New York City’s 311 calls

11 Nov 2010 | Categories: Infographics,Technology | 0 comments »

An interesting article by Wired about the topics and numbers of complaints made to NYC’s 311 line.

“Launched in March 2003, 311 now fields on average more than 50,000 calls a day, offering information about more than 3,600 topics: school closings, recycling rules, homeless shelters, park events, pothole repairs.”

Wired points out that a 2008 customer satisfaction survey conducted by a third-party firm, showed that NYC’s 311 line finished 1st in satisfaction compared to various public and private call centers. Apparently, at the very bottom of the list, are cable companies.

<random rant>By the way, I despise cable companies. I once called Time Warner Cable about 20 times because of something they screwed up on my bill and refused to fix — when some manager finally fixed the issue for me, I nearly cried.</random rant>

PS: Thanks Sunjoo for the article!

How to wireframe like a ninja

26 Aug 2010 | Categories: Artists,Reviews,Technology | 0 comments »

User Experience Designer, Travis Isaacs, shares his take on balancing time vs. effort, as well as sketch vs. wireframe vs. prototype vs. comp — by creating high-fidelity wireframes in Keynote. His presentation is called Keynote Kung-Fu: How to wireframe like a ninja and was given at the Big Design Conference in May 2010. He compellingly shows why an affordable, powerful tool is needed and how Keynote can fill this void.

I personally use Omnigraffle for my hi-fi wireframing needs. And it bothers me that he assumes ninjas (Japanese) practice kung-fu (Chinese). That’s like depicting a cat barking or chirping. It just doesn’t work that way.

Must-have WordPress plugins

28 Jun 2010 | Categories: Reviews,Technology | 0 comments »

My list of recommended must-have WordPress plugins. I have these plugins installed across all of my blogs and WordPress instances, no doubt about it.

  • Google Analyticator puts Google Analytics tracking information on your WordPress site to track clicks, search keywords, time on site, etc. You need a Google Analytics account for this.
  • Google Sitemap Generator generates an XML sitemap to help boost search engine traffic
  • WordPress Database Backup backs up your MySQL database to server and email
  • WordPress Backup backs up your theme, plugins and uploads to server and email
  • Lightbox 2 to elegantly display images
  • WP Contact Form to embed a contact form into your blog
  • Wordbook to automatically cross-post blog entries to your Facebook profile
  • …and of course Akismet, which comes with WordPress by default, to fight spam comments

Looking good, WordPress 3.0

17 Jun 2010 | Categories: Reviews,Technology | 0 comments »

Newly released WordPress 3.0 is looking both beautiful (new default theme) and functional (batch updates, custom menus, custom post types, contextual help). I’m going to upgrade one of my blogs right now!

New features of WordPress 3.0 include:

  • Admin features
    • Set your admin name to whatever you like
    • Unified updating – update WordPress, plugins and themes in batch, in one place
    • Contextual help on every screen
  • New default theme “Twenty Ten”
    • New look
    • Custom backgrounds
    • Custom header images
  • Custom menu system
    • Mix and match pages, categories, custom links
    • Reorder menu items, create submenus, rename titles
    • Sidebar widget to match
  • Custom post types
  • Built-in shortlink generator
  • Update a network of sites from a single WordPress installation

UPDATE: Upgrades ran smoothly. Even batch-updated my plugins.

Apple iPhone 4 Design Video

08 Jun 2010 | Categories: Reviews,Technology | 1 comment »

Looks snazzy. But multi-tasking — only now? And still no Flash support? Hmm… I’ll stick to my Nexus One, gracias amigos.

Must-have Android Apps

05 May 2010 | Categories: Reviews,Technology | 0 comments »

A friend asked me for advice on apps he should download to his new Android phone and I responded with a long-winded, 27-bullet reply (a last-minute addition to this blog post makes 28). Here it is.

100% vital (and FREE) apps:

  • Owner – Show  contact information on your lock screen
  • Battery Indicator – Puts an exact percentage of battery remaining in the top left notification bar
  • Advanced Task Killer – Android phones allow multi-tasking, unlike the iPhone which only allows 1 program to be used at a time, so some programs run in the background and waste your phone’s available memory. Use this app to “kill” all running tasks by the push of a button. Dont forget to put vital apps (ie: Battery Indicator) on the “ignore” list so that they continue to the run in the background.
  • Google Voice – If you have a Google Voice account, you can set it up on your phone to transcribe and play all of your voicemails right to your phone

Good to have:

  • Digital Clock – Put a big digital clock on the home screen
  • Facebook – Decent app for FB
  • gTasx – If you use Google Tasks, this is a standalone app for managing tasks (you can also point your browser to the mobile Tasks page but I like the app)
  • Personal Assistant – Check all of your bank and credit card accounts from one app
  • Sound Manager – You can schedule your ringer, alarm & media volume by time (ie: mute ringer from 9am-5pm while at work, etc)
  • Kayak – Find airline flights on your phone
  • Amazon – Amazon shopping app
  • PayPal – If you use PayPal a lot, this is a good app to monitor your usage and send money
  • Google Reader – To read your Google Reader RSS feeds
  • Listen – For podcasts
  • Stopwatch – Decent stopwatch app

Cool apps:

  • Google Sky – Points out the constellations in the sky
  • Pandora – I use this app for internet radio every morning in the shower
  • Ringdroid – If you want to edit mp3s to make your own ringtones
  • Shazam – Hold it up to your car speakers and it’ll tell you what song is playing
  • Tube Downloader – Download YouTube videos right to your phone (awesome)

Other Essential Android Tips

  • If you hold your finger down on an empty area of your home screen, you can install widgets or add quick-dial shortcuts, bookmarks, etc, right to the desktop of your phone. You can even create folders to hold shortcuts to apps that you specify.
  • Keep GPS turned OFF to save your battery life
  • Check all of your apps to make sure that sync’ing is done every hour or more, instead of every 15 minutes (to save battery life)
  • I even keep Wifi off to save battery, and only turn it on when I need it
  • Go to Settings > Location & Security to set an unlock pattern for your phone
  • Go to Settings > Language & Keyboard > Android Keyboard to “vibrate on keypress” — it helps with typing
  • Get a minimum 4gb microSD card to hold music on your phone
  • If you’re on a Mac, download DoubleTwist onto your Mac to sync your iTunes playlists to your phone

Hating on Friendster since 2005

06 Apr 2010 | Categories: Reviews,Technology | 0 comments »

“Dear Friendster,

Please add a ‘Website’ field to our Friendster profiles. RSS is great, but c’mon!

Mary”

Looking Glass concept

25 Feb 2010 | Categories: Reviews,Technology | 2 comments »

This is what designer Mac Funamizu believed the future of internet search would become when his concepts were submitted for a design competition and won in 2009. Google Googles, Google Sky Map and tons of iPhone & Android apps are already making this a reality.

More photos at Industrial Design Served (Served is a family of sites that I’m quickly falling in love with).

BBC’s new visual style

24 Feb 2010 | Categories: Reviews,Technology | 0 comments »

I’m excited to see BBC’s new visual style roll out — this BBC blog post gives a sneak peak.

Depressing error message

18 Feb 2010 | Categories: Funny,Technology | 0 comments »

This error message made me so depressed yesterday. Sigh.