State of User Experience Design

Tom Fishburne:

At one end of the spectrum, there’s been a lot of recent attention to “Dark UX“: “an industry term for sly design tricks that benefit the client’s bottom line. It ranges from creating defaults, such as a pre-checked opt-in email subscription or pre-selecting the most expensive options. It can also manifest in the form of interfaces requiring clients to supply their personal information before being allowed to look at the products on a website.”

At another end of the spectrum, in trying to protect the user, GDPR has added a few clunky hurdles of its own. Ben Davis at Econsultancy called the result “Kafkaesque UX”. He writes:

“Assess the following UX for signs of thoughtful design:

“You load up a mobile website and there’s a privacy message obscuring the content and telling you how much your privacy is valued and what your rights are as regards advertising and the sharing of your data. You want to agree to the terms of the message and hurry on to the content but for some reason the button to ‘continue’ is very tricky to scroll to and doesn’t seem to be tappable.

“Crazy, right?”

Nigel Lawson created a climate science denying apparatus in the heart of Parliament

Mat Hope:

At the age of 86, Lawson last week stepped down as chair of the climate science denying campaign group, the Global Warming Policy Foundation (GWPF).

Founded in 2009, on the eve of the UN climate conference in Copenhagen, the group’s task was to cast doubt on the climate science and lobby policymakers to avoid taking action to cut emissions.

Ten years later, the group is still at it.

Remember when the UK subsidised all that renewable energy which transformed the sector and made the country a world leader in the field? Remember how the Tories brutally and suddenly cut that support? Those drastic changes don’t happen without persistent lobbying from within.

That is Lawson’s legacy.

The Nazis and your privacy

Roderick Miller:

Today we don’t need the Gestapo to force us to give up our personal data, we offer it up voluntarily to social media like Facebook or major US government contractors for the military and intelligence communities like Google. Many people offer their data up to maintain their social presence on the internet or merely for convenience. The standard reply to this is often “I don’t have anything to hide,” but that’s based upon the assumption of a government that respects personal privacy and doesn’t arrest people based on their political opinions, sexual preferences, or lifestyle choices.

If the Nazis had had access to personal data the same way that these corporate conglomerates do today, there would likely have been very few survivors of the persecution of people for their race, political stance, sexual preference or for the fact that they were somehow seen as physically or mentally handicapped. Add CCTV video surveillance and facial recognition software to the mix and there would have been next to no survivors. This isn’t some kind of alternate reality conjecture á la Philip K. Dick’s Man in the High Castle, however. The abuse of data by the NSA has already shown what is possible in a supposedly constitutional democracy, and the slow slide of the US government into new forms of corruption in the last decades, culminating in the 2016 election of Donald Trump as president, leaves a bleak vision of a future that eclipses even the worst fictional visions of dystopia.

One of the main problems is that we don’t expect or receive protection of our personal data by default, and though the EU has already created such laws, as it stands right now you need to take extra steps yourself to reduce the amount of your data that can be exploited: quit Facebook; reduce using Google insofar as it’s possible (ie no email accounts); use browsers like Epic that don’t store your data, automatically delete all cookies and trackers, and hide your geolocation with a built-in VPN. But unless most of the population takes this step, which is very unlikely, or laws are put into place to guarantee personal data privacy by default instead of with a fair amount of extra effort, then most of the population is in the position to be commercially exploited and maybe, depending on how things go in our so-called constitutional democracies, persecuted in ways they can’t yet imagine.

Trump adviser reportedly speaks regularly to Grayling and Fox on Brexit

Johnathan Swan, Axios:

Trump isn’t the only senior White House official rooting for Brexit. National security adviser John Bolton talks regularly by phone with his Brexiteer friends inside Theresa May’s imploding government — Cabinet ministers Liam Fox and Chris Grayling — according to a May government source.

What they’re saying: “John is a strong believer in Brexit and has been encouraging the Brexiteers to keep it up,” the source told me.

Joe Lo, writing at Left Foot Forward:

Bolton has been described as a US nationalist and is a longstanding critic of the European Union.

Bolton says he is opposed to EU bureaucracy but sceptics say Bolton opposes the European Union because it acts as a counter-balance to US power on issues such as the nuclear deal with Iran, which Bolton fiercely opposes and the EU supports.

Great. Just what we need. More idiots who think they’re smart.

We need a General Election, stat.

Windows Phone users: Your reminder that support ends in December 2019

Mary Jo Foley, ZDNet:

Just a reminder for those still using Windows Phones: Microsoft is ending its support of the Windows 10 Mobile platform on December 10, 2019. That’s a little more than two years after Microsoft released Windows 10 Mobile 1709 in October 2017, which was its last version of the Windows Phone operating system.

In an interesting rationalization based on its corporate catchphrase, Microsoft says “With the Windows 10 Mobile OS end of support, we recommend that customers move to a supported Android or iOS device. Microsoft’s mission statement to empower every person and every organization on the planet to achieve more, compels us to support our Mobile apps on those platforms and devices.”

It’s been the case for a while that Microsoft decided to quit the phone market, but now it’s truly time to move on, Windows Phone holdouts.

Apple’s Biggest Problem? My Mom

Kevin Roose, New York Times:

When I asked my mom what would get her to upgrade to a newer iPhone, she said she might do it if a new, killer feature came along, or if her favorite apps no longer worked. But in the end, she admitted that wasn’t likely.

“Until I drop it and break it, I’ll probably keep it,” she said.

My mum has this attitude as well, even if she’s not as tech-savvy as Kevin’s mum. And I’ve been in the same camp now for over a decade. I use my devices until they break or become unusable.

Of course it’s not just a problem for Apple. Something is going to have to give. Investors and analysts will need to accept that the era of annual upgrades is over, and their returns are going to reflect that.

Two of my old cameras are definitely going to be headed to the recycling centre soon. Put fresh batteries in them and powered up, but sensors are dead. Oh well. The PowerShot G9 is still working though, so I will definitely be getting some more use out of it this year, with luck.

(Yes, I have a decent camera in my phablet phone, but the G9 is easier to handle and more importantly it’s on a strap so not so scared of dropping it!)

One of the cameras is so old it uses CompactFlash memory cards for storage. And of course, I don’t have a CompactFlash adaptor anymore. facepalm

Behold Moebius’ Many Psychedelic Illustrations of Jimi Hendrix

The 1995 release of posthumous Jimi Hendrix compilation Voodoo Soup has divided fans and critics for over two decades now. But whatever its merits, its cover art should hold an honored place in every Hendrix fan’s collection. Drawn by the legendary cult comic artist Moebius from a photograph of Hendrix eating soup in France , it captures the sound Hendrix was moving toward at the end of his life—his head exploding in flames, or mushroom clouds, or pink psychedelic bronchial tubes. The image comes from a larger gatefold, excerpted below, which Moebius drew for the French double LP Are You Experienced/Axis: Bold as Love in 1975.

Moebius hendrix 450

Today, I’m trying out something @patrickrhone suggests in his book Minimal Mac, and simplifying my RSS feeds into just two folders: Important and Unimportant.

I’ve already dropped a lot of feeds that haven’t been updated in ages, plus some more that no longer work.

One niggle: both my RSS reader apps of choice—Reeder on Mac, Fiery Feeds on iOS—lack the ability to reorganise multiple feeds in one go. I had to go direct to Inoreader, the service I use to gather and sync to my devices, to sort all my feeds.