Your privacy, right there on the internet

This two minute film shows what can be found about you on the internet. After disturbing revelations about intelligence agencies worldwide we all know that our private, even encrypted, information is not safe from governments and might not be safe from criminals. Let the movie show you what is possible, and ask yourself the question: am I considerate enough about my privacy?

Placing the buttons on your phone

When the rotary phone was replaced by a button phone, Bell Labs researched the best positioning for the numbers on your phone. Imagine the key phone not being invented, how can you find the best design for such a phone? This video tells about the research Bell Labs put into ordering the phone’s numbers and how this standard was developed in the 1950’s.

Sinek’s theory

Simon Sinek has a famous theory about “the golden circle,” why Apple has something different than other IT companies, why M.L. King Junior led the civil rights movement.

Sinek’s motivation and charisma almost got me convinced, but unfortunately, I disagree. First of all, his model is a too simplistic way to model a huge complicated company like Apple. Sinek states that Apple’s marketing strategy starts with “why” though Apple’s website is product centered.

Though it is possible to divide our brain into the three circles he draws, the words do not match the parts, the further you go to the middle of your brain, the closer you get to your most primal instincts to survival and the parts of the brain we have common to other primates. Though the outer layer of our brain, the cerebral cortex, is our most developed part of our brain that makes us human. “Why” is not a primal instinct but it is a important part that makes us human, we can consider politics, circumstances and other elements in our decisions, something that is far less seen with primates.

I think there is some truth in Sinek’s theory in other situations, though. I think it covers the simple core of LEAN problem solving (start with why, defining the problem, then finding the solution and make it more concrete). I think it also shows the essence of developing software or new features: find out why the customer wants this, then how to implement it and finally what code you need to write. However, in all situations the theory is too simplistic to be of any actual use.

So, to conclude, Sinek’s theory is a too simplistic way of modelling the world and organisations, it does not explain why Apple is so successful and it is not embedded in our brain. Even tough he makes a very convincing speech about it.

Ten open source alternatives that save you from downloading illegaly

Downloading open source software is a new, rising alternative for downloading your software illegaly or paying big bucks for them, but the open source community is cluttered with poorly functioning and hardly maintained bad software which clouds you from some real jewels. In this list some familiar and unfamiliar pieces of software which are, at least as good better than the commercial alternative. Be prepared to find some software on there you already have, to surprise you: that piece of software you’re running on your computer is open source, you can download the source code, and modify it to your needs if you know how. For some of these, that’s why they are so good. Throughout this listing I will be looking at the pros and cons of the different open source alternatives, as well as the reliability towards the future (where does it get its money, how is it financially backed?). Continue reading

Being an expert clouds your vision

As you develop new functionality or a new product, you, the designer, are the expert about how is should be used. On the other hand, there’s the practical user, who is going to use your product in everyday situations and should become an expert in the use of your product. Usually, these two persons are not the same. Though as a designer you tend to put yourself in the position of the user, trying to figure out what you would want as a functionality.

In essence, this design process is very wrong. As a designer you are an expert in designing things, and you’re such an expert of your own product, that you immediately know how to use it from the start. You even might think you know which functions you need at which moment. This is usually not something the designer should think of on his own, and this is why the end-user should be considered and consulted all the way throughout the design process. Testing your product in order to get a good design is of utmost importance.