Archived entries for Cool

Receipts via Email from Wells Fargo ATMs

A couple months ago, Wells Fargo ATMs added the ability to have a receipt emailed to you instead of printed out on the spot. The present a menu screen where you can choose to view the receipt on the screen, print it out, send it to your Wells inbox, or have it emailed to your personally email address on record.

I get an outsized amount of enjoyment from this simple little feature. Part of me wonders why it hasn’t been such before — it’s so simple! Another part of me enjoys the physical convenience — no paper, no trash. And part of me gets a silly little feeling of cleverness — that we /are/ actually living in the future.

In general I hate Wells Fargo because they continually charge me extra hidden fees and make me jump through silly hoops repeatedly even though I’m a long time customer holding, I believe, nine different accounts with them (our TIC/condo group in part of that).

But while the bank may such (don’t they all?), their ATMs are cool. (For those interested in UX and Interface design, Pentagram studios did the redesign and Physical Interface has the story / case study.) In addition to the emailed receipts, I like that

  • the screen options are personalized with your most common transactions (how much to withdraw; from which account; receipt preference);
  • you can deposit checks without an envelope, and print a receipt with a scanned image of the check;
  • and that you can buy postage stamps.

Anyways, I write this because I’m up early on a Saturday morning waiting on a phone call to come in. Uggh. Scanning Techmeme while I wait and this post reminded me about the WF feature and that many other hadn’t seen it (apparently only testing in Northern California and Colorado)…. So there you go…back to my coffee…

The Eyeballing Game

Here’s an enjoyable way to spend ten minutes giving your brain some exercise: The Eyeballing Game. The game/exercise asks you to modify a polygon to create a parallelogram and right angle, find the midpoint of a line, bisect an angle, find the center or a triangle and circle, and identify a convergence point.

My average score, the degree on inaccuracy, (as you can see below) was 4.01 (low is better). By best showing was bisecting an angle.

Think you can do better? Give it a shot: http://woodgears.ca/eyeball/

my-eyeballing-game-distribution
my-inaccuracy-by-category

DJ Z-Trip Mixtape for Obama

DJ Z-Trip (with designer Shepard Fairey) has thrown some fundraisers for the Obama campaign called the “The Party for Change.” A few days ago he made the 54 minute set available as a free mp3 download.

You can read more about it and grab it on his site, or save him a bit of bandwidth and grab it from me (.zip, 85mb). (It’s public domain and he encourages its wide distribution!)

Here’s a great DJ with a great ear and premier turntable skills that pulls music from across genres. This mix is no exception.

I agree with his signoff:

I honestly feel if we make our voices heard, this time WILL be different.

Wireframing with Balsamiq Mockups

Thanks to Pras for the pointer to Balsamiq’s Mockups application. I was sketching wireframes quickly within minutes of finding the product.

I believe in low-fidelity sketching at the wireframe stage. Balsamiq makes it easy with its large library of UI control stencils, its auto-complete driven keybroad stencil selection, on-screen snap-to alignment guides, a powerful inspector for precise control when rarely needed, and, more of all, a simplicity that makes it easy to start sketching or tweaking your mockup immediately.

The output is Balsamiq files, PGN or flattened image files, and XML. Because it exports XML it’s possible to use Balsamiq as a programmatic ingredient for downstream engineering systems and tools (such as partially automating the creation of detailed functional specifications, or using it as source for the automated building on the actual interface.

There is a rumor that they’ll be announcing clickable output files shortly, which might allow for the fast creation of clickable wireframes for usability testing (and other) needs.

I haven’t noticed, but it should be possible to customize what’s in the included UI Widget Library to a) take on a different visual skin; b) reflect new or fewer interface widget options.

All and all, I’m pretty intrigued. It seems there’s a market for consumer-friendly ways to design interfaces. Once more people catch on how to much fun we’re having, they’ll want a shot at designing and realizing all the apps they’re dreaming up, too!

I’d love to hear what you think of this approach. Have you tried it? Does it work for your teams”

Balsamiq Mockups For Desktop - * New Mockup

Large Hadron Collider (LHC) Rap

Here’s a pointer to a scientifically accurate rap about the Large Hadron Collider (LHC).

Story on www.telegraph.co.ukYouTube permalink.

From the story:

Now a larky but accurate rap song explaining the point of the 17 mile circumference machine [under Switzerland and France], which formally starts up on September 10, has made a star of Kate McAlpine, 23, aka “alpinekat”, who stars with her friends in a YouTube video that has been downloaded more than [was 400,000 times when the article was published, and nearly 1.4mm now.]

I liked watching the video. I’ve heard about the LHC before, but this 4 minutes taught me new facts about both the collide *and* its science. And there’s funny dancing.

Yahoo! Opens Search and Supports Developers

Marshall over at Read Write Web has a great review up posted covering the exciting news that Yahoo! has opened up our search index and engine. I’ll point you to his coverage, and pull out my favorite gems.

Update: Vik Singh had the idea for BOSS, and posted Yahoo! Boss – An Insider’s View. It’s money line is this, and describes the big idea succinctly: “I think users should be confident that if they searched in a search box on any page in the whole wide web that they’ll get results that are just as good as Yahoo/Google and only better.”

First, here’s what happened tonight:

Yahoo! Search BOSS

Yahoo! is taking a bold step tonight: opening up its index and search engine to any outside developers who want to incorporate Yahoo! Search’s content and functionality into search engines on their own sites. The company that sees just over 20% of the searches performed each day believes that the new program, called BOSS (Build Your Own Search Service), could create a cadre of small search engines that in aggregate will outstrip their own market share and leave Google with less than 50% of the search market.

Might this impact things? He thinks so:

In both cases, Yahoo! BOSS is intended to level the playing field and blow the Big 3 wide open. We agree that it’s very exciting to imagine thousands of new Yahoo! powered niche search engines proliferating. Could Yahoo! plus the respective strengths and communities of all these new players challenge Google? We think they could.

And that part that was music to my ears (emphasis mine):

It is clear, though, that BOSS falls well within the companies overall technical strategy of openness. When it comes to web standards, openness and support for the ecosystem of innovation – there may be no other major vendor online that is as strong as Yahoo! is today. These are times of openness, where some believe that no single vendor’s technology and genius alone can match the creativity of an empowered open market of developers. Yahoo! is positioning itself as leaders of this movement.

Marshall, thanks for the great writeup. Yahoo!, thanks for making me proud.



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