pheloniusfriar: (Default)
Maybe I'm getting more curmudgeonly in my old age, but I just spent 15 minutes sending an irate email to another organization with a staggeringly shitacular web site. Take a look and let me know if I'm being unreasonable in my very negative analysis...

I would have liked to participate in your campaign to generate interest in research in Ontario, but the web site is very poorly designed and hostile to interaction.

http://yourontarioresearch.ca/game-changers/

I don't click on links that don't let me know where they land (there was no hint that the images weren't going to be links), the "alt" text was not displaying (huge accessibility issues... I am using the current version of Firefox, fyi), and the photos don't necessarily tell me what the research area actually is that is behind it. I am busy and don't have time to play "guess the functionality" with a web site -- there are no captions, there are no navigational cues... it's an impenetrable wall of vaguely related images, not a user interface. I am a huge supporter of raising public awareness of issues related to research (in Ontario and everywhere else on Earth), so visiting this site after a friend sent me the link because they thought I would like it actually made me angry (if you hadn't guessed by the fact that I was upset enough to write this email). I have seen this sort of site before and it is, at best, kitchy; but at its worst, it is an exclusionary design concept that isolates each piece of information rather than presenting an integrated informational experience. Who would have the time or patience to click on 50 images to unlock the link to a page that they would then have to read before "voting"? Who is your audience for this web experience? What value is the vote tally that this web site will presumably result in? There is not even an indication, that I could see, of what effect my vote would have other than the simple joy of clicking on a button on a web site. I would have expected better from the Council of Ontario Universities.


Yours sincerely,

PF

P.S. And seriously? A wheelchair device for the generic research area of "accessible transportation"? What about people with mental or cognitive disabilities? Invisible disabilities that impede the use of public transit? This is 2015, not 1975! And that's just the tip of the iceberg with your choice of images and products. Nuns? What does the image of a nun have to do with the general notion of public health? Not to mention it displays a huge insensitivity to First Nations people after the recent release of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission report on residential schools. I realize that these two instances refer to specific inventions or people, but as an interface to the research subjects, they are highly problematic. I could go on (I could write a paper on the subject there is so much to work with), but I will spare you any further analysis.
pheloniusfriar: (Default)
I keep forgetting that the crazy good folks at Alchemy Mindworks (the people who have the world's best image processing and management software, including GIF/PNG/MNG animation stuff) have a products review site. Literally, they write reviews on the shit they have purchased for themselves, and the site is called Storm Gods (<-- yes, that's the link to the page). As they say: Storm Gods is an independent product review. It features reviews of things we’ve purchased to run Alchemy Mindworks, and for our own amusement and the detriment of our eternal souls. For the most part, it’s a very positive review page, because we research the stuff we buy to death before anyone lets a credit card see daylight. Anyway, if that's the sort of thing you like to read, there you have it (it's truly one of the less traveled corners of the Intertubes, so if you're bored of Facebook or Tumblr you can go play there for a while). Now, I know Alchemy Mindworks are a bit crazy when it comes to copyright laws and what whatnot, so at the risk of offending their delicate sensibilities, here is an excerpt from a review they did this month, specifically the introduction (the title is a link to the specific review):

Bunn MyCafé MCU Single Serve Coffee Brewer

The technology for brewing coffee seems at times equal to that of placing people on other worlds, or at the very least of letting them pretend to be there… with convincing 3D graphics and surround-sound. A kettle full of hot water and some ground-up beans doesn’t begin to cut it.

Single-serving pod-based coffee makers offer a number of salient advantages to more traditional coffee-tech – bereft of simmering vats of antediluvian brew, they promise a fresh cup every time someone stabs the Start button. They also allow every cup of coffee to be of a unique blend, for those coffee illuminatae who can really taste the difference. Finally, entirely lapsing into somnolence between sessions, they can save a lot of watts by not keeping anything hot while they’re idle.

Unfortunately, early expressions of pod coffee systems suffered from dodgy engineering, incompatible proprietary pod structures and oftentimes stratospheric pricing for their consumables. The eco-left frequently embraced them as a new axis of evil for littering the planet with their discarded – and largely unrecycleable – plastic containers.

The only positive thing most users of those early pod coffee makers had to say of them was that they typically suffered terminal pump failure and reverted to e-waste shortly after their warranties expired, allowing them to be remorselessly updated with newer hardware. Admittedly, a short working life usually isn’t one of the bulleted features displayed on the packaging for these things.


To read the rest of the review, click on the link above :). My point being that the writing (even on the product pages and license agreements for products from Alchemy Mindworks) is always entertaining and clever and worth a gander (and yes, Steve Rimmer, the company owner, writes novels and records music and all sorts of other stuff). My favourite being their shareware notice: Should you fail to register any of the evaluation software available through our web pages and continue to use it, be advised that a leather-winged demon of the night will tear itself, shrieking blood and fury, from the endless caverns of the nether world, hurl itself into the darkness with a thirst for blood on its slavering fangs and search the very threads of time for the throbbing of your heartbeat. Just thought you'd want to know that. You have been warned ;).

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