Since I wrote about Skeumorphs last month, I thought I’d include this piece I had worked on. This is an older idea I had that I’d done the initial design for but forgot (ahem… procrastinated) to do the coding for back when I had the idea. The general concept was to replicate the look of an old-school needles and knobs analog radio.
I’ve always sought to bring more humanity to the online content experience. If we have to be forced to sit in an office or stare into a screen for most of our waking lives, just to be considered “modern and relevant” and have a chance to compete in this global marketplace, then the experience might as well feel natural and familiar to our interactions with the real world. It might as well be a pleasant co-existence with technology, rather than a mechanical, robotic, in-human and uncomfortable one.
So enough of that esoteric philosophy nonsense and on to the interesting stuff. The concept is that I missed the radio dial on my grandfather’s old analog radio. As a child, I used to play with the knobs and enjoy tuning into many different stations. It was a long-range radio so on a good day in my teenage years, I could even tune into the Howard Stern show broadcast from New York and some of the more edgy french stations from Quebec. Even my grandfather’s gone digital now though, so I figured the fond memory of this technology from the past might as well too.
There were 5 main components to this project:
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What are Skeumorphs?
In designing and developing new software systems and applications, a common strategy is to attempt to approximate device user interfaces to mimic or look like real-world physical objects. This is called a Skeumorph, or a skeumorphic design.
Some of the biggest problems with Skeumorphs are that they are time-sensitive and may not actually do a great job at approximating a particular item or interface from the real-world. For example, we still use the floppy disk to represent “Save” activities, when an entire generation of computer and internet users have grown up without the use of Floppy Disks.
This approach to implementing software solutions has been propagated by Apple in particular, as well as a number of other companies such as Adobe and Microsoft of late. On the other side of the fence is Google and Microsoft who have traditionally had very non-Skeumorphic designs that feel more like using a software interface than approximating any particular object in the real-world.
Where do Skeumorphs work?
Here are a few examples of types of interfaces for which I think Skeumorphs tend to work well (for the most part):
- E-Reader Bookshelf
- Text Editors
- Media Players
- Text fields
- Edit-in-place Text
- Tabs (as markers in a book, folder or binder)
- Pages and paging (flipping through pages)
- Voice controls
- Toggle Buttons
- Fullscreen applications
- 3D Models
- CAD (engineering design)
What are some non-Skeumorph design elements?
Some examples of non-Skeumorphic designs and Flat Design features would also be useful for comparison:
- Search Results
- Infinite Scrolling
- Flexible Grid
- 3D navigation components (i.e. Spherical/Cubic)
- File Uploads
- Progress Bars
- Most Animations
- Tiles (i.e. Windows 8 Metro app tiles, Google iCalendar, widgets, etc)
- Word Clouds
- Zoom in/out
- Virtual Tours
- Drawing (graphic design)
So let’s see some side-by-side examples of Skeumorphs .vs. Flat Designs that are each relevant in their own rights: Read the rest of this entry »
Radiation is all around us. The sun produces it as do our electronics; but how much radiation can a person of a given age be exposed to until said exposure results in adverse health effects (whether immediate or long-term and experienced some time down the road).
This is a blog post by an IT Worker and Tech Consumer intended to provide general thoughts about possible ways to theoretically improve one’s life, and is not intended to be used as medical advice or nutritional guidelines in any way, shape, or form. Please consult a physician, nutritionist or official government authority such as Health Canada‘s Healthy Food Guide, CMA, AMA or the CDC, along with numerous other sources to get a wider perspective, before making any life-altering decisions.
There are two types of radiation to worry about, namely: ionizing and non-ionizing radiation.
Non-ionizing radiation is a product of natural sources such as cosmic and atmospheric radiation , the largest of which is the sun which cause minimal damage as long as they are taken in limited daily doses (you are likely to burn your skin from ultraviolet light rays so bad that you’ll have to get out of the sun, before you harm yourself from the sun’s natural non-ionizing radiation). Airline pilots, stewardesses and other workers as well as military personnel and other frequent flyers tend to be exposed to elevated levels of cosmic radiation, which after enough accumulation (typically in terms of years), could cause some long-term health problems.
On the other hand, Ionizing radiation rays are the product of unnatural sources such as X-Rays, MRIs, Body Scanners at airports and assorted electronics, cause the most harm to the human body and have effects that reach to the genetic and molecular level.
Almost every electronic product we use today emits some kind of Electro-Magnetic Frequency (EMF), Heat or Electricity output. From cellphones to computers and from Refrigerators to Microwave Ovens. While the average Consumer’s electronics give off very low levels of Ionizing radiation, some are obviously much worse culprits than others. For mobile phones (cellphones) in particular, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) provides a measure called the Specific Absorption Rate (SAR) which measures values for cell phones (and other wireless devices). SAR is a measure of the rate of RF (RadioFrequency) energy absorption by the body from the source being measured. The following is a table of some of the top selling cellphone brands with both sales figures and SAR exposure rates shown:
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I’ve been thinking a lot about ways that Health Care and the medical system in general can be improved through the use of IT. In the United States right now, we are over 1 year into the so-called “Meaningful Use” guidelines established by the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health (HITECH) Act of 2009. This means that thousands of doctors, clinics, hospitals and other care facilities are getting beyond the ramping up stage into potential “Meaningful Use” territory. However, what the government considers a meaningful usage of technology may not necessarily be the silver bullet for solving an entire industry’s IT challenges.
Meaningful Use – Core Requirements
BC$ = Behavior, Content, Money
The goal of the BC$ project is to raise awareness and make changes with respect to the three pillars of information freedom - Behavior (pursuit of interests and passions), Content (sharing/exchanging ideas in various formats), Money (fairness and accessibility) - bringing to light the fact that:
1. We regularly hand over our browser histories, search histories and daily online activities to companies that want our money, or, to benefit from our use of their services with lucrative ad deals or sales of personal information.
2. We create and/or consume interesting content on their services, but we aren't adequately rewarded for our creative efforts or loyalty.
3. We pay money to be connected online (and possibly also over mobile), yet we lose both time and money by allowing companies to market to us with unsolicited advertisements, irrelevant product offers and unfairly structured service pricing plans.