Friday, January 27, 2006

Revenge of the Managers

Yes it had to happen, albeit a bit late.  Twenty plus years after the Revenge of the Nerds, the managers have struck back!  They have established a new conference, Waterfall 2006.  However if you read carefully (or not so carefully) you will find it is a spoof on the waterfall model and that it actually is on agile methods.  Actually if you notice that the location is Niagara Falls and the date is April 1, 2006 you should question its reality.  (It is worth clicking on the Register now button.)

A bit of humor after a rough, cold week in January to begin your weekend.  Thanks to Diggdot for pointing to the post in   Both are sites worth visiting frequently (I do) -- actually Diggdot provides summaries of a few sites including and slashdot.

Next week I will begin to work on my backlog of student postings.  Later!

Monday, January 16, 2006

About You

I have been asked by folks several times to provide recommendations on introductions to cognitive psychology.  Two popular books are: Cognitive Psychology by Solso, et. al. (isbn 0205410308) and Cognitive Psychology by Sternberg (isbn 0155085352).  The observant reader will note that cognitive psychologists are very creative in their choice of titles!  You also can obtain a free copy of William James, Principles of Psychology here.  Although it was written in 1890, it is still a great read on ourselves.  In fact if you are really into psychology, York University in Canada offers an archive of free classic books and papers here.  Highly recommended, especially if you would like to read a bit about some of the topics such as Gestalt Psychology that I briefly cover in class.

There also is a great online (shareware if you find it useful) book on task centered user interface design by Clayton Lewis and John Reiman.  You can download a copy of it here.   It is a very practitioner oriented book and highly recommended.  I knew Clayton when he worked as a user interface specialist at IBM Yorktown Heights (aka T.J. Watson Research Center) with John Gould. You can access a paper they wrote on designing for usability here. Clayton then moved to academia and is at the University of Colorado.

I will be adding more resources on psychology and human centered design in the months ahead.  Later!

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

A Key Model

I am currently teaching a course at Penn on Human Computer Interaction which stress an applied appraoch and only briefly mentions the academic underpinnings of the field.  A classic book that provides an insight into basic principles in HCI is Card, Moran and Newell's The Psychology of Human Computer Interaction.  It is a bit dated and may be difficult to get but it is well worth the effort to  find it at amazon, a used book site (I use alibris) or from a library.

One of the classic topcs in the book is a model of keystrokes that assesses the efficiency of a user interface.  You can get a Windows only calculator for this model here, just select KLM calculator. The SYNTAGM site also has other useful resources for HCI including card sorting and mailing lists, well worth exploring!

As the year progresses I will provide other resources for HCI and will mirror them on my website.  Later!

Tuesday, January 3, 2006

Real Architecture

Happy New Year! 

In every class that I teach (and now on my website), I always refer to Vitruvius and his 3 principles of design:  utility, durability and charm.  As is frequently the case the wikipedia has an excellent write-up on Vitruvius.  The page also leads to the original text of his book, On Architecture,  which can be found here.  In this translation, the fabled quote can be found n Book 1, Chapter 3, Section 2, "
All these should possess strength, utility, and beauty."

I have not finished reading it, but what I have read is truly fascinating, timely and also corroborates with the depiction of the Roman Empire  in the HBO series Rome, which I highly recommend.  I will post additional entries on this book in the next month.

Since 2005 was a busy year for me, I was not the best blogger and have lots of topics and student submissions in the queue.  I resolve in 2006 to be a much more active blogger, averaging at least one per week.  We will see at the end of the year how well I do!  It is always great to provide estimations and track it with reality.