Monthly Archives: October 2009

Doodle 4 Google: My Wish For Australia

Google are running another Doodle 4 Google competition and this time it has been opened up to school kids across Australia. The basic criteria is simple, take a template of the Google logo, decorate it with a given theme – in this case ‘My Wish For Australia’ and provide your the reason behind your artistic efforts. The submissions are in and you can vote to see one of the doodles gracing the Google Australia home page.

I’m really digging the following, they meet the general design pattern that Dennis Hwang uses for the official Google doodles and you could easily see them dropped into Google and not look out of place. The exception to that is the last one, “Deadly” by Darcy McBean – as it doesn’t use a white background, however I thought it was a striking looking doodle and was worthy of being put forward.

Which ones do you like, either from within my shortlist or from the greater set on the Doodle 4 Google site?

Artist: Jessie Du, Age: 11, School: Rydalmere East Public School, City: Ermington, New South Wales
Artist: Ryan Dos Santos, Age: 12, School: Jinibara State School, City: Narangba, Queensland
Artist: Kyle Griffin, Age: 14, School: Warilla High School, City: Barrack Heights, New South Wales
Artist: Kyle Griffin, Age: 14, School: Warilla High School, City: Barrack Heights, New South Wales
Artist: Annie Hogan, School: Padua College, City: Mornington, Victoria
Artist: Annie Hogan, School: Padua College, City: Mornington, Victoria
Artist: Nicholas Mills-Thorn, Age: 15, School: Calwell High School, City: Canberra, Australian Capital Territory
Artist: Nicholas Mills-Thorn, Age: 15, School: Calwell High School, City: Canberra, Australian Capital Territory
Artist: Darcy McBean, Age: 14, School: Kormilda College, City: Berrimah, Northern Territory
Artist: Darcy McBean, Age: 14, School: Kormilda College, City: Berrimah, Northern Territory

Improper Right Turn

The Gold Coast is still recovering from the SuperGP that was held last week and over the weekend. As a result of the racing carnival being on the Gold Coast, there are serious road closures as a result.

Last week as a by product of the closures, there was a significant amount of pressure put on roads that don’t normally cater for that volume of traffic and there was some very slow and long drives home – one of which took me nearly one and a half hours.

On the way home from work yesterday, I pulled out of the Circle on Cavill car park and was about to head south and suffer through the traffic again and then noticed a bit of an opportunity. Just before I pulled out onto Ferny Avenue, I noticed that the traffic was on red lights at Ferny Avenue and Beach Road and either a police officer on the ground or red lights was holding the traffic on Thomas Drive heading into Chevron Island.

The opportunity I speak of, was a not quite so legal right turn or legally speaking an improper right turn. If you view the intersection of Cavill Avenue & Ferny Avenue in Google Street View, you’ll see it is marked turn left only but directly in front there is a nice big break in the traffic island.

Opportunistically, given the traffic was held at both lights and there was literally not a single car in sight – I nipped through the break in the traffic island to head north on Ferny Avenue. Of course, this all ended in tears and a traffic violation when, as soon as I pulled out, a Gold Coast Highway Patrol car exited the pick up and drop off area for Mantra Circle on Cavill.

There is a lesson in all of this though, the law is always watching or at least watching Surfers Paradise the week after the Gold Coast SuperGP!

iPhone 3GS: Portable Computing

Since purchasing a new iPhone 3GS, I’ve noticed that I’m using my phone more than I ever have before to check things on the Internet.

While I could have used the internet on my Samsung Blackjack and have done so a handful of times, the user experience just wasn’t good enough for me to want to use it unless I absolutely had to.

With the new iPhone 3GS, that has changed completely – which I think is awesome. I’m now regularly looking things up such as businesses, TV guide, email, RSS and more; none of which I used to do eith my old phone.

Using WordPress via iPhone

I wanted to install the WordPress iPhone application, however since I couldn’t get my Apple iTunes Store Account to verify and work correctly – I’ve resorted to using WordPress via Safari.

While I have viewed plenty of blogs using a mobile device and was surprised how functional they were, I’d never attempted to use the WordPress administration area. When visiting the WordPress admin with an iPhone or another internet enabled mobile device, you are served the exact same version of the administration interface that you’d receive if you viewed it using a desktop computer. That might surprise a lot of people, however WordPress isn’t mobile device ready by default – you require a plugin such as WordPress Mobile Edition by Alex King. Even with that plugin enabled, it generates a mobile friendly reader experience and doesn’t provide a mobile friendly administration interface.

To my surprise however, it was quite a simple task to navigation around the WordPress administration area using Safari on the iPhone. Thanks to the convenient zooming functionality that the iPhone provides, it makes working with busier sections of the interface straight forward. While functional, it certainly isn’t the kind of user experience that you’d want to use daily – as a good amount of screen real estate is wasted and when you’re using a small screen device – every pixel counts.

As I tested out different sections of the interface, about the only thing that I noticed didn’t work ‘as expected’ was the text area used to write a blog post. By default, I enable the visual or rich editor in WordPress. Normally when you give focus to any form element that you can type into, the iPhone automatically pops up the keyboard. However, because the visual editor is a JavaScript implementation – nothing triggers the keyboard to show up. Of course, selecting the ‘HTML’ tab on the blog posting page fixes that immediately.

All and all, very impressed with how the iPhone handles complex interfaces – it certainly gives me a lot of confidence that there’d be a limited number of sites that I’d have problems with using Safari on the iPhone.

Apple iTunes Account Verification Has Poor Usability & User Experience

Earlier in the week and got frustrated by the poor usability and user experience of the signup process for an Applie iTunes Store Account. Apparently the I had not climbed over enough hurdles just yet and needed a little more practise before I could enter the iTunes Store.

After completing the creation aspect of my Apple iTunes Account on my iPhone, I was sent a verification email to finalise and activate the account. The normal procedure followed is straight forward, an email is sent with a specific link within which when clicked verifies the newly created account. No messing around with needing to have software installed or any strangeness, just click the link and you’re done.

In the case of Apple, they provided the verification email with a simple link within.  However, after clicking it on the iPhone the website informs me that it cannot verify it – but it is just a link, why not! I click the link from the desktop computer and after fumbling around for a while, click the ‘Done’ button thinking that’d do the trick but I was wrong.

As it turns out, the verification URL that is provided is a secure link (HTTPS) and not a standard link (HTTP). That is completely acceptable, in fact I’d go as far to say that I’m pleased they were using HTTPS to verify my new account. What Apple have completely failed to do, is make sure all of the different resources within that web page are all on HTTPS.

As most internet users are well aware now, if you’re viewing a secure web site over HTTPS and there are images, CSS or any other assets on the page that aren’t secured – the browser will throw up a security warning asking the user if they want to download the unsecured items.

Being a generally security conscious kind of guy, I clicked the option to only show me secured content. It turns out, that was a big mistake as there was an asset on the web page that was going to make iTunes perform the final stages of the account verification process.

I find it incredible, nearly unbelieveable that Apple would or could have such a completely crap signup process. They are one of the largest businesses in the world with a market capitalisation of some USD$40 billion and the can’t manage a smoother verification process.

All of the above rigmoral could have been avoided if they’d followed the route of virtually every other service that uses two phase signup processes and simplly verified my account when I clicked on the link instead of requiring iTunes to be involved.