Tag: <span>WANT</span>

I know a lot of you bemoan the fact it grabs huge chunks of memory, and that it has the audacity to organise your music into folders for you. I know this but, as I run on a nice chunky PC with plenty of memory and I don’t really care WHERE my music is stored as long as I can get to it all, then suffice to say I’m a happy bunny when it comes to iTunes. Even more so with the latest version.

And, in particular, that little Genius button.

I have a stupid amount of music in my library, a lot of which I rarely listen to as well as several Christmas albums which I don’t WANT to listen to other than for the entire month of December (I don’t actually get a choice in that matter). Because I have a large library of music I find that, quite frequently, I “lose” an album or two.

Most usually it’ll be a newer album which will sit in my “Recently Added” Smart Playlist for 4 weeks before then disappearing into the depths of my library, wherein it will remain until a random encounter reminds me that it was actually pretty good and why aren’t I listening to it more often??

And this is where the Genius button comes into play.

The premise is simple, select a track, click the button and iTunes will present you with a playlist based on that track culled from your entire library.

What I’m guessing it’s doing is quite complex. Firstly it collates the details of your library (artist, track title, maybe genre?) and uploads that to the iTunes Store library. It then runs an algorithm that comparies the track with similar tracks that other users have bought, matches them based on some magical criteria and then sends that information back to your iTunes library, where it sits and waits until you click the Genius button.

After that, weekly updates are sent to and from your library and the iTunes Store library to make sure the Genius button has up-to-date information from which to make it’s best guess when compiling your Genius playlist for you.

The information sent to the iTunes Store is anonymous, and I’ll admit that I have a few albums that were… ahem.. appropriated through non-legal routes, but there has been no knock on the door and I can use those tracks to generate a Genius playlist.

The idea isn’t without some glitches. The information stored against the MP3 needs to match what the iTunes Store has and it would be nice if it was a little smarter, possibly using a best match kinda thing rather than (it seems) an exact match only.

But after using it for a week or so, I am already a fan. No more faffing about creating playlists by hand or by crafting some weird and wonderful Smart Playlist, instead find a track you like, click the Genius button and away you go!!

Genius.

Media

I’m getting royally fedup with a lot of what I read that is written in the name of usability. Maybe it’s just a personal loathing of the overly academic, or perhaps I lean towards simplicity a little too heavily but SHEESH, some of the better known experts can’t half prattle on…

I’m a member of the usability team at work, largely because I made a lot of noise about it when I joined the company, but also because as a technical communicator who is passionate about the entire experience of using a product, I realise that the interface is THE most important part of communication between user and product.

I’ll let that one sink in, shall I?

Despite our own protestations, we all know that while good documentation is crucial to a product, it’s the user interface that carries the bulk of the load of communicating the capabilities of the application. With that in mind it makes sense to be as involved as possible with the design of the interface for, as I read somewhere many moons ago, we [technical communicators] are “the interface to the interface”. So, if nothing else, getting involved in usability and screen (UI) design for your application should make the job of documenting the software a lot easier.

Now, I’ll happily admit I’m still very much a novice in this area, but I’ve picked up enough knowledge over the years to be dangerous. I’m very aware that my advice tends towards what I would consider common sense, but generally speaking I base my UI design comments, and generally usability thoughts, on the following processes:

  • Simple task analysis – picking out the main usage of the application should be pretty straightforward, but sometimes narrowing that down into distinct tasks can be trickier, so I tend to mentally “step back” everytime I approach a new screen and ask myself what it is I would WANT to be able to achieve given where I am in the application. Often you will find that the flow of the UI isn’t quite right.
  • Narrow your view – the next step is to pick out each control to make sure the label, text or icon make sense. It’s very easy to get caught up in the overall task and presume too much.
  • Quick, write something! – this step can be done mentally, with pen and paper, or just start typing. I often find that it’s only when trying to “tell the story” of how to use an application that all the pieces finally fall into place… and then you realise that one is missing.

As I said, I’m no expert but my approach seems to give reasonable results. Yes with formal analysis, metrics and so on, you can always improve things but sometimes perhaps good enough is good enough?

I sometimes wonder if I’m actually doing more damage than good so I’m quite careful that my opinion isn’t the only one (ok ok, isn’t the LOUDEST one), and I try and keep up with things – Boxes and Arrows & Jakob Neilsen for example – and I’m convinced that there is a big enough overlap between the two professions that one day I’ll be hiring a “usability writer”. No… a “technical usabilitist”…

Work

If you are squeamish when it comes to the whole “burning metal” “eye” “doctor” “clamps” type thing (the “eye” bit especially) then do NOT go and read Alan’s latest posts. Well do, obviously, cos they are well writ. But I’ll fully admit that I can’t read the last two paragraphs of part three of his story. Physically can’t do it.. ick ick ick.

Why do the fingernails of one hand get dirtier than the other?

If the store is not open, why let us walk in through the front doors, descending the escalators and, amidst the staff stocking the shelves, let us start filling our shopping baskets? There were around 5 or 6 other customers wandering around the food court in M&S this morning, and only after five minutes or so did one of the members of staff deign to tell us that, actually, sorry, but the store isn’t open yet. So I went three doors down and got my stuff in Tescos.

Having bought several t-shirts online, why can’t I find similar stores that sell shirts? Smart, casual shirts for everyday wearing is what I’m after. A bit bored of polo shirts. Cost, originality, and longevity are king. Loud patterns and ‘hot fashion’ are out.

Upcoming posts on this blog:

  • The reconstruction of self prompted by Hg
  • Why I’m not buying a Mac (boy, that’ll be a fun one)
  • Commenting, what’s all the fuss?

Which camera should I buy, a Canon G7 or something else??

Sometimes when I’m settling down to work, I struggle to pick the “right” music. Why is this?

I have a blog design to complete, it’s taken me flippin ages, far far longer than intended but no matter how many times I visited it I got stuck. Lesson: make sure I’M fully happy with what is expected, and that the client provides firm ideas of what they want. Or I end up just designing things that *I* like. Speaking of which, I have a new design for this site waiting in the wings, just need to find some time to switch it over. One man designs is slowly moving forward… ohh that reminds me, need to update THAT site too…

Current fashion: Those knee-high white boots all the girlies are wearing, what is THAT all about? Who started that and does everyone realise who ghastly it looks? (says the high doyen of fashion here…)

And finally, www.mclean.co.uk is STILL being sat on and all attempts to email the person sitting on it have failed. A letter is being sent to the WHOIS registered address. This is really bugging me now. I WANT THAT DOMAIN!

Blogging Work

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There is a long rambling post that refuses to tumble out of my head. It’s centred around how what I digest forms my own “micro-culture”, and whether the fact that I don’t really identify with any single “macro-culture” means that I’m cultureless?

Gosh, doesn’t that sound like something awfully twee and if I were to try and write it all down I’d probably disappear up my own arse, so I’ve paired it down to the following few thoughts, presented in now particular order.

~ Culture is such a large facetted entity that I always struggle to get a grip on it’s component parts other than realising that what I digest, the inputs, form a part of who am I, what I believe and think, and are largely responsible for the micro-culture that I maintain.

~ Ohh and I’m working on the presumption that we all have our own unique micro-culture. You are what you consume.

~ I’d do one of those “overlapping circle” diagrams (a la indexed) but I fear they are already fading into obscurity. In fact that’s one aspect of culture tracking that niggles, the speed of change which the internet has brought about.

~ Apparently the iPod is in danger of becoming ‘uncool’ because it’s so ubiquitous. Top Gear made the same argument about the BMW 3-series, arguing that as the BMWs were everywhere, buying a Ford Mondeo would be the cool(er) option as they were considerably less abundant on the roads. THAT, ladies and gentlepeeps, is some flawed logic. Yet it does help make the point that, as consumerism rises and we becoming increasingly materialistic, what chance does

~ The inputs, the defining factors of my micro-culture are largely chosen by me, but the reasoning behind their choice may suggest that I’m trying to create a false impression of what that micro-culture is. Why do I buy books by renowned authors then labour my way through a trashy ‘thriller’? I WANT quality inputs but not at the price they demand of my intellect? Or do I fear that I either won’t be able to understand them, or that they will not leave my ‘micro-culture’ as enhanced as I’d like? Are they, in this example, TOO niche?

~ Defining moments occur in every culture. Is 9/11 mine? It sometimes feel like I have no culture, I don’t identify with the 80s particularly strongly, nor the 90s as it’s only now that I feel I understand myself well enough to be comfortable. I feel like part of an in-between generation (or merely an undecided micro-culture?) that is awaiting the next phase of change. So much has changed, in every facet of life, in the past thirty years that I wonder if the concept of a generations will ever really hold true in the future?

~ My culture is what I digest. Yet I embrace all that I can, old and new, controversial and staid, so is that why I cannot identify with the macro-culture of others? There is always an overlap, always, but never enough to sustain.

And so on and on and on…

Now, if anyone can make any sense of that I’d welcome your input. Hmm this might catch on, a “get your readers to write your post” feature, how typical of the “want it now” culture.

Personal Musings

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What I WANT to write:

Because I’m hot, tired and fucking grumpy.

I’ve mentioned this before, I’m sure, but what is with the ‘bash brigade’? Some things are popular for a reason. You aren’t expected to like it but it doesn’t make you smart, or clever, or even much fun if all you seem to do (seem) is take cheap potshots at “popular culture”. Popular culture IS cheap, it’s the lowest common denominator, THAT’S WHY IT WORKS.

So, please, enough with the repeated “why is [blah] like [blah] these days?” or “why is everyone [blah]ing this? It’s rubbish”. I get it. Move on.

I’ve had it, and I mean “closing the blog and fucking off” had it, with all this negative fucking energy. You wanna moan and grump and constantly CONSTANTLY judge and criticise, fine. Go for it. But don’t expect me to keep reading, or to listen. I have neither the energy or inclination.

Bunch of moany faced motherfucking weans. Grow the fuck up. And yes, I’m fully aware that writing all of this lowers me to your level, boo hoo. I feel so bad about that. Not.

Ohh and if I COULD turn comments off for this post I would but I can’t be arsed. So please, to anyone who reads this, enough with the “ohh that was me he meant” bullshit, remember, you are only the centre of YOUR universe, the rest of us think beyond the end of our own nose.

Fuck me, I’m fed up.

What I will write:

Blogging is supposed to be fun. I’m not finding this much fun at the moment, so I think things will be light around here. I’m in the midst of improving my fitness and the way I live my life and I’m re-assessing everything. Admittedly I’m hyper-HYPER-sensitive at the moment, and a lot of daft wee things are irking me more than I care to admit.

Anyway, thanks for the suggestions for music. I’ll post details of the final playlist, and the winner for best “Power Track” soon.

Be good, and if you can’t be good, be nice.

This post comes to you from both sides of my character.

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A lot of blogs are filled to bursting with rants and moans about this company or that product. So today, by way of change, I thought I’d bring you a success story which, as the title suggests, is about The Oggy Oggy Pasty Company, specifically about their branch in Glasgow.

Why?

Because the staff are friendly, efficient and put the customer first. Which whilst it’s nothing particularly startling, still demands praise.

Now, take your usual lunchtime food outlet, a Greggs or local sandwich shop for example. You stand in line, and by the time you reach the front of the queue, and can finally see everything that is on offer, you MUST place your order immediately: “WHADDYA WANT?” This is usually said in a tone that suggests that if you don’t place your order in the next three seconds, somewhere a kitten will meet a brief yet painful death. Probably in a blender.

In a panic you point randomly at the counter, and blurt out “EYELLAVETHATONE”, then watch with horror as the smoked salmon, pickle and banana baguette you’ve just ordered is thrust into a one-size-too-small bag. Then, once you’ve paid and as soon as the change touches the palm of your hand, the person who served you is yelling at the next person in the queue: “WHADDYA WANT?”

Yes, I know they are busy but it would take the smallest of efforts to improve their customer service, and save numerous kittens.

So when I walk into Oggy Oggy, and I’m greeted with a smile and a hello — not a “whaddya want?” — it’s like a little ray of sunshine has entered my lunchtime. I’m given time to peruse the goods on offer, and when I’m ready to order I don’t have to spend five minutes trying to get the attention of the staff, they are right there, keeping busy but aware that I will need served.

I’m thanked for my order. When they give me my change they place the notes in my palm first, then the coins (a personal bug-bear I know), they ask me if I would like the pasty double-bagged to keep it warm, and when I leave they smile and say goodbye.

They don’t upsell (would you like the larger pasty?) or try any add-on sales (would you like a drink as well?), they just let you order what you want, safe in the knowledge that good customer service goes a long way. Or at the very least it seems like thats what they think and, as the customer, that’s all I’m bothered about.

The fact that the pasties are delicious, come in many varied flavours (sweet and savoury), and that they have a loyalty card (get your tenth pasty free) only adds to the feelgood factor. Hmmm, that’s not entirely right of course, if the pasties were rubbish then all the good sales techniques in the world wouldn’t help but, as the pasties are like little parcels of baked heaven, you get my point.

So I say BRAVO to The Oggy Oggy Pasty Company and in particular, the owner of it’s Glasgow franchise. If you are ever in Glasgow and find yourself on Gordon Street, keep an eye out for it (come out of the north entrance of Central Station, turn right and head for Borders. It’s on your left once you’ve crossed the road), or maybe there’s one near you?

Now, I wonder if they do a haggis version in their English stores?

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Don’t let the title put you off, this is no ordinary meme. Firstly, and for a change, I know who started it, but most of all this meme requires a fair amount of pondering and no small amount of writing – after all, you’ll be trying to match up to a published author! Enough of my waffle then – there are six parts to this meme, instructions included for clarity.

1. The Dying of Delight
“Briefly describe an aspect of your life for which ‘The Dying Of Delight’ would be an apt title.”

The state of delightedness, of enchantment, is hard to attain. So hard that many people stop trying and let themselves be grind down by the machinations of life. They’re too busy, too important, too stressed, too hurried to let delight creep into their lives. Take a look around you, everywhere you look you’ll see it, the mirroring of lost souls reflected softly and completely in the ripples of a puddle, a leaf cartwheeling and spinning along the pavement.

I refuse this state. Not constantly, nor with any great zeal or vigour but steadily and continually. My delight will not be left to dribble away, to become so muted as to be ignored regardless of the events of my life. I refuse.

For without delight what have we? Darkness descending, and everything you care for pushed away, held away at arms length and beyond. I refuse.

My delight may fade, sputter and spin in the wind but I will not let it be extinguished. Life without delight is surely too terrible and morose to contemplate, and leads down a path I’ve trodden before. Once more I refuse.

OK, that wasn’t in keeping with the spirit of things but it’s what came out…

2. The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time
“Pick another book whose title has some resonance in your life, and write a little about it.”

The book deals, in a roundabout way, with seeing things from a different point of view and I guess it’s something I’ve always thought I did quite well. I occasionally put it down to the fact that I’m a Libra, but as I don’t really believe in that kind of nonsense I guess I should really try and pin it down with something a little more concrete (a large piece of masonry perhaps?).

I can remember, whilst still at school, hearing about someone’s older sister who had become a diplomat. I can remember looking the word up, and the definition of diplomatic stuck in my head. I can remember thinking “I could do that”, and for a long time time I believed I could.

Fast forward twenty years and I know now – ain’t hindsight wonderful – that I’m not as diplomatic as I thought, and that whilst I can usually see both sides of each story and usually find it easy to empathise with the other person, I’m frequently becoming more and more intolerant and rigid in my views. Liberals are too liberal, conservatives too conservative, and nowhere can I find a middle ground that suits me.

For a while I lost my ability to see things from a different point of view and, if I’m honest, it was hugely liberating and scared me shitless. From being a considerate and thoughtful human being I suddenly became a single-minded, blinkered shadow of myself. I didn’t like it one bit.

These days I treasure my ability to view things from a different angle, to see the other side, and ultimately to understand that other people have to do things the way they do them, even if I don’t understand the reason why.

3. What Women Want Men to Know
“Write one more short personal piece – one which matches the book title chosen (in part 2) by the person who tagged you.”

The glib answer would be something witty and comic, a good old fashioned sexist comment like “they want you to know what they WANT without them knowing themselves” or something simpler like “they want you to know that if you leave the toilet seat up one more time they’ll place your knackers under it and slam it shut”…

The real answer is harder to find because I’m not entirely sure I know any of the answers. I’m still learning you see, and maybe that’s the best way. Rather than presume what I THINK women want men to know, by which I mean what Louise wants me to know, it’s better to work from the assumption that you need to listen, learn and constantly re-evaluate everything you think you knew.

That sounds very tiring but trust me, when it’s with someone you love that’s half the fun! (the other half I can’t mention on here… my Mum reads this you know..)

4. The Dying of Delight
“Take your favourite little-known book and plug it to your readers. Authors need incomes, and word of mouth is one of the best ways to sell books.”

Is this cheating? Possibly, but it’s the best “little-known” book I’ve read in a long long time, so why the hell not. Here’s what I had to say about it. Now visit www.TheDyingOfDelight.co.uk and see if you’d like a copy for yourself.

5. Sit back and marvel at the magnificence of this meme.
It was brought to you by an out-of-breath author, reduced (on account of her publisher* having expired) to trundling copies of her book across the internet on a rusty old trolley with one wheel missing, sweating and shouting “Buy me book, Gov?” Now visit www.TheDyingOfDelight.co.uk and see if you’d like a copy for yourself.

6 .Tag five people with this meme
Whether the people I’m tagging have the time, or inclination, will be seen but I’ve chosen carefully.

First up, that book reader extraordinaire, Karen. Then, in no particular order (and without introduction as it’s late and I’m knackered) Clair, Daisy, Lyle and, to try and tempt him back into blogland, Mr. Hg.

Blogging

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M74

Unlike Route 66 and the N17, no-one has ever written a song about the M74, but there is time for that to change.

With the news that the proposed extension of the “motorway that goes nowhere” is to be built, and naturally that a variety of protest groups are up in arms at the decision (for some good reason), there is a chance for this dead-end of a motorway to grab a share of the spotlight and gain some notoriety.

For those not in the know, the M74 ends in a roundabout (hence the dead-end references) and is mainly used as a link from the M8 on the journey south to England. Before we moved to Hamilton, which sits on the M74, we used it a lot whilst travelling up from Aylesbury, so we know the way quite well.

Perhaps it’s time to break out the visual aids.

Our route on M74

The red dot is Hamilton. The green line is the current route for anyone travelling from the M74 onto the M8, up and round the back of Glasgow and on towards the west. As you can see the proposed extension will cut a large distance from the journey, not to mention avoiding the notorious Kingston Bridge altogether. For that reason, and the fact that the main reason we generally use the M8 is to travel past Glasgow, I think the proposed extension is a wonderful idea.

But then there is the pollution and impact on the environment to consider. One option would be a viable public transport alternative, except there already is one, the trains run from Hamilton through Glasgow to Balloch at Loch Lomond but we car users do like the comfort and flexibility of controlling our own travel times so that’s never really going to be an option for many.

What else to consider? Pollution, impact on the environment? More than three quarters of Scotland isn’t even inhabited. You want fresh air? Move to Auchtermuchty!

If I’m honest, the main thing that annoys me about this entire thing is the guilt tactics employed by the protest groups. I’m fully aware these things will have an impact on the environment but for my own selfish needs I WANT the extension built. It’ll knock about 15 minutes OFF the time it takes to drive through to Dumbarton, something we do every other weekend, and will also mean our car is emitting less and we’ll be using less fuel.

So, to appease my own inner demons, I guess what I really need to do is find where the balance between the impact cost of building the extension is “equalled” by lowering pollution and saving on fuel use. I feel a rough guess coming on… how about year 2063?

Well it’s either that or buy a bike…

News

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