A few words about selling UX

A while ago I attended a seminar about the differences and similarities between usability and UX and not least the problems of understanding, separating, and combining the two into something specific. During this seminar, a problem discussed among the practitioners was how to sell UX.

There are a number of challenges when presenting and selling UX to clients. UX is a “fuzzy” term not easily explicable when it comes to what is delivered, what UX looks or feels like, and how the value of UX is made quantifiable. For example, a chief product officer of a small software development organization told me once: “…how does one get usability included into business cases so that they are credible higher up in the system?”

The following advice was mentioned at the seminar when talking to clients:

  • Use facts.
  • Include UX people during sales meetings.
  • Include UX explicit into business cases.
  • Compare to UX strategies taken by competitors.
  • Show something “beautiful” early in the process.
  • Get allies in the organization.

Libratone Lounge in the mail

After being on the look out for a relative small, non-expensive, and of cause high quality wireless speaker for about three years I finally made my order this Black Friday. I’m not really a Black Friday guy since most of the good offers require one to get up very early and navigate in a chaotic space of people, or keep refreshing a website that most likely will go down as soon as the offers are available. On top, let’s not forget that a lot of the offers really are not that good or interesting anyway. Anyway, since the combo of wanting high quality at a relative low price seemed to match this Black Friday my choice was a Libratone Lounge wireless speaker.

Libratone is an upcoming Danish brand. While still an upcoming name Libratone products have generally received positive reviews. Especially the audio quality and design have been pointed out as excellent while the price has been classified as a turn off. Normally the Libratone Lounge will be found in the price range $700 – $1200, but snatched one at a limited online sale at $350. My hypothesis is that such offers are possible because the Libratone Lounge will be grandfathered soon. It was released four years ago and Libratone has since introduced the comparable soundbar DIVA.

Bottom line is that I have quite some expectations to the Libratone Lounge considering the overwhelming positive reviews. Another 2-5 business days in the mail and this sweety should be up and running.

Bots generate more than 60% of all website visits

Last year the content delivery network (CDN) provider Incapsula released an analysis with the surprising (and somewhat scary!) conclusion that only 38.5% of visits to websites are humans. All from friendly search engine bots to malicious hacking tools are generating the remaining 61.5% of visits. In comparison a 2012 analysis revealed that the number of visiting bots was generating 51% of visits and actual humans would stop by 49% of the time. This is quite a significant change in just one year.

The analysis is based on traffic from 20.000 websites hosted on Incapsula’s CDN. They analyzed 1.45 Billion visits during a 90 days period in 2013.

The number of visitors can be broken down into the following categories:

  • Human visitors: 38.5%
  • Friendly bots such as search engine bots: 31%
  • Content scrapers: 5%
  • Hacking tools: 4.5%
  • Spam bots: 0.5%
  • Other hostile non-human traffic: 20.5%

The analysis further shows that malicious bots are getting more sophisticated and an increase in custom made malicious bots have been observed. Some examples of the increase of sophistication are that they are becoming better at hiding themselves by faking “identities” of well know applications such as friendly search engine bots, and some bots are also highly target towards specific security holes or other specific malicious activity.

All webmasters: watch out!

New study: Misconduct accounts for the majority of retracted scientific publications

A study released earlier this month reveals that articles retracted due to scientific misconduct has increased. It’s claimed that because some retraction announcements published by journals etc. are: “Incomplete, uninformative or misleading”, earlier estimates of retractions due to misconduct have been too low.

The authors examined 2.047 retracted articles within the field of biomedical and life-science research. They found that 21.3% of the retracted articles were attribuable to error. A whole 67.4% were attributable to some form of misconduct. Of the articles retracted due to misconduct it was found that 43.4% was fraud or expected fraud, 14.2% were attribuable to duplicate publication, and plagiarism accounted for 9.8%.

Ferric C. Fang, R. Grant Steen, and Arturo Casadevall. Misconduct accounts for the majority of retracted scientific publications. PNAS 2012 109 (42). 17028-17033; published ahead of print October 1, 2012, doi:10.1073/pnas.1212247109

http://www.pnas.org/content/109/42/17028/

More info about the paper and a PDF version can be found through a Google Scholar search.

Internet of Things Comic Book

Inspiring the Internet of Things

Internet of Things, a term coined back in 1999, has no firm definition but deals with uniquely identifiable things or objects with virtual representations. Objects can be connected to the Internet or a local network and these objects will often have the option to interact and communicate with other nodes in the network. For example, a sensor can be used to collect some kind of analog data, digitalize it and make it available on the network.

The Alexandra Institute, a Danish research company, released a cool comic book a year ago called “Inspiring the Internet of Things”. A new special edition has been released containing 20 one-page stories describing different scenarios about the possibilities of the Internet of Things along with comments from researchers in the field.

The comic book is a good soft and fun introduction to this somewhat abstract idea of the “Internet of Things”. This book is aimed for everyone interested in new technology. Especially prospective students and students new in the field of information technology and interaction design will most likely find it not just interesting but also inspiring. It’s an interesting method to make science accommodating and to present complex ideas and abstract concepts in an easy and understandable manner.

The comic book, released October last year, is freely available in different editions including an English, Danish, German, and Brazilian edition.

The comic book can be downloaded at iotcomicbook.org

Night of the Living Dead

With Halloween coming up I thought it was a good occasion to remind everyone about the 1968 horror classic “Night of the Living Dead” directed by George A. Romero. It’s the first movie in a series that so far counts six zombie movies. The movie was controversial when first released and continues to be a classic and icon in the zombie genre.

Summarized plot: During a visit to a cemetery the two siblings, Barbra and Johnny, are suddenly attacked by a man. Johnny is killed and Barbra manages to escape. She finds shelter in a nearby farmhouse and soon after a man, Ben, also looking for shelter joins her. It turns out five other persons are hiding in the cellar of the house. Together, despite several differences and opinions, they try working together to survive an ongoing attack from what turns out to be flesh hungering zombies.

More info about the movie can be found in the IMDb listing and Wikipedia entry.

Because the movie was released without a proper copyright notice it has entered the public domain and can freely be distributed by anyone so downloading or streaming this movie from any source is completely legal.

“Night of the Living Dead” can be streamed from YouTube in a decent quality or it can be downloaded from Archive.org, that offers downloads in different formats, including, HD and DVD quality as well as versions ready for PS3, PSP, iPhone, iPod Touch, and iPad.

Parallels educational license

Recently I decided to get a new MacBook Air. This was a good decision! As I wanted to be able to run several operating systems on my new MBA, in particular Windows and the Linux distribution Ubuntu, I looked into different possibilities and luckily there are several good options out there. I decided to go for Parallels Desktop 8 and after playing around with the software during the 14 days free trial I needed a license! The retail price is $79.99 but luckily for us academics it’s possible to get a 50% academic discount from Creation Engine, bringing the price down to $39.99. More info is available at http://www.creationengine.com

You need to prove that you really are entitled to receive the academic discount. After placing my order and sending in the required academic prove it only took a few hours before a shiny new activation key arrived in my inbox.