Some pre-nostalgic thought here.
In the last 24h, the same thing happened to me twice. This is a clear sign from the universe that I should tell the story.
This morning I went to the movies right after my photography class. I love going to this new cinema that recently opened in my neighbourhood, it is so futuristic. It’s very modern, very classy, it has great contemporary design, in fact I think it’s the best movie theater I’ve ever been to, compared to the ones I know from London or the US.
Every time I go there I take the time to observe how they designed the rooms, the furniture, the decoration, it’s really beautiful, it’s like visiting some kind of modern art museum where you can also view movies and eat popcorn, how cool is that. And in the morning the place is empty which makes it even greater, we were just two in the room to watch the movie, perfect. For some reason the place makes me think of Ray Bradbury’s books, it would fit in the future he imagined. I also read it was designed after 2001 a space odyssey, so I really like going there to feel like I’m in the future. Warm feeling.
Today I want to share about jGridder : https://github.com/eloone/jgridder.
It solves this problem :
Given a height and width and a number of items, how do I place those items as squares in a grid that fits those dimensions?
To see what I mean, peek at the demo : http://eloone.net/jgridder/demo/.
In this post I will share my approach to design the script and tackle the problem, it’s not a tutorial about the code itself. But hopefully it will enlighten and help you regarding similar problems you might have in UI. The focus will be on the method.
I spent Christmas eve at Notre Dame de Paris, the big cathedral of Paris that you might know of. There were so many people, I’d say around 50,000 people coming and going, queuing and praying inside. It was like “the big show”.
I came with my parents but since they had arrived earlier they could actually attend mass from inside while I had to view everything through a big screen outside sitting in the cold on arranged benches. It was nice to observe all those people – mostly tourists – sitting there and queuing in the cold. I was sitting with my brother, another professional geek, and we couldn’t help noticing how people around us would share their activity online. We spotted 3 sharing patterns : facebook, twitter and foursquare. (Un)strangely, I suspect all the people that we spotted sharing to be Americans (I heard them speak). I visualize well their post “Celebrating Xmas @NotreDame in Paris, OMG so beautiful!” 🙂 I never post my activity online on the fly, ne-ver, I never know what to write. I prefer the elaborated blog article that I can re-read later. Each to their own sharing habit 🙂 I will not say that it was “OMG so beautiful” though, but listening to the choirs was indeed quite pleasant in spite of the cold.
The saint songs, the Christmas lights, the festive atmosphere, what on earth does it all have to do with toilets ?!
Today I went to the gym for a change because I have to use my 5 coupons before next week. But I don’t like staying there too long, usually I stay for maximum 30mn. Beyond 30mn I go existential and I think oh man I’m walking towards nowhere, on a machine that doesn’t move, what am I doing ???. So as usual I wanted to make it quick. Usual program : fast walk, and very high slope.
Saturday I made an interesting encounter, I met a nurse. We met at a bachelor party I organized for a very good friend. It was an adventurous race through Paris where I had designed some cool and fun actions to complete for my friend (nothing to do with dirty bachelor parties, it was in the afternoon !!!). So that’s in between actions that I got to talk with the nurse.
But where are the engineers ?!!
While we were racing in the street, she told me she was glad because for once she didn’t have to work on Saturday. “Really ?!!”, I naively said. Then she went on and introduced her job. She explained it and described all the stress she had to go through. I was kind of shocked by what she shared with me. She said that the patients were plugged to a pumping machine that was used to pump their blood, and often this machine would break down and SHE had to fix it as quickly as possible. Her words were “when that happens I need to fix it and nobody knows how to fix it, I mean I’m not an engineer, but I do have to fix the machine, so sometimes I just fix it by intuition thanks to previous experiences, sometimes I just know what I should do, sometimes I don’t and the engineers are not there”. My immediate reaction was “but where are the engineers???!”, “No idea”, she said. Incredible.
Done ! I finally finished this book. I had started it a long time ago, just after reading The naked sun, its immediate sequel in the robot series of Asimov. When I read The naked sun I got completely hooked by the robot character in the book “R. Daneel Olivaw”. So even if I started in the wrong order I decided to discover the series and start from the beginning by reading The caves of steel. Personally I preferred by far The naked sun and I will probably write a review about it more detailed than this one. But until I find the time to do that, here are my impressions about The caves of steel.
I recently started the new ritual of putting honey in my tea. I haven’t tasted honey since maybe 5 years and in my head I remember it coming in a jar. But ever since I saw my brother’s honey coming in a tube, I wanted the same. So I bought that one. I bought that honey UI :
Why? Because it’s fun. I like products that have been thought for the user. Depending on the experience, you – as a user – want, your main concern might be to pour the honey precisely in your cup or on your toast, or you might just want the honey no matter if you need a spoon or your bare hands to have it. Here, UI could be a simple plastic container. In my case, I could have gone with the traditional jar, but I mainly wanted to test the experience of the tube because it’s original and I am curious.
With the tube UI, I finally don’t have sticky hands and honey all over the place. The honey just goes where it’s supposed to go, it’s super precise and efficient, I am not tempted to eat it all from the jar. But what I like the most with this UI is that every time I pour honey in my cup or on my bread, it reminds me of the ketchup experience and it makes me smile to pour ketchup in my cup. Also, it reminds me of the glue tube we used for arts and crafts when we were kids, sweet memory. Finally, the tube is designed in a way that it doesn’t reduce the product to any liquid, it’s honey not astronaut food.
On the web it’s the same 1. think optimization 2. think experience 3. compose. There can’t be good experience without optimization. Without optimization (functional, efficient and quality product) anything else is just packaging, marketing, make-up, not good.