Opinion: The Whole SEO Industry is…

Vintage Magician Set“Hello Web Admin, I noticed that your On-Page SEO is is missing a few factors… On-Page SEO means more now than ever… wait there’s even more Now what if i told you there was a simple WordPress plugin that does all the On-Page SEO, and automatically for you? That’s right AUTOMATICALLY, just watch this 4minute video for more information at…”

We get a lot of this. If you do, too, try this: put the name of the SEO company into a search engine. See how far down it comes in the results. If it comes up at all. Continue reading

Opinion: New Explorer Ribbon in Windows 8

Windows Explorer 10 Ribbon interface“Once you get used to it, you’ll love it” (Microsoft)

Time for another unpalatable truth. It has been quite a few years, we’re used to it and still don’t love it. How many users do you know who find the ribbon on MS Office a confusing quagmire? Are you one of them? It’s a terrible waste of screen real-estate, with or without the collapse button.  Toolbars were stackable and small enough that you could have all of your common commands available on screen at once. Somehow I’m constantly tabbing around bits of the Ribbon.

It has no logical hierarchy by which to find infrequently used commands. At least in a menu, there’s a parent list of options, followed by progressively more specialized sub-menus; there is a visual flow from top to bottom. Yes, the Ribbon has a top level, but the sub-levels are progressively more random and difficult to scan for commands. The location of commands within the Ribbon issue is hard-coded. You can’t reconfigure it like Toolbars.

This is almost exactly how the Ribbon worked in Office 2007. And is the Ribbon really touch friendly? What about commands with the small icons inline with text? The Ribbon is so not-Metro and yet the concept is the same: a single UI for touch and non-touch users. You either make the buttons too small for touch, or waste massive screen real-estate for non-touch. Continue reading

Opinion: Metro-hating in Windows 8

Windows 8 Metro UII found an illuminating post by journalist Ed Bott recently. Under the title The Metro hater’s guide to customizing Windows 8 Consumer Preview, Bott was scathing not about Microsoft’s latest wunderkind, but of us, the users;

“For me, being productive with the Windows 8 Consumer Preview means accepting a few realities:

You need to learn new ways to accomplish some tasks. In most cases, I think your productivity will increase. Some specific tasks take more steps but are easier once you learn them. I really can’t think of a single common task that is significantly more difficult than using the Start menu in Windows 7.
Keyboard shortcuts really make things simpler. That’s been true of Windows for as long as I can remember, but Windows 8 really takes it to another level.
It’s OK to ruthlessly clear unwanted tiles from Start. If you expect your primary usage to be Windows desktop apps, you can safely remove just about all of those.
The search box is your friend. Seriously.”

Learning new ways goes without saying, Metro is a new interface. However specific taks taking more steps, for me marks the decline in usability of some of these interfaces. More keyboard shortcuts? Seriously? The power user needs to learn a stack more of these? And the search box is your friend? Really? So I have to do even more typing and guessing what things are called in order just to find where things live in this new world.

My issue with this is just how does a user graduate from novice to experienced? I’m still not convinced that the Metro UI is any improvement over a Start Menu. If it’s not on an existing tile, where are the visual cues to get you going? Does this mean for the last twenty-five years everyone who developed WIMPS (Windows, Icons, Mouse, Pulldown Menus) got it wrong? Deride it as much as you like, the big button labelled Start got a lot pf people out of trouble. I don’t like to mention babies and bathwater, but maybe this new generation at Microsoft is a little too keen on re-invention. AJS

For the step-by-step instructions, see The Metro hater’s guide to customizing Windows 8 Consumer Preview.

Opinion: Has the Airport Experience Become Horrible?

Interior of main terminal at Dubai International Airport, Wikimedia Commons, 22 March 2011 by OrderinchaosHas the airport experience become horrible?

Yes.

Oh, you want more. Well, Vanessa Barford on the BBC News blog site asked this one a few weeks ago:

“Rarely a week passes without passport queue woes in the UK or tales of overzealous security staff in the US. So has going through an airport become a horrible experience? Airports were once an exciting window to the world. But with immigration services staff in the UK set to strike and passengers said to have waited for up to three hours for passport checks at Heathrow last week, for some the romance is over. Across the Atlantic, the American airport experience has also been generating ire.”

So what’s on my current ire list? Continue reading

Opinion: Chasing Upgrades – Windows 8

New Windows 8 logo image“Windows 8 is being released soon and it’ll compete with Android and iPhone!”
“Really? I heard it’s still only for desktops.”

Following on from the Windows 8 Editions announced last month, there’s been time to reflect on the whole subject of Windows 8; do you need it? Will you upgrade at home? More importantly to Microsoft, will you upgrade at work?

The Windows 8 Pro desktop, licensed per-seat or per-machine, is likely be too expensive for most small business owners (less than five employees), even those located in western Europe or US. This large target group will require Remote Desktop (host), EFS, BitLocker as well as some of those many other features Microsoft is reserving for the volume-licensed Enterprise version.

Not only that, but Microsoft persists in thinking that these people will upgrade to a Windows Server-based network just like they did in the ’90s. Many of us got by then without needing Windows Server for small business, things are even easier now. Continue reading

Opinion: Windows RT or Windows on ARM

New Windows 8 logo imageThis is all about the edition Windows RT, previously nick-named WOA, which is Windows on ARM – the processor platform for non-x86 tablets. If you don’t understand that, or know what that means, you probably don’t need to. Windows RT edition will only be available pre-installed on PCs and tablets powered by ARM processors and not as a retail edition. It is designed to help “enable new thin and lightweight form factors with impressive battery life.” Not iPad’s.

Windows 8 and Windows RT are broadly the same in terms of features but Windows RT will include touch-optimized desktop versions of the new Microsoft Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and OneNote. RT will also get full-device encryption for your precious tablet, which Windows 8 lacks.

Crucially, however, Windows on ARM processors won’t support existing x86 and x64 software and it’s unlikely that badging “Windows RT” is going to explain that to customers. Continue reading