Sunday, October 23, 2005

On design

I always enjoy it when I have the chance to work with designers. Just now we're working on a small-but-fun collaboration to design a new logo and poster for the forthcoming Jena user-conference. What I like is the way that designers approach problems. Engineers, even ones with user-centred principles in mind, tend to approach product design from a starting-point of "what should the product do?" Designers, in my experience anyway, start somewhere around "what should it feel like to use this product?" There's nothing right or wrong about either starting point, but it's fantastically refreshing to view your world from someone else's perspective. Either way round, good design comes down, in my view, to elegance, and there's always more to learn about achieving that elusive quality. The more inspiration the better.

I've been meaning to write an entry along these lines for some time. I'm reminded to do so now by a little bit of synchonicity. I've recently added to my blog aggregator core77.com's design blog, and John Maeda's simplicity blog. John has a collection of rules of simplicity (e.g. the first law) which are quite thought provoking - even if I don't entirely agree with all of them. And today, via core77, comes Intelligent Design, a delightful parody by Paul Rudnick. It brightened my Sunday morning anyway!

Thursday, October 13, 2005

New camera

So, on holiday this year (back in early August), I dropped my trusty old Nikon Coolpix 990 on a big rock ... that rock being Mt. Snowdon. Ever since then it makes a funny grinding noise whenever it should be focussing. I liked the Coolpix, but it suffered from (a) being large and heavy, and (b) eating batteries like bingo. So, rather than pay for a repair, I decided to invest in a new camera. Choice: an HP R817. I've only had it a few days, but first impressions are really nice. It's tiny compared to the Nikon, takes very nice pictures and in particular handles variable light much better than my old camera. The R817 has some interesting looking modes to play with, but I've not really tried them out much yet. With a USB cable and the sharing mode set to 'Disk Drive' (on the setup menu) it appeared instantly, with no messing around, on my Linux system. Ergonomically it's much easier than the Coolpix too, though I dare say Nikon have improved their product since the 990 came out.

Cool new gadget bliss.