Beware of Over Simplification in UI Design

One of the trends I've noticed in the software world is a drive towards simple User Interfaces. I think in general this is a good thing, as often times UIs are cluttered with too many options, which can overwhelm and confuse the user. Apple and Google are famous for their clean simple UIs. But I wonder if you can take UI simplification too far?

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Why won't Google fight with the wireless carriers?

I often admire Google for many business decisions they make. I was very surprised and pleased when Google decided to shutdown their china business operations instead of bowing to China government pressure to filter Google search results for Chinese searches. More recently, the government of Kazakhstan asked google to make some undesirable changes, and again Google said no. This is all evidence that Google cares more about the greater good than they do about $$. So...Google ALWAYS makes decisions based on the greater good...right?

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Safari Windows uses parts of IE

I just found something odd...if you have Safari Windows installed, apparently it uses IE's proxy settings instead of it's own. If you click Edit->Preferences->Advanced->Change Settings, Safari pops open the IE Internet Options dialog box. Firefox has it's own proxy settings built-in, but apparently Apple decided to use the Windows proxy settings. I guess that's not a bad idea, but it surprises me.

On a whim, I checked how Google's chrome handles proxy settings, and it does the same thing as Safari, it uses the IE settings.

Google Maps: Find Latitude/Longitude

I have been working with Google Maps a lot lately, and one of the things I find myself doing a lot is figuring out the exact lat/long of a point on the map, so that I can place a marker, or center the map. There are numerous sites out there that let you click a map and get the lat/long, but I don't like most of them. Today I found one that really works well, at iTouchMap.com.

The reason why I like it more than the others is because it's a lot easier to fine tune your coordinates to get the marker exactly where you need it. When you first click the map to start pinpointing your location, it sets a marker on the map. If you find that the marker is not quite where you need it, you can just drag the marker a little to get better coordinates (and it has a fun bouncing animation when you drop the marker). With the other tools I've used you have to click on the map again to get a new coord. set, and when using that little hand cursor instead of a pointer (as is standard in all Google Maps), it's hard to get it just right.

Google Chrome: My First Take

I installed Google Chrome, Google's new browser. My first impression is that it's very plain. I don't expect this to take off in large numbers, because I think most web surfers will want more features than it currently offers.

As far as web site support, I tried CFQuickDocs, and everything worked fine. I was expecting parts of the site to be nonfunctional, because Google wrote a new JS engine (dubbed V8) from the ground up, but everything works fine. I also tried Gmail, and holy crap it's fast! In Firefox on my machine, Gmail takes from 5-15 seconds to load. In Chrome, it loaded in about 1 second!

It will be interesting to see how fast JavaScript heavy sites run in Firefox 3.1, which will have a much faster JS engine dubbed TraceMonkey.

Google's search market share falls

...but very slightly. They still have the #1 spot, but their numbers fell a bit from June to July. I was a bit surprised to see that Google doesn't even have more than 50% of the market...I was under the impression that their lead was much wider than it is.

According to this c|net blog entry, two companies released numbers for July this last week:

comScore Networks:
43.7%-Google (down from 43.7 % in June)
28.8%-Yahoo
12.8%-Microsoft
5.9%-AOL
5.4%-Ask Jeeves

Nielsen/NetRatings:
49.2%-Google (down from 49.4 % in June)
23.8%-Yahoo
9.6%-Microsoft
6.3%-AOL
2.6%-Ask Jeeves

Google's Calendar app

I'm now officially drooling over the new Google CL2. It's a calendar app that looks very cool, and I'm drooling because I can't have it (here's an unauthorized review with screenshots). It's a very limited beta right now, but I'm assuming that it will be free like most of their other stuff. The thing I'm most excited about is SMS notifications. Create an event, set an alert, and tell it to SMS you. Your calendar will then follow you everywhere (as long as you remember to charge your cell phone). :)

I converted someone to Firefox!

Ok, I've actually been the instigator of a lot of Firefox conversions. But I just noticed today that someone clicked my 'Get Firefox with Google toolbar' button a few days ago, and actually downloaded and installed Firefox! :) That means Google pays me $1, and there's one more person browsing happily. I've had that button in the top left of my blog since Novemeber 7th, 2005. 10 people have clicked it, but only one person actually installed Firefox. 1 out of 10 ain't bad though.

Superbowl Ads

I've been checking Google Video more and more these days, because there's some pretty good stuff there. Yesterday I was going to show my parents the Office Linebacker video, and I saw that you can view all the superbowl commercials there. It's a nice setup, as you can view them all at once and it will play them back-to-back. I really think that the Internet will take more and more market share from TV. I don't think TV will ever go away, but TV networks might lose people that don't mind watching things on a computer, and are on the computer anyway. And you have a lot more control over your programming on the Internet, DRM aside; Which shows to watch, and when to watch them. You don't have to pay $40/mo for 150 channels, when you only watch 10 of them.

Google search has more relevant results

I ran across this site today that is doing a search engine experiment. They let you perform a search using their interface. It grabs search results from Google, Yahoo, and MSN. You take a gander at the results (and even click on them if you want) and then pick which results are more relevant. But you don't know which results match which engine until after you've made your choice (a typical blind survey).

They have had over 7500 participants so far, and the results show Google is ahead: Google-41% Yahoo-32% MSN-26% Am I very surprised that MSN is in last place? No. ;) In case my wife is reading this, yes I do know that this isn't a scientific study.

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