Interview on Tea with Teresa, on “What the Heck is User Experience Design??!!” has posted a podcast with Jesse James Garrett on ‘What the heck is User Experience Design?’ (21 minutes).

One of my favorite parts of the interview is when Garrett likens User Experience Design to the experience of a date. Very fascinating and quite the coincidence for me, especially since I just saw the movie “He’s Just Not That Into You“.

Here’s a link to download the podcast, or you can download it from iTunes.

Multimedia system provides new view of musical performance

As posted from ACM today,

University of Leeds researchers have developed new multimedia technology that will enable musicians to use three-dimensional (3D) computer analysis to improve their technique. Professor Kai Ng has created i-Maestro 3D Augmented Mirror (AMIR), a system that records a musician’s posture and movement while they play, using motion capture and maps the results against ideal performance settings. “Many musicians already use video recordings of their performance to analyze technique, but this only provides a 2D image,” Ng says. “The 3D image and analysis provided by AMIR will be of immense value to musicians and teachers alike.” The prototype was designed for musicians playing stringed instruments, but AMIR could be adapted for other instruments. AMIR works by following markers attached to key points on the instrument and the musician’s body and recording the movement on 12 cameras at 200 frames per second. Bow speed, angle, and position are measured for real-time analysis and feedback. The system also uses a Wii Balance Board to monitor data on the musician’s balance. The musician or teacher can see and hear a video of the performance along with an on-screen analysis of posture and bow technique, and can even go through the performance frame by frame if necessary.

Basically, the university has come up with a way for musicians to use 3-D technology to improve their playing technique. It compares a musician’s body movements to “ideal performance settings”. This is interesting because for professional musicians, who’s to say what the ideal performance setting is? This tool is using technology to apply an objective judgment of a musicians body position in order to affect the (subjective) sound quality of their playing.

Admittedly, I think that most people who would benefit from this tool are students, not necessarily concert musicians, who probably are holding their body in an awkward body position, and thus maybe contributing to a poor or impaired sound quality.

For dance/movement arts, I doubt that this tool could be used for “ideal performance settings” since body position in a performance is mostly up to the choreographer to decide. However, I do think this would be useful for dancers or others wanting to improve their sense of balance and body control – such as the elderly, people with physical or motor disabilities, or people recovering from injuries. Wow…I hope I can invent something like this one day!

The full article is available as a press release at the University of Leeds website. The website has other links, but here’s a link to some screen captures of the tool.

Press Release –

Screen Capture –

SafeUnsubscribe, a nice way to send a rejection

I recently relocated to New York City. As a consequence, I’ve been unsubscribing from a lot of email lists lately. A surprising number of them are using this service called “SafeUnsubscribe“/(SafeSubscribe) from Constant Contact. I guess this post is what you call “free advertising”. Actually, I don’t mind this at all. The service is really simple to use, and actually somewhat enjoyable. It makes me wish I had signed up for more newlists so that I could remove myself from even more.

Here’s a screen capture of the unsubscribe link at the bottom of the email I received. (Yes, I frequented the Russian Cultural Center in Houston).

Screen capture of the SafeUnsubscribe link in my inbox.
Screen capture of the SafeUnsubscribe link in my inbox.

When I clicked on the “Instant removal with SafeUnsubscribe” link, I got to this page, where it gives me a few clear options on what I’m unsubscribing from.

Unsubscribe options page
Unsubscribe options page

A few things I like about this page:

  • The email confirmation at the top that says that I don’t have anything to worry about if I’m not the person listed.
  • It’s a confirmation page, and technically it hasn’t done anything yet.
  • It gives me an option to reduce my emails vs. remove myself entirely.
  • It doesn’t features some log-in and then unsubscribe option. Usually when I’m unsubscribing it’s because I haven’t found whatever I signed up for originally interesting anymore and/or I can’t remember my password and log-in information anyway.
  • The Yes/No responses are written in sentence form, so it’s easier to understand that Yes = remove me/No = Cancel the unsubscribe; and not, Yes = keep me on the list/No = Unsubscribe.
  • The little guarantee notice at the bottom, which offers an extra dose of credibility to the site.

Finally, after clicking Save Changes, I get:

Final unsubscribe page
Final unsubscribe page

So, at this point, I feel really impressed that the Houston Russian Cultural Center is so dedicated to respecting my wishes and my privacy, and has such a fast way for me to get off their subscriber list. Check out Constant Contact’s Anti-Spam Policy, which they state is no tolerance:

“Constant Contact is a permission-based email-marketing tool that follows the strictest permission-based philosophies:

  • Communication – Your Constant Contact registration page already states why you are collecting the site visitor’s email address, how you plan to use their address, and that you are following the embedded privacy policy. Additionally, by accepting our license agreement you have agreed to use only permission-based lists and never to sell or rent your lists.
  • Verification – Constant Contact automatically sends all of your new contacts an email confirming their interest in receiving emails from you. Additionally, if your contact changes his or her interests or unsubscribes, Constant Contact automatically sends an email confirmation.
  • Unsubscribe – Every email generated from Constant Contact contains an unsubscribe link which allows your contacts to opt-out of future emails and automatically updates your contact lists to avoid the chance of sending unwanted emails to visitors who have unsubscribed.
  • Identification – Your email header information is correct because it is pre-set for you by Constant Contact. Your email’s “From” address is verified and already accurately identifies you as the sender.
  • Contact Information – all of your emails are pre-filled with your contact information including your physical address.”

This service certainly beats sending an email to someone’s personal email list and telling them you don’t want to get their emails anymore. Unsubscribe is not really rejection, per se, but it is an “I’m not interested” or “I don’t have time for you” type of thing. It’s nice to see such a well-thought out approach to goodbye. Kudos to Constant Contanct!

Art/Programming with A.B.S.M.L.

From the website at,

“[HTML and XML] allow us to write code that make up the internet as we know it today. But like it or not, the internet is boring and dumb.] A.B.S.M.L. (pronounced ABSML) is different because it is a language which writes itself, thereby making the internet interesting and smart. ABSML could be considered a text generator, but it’s much more sophisticated than that.”

Check out the screen saver on the site: flying toast and toasters with wings.

A.B.S.M.L. was used to supply the brain’s of James Chimpton, a robotic chimpaneze who interviews artists. Watch Chimpton work, inside the artist’s studio.

See also, supporters of net art.

My gripe with tiny urls

The other day I got this newsletter via emai about some new conference in UX. Reading through the newsletter, I got to a few sections that used a few of those shorted URLs, such as created by websites like While I think shortened URLs are great for interfaces that have a restriction on characters, such as Twitter or SharePoint, I fail to see the good of a shortened URL in a newsletter. There are already gobs of text swimming around, what are a few extral characters in a URL going to do? I mean, if you’re going to take the time to write out an entire newsletter, I’d much rather see a longer and more meaningful URL than some shortened one that tells me nothing about the destination.