Posts tagged “features”

ChittahChattah Quickies

  • [from steve_portigal] Removing "Add to DVD Queue" from Streaming Devices [Netflix] – [This is quite the PR challenge – reframe the removal of features as something that's of benefit to the customers. There are hundreds of comments from unhappy users indicating how this change will impact their particular use cases.] An update for members who add DVDs to their Queue from the device they use to watch instantly. We’re removing the “Add to DVD Queue” option from streaming devices. We’re doing this so we can concentrate on offering you the titles that are available to watch instantly. Further, providing the option to add a DVD to your Queue from a streaming device complicates the instant watching experience and ties up resources that are better used to improve the overall streaming functionality. This change does not impact the Netflix Web site, where most members manage their DVD Queues.
  • [from wstarosta] How children perceive vintage technology [Core77] – [A humorous example of the role that semantics plays in our perception of what something is and how it works.] Design is all about context. When that contextual information is removed, products can be very confusing. As designers we often see this when people are introduced to a new technology that is manifested in a design that breaks so strongly with tradition that they don't know how to use it. We often try to build in affordances that allow them to relate their current technology to their new technology. Think of how the play button from your Walkman went straight to you Discman, then to your iPod, and as a digital button on interfaces.

Features vs. Innovation

Although the principal conceit of Apple’s latest Mac vs. PC ad is, as always, “PCs suck,” the ad does a nice job pointing to the difference between innovative thinking and the mere creation of features.


While the cupholder suit that appears at the ad’s end is presented as a joke, many companies do have an unfortunate habit of burdening their products with clunky, grafted-on features as they try to push their ideas into new territory.

Compare the cupholder suit to Apple’s breakaway MagSafe cord, which the ad references. While there’s some debate over how well the Magsafe cord actually does what it’s supposed to, it at least intends to address a real issue that computer manufacturers had previously ignored (people’s cords get tripped on, yanked out).

Discovering that aspect of the user experience – however Apple may have done this – and recognizing it as one worthy of design intervention is the real innovation here.

New features on All This ChittahChattah

Thanks to some great technical sleuthing and hacking, we’ve got some good improvements here on the blog
– an “email this post” link with every post
– an improved “tag cloud” off the right that links to other postings, rather than back to Technorati (who seem to have stopped indexing this blog 55 days ago)
– The blog title is now All This ChittahChattah rather than Portigal Consulting both on the page and in feeds
– I got rid of CoComment because it was (as others had suggested when I started using it) causing some problems. It was slow and was messing up pingbacks (i.e., posts here that refer to other posts here)

Please let me know if you see any weirdness or broken stuff that needs to be fixed!

How we see each other

Mostly unrelated to the rest of this Metafilter thread was this brilliant comment

Remember that different cultures focus on different features when thinking about race. Americans focus on skin color and eye shape. But from what I’ve heard, what strikes most Asians about white people is their long noses, big chins, and pale hair, not their eyes or skin.

Sure enough, you’ll sometimes see an explicitly American or European character in anime, and they tend to have gigantic long noses and huge jutting chins. Hair color is a little more complicated – after all, anime characters of all races can have bright blue hair – so we probably shouldn’t read too much into it.

So the round-eyed, small-nosed, small-chinned, black-haired (or magical blue-haired) characters are meant to be Japanese. They just conform to Japanese ideas of how the Japanese look, not American ideas.

(Another interesting thing to notice is that Japanese, Chinese and Korean characters in anime look blatantly different, while American artists tend to draw them all more or less the same way. Again, evidence that race looks very different through Japanese eyes than through American ones.)

Hadn’t really thought of that before – that our cultural lenses create different, not opposite, physical/racial archetypes.

10 Greatest Gadget Ideas of the Year – New York Times

Here’s a year’s best gadget list from David Pogue who skips overall gnarylness to consider “small, sweet improvements in our electronic lives” such as a digital camera with automatic bracketing in self-timer mode, downloadable TV episodes, and front-side connectors for everything on TV sets. It’s a bit of a relief to see a best list that deals with features and usability rather than form, finish, technolust, or cool.

You sure do smell a lot like flowers

Excellent piece from 37signals about features, innovation, and connecting with the customer in meaningful (more than functional) ways

The salesman made a big deal about a feature I’d heard a lot about already: the bud vase mounted in the middle of the dashboard. That, I thought at the time, has got to be the stupidest feature I’ve ever seen in a product. Who has time to keep fresh-cut flowers in their car? Do you really want your car smelling like dead daisies?


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