Author Archives: Jay

Finally, sneakers for me and my bad knees.

I saw this story and thought “It’s about 30 years too late, but hallelujah.” You see, I don’t merely have flat feet… I have planks bolted to my ankles. I have zero arch. Add that to time spent in the Army where your 2-mile run time is more important than your range score and my knees are shot. I would have loved to have a pair of these bad boys back in the mid-to-late 80’s.

Altra’s Torin IQ were inevitable. Sensors integrated into articles of clothing have long been acknowledged to be the next step in wearable tech, and the Utah-based footwear maker just happened to beat most of its competition to the finish line with a pair of running shoes that bake tracking directly into the sole. But unlike…

via Smart running shoes won’t make you faster, but they could help you avoid getting hurt — TechCrunch

Rule #4: Design left to center. The right doesn’t matter.

I’m not going to go into detail on this one since I just did a post about it in this post and decided it needed to be an RPR as well:  Effective Screen Layout: It’s about “where”, not “what”.

Basically, everything important needs to be in the area of screen from the left edge to the center. Anything right of center will usually be ignored.

Also, anything that is an image; pictures, graphs, tables, charts; will be the first thing the user looks at and they’ll also get a closer examination than any text… so make ’em count.


The unofficial color of the Internet is…

I ran across this interesting story while poking around the Net today. Here’s a link to it: Daily Mail link

A UK designer wondered what colors were the most popular on the Internet. So he created a scraper program and broke the 10 most popular sites (according to him) by pantone code.

The results are shown below:


As you can see, blue was an obvious winner- even beating out black, white and grey. Also, since he is an artist he differentiated between “blue” and “turquoise” while myself and most men would lump those two together under just “blue“. If he had gone that route then it would have doubled up every other color and beaten my beloved red by a factor of 3:1.

The reason is obvious and it’s why so many corporate logos heavily feature blue. It’s because blue is calming, trustworthy and stable- all traits you want visitors to your company to perceive.

Isn’t that right Facebook?


Effective Screen Layout: It’s about “where”, not “what”.

For years I’ve been repeating the idea that users read a screen much differently than a physical item, like a book.

For the book (in English), they read left-to-right; top-to-bottom, consuming most of the text.

For a screen (computer, tablet, phone, etc) they read down the middle with very little attention to the edges and they consume very little of the actual text.

The good folks at Neilsen did a study that validates this belief and refines it a bit.

Have a look at the heat maps below. The redder areas indicate where the user looked at that part of the screen longer:


The first screen is an “About” section, so in other words, a text blob. Note the meme “tl/dnr” (Too Long. Did Not Read) is very true in this case. Anything after the top 2-3 inches may as well be my grandma’s recipe for chicken and dumplings.

The second screen is an e-commerce site, like Amazon. In this case, the user studied the picture, the cost, the brief description and then the first word in each of the remaining bullet points. The further away they got from the picture the less likely the description would be read.

The final screen is Google results. This one is easy to interpret: the lower you are the less you matter. The first hit is studied in depth as is the second, the third gets less attention as do all the ones below. By the time you get to the bottom you are only reading the title.

What does this tell us?

  1. If at all possible, avoid posting a text blob that extends past the page break UNLESS the purpose of the site is a journal or some other design where long articles are the primary product.
  2. Images are important. If there is a picture, graph, diagram or any other non-textual communication on a page the eye will immediately snap to it and study it in depth. Make them count.
  3. The upper-left area is the most likely part of the screen to garner attention. Conversely, the lower-right is the “dead zone”. Anything in this area may as well not exist.

Another lesson, not related to screen design, is that Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is still key. If you aren’t in the top 3, you don’t exist. Focus on your message and find your niche.


For the paranoid in all of us…

From televisions to toasters, all kinds of devices are getting hooked up to the Internet. That’s bringing convenience, like air conditioning systems that can be activated remotely while you’re on your way home from work. But it’s also bringing new privacy concerns, as anything connected to the Internet tends to attract the attention of hackers.…

via 7 Easy Ways to Stop Your Gadgets From Spying on You — Tech – TIME


On Wednesday, March 8th my father passed away at the age of 78.

He fell over the weekend, causing a subdural hematoma . They performed brain surgery Monday to relieve the pressure. On Tuesday his vitals crashed and we were advised that there was nothing to be done. He was moved to a hospice center that afternoon. He never regained consciousness after surgery. My daughter (17) went in to tell him goodbye on Monday.

My mom and my sister stayed overnight Tuesday while his breathing became more and more shallow.

Wednesday I got up and had an urge to read The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying. I thought I had a copy of it already but apparently I never got around to buying it. So my wife and I drove to Barnes and Noble to pick one up before heading to the hospice to spell mom and sis.

When we got to hospice we sent mom and sis home for a shower and food. The plan was for them to come back in the morning. After they were gone I opened up the book and read the first page under the “Dying” section. It said to be honest with the dying and to tell them what they need to hear, that it’s about them- not you.

So, I took him by the hand and said “Pop, mom just left with sis. I want you to know that mom will be taken care of. Me, sis, <my wife>, <sis’s husband>, <my kid>… hell, the grandkids have fights on who gets to be with her. She’ll be safe and we’ll make sure she’s OK. We’ve got this. All you need to do is relax and let go. Love you pop”

2 minutes later he was gone.

I don’t know why I woke up wanting that book. But it told me what needed to be done.

I called sis who literally just got out of the parking lot. She turned around and came back. Now, my wife is a very strong person. I’ve seen her go through multiple deaths in her family and I can count the number of times I’ve seen her cry in 28 years on one hand. However, my mom’s reaction to seeing my dad dead… it was the realest, most heart breaking thing I have ever seen. I really have no words to describe it. My stoic wife was left sobbing in the corner, just watching it.

After a few minutes mom looked at me, still destroyed, and asked “Why didn’t he want me here when he left?”- like it was betrayal. By now the hospice doctor was in the room and she had seen this hundreds of times.  I told her “He was waiting for you to leave so you wouldn’t have to see it. He wanted to spare you that moment.” Hospice doctor just nods and says “It almost always works that way. Men will hang on until the wife leaves. It’s just how things go.”

I then told her what I told him, about her being taken care of and how he was gone less than 2 minutes later. “Mom, he may have been a grumpy old man but there is no arguing that he loved you. He refused to go until he knew you would be OK.”

And that is how my father died.


Quick Update and New Section

Happy March 1st… where it hit 80 here yesterday. Hope you didn’t have any plans for winter because apparently it was cancelled.

Just a couple of news bits to relate.

First, I’ve been SICK as a dog for the last week. I felt ick on Friday and then Saturday standing in the kitchen I could actually feel the moment where I slid over the edge between “I don’t feel too good” to “Awww crap. Kill me now.”  Tomorrow is the first time I will be leaving the house this week as a result.

Which brings me to point two. The reason I’m going out at less than 100% (closer to 75% to be honest) is that I have an interview with a well respected company and the job is to “find the next big thing”. It’s basically an in-house think-tank for their industry. How cool is that? No way a virus, cough, steroids, codeine laced cough syrup and all the rest will keep me from going after this. Fortunately they were kind enough to postpone it from Monday to tomorrow.

A big part of my role there would apparently be ADA evaluation, including Sec 508 compliance. I’ve done this stuff in the past and kept up on it, but since my last job was tweaking a long-existing platform I decided to place it safe and look through some of my favorite resources on the subject for a quick brush-up.

That’s when I realized they’d be a very good addition to Red Paint. So, on the right there is now a new section specifically for useful ADA information. Like I do with the UX blogs I’ll try to keep it as updated as possible.

Wish me luck tomorrow!