open office

in the last few days, Microsoft Office has been playing up on me. I go to load Windows, and it just doesn’t. I don’t know what’s wrong and I’ve tried all the technical tricks I know to get it working (which is a pretty limited bag of tricks I have to admit). So, I’ve decided to ditch it.

At CeBIT when I was talking to the Open Source people, they gave me a copy of the Unbuntu CD which has Open Office included on it. I’ve used Writer and Calc so far… and so far they’re proving just as good as Word and Excel.
At this rate, I’m going to be quite happy to ditch Office for ever and switch to Open Office. Do you know of any reason why I shouldn’t?

Gmail inbox and productivity (or Archive? my a$$)

Gmail inbox

Does your gmail inbox look like this one? Mine does.

Does having a never-ending, never-empty inbox stress you out? Yeah, me too.

Did you know *you* can have a beautifully clean, empty gmail inbox with all your emails beautifully filed away, out of sight where they’re not going to make you feel anxious? No, me either.

In fact, I just got half way through a ranting post about how unproductive the Gmail inbox was and how it made me feel stressed that I was forgetting or losing something and then I discovered…

…the ‘Archive‘ button doesn’t mean *really* mean archive. It actually means ‘don’t show in the inbox anymore‘.

I had to do a Google search, then read a whitepaper on using Gmail for GTD (Getting Things Done), then test it out in Gmail myself, before I actually discovered this. But, the good news is – it’s true. So now I have a few thousand emails to label and archive and a stress free, productivity enhancing inbox will once again be mine. Hoorah.

ok. Now for the vent…

Who was the crazy person who thought that ‘Archive’ was the right word for that button? And then who approved it? Did this get tested with users? How many? Who are they?

When you think of Archive, what associations does it carry for you?

For me, when I think of archive, I’m thinking of documents that have gone to a ‘special place’ often in a special format (where else do we still use tape, i ask you), that have gone there because we either don’t think we’ll need them anymore OR because we might need them in the future so we have a backup.

They’re typically hard to find, hard to access, hard to restore. They’re for the future… preferably future generations. They’re not intended for next week.

You sure as hell don’t get to my idea of archive using a simple keyword search!

What is the right word for this button?

Like I said before, what it actually means is ‘don’t show in my inbox anymore’. I’m thinking ‘File’ might be an alternative, but it’s got all those ‘file, edit, view’ assocations, so probably not a good option. Maybe ‘File Away’?
The folder metaphor doesn’t exist in Gmail, so we can’t use something like Outlook’s ‘Move to Folder’. Maybe it is something like ‘Remove from Inbox’ or ‘Don’t Show’ – maybe not… it would be preferable to have a positive label rather than negative here. This is nice functionality!

Hrm… so off the top of my head, I’m not sure. Anyone feel like workshopping it here and we’ll email Google and ask them to change it.

I’m not sure if I’m more relieved to have found it, or angry at how it’s been labelled… but one thing is obvious. Labels matter. Let’s spend some time making sure we’ve got them right and that our audience understands it.

OK. So tell me:

- Am I the only one who didn’t get the archive thing?

- How would you label that button?

Image credit: Ario @ Flickr (who is also interested in Information Anxiety)

How is an interaction designer like a choreographer?

Australian Ballet, Swan Lake Tour 2005

How is an interaction designer like a choreographer? They both rely on conventions and patterns to faciliate powerful and efficient communication.

Last night I went to the ballet. I’m not really much of a ballet girl. You’re much more likely to find me at the symphony. I haven’t been to the ballet for almost 10 years (and that was to see the Nutcracker one Christmas in London, so I’m not even sure if that counts!).

I couldn’t believe how much I enjoyed it. A couple of hours of prancing on the stage with some nice enough music (how many people did I just offend with that sentence… I’m sorry). I didn’t have great expectations, but instead I had a completely unexpected experience of flow. The couple of hours at the ballet felt like minutes. I love that feeling.

Sadly, some might say, I spent quite a bit of the time thinking about the amazing challenge that the composer, choreographer and performers had in communicating what is a rather kooky storyline to someone like me (that is, someone who wasn’t prepared to shell out $15 for a program and ‘learn’ the storyline before watching the ballet).

Continue Reading…

links for 20 May 2006