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Dan Rubin's SuperfluousBanter

Design, random musings, and the Web. Since 1977

Archive for March, 2004


I Lost My Password

Wednesday, March 31st, 2004

How usable is security? It’s a question I’ve been asking myself
lately. One of the courses I attended last semester was about cryptography and
secure design. What got me thinking is the fact that security is just 20% technology—80%
is organizational. Security is about people—about trust.

The thing is, the more you try to make a system secure the less usable it becomes—and
as a result, the system actually becomes less secure than its designers intended.
Do you use different passwords for an assortment of accounts you are subscribed
to? Do you change your passwords frequently? I certainly don’t. Security
is always a trade-off between convenience and complexity. People don’t
like complexity, and definitely not at 8:30 in the morning when they need to
log in to start working.

If you ask users to memorize too many passwords they will start sticking post-it
notes on their screen to make sure they don’t have to call tech support.
How secure is that? You just spent 6 months and a few million bucks to end up
with bright yellow post-it notes all over the place with confidential information.
That’s why security is about people, not technology.



Weekend Reading (13)

Saturday, March 27th, 2004


No Comments

Weekend Reading (12)

Friday, March 19th, 2004


No Comments

Ridiculously Cool Comment Tools

Thursday, March 18th, 2004

The blogosphere is being all innovative. Way to go! I’ve observed some
very cool comment tools and features over the last couple of days. I’m
supposed to study hard for my last ever exam in my master degree. Oh well, you
know how that goes. Thus it was new blog checking time (so much for effective
time management).

Comment Preview

This is a very useful tool not only because it’s user friendly but also
because it’s just plain smart. Less server requests, less load and best
of all — less bullshit. I spotted this cool feature on blogs by Jon
and Shaun Inman.

Live comment preview

These two examples just look so damn lickable™ and are smartly implemented.
You can read how
Jon put this nifty feature on his blog
by checking his entry about the whole
process and the code behind it.

Comment Textarea

Aren’t tiny textareas a pain in the butt? Whatever, I think they are.
I hate scrolling all the time to see what I typed or make adjustments. But fear
no more, someone thought of a solution. I spotted this new (atleast to me) feature
on Binary Bonsai — blog of a scandinavian
fellow by the name of Michael Heilemann. By the way his website is worth a visit
— not only does he have good taste, his content is worthwhile too!

Change comment textarea size

Pretty cool stuff, eh? I think both these tools dramatically increase user
experience on blogs and make adding comments a breeze. Have you spotted other
cool new features? If so, let me know in the comments.



Websites Have Two Layers

Thursday, March 18th, 2004

To keep this post focused and simple I will assume that websites have two layers:
design (UI/presentation) and code (technology/mark-up). Which layer is most
important in building a succesful website? Both you will say. But in the end
the web is about interaction. Jason
Fried at 37signals on the topic

“There’s way too much talk about CSS and XHTML and Standards and
Accessibility and not enough talk about people. CSS and Standards Compliant
Code are just tools — you have to know what to build with these tools.”

People, people, people! Web design is a bit like a car —
the engine (technology) and everything else that makes using it bearable (interface).
Over at the wonderfully designed Airbag, thoughts
of Greg Storey
follow a similar pattern:

“Now I’m all for a good conversation and exhibition of great design work
but enough is enough. Web standards and style sheets are here to stay (ya hooray!).
It’s time to move on. So let’s talk about money and metrics.”

So? Is the fuzz about XHTML, CSS and other new exciting technologies over?
Can we move on? If you buy a car you assume its engine will function. Nowadays
there are no shamelessly bad engine manufacturers left. What really differentiates
brands such as Ford, BMW and Volkswagen is the experience they sell. The automobile
industry is a mature industry. The web is not — yet. Look around. Do we
see standard compliant code everywhere? Can we assume websites have solid mark-up?

Personally I agree with both Jason and Greg. Yet I think they’re looking
in the wrong places. The blogosphere tends to talk about code. Yadi yada validation
yada yadi standards yada yada. We are part of a small group that cares and knows
about good mark-up. But there’s more happening around us. SxSW
is not solely a user experience conference, nor is it purely a design event.
SxSW just happens to attract a lot of people talking about CSS. Leave the coders
do the talking about what they know best: clean mark-up. They should not stop
innovating or spreading the word — on the contrary.

If I want to discuss all things user experience I post a message to CHI-WEB,
check the latest news at Information
and have a good laugh with the folks from OK/Cancel.
Oh, and maybe even read what Jakob Nielsen
has to say. It’s not a matter of “or”, it’s a matter
of “and”. We need both. I focus on design, not code — it’s
what I do and talk about. If you want to change the industry put your money
where your mouth is, but don’t tell people to stop doing what they love.