A tale of UI and UX

A growing trend that I am greatly concerned about is the use of UI and UX synonymously. I am here to help spread the word that UX is not the same as UI. Let me break it down and get out of acronyms.

Let’s start with most tech acronyms by looking at the full name.

UI is an acronym for user interface. A user interface is a way for humans (or a user) to interface with computers and systems. A bit of a quick history lesson. In the mid 40’s to late 60’s there was ‘batch interfaces’ which used hole punches to process information. In the late 60’s there was the creation of a common line interface. With the creation of Apple and Microsoft was really the birth of what was referred to as ‘Graphical User Interface’, the acronym of GUI. Most people use GUI & UI synonously. Today’s UI’s are what you see today. They can be as glamorous or horrible as people want them to be.

UX is an acronym for User Experience. User experience is a technique that looks at human behaviour, attitude and emotions around a user interface (UI). It produces a set of principles and guidelines about how to make user interfaces intuitive and easy to use for people.

With these two items explained out here is what the deal is with UX and UI. You can build a user interface very easily. You can build terrible user interfaces and you can build great looking user interfaces. However, it is user experience that is the technique that comes along and places objects on the user interface so that people who use it can intuitively and easily work their way around it. Ultimately, reducing time, effort and training – because ideally someone should be able to just work their way around the user interface (within a few minutes, not hours).

To wrap up, UX does not mean UI. You can appreciate that UX and UI are two very different specialities and they require different skill sets. If you build a user interface that either a customer, staff member or anyone who isn’t a robot will use then you really need to look at UX.

Please note that I have kept this very high level and have skimmed over some technical details to help explain the difference. 

Feature image by PetitsPixels

The motivation of people

Today I stumbled across a series of tweets that Clay Johnston sent about Parks and Recreation. Clay is a doer, he is known to break down barriers and work through how to make the impossible possible. Clay also came to Webstock in 2013 and I was fortunate enough to attend his workshop.

Clay’s tweet series is below:

This whole topic has been a hot point of mine whenever I am asked to look at Innovation processes within corporations. Motivation is key, you cannot just ignore it. There are people who will do anything, using their own spare time to drive innovative and ideas they’re passionate about. Whether it’s their day job or their own project, there are people who live to work (as Clay outlined above). However, there are people who don’t work that way, that way sounds ridiculous to them. They go home when it’s time, they indulge in their life, rather than work. These are people who work to live.

The problem I have is that the latter type of people are often told they’re not innovative or passionate and that is just not true. They have different priorities then others. This does not mean they don’t have ideas or are any less passionate then someone else.

I was very much a live to work person, however some serious health issues a few years ago forced me to to move into a work to live motivation. I fluctuate between the two nowadays. I’m disgustingly passionate, I just can’t stop working on things that excite me. It doesn’t mean I’m more passionate then others, if anything it probably means I’m too excited and impatient.

If you’re a manager or someone running innovation incubators, just be conscious of the people you’re interacting with. As much as you’re aware of someones personality, also be aware of what motivates them and how to keep them interested and engaged.

Feature image by Flickr user Hartwig HKD.

The month of chaos

I am hanging on by the tips of my fingers, riding this month out. February is always chaotic and I’ve been doing some thinking recently to understand why. I have come to the conclusion that this month is busy because of one thing. Every facet of my life is busy.

In the business world, February is usually when most boards start to get back into the swing of things. In my normal day job as a software architect it is the time where we help prep new projects to go to the board for investment cases. There is usually a stack of new projects in February because of the Christmas holidays and people being on holiday. In my second job I have to prepare by reading board papers and to meet up with my fellow councillors.

It is no secret I am the woman of many side projects. It is usually during the time of January I collect a few new projects, hopefully while losing or passing on a few projects to others. It is just who I am, I like to keep myself busy with things I am absolutely passionate about. Sometimes these ideas just happen to be quite aspirational items, however it does take until February for the organising to start kicking off.

With this month also brings a lot of wonderful birthdays, including my own. Many of my close friends celebrate their ageing in style. Weekends are jam packed full of events and I’m grateful to have such amazing friends.

So the start of this weekend I sit writing this. Thankful for the cancellation of plans this weekend to allow me a few days off. This post may seem like a whine or that I’m ungrateful, far from it. It’s a break down so that I can understand and know what to do next year. Maybe I go to the extreme and take a month off to go travelling around the world instead? Maybe I pre-book out an ‘Amber day’ within each of the weekends next February.

Header image is courtesy of Flickr user Solid_shift.

The Craft Queer Project

Go get your t-shirt now!

The Bottleneck

This all came about because of a can of Garage Project ‘Beer’ and a permanent marker. But lets start at the beginning.

2014 saw some really great discussions start up about minorities and representation in the New Zealand beer scene. Most notably the Craft Beer Calandar, and a bit more talk about women in the beer scene, both as consumers and professionals. ‘Craft’ beer has been pretty much the exclusive property of middle class white men for a long time, but I hope we’re seeing the first signs of change (types the middle class white male). But it is wonderful to see some conversations and change happening, so lets keep it going.

Today I want to talk about queers in the beer scene. And you know what? I’m going to start by being fairly positive. Because right now, our particular little pool (that is the breweries, beer bars and beer events of Wellington) is…

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Excitement and disappointment for the next Final Fantasy

As a teenager, Final Fantasy was a big part of my life. I loved to play and watch as the story developed while I levelled through the missions. I particularly loved the cutscenes, SquareEnix just had a way of making them look spectacular. Their worlds were engrossing, you wanted to be part of it. Their characters seemed very well developed and they always had very strong female characters in their stories, whether evil or good.

So when details of Final Fantasy XV came out a few months ago, I was pretty disappointed that the story revolves around five males.

No lead females, although recently there has been details that the regular ‘Cid’ character, in all final fantasy games is a female in this game. I just don’t think it’s enough.

With all that aside below is a trailer that came out recently for Final Fantasy XV. The world looks amazing, the cut scenes – amazing as usual. Can’t wait to see more details about this game. I hope it’s not as disappointing as other recent Final Fantasy games, store wise.

Exclusive levels in games, it needs to go!

I happened to watch an IGN video the other day about the upcoming Metal Gear Solid 5. As my partner and I are fans of the series we were very excited until they discussed about the exclusive content.

Previous to this consoles have had exclusive games. You either have a game on a console or you didn’t. For most games however they were available on both consoles. Now we have the problem of you can get the game but certain levels and areas are exclusive to each console.

This. Is. Annoying. I use to be able to just buy a game. Or if I was lucky and had both consoles (PS3 & Xbox 360) could buy a game for whichever platform I had. With these new consoles and their exclusive content, if I want to play all the exclusive content I need to play it on both consoles and play the exclusive content. Either through buying both versions of the game or borrowing different versions off my friends.

It also means that investigating into which version of the game to get for which console is going to be more difficult. Not only is a matter of investigating any lag or display issues it is also about which game has the best exclusive content!

Why I bought a next generation console?

We did it! We bought a next generation console. My partner & I made a decision on what platform to chose. It wasn’t easy and it took a lot of research and work.

So what did we chose? Drum roll please…..

Continue reading “Why I bought a next generation console?”

Change, comics and all round geekiness

Since I last did my blog post there has been some change. I now work for a new company, I have a new job title and I even have new glasses. I find it funny that  people mumble about change. They want things to be the same as the good old days. But as the cliche saying goes, change is inevitable and the only thing we can count on is change.

Continue reading “Change, comics and all round geekiness”

Arduino Pro Micro – Blinking Lights

The title says it all really. Some friends of mine got me an Arduino Pro Micro for my birthday. I’ve been playing around with it for the past couple of days as it differs from most Arduino micro-controllers out there. However tonight I managed to get the LED to blink, which of course is controlled by my Arduino Pro Micro!

I threw the circuit together quickly with the LED to ensure that my code and theory was right. I connected the positive leg (anode) to PIN 5 and the negative leg (cathode) to the GND pin. I just used conductive thread as it’s nice and easy to get through the holes, instead of the large alligator clips I have today. Below is an image of how I connected the conductive thread.

photoI also used the Micro USB as the power source, which may be seen as cheating but for the purpose of what I wanted to do I was happy with it.

One thing to note with the Arduino Pro Micro is that there is no PIN 13. This PIN number is the usual LED PIN for Arduino chips. I decided that I would use the Digital PIN 5. I moved both my Arduino sketch code and my circuit connection to LED PIN 5.

My code is very similar to the example ‘Blinking Light’ selection, the only change is the number of the LED PIN. Later in the week I might explain what I did with my code and what I needed to get everything up and running to this point.

Here is a very quick video of my LED flashing, I reload the code with a faster blink during the video.

Superman is back?

DC are releasing next year their Man of Steel movie, a reboot of the Superman franchise. I was very afraid of this movie, I was not a huge fan of the previous movies. I watched the Man of Steel trailer last week, expecting it to be a steaming pile of crap. Well was I surprised! Watching it I was quite excited and really can’t wait for the movie. Zack Snyder is the director who also directed 300, Watchmen & Suckerpunch (which was not that great). Zack has teamed up with David S. Goyer and Christopher Nolan as the writers. I am eagerly awaiting this movie now. Here is the trailer if you have not seen it yet.

But what does concern me is that this film, like Christopher Nolan’s Batman Trilogy is not to be linked to the Justice League movie, looking to launch 2015. How do they plan on introducing the characters of the Justice League? It’s a big ask to give us six plus new characters and expect us to know their back story and who they are. Marvel, DC’s main competing superhero franchise, have done very well in each of their films building up to the main movie that was the Avengers (2012). Each movie showed the character and their motives as well as their personalities. It just concerns me that DC are not as concerned about their character development.