Thursday, May 26, 2011

The ICO and Cookies

The ICO (the UK agency which is concerned with the cookies and privacy) still uses Google Analytics but they include a warning label.

If companies simply write, as did the ICO below - and users automatically click to accept as they want access to the data then of what use was the law?

The ICO would like to use cookies to store information on your computer, to improve our website. One of the cookies we use is essential for parts of the site to operate and has already been set. You may delete and block all cookies from this site, but parts of the site will not work. To find out more about the cookies we use and how to delete them, see our privacy notice.

Monday, May 16, 2011

The Brave New World of HCI - Low Cost Eye Recognition Software

One of my pet issues in IA has been the expense in conducting usability tests. How much better would our applications be if the cost of testing dropped significantly?

There is no question that the scope and quantity of HCI and other useability tests that are published and accessible to IA professionals have greatly aided in the construction of new applications. For example The Texas Transportation Institute studied how people absorbed information while driving. Among them that drivers could absorb 4 distinct pieces of information but retention fell dramatically when a fifth was added. It also showed that the test takers overwhelmingly prefered dates in the Text/Numeral Format (APR 21) over the Numeral Format (4/21).

What excites me is fact that eye tracking tests may soon be done with little cost. The best tests will, of course, have professionals conducting them but with the cost of eye tracking software and hardware dropping to the insignificance will we see the Wikipedization of IA? Where we have 1000s, if not 10,000 of individual studies made on a particular topic; where academics and other HCI professionals can make metastudies and/or use these "amature" tests as a jumping off point?

EDIT (Nov 17, 2011)
Teenager Builds $300 Open Source Eye-Tracking System 27

EU, the UK and the Ongoing Cookie Fiasco

The EU law regarding cookies is quite confusing and it will be interesting to see what will happen. Will the EU and member governments enforce or clarify their laws?

There is an interesting portion from a UK document from the Information Commissioner's Office: Changes to the rules on using cookies and similar technologies for storing information

Some of the things you do will have no privacy impact at all and may even help users keep their information safe. Other technologies will simply allow you to improve your website based on information such as which links are used most frequently or which pages get fewest unique views. However, some uses of cookies can involve creating detailed profiles of an individual’s browsing activity.

If you are doing this, or allowing it to happen, on your website or across a range of sites, it is clear that you are doing something that could be quite intrusive – the more privacy intrusive your activity, the more priority you will need to give to getting meaningful consent.

Of course the devil is in the details and we're not getting much information. I have a feeling these laws may die on the vine - but I fear that it be pulled out in a later date and sprung on a company or a group of companies.

UPDATE: 5/28/2011

The following article is worth reading as well:
Enforcing the revised Privacy and Electronic Communications Regulations (PECR)

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

I've been spending a lot of time at the last few weeks. What a great site for anyone researching responsive design.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

The Return of Moores Law

Not too long Michio Kaku was predicting the End of Moore's Law and now we see Intel announcing that "it had again found a way to make computer chips that could process information more quickly and with less power in less space." Intel expects "to be able to make chips that run as much as 37 percent faster in low-voltage applications and it would be able to cut power consumption as much as 50."

Does this mean that Michio Kaku was wrong? No. But as mentioned in the earlier post there are numerous workarounds. At worst, assuming that Kaku is right that, for the moment, we've come to the end of increasing computer power by brute force, we will then need to become more efficient with the power we have.

I would bet that Michio Kaku is wrong and expect that computing power will continue to increase. Intel is increasing the efficiency of their design, not simply by making things smaller - as has been done for the last 30 years - but by being more efficient with what they have.

Early transistors were built on a flat surface. But like a real estate developer building skyscrapers to get more rentable space from a plot of land, Intel is now building up. When the space between the billions of tiny electronic switches on the flat surface of a computer chip is measured in the width of just dozens of atoms, designers needed the third dimension to find more room.
Intel Increases Transistor Speed by Building Upward

For a more complete explanations see: Intel Announces first 22nm 3D Tri-Gate Transistors, Shipping in 2H 2011 and
Intel Announces New 22nm 3D Tri-gate Transistors

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

The End of TV

We can see the end of TV coming down the road. It will soon be a relic of the past (more like an 8-track tape than a typewriter or turntable). I'm not saying that people will stop watching movies or "TV" shows, rather that they will not be watching these shows on a dumb device.

The age of wall-sized screens with background scenery, art work, and video phones where you see your friends, in their living rooms, sitting on their sofa drinking a glass wine while they see you in your living room may not be here yet but we have the first real indication that that day is coming.

Nielsen shows a decline in the percentage of homes with TVs.

The latest data from the company, which takes TV set ownership into account when it calculates ratings, shows that 96.7 percent of U.S. homes own a TV set, down from 98.9 percent as of its previous count. There are now 114.7 million TV homes, compared to 115.9 million, Nielsen estimates as it gears up for the 2012 TV season.

Nielsen ascribes a portion of this to increased poverty and the other to a transition to digital. "Nielsen did not detail what proportion of the decline in homes with TV sets can be attributed to each of these reasons."

I see this as a beginning of a trend that will very soon shake the TV/Movie industry to its core. The solution is clear but they don't see it. It's the same as with the newspaper and book industry. Subscribers pay a fee to access ALL content and the funds get allocated according to eyeballs. We know all the rants-and-raves against it but the ranting and raving is coming from the segment of the industry which is dying. The solution is linking data producers with consumers as quickly and easily as possible. The payment to market makers will come from the data producers who chose to higher the advertisers, marketers or from investors who have "invested" in the future performance of data producers.