Archive for the 'Productivity' Category

Surface: The New Old Way of Interaction

Thursday, May 31st, 2007

The freshly unveiled project Microsoft Surface just might redefine the way we use computers. Surface takes the good old real-life method of interacting with everyday objects and puts that on screen. It’s basically a coffee table with a 30″ flatscreen as the tabletop, controlled by a multi-touch sensor. No more need for a mouse or keyboard, everything appears to be very intuitive and allows multiple simultaneous users at once. A few of these features will also be found in the upcoming Apple iPhone, and movie-goers will undoubtedly be reminded of the movie Minority Report. If Microsoft stays on schedule, we’ll be seeing the first of these babies out in the wild around the end of this year. Might take a while to reach your living room, though, unless you have $10000 to spare. Prices are expected to go down significantly in the following 5 years.

Another very similar approach can be found in the research of Perceptive Pixel, Inc. Check out the following video for some really awesome computer interaction.

A Periodic Table of Visualization Methods

Wednesday, May 9th, 2007

A Periodic Table of Visualization MethodsWhile writing yesterday’s post, I came across the Periodic Table of Visualization Methods. As the name suggests, it’s a periodic table of faux elements, grouped into different categories, whereas each element represents a visualisation method (such as yesterday’s mind map). Hover over an element to see an example of each. So, next time you need to present statistics, or your boss needs you to create some buzzword-ridden slides, you might want to check the periodic table of visualization methods to see if there are better ways to present information.

Mindmeister: Collaborative Online Mind Mapping

Tuesday, May 8th, 2007

Mind maps are a great way to jump-start your creativity. In case you’re not familiar with mind maps: basically, you write down a a central term and in a “branching” fashion write down every word that comes to mind on that subject. The new words in return lead to new words that fit to those, and so on. In the end, you have a structured and hierarchical presentation of all the ideas that come to your mind:

Mind Map

I’ve done this numerous times for projects, and it really helps to grasp the full potential of the subject matter. Often, you’ll come to ideas you may not have thought of before. Letting your mind wander is not a problem (on the contrary, it’s the point!), since you’ll be able to pick out the branches and ideas that you deem useful.

It’s all the more fruitful when you have a friend or team partner brainstorming along with you. Until now, I’ve been using FreeMind, which is a great and highly productive desktop tool, but has one flaw: you can’t collaborate unless you’re sitting at the same computer, and ideas tend to come so fast you may be fighting for the keyboard. What about those sessions where the only connection you have is online?

mindmeister.jpgWell, a new project called Mindmeister promises to remedy this: they offer free online mind mapping that is (in my opinion) as intuitive and fast to use as FreeMind, with the additional advantage of collaborating with as many simultaneous users as you like. If you’re familiar with FreeMind, you’ll be glad to note that they’ve implemented the same keyboard controls that make the desktop client so easy to use (and on a side note, it’s prettier).
(Thanks, Kai)

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