It’s been going around the blogworld, but if you haven’t seen it already, do check out BumpTop 3D Desktop Prototype. Rather than a useful place to store files (I can’t organise a real desktop of any kind) I would like to use something like this as a launcher/widgetboard, something like the Dock + Dashboard. Maybe desktop too, if I can see filenames more easily. Regardless, big thumbs up to the UI innovations shown here.

Last night’s football between Australia and Italy was a crushing way to go out — a penalty against Australia in the last seven seconds of the game. A soft penalty at that. Despite what the article says, Australia had most of the possession, but couldn’t get past the watertight Italian defence. Really, though, I can’t see Italy winning the big prize (nor would Australia have, had they won this).

Italy now go on to play Ukraine, after an apparently dire match concluding with Switzerland failing to score a single penalty. Have a glance through The Guardian’s minute-by-minute report, if only to read the comments (straying into the plot of the concurrent Miss Marple) and the author begging someone, anyone, to score. Compare and constrast with the dull minute-by-minutes posted by the New York Times: Switzerland-Ukraine and Italy-Australia.

Almost ready!

Sorry; I know nothing’s been posted for a few weeks, but I’ve been busy shooting and editing for Microsoft Tech Ed 2006 in Boston. Based on that footage, I’ve got the next twelve fives vid ready to go, as soon as I can get it encoded and up. Really!

With thanks to a regular visitor to this blog whose true identity remains, as yet, unknown, please enjoy this fabulous little short: animator.

So you know user interfaces? Tog disagrees. If you’ve never considered this stuff before, this quiz from 1999 will throw a few spanners in your works: AskTog: A Quiz Designed to Give You Fitts. Things like the single common menu bar are a big reason why I’m a Mac fan; all the little things together really do make a difference. Even MS Vista seems to look prettier, but not work better. Still no infinitely high menu bar, the Flip3D Exposé-workalike just isn’t as functional, the list goes on. It’s an improvement to my eyes, but time will tell if Windows users adjust quickly or are pulled grudgingly. People hate change; there has been strong community resistance to every OS change I’ve been through.

Interestingly, the next release of Microsoft Office seems to have learnt a number of UI lessons, ditching the menu bar and all the hideous toolbars for a “ribbon”. It’s not perfect, but it’s a brave decision for Microsoft to make, and an adjustment for habitual users. Worse, apparently (hearsay alert) it makes selecting styles (Heading 1 etc.) harder.

Regardless, it’s good to see some UI innovation in the world’s de-facto standard office software. Blogs about it, even. A good experience I had at Tech·Ed was cornering Jared (A?), who works with (is responsible for?) PowerPoint, and telling him the things that suck about it. Keynote’s great, but most of the world doesn’t use Macs, and I’d love to see the quality of the world’s presentation software (and presentations) improve.

The list includes how PowerPoint loves to squish (not crop) your images, how it always knows that you want bullets (or don’t), how the display of text is just icky, how the transitions are just bad, how the templates are horrible, how transparency from Photoshop is a hassle to include through copy/paste (PNG import does work), how there’s no cross-platform video format I can include in a PowerPoint. Some of these things seem to have been fixed. Others will no doubt shit me once again.

One happy fact is that IE7 looks like it won’t suck as badly as IE6, and in a few years I won’t have to spend my time teaching web development saying “this doesn’t work in IE”.

Accursed jetlag. While sleep seductively beckons, I’m sticking to my “don’t sleep until the locals do” jetlag-beating tactics. Flying from the other side of the planet always kicks you in the head, and coming west is *easier*, eep.

Not that I’m complaining. Travel from one side of this tiny planet to the other is still, to me, an amazing feat. In the last two and a bit weeks I’ve flown past all our longitudes, all the way around the dirtball we all call home. And that’s as far as 99.9% of us have ever been able to do. Someday, breaking orbit will become normal. Maybe even in the next ten years, if Mr Branson’s latest dream is fulfilled. Someday farther off, we’ll leave properly.

Back to earth, this little trip’s been a blast. Time will surely tell just how much springs forth from the seeds laid. Many films created, people met, connections made. Maybe when my brain’s in the right timezone I can gather my thoughts, settle them in a neat pile, then finally finish the latest Tech·Ed video.

All I can manage at the moment is “eep”.

Sorry I haven’t been posting enough. The Twelve Fives “blogging every day” plan was particularly wildly optimistic. When I have a few moments to collect my thoughts, I’ll let you in on the most closely guarded secrets of the Microsoft Inner Circle!

Well, not really. But I’ll let you know what I’ve been doing this week.