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Messages - JavaJones [ switch to compact view ]

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Thanks for the responses so far!

Clever and good UI design can still be simple, even minimalist. In fact cutting down a design to the bare minimum necessary is a huge skill in itself. So examples of good minimalist designs that *hide underlying complexity* (either in functionality or in the concepts/knowledge underlying the app functions) are absolutely useful! Making a simple UI for a simple app is less impressive and interesting, of course. ;)

The first one i think of is a software i use every day:
Great ui, everything is under your fingers, just before you need it. It's a programme to design in 3d, easy to use, light, great intuitive ui

This is exactly what I was looking for as my interest is actually specifically in 3D as well! I didn't want to focus too much in that area so as not to skew feedback. :D There are some nice aspects to that app, but if you have any more detail you can provide, specific things you like in the UI (especially vs. other well-known apps with similar functionality), that would be great. If not no worries.

Hi JavaJones,

if you are adventurous I will suggest the following,
1. Use mouse hover action
2. Bigger buttons or images in place of buttons
3. Change color / image on click or mouse hover
4. Show window in slide and close in fade ways
5. Play some small ding dong
6. All messages, even error ones should be funny, like you are saying to your pals.

But as Mouser said, keep an option 'Disable Animation/CPU hog etc.', as user will very soon want a simple cleaner interface to get the job done fast.

Thanks for those ideas. I agree, some of that is good. I especially like panels that are available to slide in/out as-needed, dynamic state change, and prominent but unobtrusive visual indication of status, changes, etc.

Speaking of interesting UI ideas, concepts, approaches, etc. your last comment about having an option for simplification made me think of this:

Any more ideas or examples? Thanks!

- Oshyan

So much 4wheeling! Awesome. They look like fun places. I love that open fir with the "bar" (or spent bottles?) on the "mantle". :D

- Oshyan

Hi folks! I'm in the process of conceptualizing a new graphics program and I'm looking for ideas and inspiration in user interface design. I would love to see your favorite examples of excellent, well designed, intuitive, even "clever" User Interfaces in applications (not websites). Aesthetics matter too, but I'm mostly interested in functional design.

It would be especially helpful to see examples of applications with complex functionality that is exposed through an intuitive UI. 3D programs, music programs, etc. Creative applications, content creation, that kind of thing.

Ideally examples would be from desktop applications, but mobile apps (phone/tablet) are useful tool. Basically any UI that has ever made you go "wow, I wouldn't have thought of that" or use words like "inspired", "ingenious", or "slick" to describe it. The kind of UIs that are immediately intuitive and easy to use, appealing to look at, and a pleasure to interact with. With everything where it "should" be and no actions taking more steps than seem necessary.

Examples of UIs with some nice ideas and "touches", but that are not necessarily a cohesively awesome UI all around also helpful. But I'm really looking for excellent all-around design examples.

Thanks much!

- Oshyan

It's been a while since I visited this thread. Nice to see it still going! Here's my latest from Puerto Rico, including some underwater shots! (and I went to Death Valley late last year but haven't had a chance to process those):

- Oshyan

Sorry for the delay guys, and thanks for the initial replies!

We found several services that send physical cards, which are great but *comparatively* expensive. That was the initial plan, send real, physical cards, but the cost overhead is just too high to make it worthwhile.

So yes, this is a very specific use-case. In this situation it's a way of delivering a specifically requested piece of content to a customer. More specifically, these are "rewards" for Patreon, Kickstarter, or other crowd funding efforts. I know that may sound lame, still like something you wouldn't want to receive even as a donor, but imagine for example you have a traveling circus show that you're helping to fund, the idea is that you would get a semi-personalized custom card from the circus troupe from every location they visit (the card design and content are unique for each location).

The hope here is to provide a little sense of personality and connection that an average (or even good) mass email just doesn't do. It may not ultimately be a good idea, and that's useful feedback if it's true. But it's important to think of the actual scenario we're talking about here. It's the equivalent of getting, say, a sticker from a crowdfunding campaign for contributing. Do people actually want or do anything with the sticker? Probably not, for most. But an e-card with something personal from the latest performance location of the group might be nice(er). Plenty of crowdfunding campaigns do stickers, or other things, and yes these are physical items that have that value vs. digital, but if the digital can be more personal, more unique, and can be regularly updated (a new card from each location), that seems to have value over the physical, in my view.

Maybe I should have started by asking the even more general question of what kind of rewards might be of interest to people in that kind of crowdfunding scenario that would also be low-cost (after all what's the point of contributing to someone's patreon if most of your donation goes to your reward+Patreon fees+card processing fees?). If so I'll start a different thread for that. But for now I'm still curious to see if anyone has any ideas for how to meet this specific need.


- Oshyan

OpenMe is another service that just misses the mark:

They are all template-based as well, but they have a "blank" photo template. Unfortunately it doesn't have a normal "signature" style, it puts the name at the bottom of the card interrupting the frame. Not a deal breaker, but a little non-ideal. More importantly it doesn't seem to have any personalization of the "to" part. And that *is* pretty much a deal breaker. It also has advertising/branding in the email sent to the recipient. And while there's a decent web view, it would be nice to be able to zoom in as well and get a higher quality view.

So again a *business-oriented* (i.e. brandable) option would really be helpful here. One that has the above features, of course.


- Oshyan

Hi folks, I've got a sudden and surprising need for some kind of "ecard" (electronic card) system or service and I thought the DC community might have some ideas for how to address this need.

The basic requirement is for a system that:
  • Web-based, ideally (we don't want customers to have to download e.g. an app to their computer or phone to view
  • Allows easy creation of card-like visually-oriented messages (think traditional ecards)
  • Allows use of custom images provided by the user, preferably able to specify "cover", "inside", and maybe even "back"
  • Ideally the text is all customizable and has a hand-written look (e.g. a "script" type font)
  • Can handle automatic mailing to a list or group of people
  • Can personalize the text on each message with e.g. {first_name}, so that you get e.g. "Dear Bob Johnson" in the "card" contents
  • Provides some kind of way for the recipient to view the card in a nice way, something as simple as images of the front, inside, and back, or a more dynamic approach that lets them click to flip between views or something

So the general idea in this particular case is our "user" would create a base card in the real world, some kind of hand-drawn design, then scan that and use it for the cover and possibly interior or back. Then they upload this to the "system" and write a message in the online editor. They upload their contacts (or select from a list they previously uploaded), and the system can then send out ecards to those contacts with custom greeting per-contact.

The bottom line goal is to have a way to contact and thank customers in a customized way that includes their name and custom imagery/graphics/etc. And to be able to create and send this out easily and quickly. So for example of course one could do this all in Photoshop or InDesign but the process of customizing the card for each recipient and sending it out would be laborious.

This probably sounds suspiciously like typical mailing list system features, but from what I've seen the main issue there is very few mail clients support anything but basic fonts. Web font support (or Google Fonts) is quite limited, even in Gmail. So the ability to do e.g. "Hi Bob Johnson" in a nice-looking (i.e. script font) way is quite limited if not impossible. Most of these systems also don't provide card-like templates, nor do they have web-based viewing systems with any sophistication (i.e. with a way to view front, inside, and back of card in a nicely presented way). It would all work in a pinch, certainly, but it's pretty non-ideal and not really capable of the full feature list here.

I have searched around Google of course and have found no end of very, very bad ecard sites (it seems, perhaps unsurprisingly, to be a market full of garbage, make-a-quick-buck type sites with terrible content and horrible design/functionality). Most of them are heavily template-focused, with lots of terribly-designed holiday themed cards, Thank-You cards, etc, etc. Custom capabilities (e.g. upload image for front of card) are limited when available (which is only in a minority of cases anyway). And none of them seem to have good contact management. Many also have advertising, etc. The need here is for a business-oriented system, one we're happy to pay for to get good service, but ideally at a price that is competitive with other mailing-type services.

There was one "business-oriented" ecard site I found, but it seems to be largely template-oriented and the ability to upload e.g. custom front images is unclear. They have a "custom" option but it's more like a service to design a card for your company, which is probably expensive. The card send-outs themselves are also not cheap, around $.80/each for 100 at a time. MailChimp, by contrast, is free up to 2000 or so recipients! That price would be acceptable if they supported all needed features, but they seem to be pretty focused on their own pre-existing designs which won't work for this need.

Then there's B2B Ecard Which seems again heavily focused around templates, in this case even narrower, around specific holidays. Even their "Custom" option seems holiday-oriented. And it's all quite expensive-seeming to boot!

There's also Smilebox, which is an app that requires install on a desktop machine, and I haven't tested it yet. It may do some or all of what is needed here, but again it seems very template-oriented and we're more interested in providing our own graphics. I thought someone here might either know what Smilebox can do from personal experience, or have a better suggestion.

Are there any better options out there folks?


- Oshyan

General Software Discussion / Re: Picasa to be 'phased out'
« on: March 18, 2016, 02:03 AM »
In my experience Picasa only stores another copy of a photo if you tell it to.

People who "like" to keep photos still on their cards are almost certainly doing so for a bad reason. They should be disabused of their foolish notions rather than pandered to with software features. ;)

Last but not least, Google Photos does do face recognition, plus "object" recognition:
Facebook does face recognition as well, though it's not really an appropriate replacement since it's public by default and has no editing tools. Flickr has some "recognition" stuff but it doesn't yet do individual faces (i.e. your great aunt Gladys vs. your uncle Bob). It will just recognize that there are *people*/faces in a given photo.

OK, I lied about that being the last thing. Personally I don't use Picasa anymore, but I really did love it for its face recognition, and also found it really useful to recommend to many people as a simple, easy to use *local* photo organizer and simple editor. Google Photos has limited storage space unless you cut down the resolution of your photos or pay for more storage, and that sucks. As local storage gets cheaper and cheaper, it's still really nice to be able to store photos on a hard drive! Of course I realize it's only a matter of time before that balance will probably shift, where having anytime, anywhere access is better. Even now the issue of cross-platform photo syncing is a concern that Google Photos helps manage (though not very well on desktop, in my experience). So... yeah, I'll miss Picasa, sad but not surprised it's being discontinued.

- Oshyan

I'm glad to hear the discount link is still working. Let us know what you think of iDrive once you have it up and running!

- Oshyan

What a stroke of luck that I saw this. I didn't have notification turned on, I haven't logged-in for months, and just randomly decided to. :D

Anyway, iDrive. Well... unfortunately I can't recommend it wholeheartedly, but maybe with some caveats/reservations.

It's a tremendously ambitious product and I think that's where they're falling down. It tries to do local and cloud backup, sync, mobile backup, disk imaging, cloud file sharing, and more, across multiple platforms (including, as I said, mobile). And their prices are generally competitive. Which means they're trying to do more stuff within the same revenue envelope/profit margins, which generally means corners will be cut. In this case I think the corners are cut in both Support and Development/QA.

What you end up with is a product that, when it works, works decently but not exceptionally. It is programmed (seemingly) in a functional but not clever or elegant way. Functions like deduplication are simplistic or outright missing/not working, for example. If you move a file to a new location it has to re-upload it (last I checked, admittedly it's been a few months since I did, I just stopped worrying about it). When it does a backup it has to scan all your files again and it takes ages with large file sets, even though the app is running all the time and theoretically should *know* what has changed already. The realtime backup is a separate function from the normal backup.

Perhaps one of the most important things is that the notification system for failed backups is *part of the application itself*. This means if the application fails to start for some reason (as happened to my mother for many months recently), then you may never realize it and your data could be not backed up without your knowledge! This contrasts with Crashplan (and presumably many other providers, though I don't know for sure) which have the cloud platform itself, i.e. your backup account, notify you if no data comes in for x days. I still get notifications from Crashplan that I haven't backed up in like 9 months. ;) Other than that silliness (I stopped paying ages ago, why hasn't my account been deleted?), the idea of notifying from the cloud account makes tons more sense because then you know if your local application is not doing its job! If you rely on the application to notify you, your likelihood of failure is much higher.

The big problem though is that while these issues are generally fixable (in some cases it seems it should be fairly simple to fix something, like the notifications for example), when you report them to their support you generally get nowhere. Support is bad in my experience, and that's a problem. I am really just hoping that their dev team is actually working and improving things and that with time it will get better enough.

In the end for me there are just very few real options. I have a very large amount of data, over 3TB with millions of files, and I don't have a bidirectional gigabit connection nor $100s of dollars to spend every month for backup. If price were not a concern I might use some kind of AWS-backed setup since they have an option to mail physical disks for initial data seed. But given price sensitivity, iDrive is one of the very few options that offers data seeding (for free no less!) and that also does local+cloud backup. The fact they do a lot of other things is interesting and sometimes helpful too. I've actually used the cloud file sharing a few times and been happy it existed, even if it's a little clunky. But I'd happily sacrifice that and some other functions for a more reliable and well coded core app.

That being said, Crashplan - one of the few other options - was just consuming way too much memory, and had its own reliability issues at times as well. iDrive works *most* of the time and does its job adequately, as far as I can tell. If I had less data or more money, I'd probably recommend something else (not sure specifically what). But given my needs I'm still sticking with iDrive for a while longer to see how it develops. If they can deliver on the promise of their app+service it could actually be incredible. Having all these features in one app *could* be great if they were all well developed and reliable. Let's hope they get there...

- Oshyan

General Software Discussion / Re: flamory
« on: November 08, 2015, 12:11 PM »
OK, I tried it. I am... not totally impressed. It is definitely an interesting application, with some useful and interesting features. But the interface is slow, clunky, and not very responsive or well thought-out. The data retention and "sharing" (with the developer) policy is not great IMO. The app has a system tray icon *and* a persistent taskbar icon, which seems pretty unnecessary. And the "history" function (automatic capture of your browsing history) while promising, is implemented very poorly (and yes, I know what you're thinking, don't browsers already have history?). I could go into detail but bottom line is I wouldn't recommend it at this time.

I *do* like the idea, and the simple built-in tools for annotating your captures. A similar such tool with a better and more responsive UI, better organizing functionality (such as drag-and-drop to custom folder names, and/or tagging of captures), and no data mining would definitely be appealing to me.

- Oshyan

General Software Discussion / Re: flamory
« on: November 06, 2015, 07:08 PM »
It looks fairly interesting to me for my needs. Have you tried it? I will probably install and give it a shot...

Edit: This part in the EULA will probably put some people off:
This Software may automatically send error reports to the Company. These reports may include information about your computer and recent actions that lead to error occurrence. They will not contain your data (such as documents, texts and images) or snapshots.

This Software may automatically send usage reports to the Company. These reports may contain information related to usage of the Software, such as aggregated statistics and UI interaction patterns. They will not contain your data (such as documents, texts and images) or snapshots. These reports could be used by the Company to improve the quality of the Software.

- Oshyan

Living Room / Re: Interesting "stuff"
« on: November 06, 2015, 11:59 AM »
Probably nerds. I wore *three* watches when I was a kid (they each did different things, calculator, pedometer, altimeter). Fortunately I grew out of that nerdery, but some people don't. Target market for this thing! :D

- Oshyan

in favor of a gentler slower approach

Sometimes you just gotta romance the world universe into your bed, amiright? :D

- Oshyan

mwb1100, that seems to be what is being suggested, yes. And someone in the Reddit thread mentions the Mule example as well. :D

- Oshyan

Genius (and horrifying) stuff!

- Oshyan

Living Room / Re: Do we have any musical people on DC?
« on: November 01, 2015, 12:27 PM »
Prince is, indeed, a forking awesome guitar player. Well worth seeing him live if you get the chance.

- Oshyan

Living Room / Re: Youtube Subscription Channels
« on: October 26, 2015, 01:34 PM »
Fabric is more expensive and harder to clean. So it seems logical it's for cost/practical/functional reasons. But now I'm intrigued about fabric earphone covers...

- Oshyan

General Software Discussion / Re: Unique Solution to Pirates
« on: October 23, 2015, 06:47 PM »
Cool idea!

- Oshyan

Living Room / Re: Youtube Subscription Channels
« on: October 23, 2015, 04:48 PM »
Miles, you *can* download (store on device) your music, at least on mobile. On desktop I don't think there's an option for that (it's browser-based). You don't own the music you store on your device though, unless you actually buy it separately (Google Play *store*). You can then listen to that music offline anytime, anywhere, and it never expires, but that's just the stuff you bought. The unlimited streaming is separate, allows you to "cache" your music (download), but it won't stick around if you cancel the subscription. Does that make sense?

- Oshyan

Living Room / Re: Youtube Subscription Channels
« on: October 22, 2015, 07:17 PM »
Don't forget, though, that the $10/mo is *inclusive* not only of ad removal but also a Google Play Music subscription (unlimited streaming music) as well as the forthcoming YouTube music thingy (music video subscription thing?). I already pay $7.99 (normally $9.99, same price as YT) for Google Music and I'll apparently get YT ad free as a result. It's all bundled together, or so I'm lead to understand. In which case awesome!

Edit: Also remember that Hulu's subscription service is $7.99/mo *with* ads, and $11.99/mo without. So there's that...

- Oshyan

Living Room / Re: Youtube Subscription Channels
« on: October 22, 2015, 02:52 PM »
"Hi guys. You've gotten rich off of our platform with your original content. That's great! But we want more predictable revenue so we're rolling out a subscription model. You've got to participate if you want to keep using our service. If not, no worries, go use some other service. Vimeo? Sure, go for it! Whatever makes you happy."

Is it greedy? Maybe. Are they being a "bully"? Perhaps. Is it *fair*? Yes, absolutely, it sure is. They built the platform and made it available for free in exchange for monetizing people's videos (a practice which, by the way, earns the top YouTubers millions of dollars a year). They are free to choose how they monetize those videos, and have every right to enforce that on the users of their otherwise free service.

P.S. Welcome to television, where you pay a bunch of money for a device (TV) and then a bunch of money for a "connection" (cable), just so you can pay even more money for access to places (premium channels, e.g. HBO) that want you to pay money to see a bunch of stuff that you can/must/need to buy (movies on-demand, etc.)!

So, yeah, it's been like this for a long time and at least when you're paying for A: a computer and B: the Internet (and not necessarily C: YouTube), you have 2 very powerful and useful things, a computing device, and a data pipe to the world's information, most of which still comes for free. Most of all you still have *choice*. Good luck trying to choose with your cable company.

- Oshyan

General Software Discussion / Re: Nirsoft's Antivirus Hall of Shame
« on: October 21, 2015, 01:56 PM »
Maybe people just click through because the current warning dialogs say little or nothing to them that they can understand or use to make any kind of rational choice. Maybe there are too many such dialogs (false positives, remember...). Both of these issues can be improved.

There are, of course, always going to be people you just can't reach or make understand what the software is saying. But that doesn't mean it's not worth trying to improve the current approach which uses obscure (even to me) references and terminology and provides minimal real, relevant information. It would be fairly easy to design improved dialogs for this sort of thing that provided a 2-3 sentence summary of the reason for the warning, e.g.:
"We've detected a program named 'myapp.exe' acting suspiciously on your computer, but it doesn't match any currently known virus. The unknown program appears to be trying to alter important files used by your operating system."
"The unknown program appears to be attempting to access the Internet in an unusual way", etc., e.g. on a non-standard part, or whatever, we're just dumbing it down here.

And then a prompt:
"If you're not sure whether this is legitimate behavior just choose to Quarantine the program and we'll suspend its activities. If you change your mind later you can always Restore it in your antivirus control panel, accessible from the system tray icon in the lower right of your screen."

And then you have one of those expandable dealies to get more info for advanced users, or an "Advanced Info" text button (don't make it look like something just anyone would want to click, i.e. not a shiny button). If a user clicks for advanced info they get a process name and path, and other info, maybe some buttons to open the process properties, or path, whatever.

That's just a simple idea off the top of my head. And I think it improves on almost every antivirus warning dialog I've ever seen. It would not be difficult or complicated to implement, every suspicious behavior heuristic maps pretty basically to a few simple categories like "unusual network activity", "trying to access or modify system files", etc. Just translate those into human readable dummy speak and put it in a friendly 2-3 sentence description.

Oh and yes, we need to make the messages mandatory to read, so use UAC prompts (why don't more antivirus apps do this when they detect problems!?).

- Oshyan

General Software Discussion / Re: 1Password Leaks Your Data
« on: October 20, 2015, 02:27 PM »
It seems there's more to the story, and a fix is on the way:
The team introduced a new format called OPVault in 2012 that encrypts a lot more metadata. Concerns over backwards compatibility with Android, Windows and Dropbox synching, however, convinced them to take a conservative approach and not automatically migrate everyone over to OPVault.

Myers’ post, the team said, reminded them that it was time to make the switch to the new format. As such, they’ve already started transitioning to OPVault. For those that don’t want to wait it out, it’s possible to manually make the switch using these guides for Mac, Windows, iOS and Android.

- Oshyan

General Software Discussion / Re: The Hostile Email Landscape
« on: October 20, 2015, 02:26 PM »
How, exactly, is that the case? People don't like spam and detecting it automatically is non-trivial. Reputation-based blocking is not an unreasonable approach to the problem. It definitely has flaws, but it doesn't seem like a general anti-competitive conspiracy to me, more a consequence of a messy technological landscape in the email and security domain. It requires crude solutions because better ones (with equal efficacy) aren't readily available.

Am I the only one who always sees all email from Microsoft go directly to the spam folder of my Gmail interface?

Perhaps not the only one, but I certainly don't have that problem. Do you actively mark them as not spam, and if prompted, tell Gmail to not filter similar messages to spam in the future? Have you ever sent in any such emails to the spam team if/when prompted to help improve their filtering? (I get this message every once in a while when marking something as not spam in the spam folder)

- Oshyan

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