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From China: The ultimate wish list for iPad “killers”

Posted in From China by xding78 on June 27, 2010

Original article: 练就iPAD“杀手”之“葵花宝典”

Three millions in 80 days, again Jobs showed the world Apple’s charm. Despite all the critics before it’s launch and the apparent shortcomings, iPad is still the hottest product as well as topic.

As a Chinese when I enjoy using iPad what keeps me ponder is how to design/develop products just as hip as iPad? More over design and develop products truly for Chinese users, I’d call those products the iPad killers.

Let’s talk about the wish list for a iPad killer.

 

No. 1: Smaller screen and lighter

However much I love iPad, I have to admit the 700 gram iPad is too heavy and big for Chinese people. Almost always after 5 minutes holding iPad in the palm I have to lay it on a supporter. In my opinion as a handheld device it’s definitely oversized; the 10 inch screen is more than necessary. Perhaps for Chinese people 7 inch would have been enough. Not only 7 inch would be enough for internet browsing but also that it would have been much easier to held in the palm. Plus reducing the size would also make iPad more drop-proof.

 

No. 2: Bigger RAM, the bigger the better

I believe everyone who has used iPad must feel frustrated about the screen flickering in some extend. 256MB perhaps works fine for websites that are focused on texted-based information. However, Chinese website are mostly multimedia enriched. 256MB for such websites is far beyond enough. Even if iPad would have a 512MB RAM, it’s still not enough for rendering images/videos/animations at the same time.

 

No. 3: Support Flash

Although many popular Chinese video uploading/sharing websites have launched iPad-friendly section, the number of iPad-friendly videos is too small for Chinese users to have a taste of the iPad video experience.Zero Flash support perhaps will be the biggest pain of Chinese iPad users. After using iPad for one month, I personally feel no video support is the absolute key to iPad experience. Maybe Jobs believes in Europe or in the U.S. supporting MPEG4 or H.264 is more than enough it’s definitely definitely not enough in China.

[Remarks from Xinrong: Chinese users in the post-YouTube time have already happily adopted many Chinese based video services. What fascinates me is that videos shared on the Chinese websites and those on YouTube are like from two isolated worlds. I rarely see any overlaps. I’ve personally tried to upload my videos twice on both Youtube and 优酷网. I stopped doing so after a while because uploading videos once is painful enough. The Chinese video sharing websites are almost 100% Flash based. Perhaps it will change but I don’t see why except for that iPad doesn’t support Flash. If iPad would be a huge success in China perhaps things will start to change in China.]

No. 4: Single-Hand Operation

iBook is absolutely beautiful [Remarks from Xinrong: I am using iBook on iPhone and still LOVE it], however, when I use iBook on iPad I am not so enchanted. The reason is very simple. It’s not comfortable to use. Yes it’s important to be beautiful and fancy in case of Apple but I would definitely not trade comfort for style in case of reading. Reading books on iPad the oversized screen and overweight body is not even the worst. The worst is that I have to use two hands to operate. It’s definitely an experience killer since I’m so used to single-hand operation.

No. 5: A satisfying Chinese input

It’s very possible that Jobs consider the current Chinese input on iPad is good. However, can you imagine confirming even a comma when typing? The UI of iPad Chinese input is obviously different from that of many already popular Chinese input applications. The direct result is that the Chinese users have to adapt to the not-so-great iPad Chinese input. It’s at least very very uncomfortable. Because when you use different devices you have to remember the specific word combinations different devices provides. Try to imagine that you have to switch between a US-International keyboard and a French keyboard regularly…

    

[Remarks from Xinrong: It’s quite hard to imagine if you have never used Chinese input; I understand completely because I have had many bad experiences over many different Chinese input methods.]

 

No. 6: Price, price & price

500 bucks is perhaps a piece of cake for western people; it’s also affordable for the hard-core Apple fan in China. However, it’s way to high for common Chinese people. The high price of iPhone is more acceptable because first of all, it’s still a mobile phone. It’s a necessity in modern urban life. Secondly, iPhone is something that you could use to show off in front of friends of in public. So, in case of iPad, the lower price the better. It probably should be lower than 1000 RMB.

[Remarks from Xinrong: In principle I agree but 1000 RMB is too low]

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iPhone OS 4 First impression – folders

Posted in Reviews by xding78 on June 25, 2010

Yesterday as soon as I knew the iPhone OS4 is available I upgraded my iPhone.

I LOVE it!

Not only now the background image is always there but also, most importantly, I can organize the applications into folders.

I love folders; I need to organize the stuff I downloaded from iTune. After only 4.5 weeks of using iPhone, I have already 8 pages without any categorization. Now, with folders, 3 pages.

iPhone000 iPhone003iPhone002iPhone004 iPhone005

How to create a folder

First enter the icon editing mode by pressing and holding one icon. Under this mode dragging one icon to another creates a folder. After that everything is very intuitive.

Creating, editing and using folders is so easy and intuitive it takes no time to get used to it. I like to name folders in Chinese since in my opinion Chinese as a language is much more concise and elegant. That’s how I keep the pages clean and neat.

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SNDA Game-Management System: Achieve promotion through gaining experience points

Posted in China trend by xding78 on June 17, 2010

Translated from a Chinese article on 06-06-2010:

盛大用游戏管理员工:获取经验值达实现晋升

SNDA, a company that is dedicated to developing massive online multiplayer games, online games in short,  integrates "game playing" in management. In 2010 when there are many conflicts caused by too-low wages in many companies in China, the SNDA Game-Management System could be an inspiration to other companies.

Let’s learn the SNDA model from a common employee, Yuan Li (alias). In Yuan’s case, when he just joined SNDA his grade is SD30; the correspondent salary is 5000yuan/month. Together with the grade and salary he got 2 experience points. In order to go from SD30 to SD31, Yuan needs 500 experience points which will take approximately 250 work days, equivalent to a year.

In reality, it took Yuan 8 months to get SD31. He achieved 498 experience points mostly by working on extra projects. When he reached SD31, his salary changed from 5000yuan to 5250yuan/month. This model, under which the employee gains not only experience but also a salary raise, is called Game-Management System in SNDA.

The HR Vice President Jing Zhang said: "There are more than 700 projects initiated and done via this system. In the entire 2009, in average, the grade of employee rises 1.62 grades; salary raise, 14%. Some employees upgrade as many as 16 grades; the correspondent salary raise is at least 100%."

Promotion

Is self-management in conflict with the traditional linear management style?

Jing also said: "The Game-Management System allows employees to achieve self-development, promotion and career path. It also allows the management to arrange the human resources in the most efficient way". According to Jing after 2 years of practice the SNDA Game-Management System is quite mature.

Adopting a Game-like system to manage the company was straight forward since SNDA is a company that develops online games.

Two years ago, just like those of any fast-growing companies, the top managers of SNDA started to ponder: "Why online games could satisfy so many users; why employees of even Fortune 500 companies are often unsatisfied?"

Why don’t we embed games into management?

Personal portal

Every SNDA employee has a personal portal that resembles a game portal in which there are some bars that represent important measurements for the current status of the employee, just like live, blood, level in games. By monitoring the bars an employee can easily see how far or close he or she is to an upgrade.

Among the measurements in the portal, the most important measurement is experience. Because experience level links directly to salary level. "There is also an upgrade assistant in the portal. Through the upgrade assistant one could estimate the needed experience points for the next 5 upgrades." according to Jing, the HR Vice president of SNDA.

Two ways to get upgrade

How to balance extra projects and responsibilities of daily work?

Just like Yuan Li, other employees in SNDA don’t have to wait hopelessly for an promotion or salary raise, they can upgrade their experience and salary through the Game-Management System by their own hard working. The fastest way to get an upgrade is to work on projects.

There are two ways to gain experience points: 1) by performing well in the daily work, which is called job experiences; 2) by working on extra projects, which is called project experiences. An employee gets job experiences everyday when he or she performs well on that day. If an employee doesn’t perform well he or she might lose job experiences. On the other hand, you gain project experiences by working on extra projects. In principle, employees will only gain experiences and never would lose experiences when working on projects.

The most popular phrase in SNDA is "start a project". It happened often that one employee leads several middle managers in one project. The project experience system really motivates normal employees to coordinate and start projects. Meanwhile those employees also showed HR managers how capable they are. "In a sense, it really makes our job much more effective and efficient" said Dr. Li Xiong, the person who in charge of the Game-management system in SNDA.

If you don’t like to start a project, you could also take tasks. People have experience with online games must know the term "tasks". In games tasks are often set to attract players to go further and gain experience from accomplishing tasks.

Through the portal the employees can also find various tasks. When you accept a task and accomplish it, you gain certain points of experience.

From statistics of 2009, the actual ratio of job and project experience is 5:6.25 respectively. About 25% of the employees gained 86% of the total project experiences; about half of the employees gained 99% of the total job experiences.

According to Dr. Li Xiong, in Q3 and A4 2009, there are 2000 employees achieved upgrade through the Game-Management System. None of the 2000 employees needed any sort of permission from any manager.

The concern is that if the project experience is more attractive than performing daily jobs, how about daily jobs? Will extra projects give negative influence in daily jobs? A senior manager asked: "What does the Game-Management System truly motivate, the daily jobs or extra projects?"

How to keep it fair and refreshing?

Gain experience and then promotion is not far. It sounds really fair and simple. However, in reality it has its problems. For instance, an office cleaners, will they gain more and more salaries just because they clean the office well everyday? "Of course not, for the cleaner, the highest grade they can achieve is SD5" according to Jing.

Dr. Li Xiong gave further explanation. According to the job and working experience there are limit for upgrade. For instance, HR managers and product managers are both managers. However, product managers are considered to contribute more to the growth of the company. Therefore the grade range for product managers is 50 to 55. And that for HR managers is 40 to 45.

How to set the grade range for various roles and jobs in the company is a challenge and the key to the fairness and success of the system.

Watch movies in 3D, or 2D?

Posted in Reviews by xding78 on May 14, 2010

The first 3D movie I’ve seen is Beowulf (the story is ok, 3D rendering is decent); the best 3D movie I’ve seen is Avatar (IMAX); the worst 3D movie I’ve see in Alice in Wonder Land (not so wild imagination, weak story and horrible 3D rendering thanks to which all the characters have their eyes popping out.) And after “Alice in Wonderland” I watched “Clash of the Titans” in 3D in the hope that 3D would enhance the experience.

The only thing that reminded me I was watching a 3D movie is the uncomfortable darkening over-sized plastic 3D glasses.

One of the reasons probably is that I was completely sucked into the story; Greek Mythology is one of my favorite topics. So, I couldn’t help wondering:

Would my experience be any different if I watched the movie in 2D?

Most likely, not!

The worst part is that after watching five 3D movies this year, I kinda stop seeing 3D effects! I mean I really have to remind myself to pay attention to the subtle depth. What’s the point?

That’s why I went to watch “Iron Man 2” in 2D and I didn’t regret a single second. What an exciting movie!It’s exceeded my very high expectation, especially with the shield of Captain America, precluding even more exciting movies.

I think I’ll stick to 2D movies for now.

Publishing on WordPress & Facebook, one button-click away

Posted in Reviews by xding78 on May 13, 2010

Finally, I start using facebook. Actually I am using Hyves.nl, in my opinion, the Dutch facebook, and my very few friends on Hyves seem to be the only one read my blog and leave comments (at least currently). So, now I am, on facebook.

I Just discovered a very easy-to-use plug-in (Windows Live Writer plug-in) that automatically adds a newly published WordPress blog to facebook. Which reminds me the relationship of LinkedIn and Twitter. I don’t even realize I’m also updating twitter when I update the current activity on LinkedIn. Anyway, that saves me the trouble to go to Twitter.com

Here is where I found the plug-in: Download from Windows Live Gallery.

It works on Windows 7 64-bits!

Nothing will happen just after you installed the plugin. The next time you publish an article with Windows Live Writer, when publishing, a prompt will appear asking you if you would like to connect facebook. It’s that simple!

For how to install and use Windows Live Writer check an earlier article on my blog: Windows Live Writer Try Out.

The keyboard shortcut launched screensaver + screen lock solution (Windows 7)

Posted in Reviews by xding78 on May 10, 2010

In office, it’s quite common to just walk away from the desk and computer for a while from 1 minutes to several hours. Meanwhile how about the computer screen? Lock it! Here is why:

When I still worked for Philips, there is a colleague who went for lunch without locking his screen. When he came back from lunch he was fairly shocked to see that his screen was up-side-down. At the end, he had to turn the screen up-side-down physically. Of course, eventually he managed to set his screen back.

It was set by another colleague. At first thought, it was a pretty nasty joke, but with the second thought, it made a perfectly good point. It is a way of saying: “You must protect your screen whenever you’re away.” You never know what will happen and who will come around.

Anyway, I DO understand the importance of locking my screen up. However, I recent the boring “Locked” screen. Thus I found a script that locks the screen with Google screen saver.

::initiate screensaver of choice

"C:\Windows\SysWOW64\GPhotos.scr" /s

::lock the workstation

%windir%\system32\rundll32.exe user32.dll,LockWorkStation

From now I can already double click to launch the script.

However, what I want is to use keyboard shortcut to launch it. Here is the solution:

  • Create a shortcut of the script;
  • move the shortcut on the desktop;
  • right-click the shortcut to access it’s Properties;
  • specified the key combination

DONE!

Google more search filters on the left side

Posted in Reviews, Something new by xding78 on May 9, 2010

It’s interesting now some of Google’s search filters are also available at the left side. Although it seems the same as the filters on the top bar, it is really not the same from user experience perspective. I don’t know when this happened; cannot believe that I missed it.

Imagine I’ve already started the general search, the topic I’m searching is the "constant" for the moment. All the various aspects of the topic such as, News, books, shopping, videos, etc. are the variables. What I want is to be able to focus on the topic. What I don’t want is to always have to go to a "foreign" page and start search all over again. So, really by putting the filters on the left side showing that Google understands users mental model and try to facilitate a better navigation flow.

Here is a little screen capture to show what I mean. Imagine the following scenario:

I’m planning a holiday in Greece for the next few weeks…

After checking the news in Greece I decided to prospone my holiday for a while…

Vodpod videos no longer available.

Install Adobe CS5, what an experience

Posted in Do not Panic, Opinion, Reviews, Trouble shooting by xding78 on May 8, 2010

If you have Adobe Flash Catalyst prerelease version installed already, make sure to Run – Adobe CS5 Cleaner Tool first. Here is why.

I’ve got a Web Premium package. I put in the installation disk, wait for installation initialization. Everything works fine except for that there is a red cross next to Adobe Flash Catalyst CS5.

CS5Installation

Catalyst is one reason that I’m so interested in CS5. But I decided to install the rest first.

After the installation, I uninstalled Catalyst with Revo Uninstaller. Revo did find a lot of stuff left behind by Catalyst, some are very deeply hidden. “That shall do it” I thought, but I was wrong.

I ran the CS5 installation again, THE SAME THING HAPPENED!!!!

I then went to Google for advice, here is the solution I’ve found:

Run – Adobe CS5 Cleaner Tool first 

According to this article not only that I have to uninstall all the newly installed CS5 application but also that I have to run several tools and restart twice in order to clean up Catalyst completely.
Why so complicated!!??

Anyway the Adobe CS5 Cleaner Tool does work very well. It magically removed all the trace in a blink. The same tool can also be used to thoroughly remove CS4 and CS3. Long live command line scripting!

What makes me wonder is that why this procedure is not integrated into the installation process?
why not offer to remove the prerelease Catalyst for me instead of blocking me from installing it?

I was always on Adobe’s side when Apple publicly criticize Adobe Flash. Now I think perhaps Apple does have a good point. Move aside the business stuff, there are some serious technical issues. Anyway if they couldn’t even make the installation user-friendly what else to expect?

The very user experience starts from installation.

Adobe might blame Windows for the installation issues; if so, though, why don’t I have this problem while installing hundreds of other applications on Windows? Then how to explain the much worse experience on Linux and Mac? Even on the most Adobe-friendly environment, Windows, things like this happened. What to expect on other platforms?

It just keep reminding me HOW IMPORTANT user experience IS. You might just lose your most loyal users in one installation.

Turn off/Remove horizontal scrollbar in ScrollPane component

Posted in Actionscript 3, Do not Panic by xding78 on May 7, 2010

package{

import fl.containers.ScrollPane;
import fl.controls.ScrollPolicy;

var sp:ScrollPane = new Scr0llPane();

sp.horizontalScrollPolicy = ScrollPolicy.OFF;

}

10 Must-see UX Videos

Posted in User Experience by xding78 on May 2, 2010

http://johnnyholland.org/2010/03/01/johnny-tvs-10-must-see-ux-videos/

  1. Interaction Design—Bill Verplank

  2. Drawing Ideas and Communicating Interaction—Mark Baskinger

  3. Designing Humanity into Your Products—Bill DeRouchey, FBtB09

  4. Sketch-a-Move—Anab Jain and Louise Klinker

  5. The Design of Future Things—Don Norman

  6. Why designers fail and what to do about it—Scott Berkun

  7. Singing the Body Electric—Fabio Sergio

  8. Sketching & Paper Prototyping—Todd Zaki Warfel

  9. Adam Greenfield at Frontiers of Interaction V

  10. Being Human Is NOT Quantifiable—Jeff Parks