OpenID usability

People complain a lot that users don’t understand about OpenID logins booting them to another website to authenticate.

Don’t Google already do this with Blogger and Yahoo with Flickr? That is to say: don’t tens of millions of people do this regularly already?

I mean, what’s the big difference? I know there are other usability complaints/problems, but this one sounds eerily like a straw man to me.

Symbian to go open source

Nokia have said that once they own the controlling stake (or all) of Symbian, they’ll make it open source within two years under the Eclipse license (see the white paper for more details, PDF).

To my naive and shallow mind, this just leaves games consoles as the major consumer device which doesn’t have an open source operating system on at least one of the major competitors in the market.

N95 on v20 firmware

I think this is an excellent move by Nokia and I look forward to the reaction from the other companies in the mobile device market. It has always seemed insane to me that almost all of the handsets run different operating systems, built from the ground up by the same company that produces the device itself (there are some exceptions around Windows Mobile and UIQ). This seems to be compounded by the fact that almost all the phones on sale compete not on the features of the operating system but on the physical features of the device such as a better camera, GPS, USB connection, build quality, keypad layout and so on. As far as I can tell, the operating systems on all the phones are at a rough parity, and the only thing keeping people locked in to a single vendor is the migration tool that each vendor supplies for moving your data from your old device to your new device. Vendors may like to call this “loyalty”, but I’d really like to see what could happen to the market if customers were no longer locked in by an arbitrary upgrade process and the OS features were equal amongst all phones but they suddenly had to compete by innovation in both hardware and user interface to those features.

I can’t wait for mobile user interfaces to improve, at the moment the devices are massively powerful but we’re constantly hampered by how difficult they are to use (yes, I’m including the iPhone); I don’t think there’s another type of regular HCI that is quite so difficult as that of using a mobile phone.

There’s also now a pretty big question about what they’re going to do with the GNOME-based Maemo platform and UIQ. Maemo will presumably get retired off in favour of the Symbian Touch OS, and with 200 employees of UIQ being laid off, I think we can safely say that that will die too.

I can hardly wait to see a better user interface on mobile phones, and I really hope that this is the kick up the bum the industry needs to see that we get it!

Vista sidebar is annoying

The Windows Vista sidebar has two display methods:

Vista sidebar screenshot

  1. Always there – in the mode it blocks up a couple of inches at the right-hand edge of the screen and all your applications behave as though the sidebar is the edge of the screen.
  2. sometimes there – when you bring it to the foreground it merges seamlessly with the background, with a good default opacity, highlighting gadgets as you roll over them and allowing the data in them to be visible at all times without being instrusive. However, when you click on an application, it will disappear.

Now guess which, with an amendment, I’d prefer.

The fact that there is no option for “always on top in opaque mode” is frustrating as hell.

Not only that but the default, laughable, “sticky notes” application is non-resizable so even if your sidebar is completely empty, it can still only be an inch or so high.

I can see masses of potential in the sidebar, but it’s just like they want me to hate it.