My daily readings 09/25/2009

  • tags: no_tag

    • Clockwise at first sight for me. Then it changes. I am wondering how they did this picture. Did they merge a clockwise animation picture and a counter one? – post by joel
    • Dancer test
  • tags: no_tag

  • tags: design, font

  • tags: Startup

    • New startups need waaaay less cash than before. This means a dearth of VC money is irrelevant. The charts in WSJ showing less VC going into startups is meaningless and outlines this point to a T. This is creating a huge gap in what is going on and what people think is going on. Plenty of companies are being started. Enough are.
    • It’s still uncool to work for large tech companies if you are a CS major at Stanford.  You can do it, but it’s not cool. This leaves the warm embrace of cool startups warm.
      • Technology is going mainstream. 60 year old women are using Twitter. People in the mid-west buy things online. This macro trend pushes all the dollars in our economy online. Over the next 10 years then the dollars could double which inherently makes SV about twice as valuable.
      • SV entrepreneurs are getting really good. Look at the PayPal network. All those guys pumped entrepreneurial iron in PayPal and went on to create multiple billion dollar companies later. They continue to make all the right investments, etc. It’s not all luck. Other groups/networks are doing the same. This didn’t happen as much in the 1980s.
  • tags: personality, confidence

    • If overconfidence leads to global disasters such as the collapse of banks and world wars, how could it have evolved? Now researchers have an answer.
    • The puzzle about overconfidence is its ubiquity. Many studies have shown that most people have an exaggerated sense of their own capabilities, an illusion of control over events and an invulnerability to risk. Most people, for example, believe they are above average drivers, a statistical impossibility. We are all overconfident in one way or another.
    • In fact, if the potential reward is at least twice as great as the cost of competing, then overconfidence is the best strategy. In fact, overconfidence is actually advantageous on average, because it boosts ambition, resolve, morale and persistence. In other words, overconfidence is the best way to maximise benefits over costs when risks are uncertain.

      That’s an interesting insight. Experimental psychologists have long known of the role of overconfidence in conflict situations and yet have been unable to explain its origin.

    • Their model implies that optimal overconfidence increases with the magnitude of uncertainty. So the greater the risk, the more overconfident individuals should become.

      Johnson and Fowler use that finding to predict that overconfidence will be particularly prevalent in domains where the perceived value of a prize sufficiently exceeds the expected costs of competing.

      • The more wit, the less courage – post by joel
    • They highlight several domains but perhaps the most obvious and potentially dangerous are international relations, where events are complex, distant, involve foreign cultures and languages, new technologies such as the internet bubble and the banking industry where complex financial instruments abound. Any of that sound familiar?
  • tags: iPhone

    • A year ago today I posted The iPhone Development Story, detailing all of the insane and largely pointless steps required to build an iPhone application. The article was incredibly popular, seeing tens of thousands of hits that weekend and still generating fresh comments even to this day. Now, a year later, it’s time to look back and see where we stand today.
  • tags: usability

    • A study by UX Matters found that the ideal position for labels in forms is above the fields. On many forms, labels are put to the left of the fields, creating a two-column layout; while this looks good, it’s not the easiest layout to use. Why is that? Because forms are generally vertically oriented; i.e. users fill the form from top to bottom. Users scan the form downwards as they go along. And following the label to the field below is easier than finding the field to the right of the label.
    • Tumblr
    • eye tracking
    • One interesting finding of these studies is that users really do judge a book by its cover… or rather, a website by its design. Elements such as layout, consistency, typography, color and style all affect how users perceive your website and what kind of image you project. Your website should project not only a good image but also the right one for your audience.

      Other factors that influence credibility are: the quality of the website’s content, amount of errors, rate of updates, ease of use and trustworthiness of authors.

    • Basecamp
      Basecamp makes great use of space. Above the fold (768 pixels high), it shows a large screenshot, tagline, value proposition, call to action, client list, videos and short feature list with images.
    • However, users’ habits have significantly changed since then. Recent studies prove that users are quite comfortable with scrolling and in some situations they are willing to scroll to the bottom of the page. Many users are more comfortable with scrolling than with a pagination, and for many users the most important information of the page isn’t necessarily placed “above the fold” (which is because of the variety of available display resolutions a quite outdated, deprecated term). So it is a good idea to divide your layout into sections for easy scanning, separating them with a lot of white space.
    • This is known as usage patterns. People expect certain things to be the same, such as link colors, the location of the website’s logo, the behavior of tabbed navigation and so on.
    • The study found that the average search box is 18-characters wide. The data showed that 27% of queries were too long to fit into it. Extending the box to 27 characters would accommodate 90% of queries. Remember, you can set widths using ems, not just pixels and points. One em is the width and height of one “m” character (using whatever font size a website is set to). So, use this measure to scale the width of the text input field to 27-characters wide.
    • White space also makes content more readable. A study (Lin, 2004) found that good use of white space between paragraphs and in the left and right margins increases comprehension by almost 20%. Readers find it easier to focus on and process generously spaced content.
    • Jakob Nielsen’s study on the ideal number of test subjects in usability tests found that tests with just five users would reveal about 85% of all problems with your website, whereas 15 users would find pretty much all problems.
    • This means that testing doesn’t have to be extensive or expensive to yield good results. The biggest gains are achieved when going from 0 test users to 1, so don’t be afraid of doing too little: any testing is better than none.
    • Jakob Nielsen reports in his AlertBox entry that most users are essentially blind to ad banners. If they’re looking for a snippet of information on a page or are engrossed in content, they won’t be distracted by the ads on the side.

      The implication of this is not only that users will avoid ads but that they’ll avoid anything that looks like an ad, even if it’s not an ad. Some heavily styled navigation items may look like banners, so be careful with these elements.

  • tags: personality

    • There are two kinds of employees. Some believe they can make things happen, and the others believe that things happen to them. The first group believes that the outcome of their life and career is more or less in their own hands, and they wouldn’t have it any other way. The other group takes more of a Forrest Gump approach: They sit around and wait for a bus to take them somewhere.
    • Judge and his colleagues have shown overwhelmingly that employees who feel like they control the events in their lives more than events control them and generally believe that they can make things turn out in their favor end up doing better on nearly every important measure of work performance. They sell more than other employees do. They give better customer service. They adjust better to foreign assignments. They are more motivated. They bring in an average of 50% to 150% more annual income than people who feel less control over the fate of their careers. Not surprisingly, these employees also like their jobs a lot more than the Gumps do.
    • After all, if you think you’re special, what happens when your superior or your board tells you about the areas in which you’re falling short? Worse yet, what happens when the self-described superstar finds himself laid off or responsible for a division with tanking revenues? In other words, what happens when people who believe they are capable of controlling the world find themselves in an economy that is out of control?

      It turns out that this is when the true stars shine. Tough times weed out both those with low self-evaluations and those poseurs who only pretend to have a high self-evaluation—the narcissists. Judge finds that only about one in five people with a high core self-evaluation also scores high on measures of narcissism. That’s probably why researchers continually find that those with a high self-evaluation do so much better in turbulent times compared with those with a dimmer view of their abilities, and compared with those narcissists with fragile egos.

    • Confident, Not Narcissistic: There is an important difference between having a high self-evaluation and being a narcissist. Does the employee pitch in when teammates need help, or bad-mouth co-workers they view as threats? Are they receptive or defensive when you give them feedback?

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

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