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Office 2007: UI for “power users”? March 15, 2006

Posted by Thomas in General, Tech & Science.
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There’s an interesting addition to the Office 2007 Quick Access Toolbar, discussed on Jensen Harris’ blog.

I consider myself fairly knowledgable regarding the various Office apps, but by no means a power user. I’m just not in Word/Excel/Powerpoint often enough, so I haven’t developed any nit-picky UI preferences or anything (other than moving the Font toolbar onto it’s own row from the New/Open/Save toolbar row).

While I think the Ribbon is one of the most innovative and brilliant things I’ve seen in a long time, I can understand where “power users” are coming from with their complaints about their lack of control and customization.

I can understand the Office team’s desire to reduce the amount of junk that piles up over time in the UI. I appreciate that the floating toolbars for images and tables eventually clogged the interface because users were afraid to close them for fear of not finding them again.

However, I can see why people want to have the ability to detach these groups into floating bars, so that they have less distance to travel with the mouse to reach a critical command.

Isn’t it possible to enable this? Here’s my logic:

The old default behavior was to pop a floating toolbar for images, tables, etc. and this resulted in UI clutter because users wouldn’t close them ever again and they would just float there with disabled icons.

The new behavior is to switch to contextual tabs when specific tools are needed for images and tables.

As a result, there will be NO/ZERO/ZIP UI clutter from users who are afraid to close floating toolbars. There are no more default floating toolbars.

Now that the problem is no longer the result of default Office behavior, can’t you always assume that any desire to have a floating toolbar is at the explicit request of the user, and that this is not clutter to be feared, but functionality to be embraced?

LiveClipboard – interesting but totally useless? March 7, 2006

Posted by Thomas in General, Tech & Science.
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Scoble links to Ray Ozzie’s blog about LiveClipboard and hasn’t provided any commentary of his own, other than linking to it.

I think it’s interesting, and a very cool concept. However, I don’t really see what I would use it for.

That being said, I think it’s awesome that folks are trying new things. I may not see any use for it, but the demo is very cool, and I’m just glad to see people trying new ideas and figuring out how far they can push the web.

Cures for diseases are rarely found as the result of trying to cure the disease directly. Instead, lines of inquiry into seemingly un-related areas have often resulted in stumbling upon a new discovery. The treatment of diabetes with insulin was discovered by folks who weren’t trying to treat diabetics.

This web clipboard may or may not lead to a revolution on the web, but at least some people are trying new things. You never know what they will stumble on.

Microsoft’s IM opportunity March 7, 2006

Posted by Thomas in General, Tech & Science.
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With the announcement by AOL about it’s Open AIM Strategy, I see an opportunity for Microsoft to make life easier for all IM users.

Integrate MSN Messenger with AOL. Seriously. I don’t know if it’s really possible, I haven’t looked at the APIs and there would need to be some kind of licensing because it would exceed 2 million connections per month, but there’s an opportunity here.

Make our lives easier Microsoft! I like Trillian just as much as the next person, but I’m tired of needing 14 different IM logins.

I know I’m glossing over all the challenges that there would be in making this work, but they have some great teams over at Microsoft working on Windows Live Messenger and the other Live services.

Google GDrive & Lighthouse March 7, 2006

Posted by Thomas in General, Tech & Science.
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An interesting article up at ZDNet on the “Web 2.0 Explorer” blog about some Google powerpoint deck that accidentally left in some notes and comments that was quickly taken down by Google.

If this GDrive service is for real, it could be interesting, though current internet connection speds seem too slow today for mass adoption. I like that OneCare makes it easier for people to back up their data online, though I know that’s nothing new. It’s a step though.

However, what I don’t get, is why would anyone trust their data to a 3rd party like Google or Microsoft. Yahoo’s actions, resulting the jailing of a chinese citizen, don’t give me much reason to trust these large companies with my data.

If there’s some kind of encryption on the data that allows me to set the password or key on my local machine, the data is encrypted and then transmitted to a remote server, where it is encrypted and unreadable/unsearchable by the storage provider, I might be more interested.

More details will be helpful here.

Windows Live Messenger Beta refresh March 1, 2006

Posted by Thomas in General, Tech & Science.
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I don’t know what Robert McLaws is thinking, but the new UI for Windows Live Messenger Beta is a nice change from that total mess that they had in the previous release.

The nasty gradients and hideous color schemes was painful to look at, I actually stopped using the beta.

But the update last night changed all of that. Sure, they still need to do some work on making the UI pop, but it’s a far cry better than what was there before.