Archive for the 'Reviews' Category

Teleport Yourself

Let the nerdiness flow freely and unashamedly. You’ve been warned. At work, I frequently have my laptop (15-inch MacBook Pro) camped out next to my desktop (20-inch iMac + 22-inch secondary monitor) serving as a secondary testing system and jukebox. At least 9 times a day I try to move my mouse from my desktop over to my laptop — usually for simple tasks like pressing the ‘Next’ button in iTunes, or various browser refresh buttons. When this doesn’t work, it takes me a second to realize I need to physically move my body and twist to the left about 13° and convince my hands to relocate and get reacquainted with the track pad and keyboard orientation, and shortly thereafter I need to re-adjust back to my previous position and continue my work.

This is not a new problem. Back in the putty colored computer years, some pocket-protected millionaire figured out how to make a special cable that allowed one keyboard, monitor, and mouse be connected to what normally are two totally independent putty colored computers. This special cable is called a KVM switch. And the ‘switch’ part is the key… to go from one computer to the next requires actually switching a button/lever/toggle deal on the KVM switch unit. ANNOYING! And as if it could get any more annoying, there’s still the whole cable aspect. Me and wires is like peas and marshmallows.

Now, fast forward to shiny aluminum computers and the KVM switch setup just doesn’t seem to be appropriate. So… today I had the crazy notion of asking the Goog for an “OS X virtual KVM switch” and it led me to Teleport. My geek heart swelled with affection all over again today towards my computers Macs. For the uninformed, a geek heart is very much like a dragon heart but with out all the crazy dragon stuff.

Teleport is a preference pane for Mac OS X which installs as an item in the System Preferences, and it:

…lets you use a single mouse and keyboard to control several Macs. Simply reach an edge of your screen, and your mouse teleports to your nearby Mac, which also becomes controlled by your keyboard. The pasteboard can be synchronized, and you can even drag & drop files between your Macs.

We conducted a teleportation “experiment” yesterday; my co-worker, Chad, teleported from his iMac through my iMac, then onto my laptop. This is important stuff. We were not playing as some others seemed to think. Do not mistake our enthusiasm and Mac wonderment for a lack of work ethic — by finding viable solutions to effectively and efficiently interact in the multiMac reality I find myself in saves approximately an hour’s worth of my time per month just in the reaction -> transition time it takes for the HCI re-acquaintance from one computer to the next and back, 9+ times a day.

Teleport is awesome! It even makes a cool wormhole effect around the mouse when it’s performing a jump. In this clip, I move my mouse to the left edge of my screen and teleport into Jen’s MacBook and then come back to my computer through the right edge of her screen. Jumping through the stargate invokes a temporary multiverse effect, creating a parallel counterpart to my mouse which remains in stasis in its original reality until the teleport stream is closed upon the returning quantum jump. Unfortunately, the screen recording app can’t simultaneously record Jen’s screen from my computer… what would that be called? Tele… vision? Someone really needs to crack this quantum computing bottleneck. (note: iShowU is pretty cool too, but that’s for another post.)

Teleport's Layout Settings

Teleport's Layout Settings

Interface Deconstruction: Vimeo’s Interior Help & Search Utility

Dear Vimeo, fix your awesome search assistant. In a world where YouTube is the Kleenex/Xerox/Google brand of online video services, alternate sites like Vimeo have a ways to go to gain that “household name” status. In other words:

“I need a Kleenex” as she reaches for the generic store brand box of tissues. Or, “Remind me to Google that later” when we want to search for something.

Drop your clutter

Just because a company is the first to offer a certain product, or is the biggest, or the most funded doesn’t mean it is the best. In the realm of UI design, Vimeo can teach YouTube, along with the rest of us, a few things. For instance, Vimeo’s visual simplicity is stunning. Their help/search bar which loads on interior video post pages is pretty slick and instantly makes sense:

Vimeo's help assistant as triggered by a simple mouse over

Vimeo's help assistant as triggered by a simple mouse over

Vimeo's search assistant as triggered by a simple mouse over

Vimeo's search assistant as triggered by a simple mouse over

Out-think your users

If you can think about it before they need to, they’ll love you and come back. When I showed this to my boss, he responded with, “Oh yes that’s nice, I think it might even been cooler if you could check off the areas you wanted results for and then return them all, instead of having to do that same search in [each category].”

Agreed. Perhaps Vimeo’s forum data is isolated from it’s channel data, which is in a separate database from its people data which would make the multi-source search query far too taxing on the server. If so, then (like many of the internet’s fledgling services) integrating systems should be a priority for any online service-based app. Easier said than done, but makes getting things done easier.