Thursday, September 09, 2010

Oops, Bad User Experience

If you have been, "at the heart of the blogging and social media revolution since 2001", one expects a little more attention to design. You don't have to be all wiz-bang and ajaxy, but anticipating user expectations is something you should be able to do.

So I was rather aghast when visiting Six Apart's website to find that their nice thumbnail grid highlighting their premier clients wasn't actually clickable.

All those cute thumbnails of blogs you're just dieing to check out? Not actually links. Sorry, can you explain that to me? They show me the blogs, but then don't let me go to them? What bone head came up with that idea?

How hard would it have been to do an old school image-map? Oh, right, the image is actually hidden in the CSS. I guess that makes it easier to switch the CSS for mobile users, but since when was easy part of a good design process? So it seems we are dealing with either a lazy designer, or a clueless manager. Even so, how hard would it have been to recognize that your viewers might like to check out some of those blogs? How hard would it have been to add one little link below the thumbnail grid that links to a list of premier clients?

Tuesday, May 04, 2010

Windows Is OK Too You Know!

Ken Rockwell likes taking little digs at us poor Windows users and today he pointed out that Apple's built in image viewer is a good tool for viewing RAW files and can also do some small edits.

Well, that's nice, but Windows users have some free apps that do that, and do it better than Apple I think. Raw Therapee (THExperimental RAPhoto Editor) is a FREE full featured RAW viewer and editor that runs on both Windows and Linux. I reviewed it a few years ago and it looks like it has only gotten better since then.

As for a system wide image viewer that works with RAW files, there is Google Picasa. It is a free viewer that is great for organizing images and has some decent editing tools as well. But what really shines is that you can set it as your default system image viewer. If you double click an image, Picasa Photo Viewer will instantly launch and display the image. It works with JPEGs, GIFs, PNGs, TIFFs, and RAW files. You can scroll through all the images in the same directory using the arrow keys. It also lets you zoom in, star, rotate, upload, email, and edit in Picasa.

Picasa is my favorite photo organizer, but for series editing I use Adobe Lightroom. It is not free, but it is well worth it for quickly editing a lot of image with very powerful tools. It uses the same RAW processor that Photoshop uses but is much better tuned to working with a lot of images. Lightroom 3 Beta is available free now, but will only function until June 30, 2010, so grab it now and take it for an extended test drive.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Review: Air Hogs Atom

The Air Hogs Atom is a truly tiny RC helicopter, it fits inside the controller! It is also very cheap, $30 at Target. It is also highly detailed and very rugged.

That is where the good news ends though. It does not fly very well. Both my four year old son and I can get it to hover relatively well, but it is too jittery and unstable to get it to fly in any one direction. It goes where it wants, but mostly stays in one limited area, slowly turning in circles. This is after I twist the trim knob on the controller to stop it from just madly spinning which is does every time I turn it on. It spins and spins, don't be shy about twisting the trim knob, it takes about a dozen full twists before it settles down.

Air Hogs Atom
Storm Trooper to indicate scale. Look how small it is!
Even though I can't fly it around like the Air Hogs Sharp Shooter, I still think it is a lot of fun. This little helicopter is really tough too, my son bangs it off the ceiling, the walls, the floor, the book case, my face, anything that gets in the way. And the little heli just keeps on going!

The instability might come from this heli having only one rotor, the type that has two is much more stable, like the Air Hogs Sharp Shooter. Or I might have gotten a lemon.

Tip: don't forget to turn the heli off before charging, it will not take a full charge if it is on.

Air Hogs Sharp Shooter Review

I did not expect much from this little RC helicopter, but I am now impressed. It took me maybe Three or four flights before I developed a good degree of control of  the Air Hogs Sharp Shooter, but now I can fly it with confidence. It's not perfect, but for $35 it is quite a great toy. My four year old has never really gotten the hang of flying this one, he is better with the Air Hogs Atom which is much smaller, more durable, but really can only hover, not fly around.

The Sharp Shooter is stable, but slow. I can fly it all around the house, but it takes patients and a lot of directional correction. It gets banged up a lot, but has only superficial damage.


  • Tough
  • Very Stable
  • Just over 7 minute flight time
  • Highly realistic model
  • It shoots!
  • It takes a long time to charge (at least 30 minutes)
  • It takes a subtle touch to control well
  • Control is not always predictable
Air Hogs Sharp Shooter
Storm Trooper is used to give a sense of scale.
Flying tip - Don't count on it always turning as quickly as you expect, sometimes it is easier to spin around in the opposite direction to get it pointed where you want.

The Air Hogs Sharp Shooter is available at Amazon and Target.