Blog

Most of the posts on this blog deal with software and all that is behind the craft of building it, from design to engineering, with some occasional digression about other topics. I try to publish a new article every two weeks, here you can find a selection of top posts from a while back to get an idea about what this blog is about.

Disclaimer: despite the title, this is not a post about fast food. 🙂 I always wondered why Apple decided to place their menu bar on top on the screen, rather than inside the window it belongs to. I couldn’t find any good reason for that choice until last week, when I spoke with a couple of colleagues. It turned that not only there is a reason, but it’s also quite clever!

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I used to consider business cards pretty much of a nuisance. Collecting tiny pieces of paper just to copy the same data to a mobile phone or contact manager didn’t seem to be practical to me. But recently I had to change my mind: sometimes you are in a rush and have to quickly exchange contact information. Writing down the information is definitely not an option; typing it into your phone, PDA, laptop is often not practical and exchanging data via bluetooth works 1 time out of 5 (try it on the iPhone 😛 ).

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I’m spending the biggest part of the day in one of those luxury hotels, the ones that are so expensive that no detail is left to chance. One significant detail: if you wash your hands in the restrooms, you can choose between using a paper towel or a fabric one. Now, I’m usually quite sensitive to environmental issues. Not that I’m a Green activist, but let’s just say that I care about those things.

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When talking about user experience, predictability is good. Some of the things we interact with in our daily life, though, are lacking from this perspective. Consider traffic lights: they are among the most widely diffused devices and they can’t be simpler. Green: go. Red: don’t. Yet, they are widely recognized as universal sources of frustration. Red lights, in particular, are able to annoy almost anyone. And that’s not just because they are inevitably perceived as something meant to slow you down, but also because they leave you almost clueless about when they’ll eventually turn green.

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A new trend is rising: applications which are not designed to fulfill some user’s needs but, rather, to provide some service to other web apps. Until some time ago, if you were to design your own web app, you had to write the same code, with little to none variations, to deal with pretty common issues (i.e. login, user profiles, messaging and so on) every time. You had no choice but to reinvent the wheel each time.

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Conferences are great. Not just because you can (hopefully) learn a lot by attending, but also because they give you the chance to meet great people who share your interests and work on the same issues you’re facing. Obviously, most of those desirable effects happen during, or maybe after the conferences themselves. (But it applies to conventions, meetings and the like.) Is that really the only option? Some context: this month I’m flying to Amsterdam to attend User Experience 2008.

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The everyday life of the average Internet citizen is filled with dozens of impressive web applications, which help to perform any sort of task. Ranging from planning your next trip to Holland to sharing the photos of the last party you had, a lot of activities can be effectively made easier or more efficient by using some brilliant web site. Although it’s becoming increasingly hard to find something you can’t do from within your browser, there are still some activities which won’t probably deserve their own shiny web app, being relevant just to a tiny niche of users.

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Any of you who own a WordPress blog should recognize this post title as the one that comes out by default when you create a new blog. The post itself is an encouragement, an example and, possibly, a clever trick to deal with the infamous writer’s block, and therefore you are suggested to edit or remove it to start blogging. But just as my career as a coder started with a program that didn’t anything but printing Hello world!

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