Remember that petition we all signed a few weeks ago? Well, it looks like the numbers were big enough for folk with a seat to lose in the US congress to take notice:-)

An overwhelming House vote to cut funds for back doors into your private life sets up a summer surveillance fight: will the Senate stand up before the White House shuts it down?

Read the whole story and also, while you're at it, why not join the EFF ?

Time to help the EFF again

Please support the EFF as it acts to protect UK citizens

Got this in the mail from the EFF today:

The UK's intelligence services can process 21 petabytes of data per day - that's 39 billion pieces of information that could be the private data of any citizen. This mass surveillance violates your privacy and chills free speech across the globe. The current law offers little protection. We are calling for reform of the legal framework so the intelligence agencies stop spying on us.

Signing is a good thing. The principles we're trying to support:

  1. No surveillance without suspicion
  2. Transparent laws, not secret laws
  3. Judicial not political authorisation
  4. Effective democratic oversight
  5. The right to redress
  6. A secure web for all

So HEF is learning to skate:-)

L and H skate rats in training

The little stake rats are coming along nicely. Just picked up a longer deck for HEF and he's loving the cruising thing. Many thanks to the lovely people at Liquid Motion in Exmouth who took loads of time and even gave him an ollying lesson! After much trying out of different configs, HEF when with this guy

Good crowd for talk on empathy, UX, art and science

Did a talk last night at the BCS about what makes a great user experience. High point of the evening, I showed my mental notes cards and did an experiment with the audience to illustrate anchoring & adjustment. I hosted a mock auction where the audience had to write bids on a card (with the premise like an Antiques Roadshow thing where you had to guess the price).

The result was amasing. In a room with aprox 60 people

  • 22 cards were filled in
  • 2 participants ignored the anchors entirely
  • 3 participants may not have been influenced
  • 17 users were clearly anchored

So this was done with bits of cardboard and in a bit of hurry but still, 77% still feels like a statistically significant sample.

The anchor itself was a number on the back of the card. The audience was told this was a random number from 0 to 100 which was to be used as a tie breaker at the end of the exercise. Before the start of the auction, the participants were asked to write this number in the "tie breaker" box on the front of the card. I wasn't sure that simply copying the number from one side to the other would have the anchoring impact but it clearly did.

I'm going to try and do the same for all the other cards now:-)

Code club

HEF's first Code Club lesson

So HEF did his first code lesson today!

He wants to jump forward to project #5 to make a game but hey, he's eight and has to start somewhere. Nice job General Assembly for the online learning tool Dash for passing the eight-year-old test. He struggled with some of the vocab (whats a "heading" Dad?) but it was all straightforward enough to explain quickly.

Great example of clear explanation: The course uses a tag to explain attributes and values

<pizza size="large" crust="thin" type="pepperoni">

which HEF digested immediately.

Nice one:-)

Barnet whiplash


What the hell is going on around here?!? First I get thwacked by a car and end up in ICU, then Nicki's Mum has a stroke and then she's back in an ambulance today with CLF giving herself whiplash on the trampoline (HEF and CLF are now happy they've both been issued neck braces).

So can we chill a bit now please?

Wireframes v prototypes yakety yak...

wireframe structure from USC Proving Ground training

Have recently followed a couple of discussions along the lines of "wireframes are dead" touting the cure-all properties of prototyping (like this or this). I love and use both methods depending on client and production context so I'm always left feeling a bit bemused by the level and depth of side-taking.

Was reviewing some old bookmarks and came across a lovely post by Owen Briggs:

Something that bothers me with most buildings is they are drawn. The designers drew floorplans and elevations and then set these perpendicular to create space. Their direct thinking was all done at the two dimensional level. They don't see in three dimensional flows (or four dimensional; time) in the same basic way as they see 2D. The third and forth are added later, lightly understood and badly implemented...

He was writing this in 2001 and he was considering the potential frictions between the 4-dimensional world of digital and the use of line and paper, his foundational design method. Refreshing to see thought develop over time and very prescient of Mr Briggs:-)

Read the whole piece here:

Thanks to USC for the graphic

p.s. after posting this, one of the discussions on Linkedin when a bit ballistic and a guy called Soudy Khan had this v sensible point to add (can't link directly to Linkedin comments. Bad Linkedin) about the issue:

Billions of dollars and windows of opportunity (through time delays) are lost because experiences aren't specified-out properly. A lack of proper documentation leads to a great deal of back-and-forth with the engineering teams, features implemented improperly, etc.

Interesting the agile balancing act between specifying and specification...

Cat signal time again

President Obama and other leaders are meeting in Asia right now to finalize the Trans-Pacific Partnership - a deal that threatens to censor your use of the Internet, kill jobs, undermine environmental protections and remove your democratic rights...

Sound bad? You can add your name here: