Jared Spool, a founder of User Interface Engineering, will be speaking at the University of New Hampshire this coming Thursday, January 24. His topic is “What Makes a Design Seem Intuitive?” Jared is a true guru of usability and this is a rare opportunity to see him present in this area. The meeting is being sponsored by the New Hampshire Usability Professionals Association (UPA). You must RSVP to attend because seats are limited. RSVP to info at nhupa dot org.
About a week ago I finished reading Jerry Kaplan’s Startup: A Silicon Valley Adventure. It’s an old book from 1995 about the rise and fall of a pen computing company in the late 80′s called GO. I’ve seen references made to the book in various places, I think most recently on one of the stikkit development blog posts, and figured it would be a good “downtime” read between CampLev hacking sessions. I found the book entertaining and took away from it the perils of competing with industry behemoths (like Microsoft) and the fact that partnerships don’t always go so well (GO’s constant fighting with its “ally” IBM was just amazing).
Speaking of recent reads, I also devoured Steve Wozniak’s iWoz earlier in November. I recommend that one even more highly than Startup. Wozniak’s autobiography includes tales of his technical accomplishments early in life that reminded me of the atmosphere in Steven Levy’s Hackers, which is one of my favorite hacker culture books of all time. iWoz reads very much like how Woz speaks in real life; I found this somewhat amusing and it didn’t detract much from my enjoyment of the book.
So what’s on my reading stack now? Robert Hoekman, Jr. released a book last month titled Designing the Obvious which offers advice on how to create great interfaces for modern, rich web applications. Hoekman embraces a minimalist and pragmatic philosophy much like 37signals’ Getting Real. There are practical tips on writing use cases and other design elements that I hope will improve my design-fu. I’ve also gotten through a couple of chapters of Malcom Gladwell’s The Tipping Point, a book I’ve been meaning to read for a while which discusses the phenomenon of ideas spreading like viruses and reaching large populations via tipping points.
Every so often I tell myself not to start any new books until my current reading stack is empty, but that never seems to happen.