UI design failure: real world example

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Imagine stepping out of a metro as a stranger in a hectic, crowded station. Now you want to reach Neumarkt, a rather central place in Cologne.
Look for 5 seconds at that sign. Which way would go?

If you’d walk right, be comforted. You’d be not the only one fooled by that idiotic sign.

What can we learn for software from that?
To a developer, it’s clear how her software works and how it needs to be used. So we rely heavily on testing by and input from others.
Use bug reports as an important source of feedback!

FTF licencing workshop in Amsterdam / Borders still exist in Europe

I had the great possibility to do some volunteer work for the FTF licencing workshop taking place from 23rd to 24th in lovely Amsterdam. It was an interesting experience meeting so much lawyers instead of the hackers usually found at conferences, they seem not all to be so scary. ­čśë
FSFE got really positive feedback from the participants and after closing Friday evening at 17:00, a small international group of people from the US, Taiwan, Denmark, Germany and Ireland teamed up to explore Amsterdam which does not only feature the world famous red light district but also a little China and some other evenly beautiful but much less crowded alleys. The team even visited some coffee shop and – naturally – drank some coffee.
Problems only arose when I wanted to leave the mousetrap of Amsterdam again:
The ticket selling machine at the station wasn’t accepting my Maestro ec card. Maestro really sucks in this aspect as you never know whether a machine accepts international cards or not. OK, so I tried a credit card – but alas, I didn’t have the PIN needed for such transactions, just ever used it online where you only have to enter dates. D’oh!
OK, so I had to pull a number and line up for getting a ticket at a counter. Guess what: I had to wait long enough to miss the train I wanted to take, having to take a more expensive connection and leaving me with half an hour of time to enjoy the view of Amsterdam. Luckily, when I strolled around looking for what to do with my time, I ran directly into the arms of one of last night’s team, giving us the chance to have some coffee together and have a look at some pictures of my daughter.
The next reminder that borders still exist hit me when we approached Venlo.
The train suddenly went very slow and my laptop, which I had only connected via the power plug, went off in the middle of the sentence I typed. D’oh again!
Apparently, due to historical reasons, the electrical conditions for trains differ between the Netherlands and Germany. I hadn’t thought about it anymore, but now I remember! ­čÖé
All in all, it was a very nice weekend!

Ressurect your printer!

While “green IT” is in everbody’s mouth, often manufacturers do not act according to it.

After a colleague had fixed my DVD player some time ago with a part worth 0,05 EUR, now my HP printer refused working with an “ink system failure”.
There is a FAQ on the HP site about that error, but if it fails the printer would have to be maintained by HP.
Well, due to being a few days older than 2 years, that equals total wreckage. D’oh!
But now I found a website specific to printer problems: http://www.fixyourownprinter.com
Guess what: It worked and the printer returned to life now! ­čÖé

Installing Debian GNU/Linux on fresh hardware

Installing GNU/Linux on fresh hardware can be challenging. I bought a Medion akoya 10" netbook (MSI Wind U100 platform).

Since then I wanted to install my used distribution, Debian GNU/Linux. After trying the lenny installers, at first I wasn’t able to get to it. Kernel 2.6.24 did not support the network card but instead broke the boot process so, after install, I did not have any drives. ­čÖü

I reported this install failure and got help so I was able to install a newer, working, kernel.

Thanks to the Debian installer team!

FSFE Fellow Sean Daly donates nice banner to FSFE

 At FOSDEM, Fellow Sean Daly donated this nice banner to us:

 

I seized the opportunity to ask him why he supported FSFE:

"I am a Fellow of the Free Software Foundation Europe and an occasional contributor to Groklaw. I support Free Software as a means to bridge the digital divide, build a better society, and create opportunities for everyone. Every one of us can find a way to contribute and make an impact. I myself am not much of a coder beyond
bash and gawk, but I do know about marketing and communications, so when I learned FSFE lacked a rollup banner, I had a nice one made.
When I visited FOSDEM, I was proud to see the new FSFE logo beckoning curious visitors to consult documents about Free Software."

Here you can see the banner in action:
 

 EDIT: Layout improved.

Zweites Fellowship Meeting in K├Âln (2008-02-19)

Am 19. Februar fand endlich das zweite Treffen von Fellows in K├Âln statt. Wir trafen uns im DIALOG in der K├Âlner S├╝dstadt.

Themen waren:

Hier ist auch ein Bild vom Treffen:

.

Letzte-Minute-Erinnerung Fellowship-Meeting K├Âln

Dies ist nochmal die herzliche Erinnerung an alle Interessierten,
morgen beim Fellowship-Meeting der FSFE vorbeizuschauen!
Ein Thema soll unter anderem sein:
Freie Software und ihre Unterst├╝tzung durch Kommunen / Gesellschaft

Thomas Richter aus dem Kreis der Python Users hat hierzu bereits
einen Artikel verfa├čt; ich denke, wir sollten hier diskutieren,
in welche Richtung wir hier weiter t├Ątig werden wollen.

Das Treffen findet statt ab 19 Uhr im newthinking store in K├Âln,
Alteburger Stra├če 45, 50678 K├Âln (N├Ąhe Haltestelle Chlodwigplatz).

Viele Gr├╝├če
Michael