Jef Raskin, co-creator of the Macintosh computer, has died.
In his writings and in person, Jef always impressed me by the depth and clarity of his thinking, and the passion that he brought to the business of making information systems less painful to use.
This is exactly the kind of thing the Macromedia is always showing off in their demos. Drag. Drop. Animations happen which guide the user. It’s the kind of stuff that Lazslo talks about with their concept of a “cinematic user experience”.
Companies building IT systems to replace a previously offline (paper-phone-fax) based business process often spend millions of dollars on the project. These systems surprisingly similar to one another (given that they represent different business processes in different industries) Actors have particular Roles. The Actors operate on Documents, which are exchanged between actors in a pre-choreographed order that is the Business Process. The system is typically designed to replace a mature paper-fax-phone based process already in existence, be it processing a purchase order or approving an application for insurance.
Companies are often surprised when they face resistance or low adoption to the new systems (something I wrote about a little while ago in hooking small businesses up). A number of the projects that my company Uzanto has tackled in the past year have involved – in some way or the other – fixing broken systems of this type, particularly at the intersection between a large enterprise and it’s much smaller partners (think insurance brokers, or real estate agents, or retail stores). One specific reason for failure that we have encountered again and again is due to the fudgability of paper / voice, and the inflexibility of any software process that tries to replace it.
Om Malik has a nice piece on the growning backlash against Skypes apparently lousy billing / customer service. Skype (the organization) is obviously experiencing some growing pains.
I use Skype 2-3 hours a day to talk to people halfway around the world, and I’ve never paid them a dime, so I can’t complain myself. However, I have noticed a distinct drop in audio quality since the latest release of the Skype client. In particular, the volume of the call will sometimes sporadically drop almost to 0. Is Skype (the technology) also experiencing growing pains?
Quicken announced a few days ago that they would turn off the web service connections that millions of Quicken 2002 users use to to automatically download banking records. Not sunsetting phone support or discontinuing new bug fixes: they literally are going to turn the service off, as of April 15th. Your only option as a customer is to buy Quicken 2005.