, a desktop computer, a smart phone, and a pad computer — all of them — makes sense for some people. Each is used for a different reason, in a different setting for different purposes.

Now that material has to be available and usable on a wide variety of devices, what does this mean for designers of electronic media? Answer: It’s a nightmare. You have a challenge ahead of you. It’s better for people, but a nightmare for the design and maintenance staff.

Notes:

  • Simplicity is in the head
  • Complex vs Complicated (not the same!)
  • GUI – make things visible and discoverable
  • Make it pleasurable.  People will remember pleasure!
  • Memory is more important than actuality; experience is more important
  • Design is powerful
  • Google and Bing homepage have 20-30 clickable things, but they look simple due to design
  • Other devices – very slow refresh rate no matter how fast the connection
  • Make learning feel natural
  • Web browsers – rules of interaction are the same across platforms and devices
  • Smartphones – rules are NOT the same
  • Salt and Pepper picture (one hole vs. many on opening) – it doesn’t matter what I think.  Only matters who filled it!
  • Design the total experience
  • Everything is both a service and a product (don’t try to differentiate)
  • Don’t be too logical – emotions control decisions and memory
  • Logic has to be taught; memory is innate

Designer’s Role

  • Fight extraneous features (featuritis)
  • Modularize
  • Provide good conceptual model; user and designer mental model match, beware of scale (replace folders and files with tags and search)
  • systems thinking – the iPod is great because of the system (device with website with itunes with computer with accessories)

Summary

  • Life is complex
  • Tools to match life
  • Understanding, not simplicity
  • Simplicity is in the mind (unix vs GUI)
  • Good design can conquer complexity
  • Skill can conquer well designed complexity
  • Complex = enjoyable

Fundamentals

  • What just happened?
  • Where am I?
  • How did I get here?
  • What can I do now?

Smartphone design principles

  • Feeedback
  • Learn by exploration.  No one reads manuals.
  • Visibility
  • Consistency – being consistent is more important than being better (car pedals for example)

Case Study: Mobile App Development in Higher Ed

James Langford & Chad Martin

In 2008, ACU jumped into the world of mobile web application development with a flurry of work over a short few months, with programmers working long hours and weekends to have applications ready for 1000 incoming iPhone- and iPod Touch-toting students. By this fall, the rollout of devices will reach all undergraduates and we’ve identified new application needs based on our two years of experience.

Our case study will compare the two development efforts with primary emphasis on the second project, describing how the involvement of our UI/UX designer from the beginning enabled the vision for a new in-class tool and how the use of SCRUM has re-energized our developers

Notes:

  • ACU requires an iPod or iPhone for each student
  • They have invested a lot into their website and now investigating other possible uses
  • They demoed a great group discussion app
  • Technology in the classroom should be like a GPS device – you set it and then it’s not the focus anymore (should not be in the way of learning)
  • SCRUM/Agile development was used for 2 week development cycles of “releasable” products

Defining & Measuring Design Principles: How to Quantify User Experience

Andy Jacobson

How do you measure good design? How do you communicate improvement to metrics-driven executives? Showing off a pretty new UI has an impact, but the User Experience team at Blackboard found that it needed more quantifiable data to communicate progress and make the case for investing in user experience.

We will talk about how to define the things that are important to your users and build a model for measuring the quality of the user experience. Context for the discussion will be around developing content (help, documentation, training), but the concepts are applicable across user experience.

Notes:

  • Provided insight on how Blackboard documentation team quantifies UI for business purposes
  • They use a list of design principles to guide the process and rubric which includes: simple, delightful, engaging, useful, and reliable
  • Not scientific but useful
  • One very useful experience is internal rating/grading and see if there’s a discrepancy with users’ perspective (found out through survey)
  • At the end, we should be able to say, if we do x, y will happen, and it will cost z.

Day 2

Angry Dinosaurs: Accelerating Change and Institutional Incompetence

Cory Ondrejka

The first decade of the 21st century has been a period of rapid change as Moore’s and Metcalfe’s Laws have driven innovation and creative destruction across technology, telecommunications, media, and education. The next decade is going to move even faster. How can institutions and businesses avoid irrelevance as individuals and small teams build on the increasing power and connections available to them? How can lessons from government, the music business and Second Life be applied more broadly in our connected world?

Notes:

  • He went very, very quickly through reasons why agile development is necessary to survive in today’s market.
  • His talk is worth looking over again.  Mike Brooks has the audio recording.

The Lab, The Web, and the World: User-Centered Design over 20 years

Kevin Knabe

Kevin Knabe presents case studies that illustrate a range of lab-based, web-based, and contextual user research methods. The case studies include:

  • Macintosh out-of-box experience and Mac OS Help
    (laboratory usability testing)
  • Rodale magazine web sites
    (remote usability testing and card sort studies, web analytics)
  • Vanguard’s plan sponsor web site
    (contextual observation and interviews)

Kevin discusses the research methods used on these projects and how the findings helped to shift and shape the perspectives of the design teams.

He presents user-centered design as an ongoing process in which observation informs theory and theory informs observation—a process that produces not only smarter designs, but also smarter designers.

Notes:

  • Teacher or boss centered design vs. user centered design
  • Audience analysis?
  • A funny illustration he used (from his time at Apple) – a lady was given a computer to set up, she then proceeded to use the mouse upside down and after a few minutes said “It’s easy once you get used to it.”

Engaging the YouTube Generation

Marjorie Hassen, David Toccafondi, Sarah Jacoby, Jesse Turnbull

Penn Libraries’ Weigle Information Commons has assisted faculty and students with course assignments to create video projects since 2007. Our team of presenters will share lessons learned and provide brief demonstrations of the tools of the trade from simple webcam to professional editing software. We will suggest workflows and give examples of student-created video projects in different disciplines.

Presenters will include staff from Weigle Information Commons and Ellen Reynolds from School of Design.

Notes:

  • View video as a language.
  • Avoid effects to make up for content – it’s like punctuation
  • content trumps production
  • production value influences perception

Web-App Navigation: Makeover Techniques

Hagan Rivers

Has the navigation in your web-based application become a nasty, tangled mess? Are your users complaining how hard it is to find common functions? Are they missing critical features? It’s time to consider a web app navigation makeover.

Hagan Rivers, world-renown expert in web application design, will help you kick your makeover off. She’ll show you how to leverage the major types of navigation systems: global navigation, local navigation, cross navigation, and dashboards. You’ll learn how each type dictates where and how the navigation appears and functions.

Hagan will walk you through the common navigation-system problems and share how she fixes each. Learn how to avoid icons that aren’t contributing to the users’ experience, how to add essential cross navigation, and when to use implementation techniques, such as pull-right menus and flyovers.

Bring a big notebook. You’ll want to capture every tip Hagan has, including how to:

* Use tabs to remove navigation clutter and when they make things more complicated
* Avoid becoming over dependent on trees, by learning when they help the most
* Ensure your local navigation is visible and consistent
* Balance your global navigation, so it doesn’t take over the screen

You’ll leave the seminar bubbling with new ideas, ready to apply them directly into your application.

Notes:

  • Global navigation – persists in every screen, task initiation, contains all main screens, frequent or recent
  • Local navigation – nav I need here and now
  • cross navigation – not directly related.  like concierge – saves clicks.  don’t overuse – 3-5 max.  must be designed by hand.
  • Dashboard nav – link to screens, not reports.  story telling.  understand what the user wants
  • Icons are better for objects and status
  • most of the time, avoid icons in nav
  • trees – use for hierarchical data
  • pull right menus – buries information. combine items. try to get rid of these and use multi column instead.
  • site map – at bottom, secondary nav, supplement in long pages at bottom
  • tabs – deteriorates as sites get bigger, does NOT scale. color coding doesn’t work.
  • menubar – lessen clicks, down arrow instead of click on tab. well suited for global nav in large apps
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Learning Design Summer Camp 2010

Education Technology Services
Teaching and Learning with Technology
Penn State

7/14-15, 2010

http://ets.tlt.psu.edu/wiki/LDSC10MainPage
http://www.ustream.tv/user/psutltstream

Overall Impressions and Takeaways

For the price (free), it’s hard to complain about a conference like this. It is well organized and well put together, however, sometimes it does feel like a “local” informal gathering. Of course, there’s nothing wrong with that! If you are in tune with what’s coming down the pipe in technology and aware of what is going in the university, some of the talks are a bit redundant. However, since it was local, I was able to come and go and skip some of the sessions.

I think the summer camp is an excellent time to network.

None of the sessions this year were particularly insightful – the mobile session was very introductory and superficial and the ELMS talk was repetitive since we brought in those guys to present at WCLD. I don’t think there’s a lot of takeaways from this year’s camp, but I am definitely looking forward to finding out more about Dr. Sam Richard’s online course. His use of media in the classroom and the level of engagement (that we saw in the very small movie clips) is phenomenal and I am wondering how he did in the online environment.

Day 1

Session 1: Mobility

July 13, 2010, 1:30-4PM, 108 IST Building (but moved to the Cybertorium)

Chris Millet, Brad Kozlek, Brian Shook

  • There was a demo of a couple of different iOS apps to edit movies
  • Groups of participants went out to publish into an augmented reality app called Junaio

Day 2

Keynote

9:15AM, Cybertorium
Dr. Sam Richards

  • 100 Thomas building (class of 720 students) is more like Broadway theater than a normal classroom.  Pay attention to lights, media, stage, etc.
  • The running theme throughout his talk was that excitement is contagious.  The instructor needs to be excited in order for the course to be engaging.
  • In the backchannel (twitter, etc), there was a lively discussion about how “boring” courses might leverage some of the techniques Dr. Richards mentioned in order to engage students.  Specifically, how can something like Accounting 211 be made fun and exciting?
  • Dr. Richards actually offered his course online in the Spring 2009; evaluations aren’t available yet.

Session 1

10:15AM – 11AM
Keith Bailey and Matt Meyer

  • ELMS Demo

Session 2: Hacking Pedagogy

Cole Camplese & Christopher Long

  • Collaboration based class (without a pre-determined syllabus)
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Web Conference 2010 Notes

Penn State Web Conference 2010
Penn Stater Conference Center
June 7-8, 2010

http://webconference.psu.edu/

Overall Impressions and Takeaways

I have been to the web conference since 2005 and I don’t ever regret going to it. Most of the sessions seem to fall under two categories (1. what’s going on at Penn State or 2. technology how to’s). Both types of sessions are highly valuable to me, so that I can continue honing my skills in my work and so that I can be aware of what the rest of the university is doing.

This year, the keynotes were more entertaining than helpful. Both Jeffrey Zeldman’s and Brad J. Ward’s keynote’s were so high level that they did not provide any new insights.

All three sessions in day 1 were useful and informative. In particular, I continue to amass knowledge about mobile development and am rapidly approaching the point where much of the information in these sessions is not new anymore. Especially as I am a part of the Mobile team with WCLD, I am looking forward to putting some of this knowledge to work in the near future and finally making all these theoretical things into projects.

I was only able to attend the keynote on the 2nd day due to work commitments that could not be changed.

Day 1

Keynote – Jeffrey Zeldman

Session 1: Adobe CS5 is here!

timothyp@adobe.com
CS5
Tim Plumer, Jr., Sr. Solutions Engineer, NA Education Sales Adobe Systems Incorporated

Come see the highlights of CS5. Adobe has released the next big thing, and you will be amazed at what we did to upgrade the major creative applications in the Creative Suite product set. We have, as our goal with this release:

. Make it faster and easier to get to your creative vision
. Cross media between web and print with ease
. Design fully interactive projects without writing any code

During this demonstration you will learn how to take full advantage of the new tools in CS5 and shorten the cycle from concept to completion. Whether you use Photoshop, Illustrator, InDesign, Dreamweaver or Flash, there is
something for you to see. Whether you design primarily for the web, print or both you will learn something new.

  • Dreamweaver has an HTML5 extension kit at labs.adobe.com
  • WordPress support
  • Browser lab renders pages in different OS and Browsers (sends actual screen shots after run in actual machines at Adobe)
  • CS Live is a service to share previews
  • Onion skin view (one on top of the other)
  • Multiscreen view with media query on labs extension for designing for multiple devices

Session 2: Shut up and draw!

David R. Stong, Multimedia Specialist, Penn State

Two computers- Mac and Windows. Each has Photoshop, Fireworks, and Illustrator. Participants will have five minutes to show off their best web graphics tip or trick (or any graphics tip or trick that’s loosely applicable) on the platform and application of their choice. Like lightening talks only you, well, shut up and draw. A sign-up sheet will be available and gurus take the stage in the order they sign up.

  • Photoshop doesn’t interpret 8-bit transparency.  Fireworks does!

Session 3: Usability and the Mobile Web

Rose Pruyne, Programmer-Analyst, WebLion, Penn State

It’s true; the latest mobile browsers have greatly enhanced Web viewing. But we are not off the hook: Certain elements of Web design can still put up roadblocks for mobile users. Being aware of these can help you to design sites that are much more usable on mobile platforms. The presenter will point out design elements that present difficulties for mobile users, provide recommendations for increasing usability for the mobileweb, and share examples of sites with high mobile usability.

  • Students don’t use things that are not useful in small screens

Guidelines

  • Try to anticipate user needs, location specific functions!
  • Don’t repeat navigation
  • Breadcrumbs
  • Make simple input

Good example: Warner brothers website

socuteurl.com/figgydiddlefizzleworm

Day 2

Keynote – Brad J Ward

  • Don’t forget the face to face!!
  • Social media doesn’t matter; people matter
  • Boundaries or burnout
  • Old is not a synonym for useless
  • don’t forget the basics. handwritten notes now stand out
  • integrate old and new.  promote new with old.
  • notion that expertise that needs to come from outside is horribly wrong
  • viral happens once. people rarely remember the second attempt
  • useful. unique. ultra specific. urgent.
  • beware of phase 2. phase 2 rarely happens.  all the cool stuff happens in phase 2.
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My Adobe Max Agenda for 2009

Session 1, 10/5

Learn how easy it is to build rich Internet applications with Flash Catalyst — no programming necessary. This session covers the fundamentals of Flash Catalyst, including importing a design, adding interactivity and motion, creating your own components from artwork, structuring your design, the basics of interactive video, and publishing your design as a SWF file.

Session 2, 10/5

This expert-driven deep dive will demonstrate how to get the best quality from your H.264 encoding and publishing to the web on the Adobe Flash Platform.  Topics will include encoding parameters, analysis, resolutions, dynamic streaming, filtering, and benefits of hardware acceleration. Wrap all this up into an encoding strategy that will bring you closer to HD video on the web.

Session 3, 10/5

Explore the potential of developing a customized, security-focused, RSS-driven delivery solution. This session shows how you can use Adobe Flash Media Rights Management Server, Flash Media Server 3, and Adobe Media Player to create an end-to-end video and audio delivery solution in which content is branded to your own specifications. Also find out how the Flash Media Server plug-in architecture can be used to create custom authorization adapters, such as validation with an external LDAP server. In addition, see how to leverage Flash Media Rights Management Server for offline video playback.

Session 4, 10/5

Learn how to develop and deliver a short and simple story by taking vector assets created in Illustrator and animating them in After Effects, all without programming. Expand your Illustrator skills with new creative tools in Illustrator CS4, such as multiple artboards, the Appearance panel and the Blob Brush tool; and explore basic animation techniques in After Effects, such as parenting and the Puppet tool. This session will cover a full workflow from Illustrator through After Effects to rendering your animation for use on the web on in video.

Session 1, 10/6

Discover how RTMFP can help you develop real-time interactive media experiences and help cut delivery costs. This hands-on session will go through the fundamentals of building P2P applications using new RTMFP technologies with ActionScript. You will learn how to establish RTMFP connections, publish and subscribe to P2P video and audio, and create a real-time P2P chat application. When you’re done, you will have a working application for P2P video and chat built for Flash Player with Flash Builder.

Session 2, 10/6 – missed

Dive in to the depths of coding features of Flash Builder 4 with Scott Evans, one of the product’s lead developers. Learn keyboard shortcuts you’ll use every day, how to keep your code beautiful, cool new debugger tricks, hidden commands, and ways to extend Flash Builder. Plus, Evans promises to leave ten minutes for the audience to yell feature requests at him!

Session 3, 10/6

See how Adobe is making it possible for web developers to build cross-platform desktop applications. Learn how the platform is expanding to enable the delivery of applications not just for desktop operating systems, but also for mobile devices.

Session 4, 10/6

Learn how to incorporate accessibility support into video for Flash and interactive SWF movies. Compliance with accessibility standards such as the W3C’s WCAG 2.0 and Section 508 is readily accomplished by using best practices for development and evaluation. This session will get you moving in the right direction.

Session 1, 10/7

Learn how the Adobe Flash Platform enables multiscreen delivery of applications, from the biggest screen to the smallest device. In this session, you’ll find out how to leverage the consistency of the Flash runtime and to develop reusable code and scalable interfaces that are device aware. Come and see many Flash technology enabled devices in action — the Flash runtime on smartphones, Internet-enabled media tablets, MIDs, Chumby, game consoles, and more.

Session 2, 10/7

See how Howest University College West Flanders in Belgium implements Flash Platform design and development skills in a brand-new course program called Devine. Learn how the program prepares students for standout professional careers and see some of the innovative student work. The session will be presented by Koen De Weggheleire and Klaus Delanghe of Howest.

Session 3, 10/7

Learn about the Text Layout Framework (TLF), which delivers multilingual, print-quality typography for the web. See the new typographic capabilities inside Flash Professional that were inspired by InDesign and hear about future plans for rich text.

Session 4, 10/7

Enhance your content by making the most of its environment. As Flash Player supports new platforms and devices, your content is running on a diverse set of devices. Learn how to create applications that consider all factors. As a designer, you’ll learn how to work with different inputs, display relevant information for the device form factor, and create light and efficient visual designs. As a developer, you’ll learn the most common pitfalls for creating slow applications on mobile, how to detect what environment you are in, and how to balance performance by trading between memory and CPU.

Session 5, 10/7

Discover how interactive live streaming experiences change the way we think about live video online. High-definition video is used for broadcast, social media, and the enterprise. This session will focus on the live publishing workflow and how you can create interactive live experiences quickly. Learn the secrets of DVR within Flash Media Live Encoder and how you can leverage DVRCast to create massively scalable live events. Industry experts will also share their experiences so you can be successful in your live streaming events.

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Angel Notes to self

A way to link from an external page to the current Angel course and specific content within that course:

https://cms.psu.edu/section/content/default.asp?WCI=Goto&WCU=CRSCNT&preview=0&MATCH=some+search+string+separated+by+plus+signs

A way to link to associated files within a course:

$COURSE_PATH$_assoc/subdirectory/filename

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Sun VirtualBox.org

Sun VirtualBox (http://www.virtualbox.org/) – Just found this one today!!

It’s an open source alternative to Parallels and VMWare Fusion.  x86 virtualization.  It’s not just for Macs.

Just installed and updating windows xP on my Mac Pro right now… seems a bit choppier than Parallels, but good for the price…

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Convert Jing to FLV

Note to self:

Use jing to create the SWF (save to disk)

Create a Flash project (FLA), import the .swf (seems to get rid of the Jing branding and play button interactivity) and export to desired format!

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Unison, shared keys, crontab

Learn something new every day…

Summary:

I’m using Unison from the University of Pennsylvania to do a two-way synchronization of some of my work files. I’m basically backing up my files from my work laptop and desktop.

Shared Keys:

http://wiki.dreamhost.com/index.php/SSH#Passwordless_Login
(To set up shared keys… no password for ssh)

Crontab:

http://www.adminschoice.com/docs/crontab.htm
(Set up crontab to run unison at preset times)

My crontab:
30 9,15 * * * /sw/bin/unison -batch -servercmd /sw/bin/unison /WCLD ssh://jsa161mp.local//Volumes/jsa161mp700/WCLD

(Run every day at 9:30am and 3:30pm, -batch in unison runs without prompts)

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Adobe Max 2008 organized thoughts, notes, and ideas

Just a short 2 weeks later, I can finally put down some of my thoughts and take-away’s.

Multiple Screens

Multiple screens is becoming more and more prominent. Not just mobile devices, but others including TV’s, computers, phones, MID (mobile internet device), netbooks (stripped down laptops hitting the market for under $400-300), and more. Adobe is leading a group of companies in the openScreen project. It’s not really a project, but a push towards Flash 10 in as many devices as possible. Currently, Flash Lite is what is being used in mobile devices, and it’s not consistent across manufacturers and devices. The challenge with working across multiple screens is the varied resolutions (including variables such as a software keyboard taking up screen real estate, changing from landscape to portrait mode, etc.).

Consistency

In one view of consistency, however, the focus is NOT pixel perfect identical rendering of content across devices and screens. Consistency is more in line with branding. A consistent experience. For example, the New York Times demo’ed an AIR newspaper reader. When resized or displayed on a smaller device, it didn’t shrink and enlarge the text; rather, the layout was changed so that pictures became thumbnails or disappeared, the # of columns changed, etc. The goal would be to provide a consistent, predictable, user-friendly experience across devices and screens rather than duplicating the content across multiple screens.

CS4

Flash CS4 animation is revamped (much more like After Effects)
Flash 10 Player is revamped with “3D” effects (from Flex)
AIR has integrated the webtool kit (html rendering engine in Safari browsers)
CS4 has better integration between apps; they added a few file types to go between applications (such as FXL between Premiere and Flash, FXP between Catalyst and Flex)
SWF’s are searchable and indexable

Other interesting Adobe products

Flash Catalyst (previously Thermo) is a great rapid prototyping tool (take PSD work on it in Catalyst then program it in Flex)
Alchemy – compile c/c++ into Flash (WHOOO)

Possible Projects to pursue

Adobe AIR (desktop/internet application hybrid)
With the introduction of a more robust HTML rendering engine in AIR, we can now deliver most content (such as World Campus courses) in AIR and build an interface and experience around it. A custom World Campus or Penn State web browser would go a long way to adding interactivity (or at least make it easy and provide a framework to do so). We would be able to add Flash/Flex pieces all around the content with ease. Also, it’d open the door to offline coursework.

Designer vs. Developer, “jack of all trades”

My official position at work in this moment in time is “Multimedia Specialist.” At Max, every session ended with a survey. The first question had a series of bubbles across the top and two of the options were “designer” and “developer.” My time at Max has been a good reflective time to figure out a better, more defined direction for my career. I’ve always felt that I was a “jack of all trades, but master of none.” This is easily seen in my musical endeavors (I can play trumpet, trombone, drum(set), guitar, bass guitar all at a advanced beginner level). It’s also a conscious decision I had to make about sports a year back. As I was preparing for a wedding and marriage and got busier with living life, playing ping pong, tennis, basketball, volleyball, snowboarding, and rollerblading just wouldn’t work out. I decided to focus on just tennis and volleyball – with a little snowboarding on the side. What a difference! Having focus in my life has been great and it gives me more time to do what I love to do. I think I am now on the crossroads of figuring out a career path. Designer? Developer? I’ve only been working for 3+ years (all with Penn State since June ’05) and it’ll be a fun time figuring out where to go.

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