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Ann Otoole

I thought the entrants gave it a good high school science project try. None of them look seriously professional to me.

All LL has to do is embrace the concept of dockable user assigned (drag and drop) hot bars and everyone can customize their own interface. You don't even need a diagram because no 2 UIs will look the same. Real software engineers know this. The successful 3D immersion games use this concept. It isn't new nor is it difficult.

What is needed is to properly organize the commands and name them in a fashion people understand and assign a glyph icon to each that is recognizable. The client operator can then drag the desired glyphs to the hotbars and organize them the way that is logical for that individual. Perhaps allow coloring of the glyphs for color acuity challenged people.

The new user does not need most of the controls so there needs to be 4 levels of UI exposure. Beginner, intermediate, advanced, and everything.

It really isn't that hard.

But I viewed this Dusan thing as just another political ploy in which the winner was likely predetermined so I didn't bother. I'm sure Dusan will say his thing is all fair and all but how do we know? who will audit it? who makes the decision? The same people that brought us the existing UI? Why would these people be remotely qualified to participate in the decision process?

I see just so much of this political arranged winners garbage in SL that it has jaded me and turned me off to contests period. I bet I am not alone. So if LL wants a contest then they need to have a non SL related firm run it.

Clubside Granville

Ann is absolutely right. The desire for a non-standard UI interface is strong in the Microsoft haters, so the millions who have embraced dockable, editable toolbars are thought of as having "drunk the Kool-Aid".

Rather than write about it when I get up in the morning I'll just open Visual Studio and build an interface and put it up for inspection. I'll even go one step further and make two, one with standard toolbars and one with Microsoft's more recent award-winning Ribbon Bar.

The one interface thing I haven't seen discussed that I'd like is a toggle for camera mode to replace the mouselook-no-mouselook option. I want the current third-person, over-the-shoulder third-person (Resident Evil 4, Gears of War) and true first-person, all modes allowing all activities unlike the currently gimped mouselook. Finally I want full-screen mode which is like first person but removes all UI elements like mouselook but allows Prok's point-and-grab to move option and other quickies like right-click create object that then dialogs objects and inventory for a choice, dialog goes away ad object is there.

This last one is probably a pipe-dream but still worth mentioning: a client-side build mode where a window allows all the building and editing actions to exist in a client-side vacuum with no prim limits and no land context, just a workspace, a personal sandbox where you can't be caged or have to worry about if it fits or where it will go, just the freedom to build and then use, give away, sell or whatever, while still being logged in to get messages, minimize the workspace or whatever.

Prokofy Neva

So basically this is about the Mac disease? And insistence on having Mac-like interfaces?

I hate mouselook precisely because it's so clunky to use -- it isn't controllable. All internal games and combat depend on this mouselook which is impossible to control properly. I would think that is the biggest obstacle to combat, and I don't see why you'd want more of it.

You can now press and hold on your avatar and 360 around it and perhaps that would do?

This insistence on making SL the build tool always exasperates me. Why can't you just work in Maya if you have a yen to do 3-D builds? Or even go on the Sims 2 which has amazing offline building capacity? It just seems to me to add to the "real conditions" features of SL that you build inworld so that others can interact with you.

Removing the avatar completely from view? Again, it takes away the sense that you are *in a world*. I think it doesn't hurt to have some constraints like that. The demand to overcome them is very much a minority geek demand.

Prokofy Neva

In this interview, M claims he wants to talk to the user base on the viewer:

Ok then...talk to them. Put a detailed survey up. A blog post. Don't make it the hostage of Linden office hours taken over by the usual regulars. Don't get distracted either by Linden re-dos of the viewer, or the FIC's re-do. Talk to the normal people.

There's also a really great difficult they will have to face. After battering people who are normal and aren't geeks with this viewer for five years, and hammered them into submission, they now have a core base adapted to it -- and to dumb it down or change it significantly, or not leave the option to have the old viewer, means they inconvenience people terribly -- especially because they want to the trouble to learn the difficult existing viewer and adapt themselves to it to make it an unconscious routine, and then are punished for that by having to adapt yet again now to a shiny happy new dumbed-down viewer.

Gigs Taggart

Search is already on the top, look to the right. :)

About hiding the build button, I'm torn. Part of me wants to hide the build tools at least some of the time. Another part of me wonders whether it's necessary to keep some part of them out in the open, to communicate the idea that this world is built by everyone, and "yes that means you too".

That is to say, would Wikipedia have gotten as big as it did if it were more difficult to locate the "edit this page" links?


the safari browser is really amazing i can do so much more with it


Crap Mariner

I'd like to see search incorporated in the textbar. Just as hitting enter talks and shift-enter shouts, maybe control-enter fires off a search based on the terms you enter.

Start it with people: and it looks up that name, or event: and looks up an event on that term, shop: for shopping for something, that kind of thing.

Prokofy Neva

No, Gigs, that search to the right is NOT ACCEPTABLE. It's SEARCH ALL which turns up a bunch of total junk. It's absolutely ridiculous and ONLY GEEKS who love big information dumps use it. Normal people use tabs. The SEARCH button must lead to the tabs, one of which can be SEARCH ALL for the geek idiots. SEARCH ALL turns up a tremendous amount of flotsam and jetsam, especially because geeky Lindens put office hours, wikis, townhalls, etc. into the mix. And avatar profiles. So that means every idiot avatar profile is turning up with all those ridiculous last names with just about any normal key word you look for. Leave it if you must, but don't invade the front page with it, put it on a tab. Don't inflict your recipe for information dumps on the average user.

I think Clubside said it best when he countered Gareth's constant Stallmanite extremism. It's fine to have this ideal of "building" and "everyone should build" if that's your thing. But it's wrong to IMPOSE THAT VIEW by welding it into the tools. That's the problem we keep suffering. Nobody needs their front page real-estate in the view taken up with unnecessary stuff like BUILD, truly. If they are newbs or casual or ordinary users, they don't need a build button. If they are expert builders, they can go through advanced menus and simple access them by "create". The build button is particularly redundant therefore as it doesn't really help newbies, it isn't really needed, and it is too dumbed down for oldbies or actual builders.

Desmond Shang

"I think Clubside said it best when he countered Gareth's constant Stallmanite extremism. It's fine to have this ideal of "building" and "everyone should build" if that's your thing. But it's wrong to IMPOSE THAT VIEW by welding it into the tools."

Well by extension, anyone fussing about changes to the standard client are trying to impose their view.

* * * * *

Anyone ever notice the Mystitool interface?

That thing has two buttons, or even just one, but even so it is the most common, powerful tool on the grid for Joe Average and advanced user alike.

And it's just a semi-transparent white circle, with a swiss jack-knife set of functions.

Think about it - it's almost a feature list of what is wrong with the user interface! If the user interface was any good, who would need Mystitool?

I think it's pretty important to see what solutions people actually use before designing anything. Here's what I've seen.

- Mystitool
- Flight feather
- Avatar animation overrides (I hear they are finally fixing that)

Clubside Granville

Prok, I sincerely need further details in regard to this:

"So basically this is about the Mac disease? And insistence on having Mac-like interfaces?"

Ann and I were talking about Microsoft, and therefore Windows, interfaces as seen in Windows and Office since Windows 95. These support a choice of toolbars and options such as icons only, icons with text, etc. This is not the interface of the Mac with its foxed menu bar and nowadays big Cocoa buttons.

So what specifically, visually are you associating with Mac interfaces? As for Windows interfaces take a look at the screenshots here for elements of a modern Windows interface:


Tammy Nowotny

I agree that the minimap is useless... I can read maps pretty well, but the minimap has little info which is not in the World Map, and the resolution of the minimap is not much greater than the World Map. The main use of the minimap is when you are trying to join a group of green dots are not sure what altitude they are at: the dots become circular when you are the same altitude as they are.

If it had some useful info, I might use the minimap however.

A lot of the oddities in the interface seem worse than they are because the performance is less than ideal. Rezzing a box on the ground for example to view and.or copy the items packaged inside the box is counterintutive... but it would be easier if the box actually rezzed reliably on the ground. As it is, half the time the box doesn't even rezz at all, and when it does rezz you have little control over where it will appear. (And even when you know where it is, the camera doesn't always move when and where you want it to. And even when you get the box in camera range, the clickthrough process can slow down or even fail altogether.)

Jacek Antonelli

I normally don't read your stuff, but a friend told me I was mentioned here, so I gave it a skim.

I must say, I was missing out! You have quite the knack for humor writing. I found myself giggling when you claimed to represent "normal users" one minute, and then the next minute whined about having to deal with hundreds of people simultaneously. Pure comedy gold! :D

I would subscribe to your funny blog, but I think your jokes are a bit too long. Perhaps you could change to a more condensed format, like a comic strip? Here's what I'm picturing for every strip:

Panel 1: [Prok face, angry] FUCKIN TARDS
Panel 2: [Prok face, angry] EVERBODY IS WRONG
Panel 3: [Prok face, angry] I AM RIGHT!!!

I think that would preserve the essence of your writing, but make it more accessible to those of us who don't have as much free time as you do.

Cheers, and keep up the good work! :)

Prokofy Neva

Comedy gold that you find it, in fact, that *is* normal use. Somebody making a service-based or land-based business that is NOT all geek stuff, widgetry, scripting, building, design. It's a much bigger slice of the pie, sorry, scorn all you want, but that's the case.

And frankly, talk to the average socializer -- they like a lot of windows open *too* and they like to see the world *too*. I'm happy to speak up for normalcy, and I don't care how much YOU try to ridicule it, because I know it resonates. What you're suggesting is just not intuitive to the average person OR average business outside the geek magic circle.

Clubside, my point is that you were touting the advantages of Windows and a task bar, and my point about these designs is that they show the people are wedded to the Mac look.

Er, I've got all the time in the world to point out you're a pompous ass, Jacek : )

I don't *care* if people find it politically incorrect, not "supportive of the community" or "unappreciate or the arts" or all the FIC things out there, it has to be said: the designs are not supportive of the average user who, uh, does not use a Mac. Let's start with that lol.

Gigs Taggart

I don't use a mac. I think the new search all kinda sucks too.

Chav Paderborn

"It doesn't serve any use case, except perhaps for...designers...putting on and taking off a lot of clothes constantly as they test them? I dunno."

Which we don't need because we can already see "(worn)" to know what "shirt346724b-2.1" is when it's on. And then you wouldn't be able to easily click on something else because only worn things are shown. So... yeah, I don't know what use that would be at all.

Prokofy Neva

I wondered that, too, Chav. If it already shows "worn" inside the inventory, what's this about.

Dirk Talamasca

Storms rolled into Texas yesterday and kept me from attending this meeting. I really wasn't expecting this meeting or contest to fix everything but I was interested in seeing the ideas that people had come up with.

It seems like there are a few good ideas here along with some really bad ones.

I don't think that the "worn" button is a bad idea because if you are helping a new resident, it seems it would be much easier to direct them to that so they can see a list of what they are wearing instantly. This is important because many times new residents are duped into having attachments latch onto them when they accept note cards from clubs or they are SPAMMED. In turn the attachments can spit out shouts to advertise various businesses etc and annoy anyone within a 100 yard radius. If the resident is new, they may not have a grasp on inventory just yet. Explaining to them where inventory is and how to search up worn items is going to take a few steps whereas just having a link on the menu that shows these items quickly cuts to the heart of the matter so the attachment can be removed quickly.

The build tools need some love and I agree that when you simply want to move an item, it is not really necessary to have an advanced edit window pop up on screen. Instead why not add a button to the pie menu that says "MOVE" or "ARRANGE" or something along those lines. (The word Move may get confused with GO, but you get my drift.) Using the Move tool could pop up and dock the X,Y,Z position right above the toolbar where you can still get to those parameters but where they are well out of your way. In this way you can still fine tune what you have just moved without having the entire build interface eat up the screen. Let go of the object and the X,Y,Z parameters go away again.

Anyway, not gonna eat up Prok's blog by redesigning the interface here and I was late in hearing about Dusan's contest so I will save them for another place and time.

With regard to the Mysti-Tool, it is a nice tool that I like but I do not use. I use a different device but I have to say that being required to wear scripted items just so you can navigate to higher elevations seems ridiculous. I wonder how much lag is caused by all of us being forced to wear that crap.

Dusan Writer

Thanks all for the discussion. Not like I did anything, I just hosted this contest, and at the time it was motivated by 3 things:

- My opinion had been that the user interface didn't need 'dumbing down' it needed MORE. Maybe optional, and I didn't know what I meant, but I pictured some kind of complicated dashboard with all kinds of crazy buttons to help generate particles, or to help with scripting, or advanced building tools - who knows what. I look at the work MIT did on that object-oriented scripting thing, and I maybe that's what I imagined - why CAN'T Mystitool and scripting dashboards and some kind of crazy particle creator with sliders and color coders and who knows what be included in the UI. My opinion was: fix sign-up, fix the first hour, promote WHY people should come to SL, but leave the UI alone but add some optional plug-ins or something to make the tools even more robust so we can make better stuff. But hey, I'm often wrong, and I figured that a lot of folks said "yeah but" and my response was "OK, show me".

- Second motivation was I heard a lot of bitching and complaining, and heard everyone waiting for the Lindens, and no one was DOING anything about the bitching and complaining, with apologies to those who post to the JIRA and attend office hours and the few folks who DO make their own viewers and all that.

I can't figure out the JIRA, I don't have time for office hours, and I kept thinking "OK, here's ONE thing where we can actually see what folks come up with, the UI is open source, there's no excuse, and if we wait for the Lindens we could wait a lifetime or be left to the whims of whatever item the coders at the Lab feel like picking up that day." Now, whether M can reverse this feeling, we'll see, although he's murmuring the right things.

- And finally, the motivation was NOT to make the claim that we'd come up with the ideal UI, or that we'd demand the Lab code it, the premise was: OK, let's see what we can come up with, surely if people are given the chance to think the problem through we'll come up with a grab bag of ideas, maybe a really GREAT concept in there, maybe a bunch of features that make sense, and maybe it would be more but who knows.

So that's the background, and I suppose I bring it up because I take issue with Ann's comments, which are either hopelessly misinformed or just some kind of gag reflex. For the most part, I see it for what it is: a cop out.

"But I viewed this Dusan thing as just another political ploy in which the winner was likely predetermined so I didn't bother"

That's like saying "I had a bad boss once therefore I'll never work again" or "I gave to a charity and they misspent the money, so I'll never donate to another." OK, so fine, you didn't have the ideas, so you convinced yourself it was a set-up or a scam, whereas if you had issues with the process or transparency well - um, you can ASK????, instead of griping in a corner like a jaded whiner who wasn't invited to the party when the invitation clearly said "all welcome".

What's intriguing however, about Ann's comments, is that the things she's looking for WERE included in the designs that were presented. And by the way, the competition was clearly NOT a "designer" competition - it clearly called for "ideas" and I tried to carefully position it so that you could present great ideas even if you could barely use PhotoShop. Use Word if you want - it isn't the GRAPHICS that are being judged, it's the ideas. So you have some ideas, others had those ideas, they entered, you sat at home muttering and sulking instead of just saying "Hey, Dusan, I've been burned before, can you explain this a little more?" (as several people did), but maybe the issue is it's easier, and I'm like this too, to critique ideas than come up with your own.

Now, I didn't feel a need to defend the process of the contest but I always rant about transparency so after careful thought I feel I should do my best to be open about it.

It was open to all, I did the best job I could promoting it with my limited reach, there were a lot of supportive people who linked to it, blogged it, and announced it in world.

The judges were selected AFTER the contest was announced and in fact I had never met any of them before I approached them. The contestants weren't individually approached, I didn't even know any of them before their entries arrived. I've been too disorganized to put together secret back room deals or organize meetings in smoky rooms with the judges to pre-pick the winners. But what can I say - there's no way to prove this.

I'm open to feedback. Whatever - anything to help if I get in over my head again and decide to do something different or another phase.

I suppose I feel like I'm defending my own honour, it's just that I'm totally baffled by comments like those of Ann:

"I'm sure Dusan will say his thing is all fair and all but how do we know? who will audit it? who makes the decision? The same people that brought us the existing UI? Why would these people be remotely qualified to participate in the decision process?"

Um....OK, audit? Did you get the idea here that whatever comes of this is in any way OFFICIAL? This isn't endorsed by the Lab, this is an approach to generating ideas, getting a dialogue going, and the Lab can do what the Lab will do. I AM a third party - albeit just a guy with a whim and a sense of curiosity and a willingness to have my own preconceptions upended and my own understanding expanded.

Now, if there's some way to be more transparent, let me know, but you seem to have this confused with some multi-national or Lab-sponsored usability study or State lottery or something, no idea. As I say, I'm open to ideas, but your comments are so jaded and bleak I don't even know what the issue is other than somehow, life keeps giving you lemons I suppose.

Having now said my snarky little bit, what I REALLY should be doing is defending the entries. And whether you agree or disagree with them that's the point - we're MEANT to. And we're meant to generate ideas, and remember the end user, and put this in the perspective that these conversations are somehow, maybe, if we're really lucky, useful. At least some folks put some care, thought and time into generating some, and if they've put up straw men so that the folks who didn't have the time or the insight to throw down some ideas of their own can get talking about it, then fine.

Generating a productive and hopefully positive discussion was the point. It may not go anywhere, but all of it hopefully serves to let us think about our experiences in Second Life, the experiences of a new user, and to maybe feed into a wider pool of thought and expression that will come in handy. Shoot me if you want. I don't have any stake in this, but I do feel like defending the premise and the process so that people know that the contestants, who are the real heart of this discussion, made what I feel is an amazing and useful ADDITION to Second Life - they showed me. They did something about it. And kudos to all of them.

Best I was able to do was provide a forum maybe and my thanks to the folks who generated challenging and thoughtful ideas.

Dale Innis

Dusan, surely you realize that as soon as you do anything, you become part of the self-appointed de facto elite that does things, and therefore lose all credibillity? Similarly, when you say that the contest was "open to all", this is of course not true; it was open only to those who bothered to take part. What about everyone else?

Sheer elitism, that's what it is.

More here: http://daleinnis.wordpress.com/2008/07/02/the-tyranny-of-those-who-show-up/

Prokofy Neva

Dusan, I'm not as extreme as Anne about this, I don't suspect you of any corruption. But I do see that you are playing the usual game of Second Life, which is "let me do good, and get my reputation enhanced for doing good". That's ok, I suppose, but I find it a game, and usually suspect. I'm not here to help you enhance your reputation, and I don't see that what you are doing *is* good, I'm going to sound off about it.

This idea that it's "open to everybody" is merely a technical truism. Handling this problem via "contest" isn't really a legitimate way to do it, as it only attracts people who are *also* trying to do good by enhancing their reputation -- and gaining money. That's ok as far as it goes -- but it doesn't do the job. You don't say, "How can we make traffic signs more clear, let's have a contest" in real life, you test scientifically, you get input, you try to avoid real road crashes.

Sorry, but this is too important stuff, as it has to do with retention of newcomers and ease of use, and that can't be held hostage to the game of "I think I'll do good and enhance my reputation while I'm at it".

I don't think the process of having designers and geeks design their ideal design and geek-thing is going to help the general public.

The idea that "anyone who has even just an idea, they don't have to be a designer" is also silly. Obviously such a person can't compete with real designers, especially when you put it up as "finalists" that a panel of judges has to vote on -- they'll pick what's pretty. Obviously, putting a big arrow and saying MOVE THE SEARCH BUTTON and NO, NOT THAT ONE< REMOVE THAT ONE isn't good enough, and that's fine.

It's an exercise for a salon; you run a salon. That's great, be salonistas, make your mark. But, it's not sufficient.

Dale is just being the usual dickwad that he always is. He imagines that there is always this group of people who "do good" and are "smarter and better than the others" (himself included!) who are "oh-so-misunderstood" by the "masses", these mere Babbits who pick away at their excellence because they're jealous or stupid.

No. It's because the design doesn't help and it's got to be a practical consideration. It has to be grounded in a real exercise of people commenting outside the magic circle who are the ones really harmed by this. And it's no accident that you have the results you got, Dusan, when you yourself want an airline pilot console that looks more complicated than Photoshop that lets you create particles. My word, it's impossible to get through.

Yes, there is a tyranny of those who show up, and yes, in this day and age, the solution is voting, because you can arrange easy and asynchronous voting, and yes, the solution is not to destroy parties and institutions that are accountable to the public. SL, and RL, shouldn't be run by gaggles of coders who show up once on the long tail.

Dale Innis

Prok: Dale is just being the usual dickwad that he always is. He imagines that there is always this group of people who "do good" and are "smarter and better than the others" (himself included!) who are "oh-so-misunderstood" by the "masses"...

I'm not sure what the intent of those quotation marks is, but I thought I'd mention that those words are not quotes of things that *I* ever said, and the position that you ascribe to me here is (as happens all too often) not a position that I hold at all.

Just for the record... ;)

Agnetha Vuckovic

"I believe the mini-map is useless or intrusive to most people. People don't learn to read maps, and you have to be wonky to be leaving the mini-map on as a way of orienting in this world when in fact you aren't in an airplane, you are *in the world itself*. "

Au contraire ! The mini map is utterly invaluable if you have teleported to a sim with a friend and you want to see where they have wandered off to while the sim has been rezzing.

It also is a quick and invaluable means of seeing if anyone else is on a sim....and where they are.

Not in the least intrusive..as it can be made pretty small....transparent even....and even switched off with a single button.

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