Table of Contents

VOLUME XIV.1 January + February 2007

  • In this issue
    • In this issue

      Jonathan Arnowitz, Elizabeth Dykstra-Erickson

      This issue marks a new year for <interactions> and our third year as editors-in-chief for the magazine. Are we serving your needs and interests? Do you find something valuable in each issue? Perhaps something controversial? Are there areas you would like us to explore? Are there topics you'd like…

  • Fresh: rant
    • “Help yourself!

      Jonathan Arnowitz, Elizabeth Dykstra-Erickson

      If by any chance you've flown with a major US airline recently, you may have had the opportunity to check in all by yourself at a gleaming, self-service kiosk. These systems have been up and running since 2002, says SITA, a service provider of IT business solutions to the…

  • Fresh: ok/cancel
    • Helpless

      Tom Chi, Kevin Cheng

      ©2007 ACM1072-5220/07/0100$5.00 Permission to make digital or hard copies of all or part of this work for personal or classroom use is granted without fee provided that copies are not made or distributed for profit or commercial advantage and that copies bear this notice and the full citation…

  • Fresh: ask Doctor Usability
    • Cool vs. usable

      Dr. Usability

      Dear Dr. Usability, The guy I work with is always quoting some usability guru, but he's wrong, I just know it. For one thing, this guy's Web site is totally unreadable and looks terrible. How can I promote his ideas when everyone looks at it and scoffs, "This guy…

  • Fresh: pushing the envelope
    • Managing, just barely

      Fred Sampson

      I have a question for you: Are you the manager of a user-experience design team? If you answered "yes," I have another question: What were you thinking?!!! Jakob Nielsen's corporate usability maturity model suggests that it takes 20 years to establish Stage 8 of the model, the user-driven corporation.…

  • Fresh: nuts & bolts
    • If you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em

      William Yurcik, Ramona Thompson, Michael Twidale, Esa Rantanen

      System administrators are users too! While computer security usability research has largely been focused on end user issues such as password authentication, browser transactions, and Email handling, the needs of system administrators (sysadmins) have been relatively ignored [2]. The size and complexity of the services and issues that sysadmins…

  • Forum: under development
    • Open source bicycles

      Gary Marsden

      Who knew that Unix was also the name of a bicycle company? Not me, at least until I went on a recent field trip to Zambia and Malawi, where I found owners busily hacking their Unix bicycles. The purpose of the trip was to examine how cellular technology was…

  • Forum: here's entertainment
    • Out of the video arcade, into the office

      Jerrod Larson

      Although computer games were originally confined to the displays of large and expensive university computers, they are now ubiquitous, found in living rooms, on mobile phones, and even 35,000 feet in the air on airline entertainment systems. With this ubiquity has come inquiry, and computer game research is now…

  • Help! User assistance and HCI
    • Who you gonna call?

      Fred Sampson

      Help systems have come a long way since the days of Microsoft Windows Help 1.0, and the capabilities of user-assistance technologies continue to grow and develop. More and more help is finding its way into the user interface, through popups, tooltips, mouseovers, and better labels and hints right where…

    • Assisting e-government users with animated talking faces

      P. Foglia, F. Giuntoli, C.A. Prete, M. Zanda

      E-government (e-gov) is the use of information technologies to deliver government services through Web sites devoted to users interacting with government. E-gov is a growing sector of Web usage, driven by the expectation of improving the delivery of public administration services, easier data integration in information systems, and overall…

    • A pattern language for user assistance

      Mike Hughes

      User assistance has come a long way from mere stand-alone help files. We now find abundant instances of its being consistently woven into applications and, thus, the user's experience; it is no longer a document separated from the user's task. Accordingly, user-assistance designers need a design language that deals…

    • Embedded user assistance

      Matthew Ellison

      Although the benefits of embedded user assistance have been demonstrated by usability studies for many years now, such assistance has rarely been implemented within desktop applications. This is mainly due to a lack of specialist authoring tools and the limited support for embedding provided by Microsoft HTML Help 1.x.…

    • Overcoming a common help design challenge

      Doris Holloway

      How do you design user assistance for an audience to whom you don't have access? The biggest challenge and largest gap in our design process was lack of interaction with the users of our Help products. Our Fortune 500 Company provides software products and services to the financial services…

    • Arbitration of a help system

      Garett Dworman

      Design can be as much an act of negotiation as it is of creation, and designers can find themselves cast in the role of negotiator or arbitrator among competing interests. Designers of user-assistance systems often face the most difficult negotiations, because user assistance tends to be perceived as a…

    • My learning assistant

      Sachin Patil, Kay Howell

      Advanced information technologies offer hope of reshaping learning through interactive games and simulations. Highly interactive simulations and synthetic game environments place the student in cognitive disequilibrium by presenting obstacles to goals, contradictions, and theoretical dilemmas. The success of some video games, including Civilization IV, the Sims, and Roller Coaster…

  • People: the way I see it
    • Three challenges for design

      Donald Norman

      The invisible, ubiquitous computer has arrived, ensnaring almost any conceivable activity within its grasp. This raises wonderful opportunities and challenges to the field of human-computer interaction, for if the computer is everywhere, then everything is within our domain of study. It is time to consider where the next application…

  • People: fast forward
    • Taxonomies to tax the couch-potato’s cortex

      Aaron Marcus

      Growing up in the 1950s, there were only three TV stations, one for each network, so checking the television listings in the newspaper was a relatively simple task. Knowing that I had to get back home in time for The Mickey Mouse Club on weekday afternoons and The Milton…

  • People: the well-tempered practitioner
    • Taking usability practitioners to task

      Chauncey Wilson

      As usability practitioners and interaction designers, we often have to choose tasks for user-centered design (UCD) activities including storyboarding, paper and medium-fidelity prototyping, usability testing, and walkthroughs. Choosing tasks for various user-centered design activities is a critical activity and sometimes a moral issue for usability practitioners and product designers.…

  • Books
    • Review of “Shape: Talking About Seeing and Doing by George Stiny,” MIT Press, 2006, ISBN 0262195313, $38.50

      Bernice Glenn

      Over centuries visual design has developed as a discipline that seems to supersede logic and reason. Visual designers can describe the characteristics of their work with words like complex, massive, colorful, disorganized, and even blah. But as a discipline, visual design has resisted anything resembling the cold realities of…

    • New & upcoming titles

      Gerard Torenvliet

      Cultural Differences in Human-Computer Interaction: A Content Analysis and An Experiment of Design Features of Organizational Home Pages Heeman Kim ProQuest/UMI, October 2006 ISBN: 0542187396 $69.99 End-User Development (Human-Computer Interaction Series) Henry Lieberman, Fabio Paternò, and Volker Wulf, editors Springer, October 2006 ISBN: 1402053096 $59.95 …

  • Event planner
    • Event planner

      interactions Staff

      January 28-31 IUI 2007 2007 International Conference on Intelligent User Interfaces Honolulu, HI, USA January 30-February 2 AUIC 2007 The 8th Australasian User Interface Conference Ballarat, Australia February 5-7 APVIS 2007 Asia-Pacific Symposium on Visualization Sydney, Australia February 12-14 IDC 2007 Information, Decision,…

  • Rave
    • [Blank] my [blank]

      Jonathan Arnowitz, Elizabeth Dykstra-Erickson

      It was a long day at the office. We usability-tested this column, and hilarity ensued¬ówe hope it has the same effect on you. First, fold the page so that only the right-side column shows. Then fill in the blanks. Unfold the page, and read your choices into the story.…

  • Postcards from the future
    • Help!

      Atticus Wolrab

      ©2007 ACM1072-5220/07/0100$5.00 Permission to make digital or hard copies of all or part of this work for personal or classroom use is granted without fee provided that copies are not made or distributed for profit or commercial advantage and that copies bear this notice and the full citation…