BrainBlog

BrainBlog is the Brains4All weblog. Established 2004 in The Netherlands. Brains have been working in IT since 1983, working on the internet since 1993, and using their own agile development process for design and application development since 2003. We talk about about design and usability, the industry of software and web development, web applications and simplicity, beautiful and spectacular things.

eHub interviews 14Dayz

June 26, 2006 |
marko

We've had the privilige to have been interviewed by the lovely and intelligent Emily Chang of eHub about 14Dayz, the simple web time tracker. Emily is an award-winning web and interaction designer, technology strategist and principal of Ideacodes, a web consultancy in San Francisco co-founded with Max Kiesler. She writes about web and user experience design, technology, and next generation web at EmilyChang.com, and is the creator of the popular web 2.0 resource, eHub. Emily is also an invited member of the Web 2.0 Workgroup, Corante Web Hub, and Ajax Developer's Journal.
Head over to eHub and read the interview.

  



logo4.us

June 21, 2006 |
marko

Do you have a logo for us? I need a professional logo now!

We're asked that question almost every week. That is why we're building logo4US. A place for you to buy a high quality logo and have it customized and delivered in industry standard formats, ready for web and print, almost overnight.

We're not building the shop ourselves, we're evaluating Shopify, a Web 2.0 shop service.

We've hand designed all the logo's in the shop and that is what matters in this project, getting professional high quality design to you quickly.

We'd love to get your feedback on our little shop so fire away. Browse the designs and we eagerly await your feedback or purchase!

Go to the logo4US shop…

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Simple football

June 18, 2006 |
marko

I've been waiting for an opportunity to write about the world championship football wich is taking place in Germany now. First, this is the first WC to be blogged about in this amount. If you want to catch everything there is to know about the WC from a user perspective, (pun intended) check out the SoccerBlog archive. It is a syndication of a lot of soccer blogs, some of which are pretty good. There are even some live blogs from bloggers, blogging about the match as it is played. You'd think there wouldn't be a market, but it seems there is...

One particular post I liked is from Worldview World Cup which talks about the Dutch shirt Design and the changed strategy of the Dutch team.

The Dutch like to play offensive football, they like to be on the opponents half and in possession of the ball upward of 70% of the time. Most teams react to this strategy by calling every man into the penalty area and locking the goal solid.

    The Dutch defeated Ivory Coast ... to advance to the round of 16, owing in part to the new Era of Pragmatism in Dutch soccer ushered in by Marco van Basten. The argument for it goes like this: The modern game, with its powerful defenders, does not allow you to practice flashy attacking style all the time. If we'll give up some of the initiative in the match, we will be able to do our gorgeous, uniquely Dutch thing at least some of the time. This strategy is also meant to protect the Dutch from these dull defensive underdog teams that have been so successful of late (Sweden and Mexico are the latest victims, with Portugal well on their way as I am writing this).

Apparently the Dutch Coach is working on a book "The Pragmatic Footballer" and talked to Pragmatic Dave for a bit.

To me, Pragmatism, Getting Real or Simple are all in the same league. Use common sense in design and development, measure results as well as shifting goals, examine and fine tune effectiveness of techniques, review and adapt accordingly.

By getting rid of the Dutch dogma of needing to play beautiful football all of the time, the Dutch create more chances to practice their style when it counts. For now, the Dutch results are accordingly. An example is the record streak by Dutch goalie Edwin van der Sar (see picture) that was ended by the Ivory Coast goal last Friday. Van der Sar managed to keep the nil for up to ten WC games and over a thousand minutes of play, a European record. His unpassable streak has lasted since the match against Finland in October 2004.

So simple works, also in football as well as in development;

    Skip the chrome, but make your app shine where it counts.

Under the leadership of Marco van Basten the Dutch team has only lost one match yet, a practice match, against Italy. Coaches are very important to football, well almost any sport. Why are there so few coaches in software and web development?

I think any team needs a good coach. What do you think?

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Export all data as .xml

June 15, 2006 |
marko

xml.png

Bart is giving 14Dayz some extra special TLC these next few weeks.... He's dumped in a load of fixes yesterday and brings home a much requested feature today: Export all data as .xml

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The export all data feature allows you to keep a copy of your data for yourself. And you can extend the functionality of 14Dayz using this xml-file. If you've found an interesting application for it, let us know. We love to hear about your experiences with 14Dayz.

  



14Dayz Update

June 14, 2006 |
marko

We have been working with our customers to keep improving the user experience of 14Dayz, the simple - hassle free - time tracking solution for online teams. Thanks to you, we've been able to catch and fix a lot of minor issues, enhancements and tweaks to make the 14Dayz experience better for everyone. Here are some of the new features you will find in today's release:

* Upload your own logo to customize the appearance of 14Dayz. 14Dayz has never looked better with your logo on it. And we have more logo news later, stay tuned...
* Heavy users will be pleased to learn the projects section is now paged and browsable. This will speed things up quite a bit.
* Workers cannot see the rate column in reports. Project leads can see the rate column.
* Some fixes and tweaks on the time sheet.

We'll continue to implement your requests and suggestions. We plan another release next week. Also we're working on a new time tracking product for the Dutch legal market, integrating all the experience we gained working on 14Dayz. Watch this space for more news.

  



Amazon: More Ajax, Less Usabilty

June 3, 2006 |
marko

Amazon has integrated a new “Look inside this book viewer”. The helpful function has gotten a complete overhaul and has been transformed into stunning looking Web 2.0 application. I must admit, I gawked at it at first too. Wow, that looks really cool, I was thinking.

Then I started clicking some things and as I started clicking more things, trying to do what I was able to do beforehand I got stuck.

That’s right; the ever so simple solution of letting you page through the book, like you would in a bookshop. It was brilliant. Ugly... Yet simple and brilliant. And I just got stuck.

Don’t get me wrong, I have been a satisfied Amazon customer since the very beginning. For me it was finally a way to purchase some of the rarer US titles that are so hard to find in Europe. And I loved the fact that the book shop came to me, and I didn’t have to go to the shop. At home, I could browse for hours, take all the time I wanted, like a kid in a candy store. I so love books!

And I so loved Amazon for delivering to my doorstep. And I loved them more when they were helping me buy; giving recommendations and then letting me browse through the books like in a real bookshop. Awesome.

When on the few occasions I visit a real bookshop now, I find the experience unsettling and unpleasant. I can’t find a thing that interests me and most of the books are in plastic wrap, so it’s absolutely impossible to look inside.

Amazon was an inspiration to me, their site was simple and every developer or designer had his own view at how things should look or work. But it worked and it got me what I needed. Books.

Now Amazon has dropped the simplicity in favor of Chrome, Ajax and Complexity and I’m at a loss. How many less technically gifted visitors will go haywire on this self indulgence of web developers showing off their newly found technical skills? Did they have a meeting about how great it was going to be and about how much chrome and features they could shove in? Did anyone for one second think about how adding complexity would affect sales?

thisFeatureIsNotAvailable.png

I don’t want Amazon Upgrade, I want books! I don’t want to see a spinner, I want to browser through the pages. Let me look at the book while I’m waiting, not at “Loading…” That is just AJAX for AJAX sake. Not for my sake! Did they every wonder what a customer might want out of a Look inside this book feature? Did they even ask? Did a group of their best customers write to them and ask them; "Look, it is taking really long to load those inside the book pages, can you please make us look at a boring spinner while it's loading, instead of at this exciting book we maybe want to buy?"

loading.png

If anyone here at Brains is trying to sneak in an extra field into our Sign-Up procedure (which I think is already bloated) they better come armed with a dozen, sharp, convincing arguments to prove to me why we should put this in. And if they do convince me, and we do put it in, we measure what happens to Sign-Ups. And if it drops too far we’ll take the whole dawn thing out again.

If you want to get on my good side, you find out ways to take fields out, make it simpler.

I guess Amazon did not get on my good side today.

  



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