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Issue 14   |   August 2000   |   Updated 8-9-00

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Lusting after things... 
I hate to admit it (as a middle-class American I already have more "stuff" than most people in the world and don't need more) but there are a couple of things I want because... well, because they look so great. And they work, too.

Lust Object #1: The new Macintosh G4 cube. It doesn't look like a computer. It's small and simple and elegant. Yet it is a pretty decent G4 Powermac, with DVD drive and respectable hard drive capacity.

At MacExpo few years ago I heard Steve Jobs (Apple CEO) describe his dream of Apple becoming the Swatch of the computer world, selling computers based on design and style. People would buy computers because of their design. I'm still not sure if I like the idea, but a G4 cube would sure look good on my desk...

Lust Object #2: Chrysler PT Cruiser. Clunky name, slick car. Like the hotrods I could only dream about as a teenager when I was driving Dad's Ford & Chevy sedans, but practical.

Smaller than a Dodge Neon, more usable cargo room than our Saturn station wagon, seats that fold down to create open space... But it's gotta be Aztec Yellow or Inferno Red, not that bland silver you see in the ads.

What do you secretly lust after? Most interesting reply wins a brand-new Interactive Design Forum T-shirt featuring this month's cover illustration! [share the object(s) of your desires]

OS Smackdown
When it comes to Mac vs. Windows, we've tried being reasonable [Macintosh Myopia]. We've tried letting you talk about it [Mac Myopia Comments] and even fill out surveys [Computer Lab Survey]. But none of that settled anything.

We're ready to end the debate once and for all with Mac vs. Windows Smackdown, a Shockwave game that lets you speak softly but wield a big stick (click, really). If you like the arcade game Whack-A-Mole, you'll love Smackdown. Try it now...Steve and Bill are waiting for your help. [Mac vs. Windows Smackdown - 101K file]

Usability Nazis?
The debate over web usability has gotten shrill, with Jakob Nielsen and other "experts" being called Nazis by designers who seem to overreacting just a wee bit. I think Nielsen's book should be read by all web designers because it offers a clear and useful perspective on learning from user preferences and behavior.

Does this mean that we should all slavishly follow his every "rule"? Of course not. As important as learning any set of rules is learning when to ignore them. And the design of Nielsen's own site leaves a lot to be desired. You might even see it this way.

Designers, for their part, can be arrogant at times, insisting on doing things their way. This sometimes leads to groundbreaking innovation and great design. It also leads to inappropriate solutions, frustration, and anger on the part of clients and users, often justifiable. There's a thin line to be walked here.

Other views:

These articles are from the always-interesting A List Apart [www.alistapart. com].

This month's banner graphic
I often ask students to bring in an object that has special significance in their lives, and tell its story. Around this object/story they then construct an interactive narrative.

August's graphic includes an index print showing objects ranging from a Star Wars action figure to a mother's scarf. Overlaying it on the right is a winged goddess sculpture that hangs above my computer, keeping me company.

                                                              - Al Wasco 8/4/00


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New magazines... Fireworks revisited... Director doomed?
[July 2000]

Cancer on the Web?... Barcelona... New CD-ROMs
[June 2000]

Kent State remembered... AIGA-Advance...
[May 2000]

myopia... Lab survey... Student web projects...
[Apr. 2000]

Flash animation: devil or angel?... Mexican graffiti...
[Mar. 2000]

Web usability... Mexican graveyards... online Valentine cards...
[Feb. 2000]

Yahoo!... CoolSTOP Award... Multimedia, the Web & CD-ROM...
[Jan. 2000]

Our new look... Goodbye, AOL... Ideas for critiques...
[Dec. 1999]

What I know about you... Teaching computer-based media... Nudes in Parma
[Nov. 1999]

Graffiti & hip-hop... Better critiques... Photoshop 5.5 vs. Fireworks 2
[Oct. 1999]

Swiss Design Quiz... Barcelona... AIGA / NASAD briefing paper...
[Sept. 1999]

Upgrade junkies,
Part 1.

[Aug. 1999]

Report from International Design Conference at Aspen
[July 1999]

"Interactive Design" or "New Media?"
[July 1999]

If no author name is show, article is written by Al Wasco, author of this website.
©1999, 2000

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