Interesting stuff around conversation from a human-computer interaction study. A Japanese person and an American person are placed in a virtual conversation in 3D space. A computer agent detects pauses in the conversation and suggests a new topic to proceed with. Some agents were safe, injecting topics such as movies, music and the weather. Some were unsafe, presenting money, politics and religion.

While both Japanese and American participants found the unsafe agent’s subjects more interesting, the Americans found the safe agent of value while the Japanese did not. “Of value” means increased opinion of their own behaviour and of their conversational partner.

Implications of this kind of research are interesting – they’d better be. I get to mark about 60 assignments on this stuff in a few weeks’ time.

Personally, I want interfaces to be as unobstrusive as possible and messages to be informative. More as it comes up.

Who knew? GoLive CS/CS2 is the QuickTime slideshow editor I wanted about 2 years ago. iPhoto does nice fades, but I wanted wipes and stuff. And now I have them. More ideas bubbling away too, but will I have time?

If you can read this, I can post without a browser. Only nerds will care.

Thoughts with those @ BB, near Oval tube in London.

What kind of drugs was the advertising executive on when he (must be a he) came up with the toothpaste flavoured “Empowermint”?

How dumb can this world get before it implodes?

Ah, fire safety. There are a few rules which, apparently, you should follow regarding your house. If the area around your house is clear of high trees, you can actually stay in your house while the fire front passes, then come out and put out spot fires started by embers.

Here in The Blocks at Mt Nebo, that doesn’t apply. There are many, many trees near us. We don’t own all of them. We’re at the top of a long hill. Fire travels faster up hill. But here’s the fun bit: the big red fire trucks will not come up into the blocks if there’s a fire. The big plan in case of big fire: evacuate early. Wa-hey.

Anyway, I’m spending my time at the moment writing a new Advanced Photoshop course, to be run soon at the Design College of Australia. Looking forward to teaching it; should be fun. More teaching at QUT should be good too, plus more stuff for Infinite. It’s all good, though the free time is dwindling. I look at my calendar and can’t see the numbers any more. Naah, I’ve got free time, but it’s all fractured. Every week is different, which keeps it interesting and lets me work from home more. Cool.

But… need… broadband… now.

First: if you haven’t heard from her directly, Becki is OK.

Whatever I say about the bombing in London will be out of date by tomorrow. This Wikipedia page won’t: 2005 London transport explosions.

The fear of horrendous shit like this is part of why we left. Sympathy to all affected.

There are a few fonts out there which are used far too much, and all come as default fonts with Windows machines. Times New Roman is just bad; an dated, old-style font that nobody likes. Not pretty on screen, killing it for print use too. But it’s not the prime offender, as not many people like it.

Probably the most used font on the planet, Arial is an ugly ripoff of Helvetica which never deserved its current status. As most sans-serifs are better on-screen than most serifs, they’re going to be more popular, so the default generic sans with the default generic system wins. But it’s not the worst popular font.

No, that glorious title goes to Comic Sans. It’s popular because people think it looks “friendly”. Think it’s “fun” and “casual”. I’ve seen it used in conference posters, in scientific documents, on shop signage. It’s shit. If I can be even more blunt and opinionated:

If you use Comic Sans, it makes your documents look like they were written by a seven year old. It’s unprofessional, ugly, and makes it clear you couldn’t afford to hire a real designer. So please, please don’t use it.

Something else: just noticed on the Live8 broadcast while Coldplay/Richard Ashcroft are on stage, there’s a visual effect going on in the background that looks a lot like a horizontal/vertical version of my composition Abstracted. If anyone out there knows who did the visuals, and if it was connected, let me know. It is free to use and Live8 is a good cause; just wondering.