According to a McKinsey & Company study of US economic activity, "Raising the productivity of employees whose jobs can't be automated is the next big performance challenge." The study argues that "as more companies come to specialize in core activities and outsource the rest, they have greater need for workers who can interact with co-workers, partners, and vendors," supported by highly personalized organizing and communication tools. 40 percent of labor activity, says McKinsey, comes not from making things or from traditional transactions but from what the consultancy calls the "Interaction Economy," which it … Read more
It's likely that more than a few would-be Mac buyers who decided that for whatever reason they couldn't part with Windows ended up with a VAIO. All PC manufacturers place an importance on design, of course, but no two more than Apple and Sony. Both companies recently put out updates to their all-in-one and small-form-factor systems. Let's take a look at how they compare.
A group of kids from one of our local elementary schools has formed a "mini-laptop club." They don't use electronic machines. Instead, these first-, second- and third-graders draw their own laptops on construction paper and pretend to e-mail each other. They dedicate a surprising amount of time to this activity. I once had a chance to examine one of their "keyboards." I was fascinated to learn which Internet functions had sunk into the minds of these kids, who are just getting their first exposure to computers from watching their parents work, and from using kid-friendly sites. Follow the page jump to see one of their designs.… Read more
Do you eat ice cream when you're sad? I sure do. When I saw that my nasty co-worker Tim Moynihan had pitted the Beer-Launching Fridge against Keepon the Dancing Robot in his artificial intelligence showdown, I got totally emo because I had no idea who to vote for. Then I bought myself a pint of Phish Food and ate it for breakfast with a side of Kleenex, sunny side down.
But technology is always making our lives easier, and here's a gadget that can help me figure out just how much self-pity eating I'll need to do … Read more
Forget about phones and MP3 players--the next designer gadget is the toaster. And leading the way to branded nirvana are, of all things, sportscar dynasties.
Porsche joined the fray with a brushed-aluminum model that looks good enough for the track, and now Bugatti has gotten into the act with an appliance of its own. True to its exacting nature, Bugatti has included "six browning-control options" for its "Volo" toaster, Gadgetizer says, with especially wide slots to accommodate different sizes of baked goods. But it's the red Italian flair that drew us to it, of course.… Read more
LaCie is a tech company that understands design and marketing. Even though it's in the business of computer peripherals and components--products that don't exactly scream glamour on their own--it's never shy to apply its creative notions to items as diverse as speakers and USB hubs. But the company may have truly outdone itself with its latest effort, finding beauty in the most unlikely of subjects: an external hard drive.
AT&T is still struggling to convey the fact that it is a seamless blend of two companies--the "old" AT&T with Cingular. Cingular was a brand sensation, having been created out of whole cloth and gaining massive market and mindshare in a very short amount of time. I remember the first time I saw an ad for it, in a subway station in San Francisco, and was struck by how fresh it was, from the name to the color to the lively logo. At the time I knew nothing of its provenance (a merger of … Read more
Del.icio.us, the hugely popular social bookmarking service, has finally unveiled its new look. It's the biggest visual change the site's had since its launch in 2003, and the result of nearly a year's worth of work. Besides a face-lift, the service has undergone several enhancements, both in how you browse new links and search through them. Of course, this new site isn't open to everyone. In classic Web 2.0 form, access is limited to a select few in the form of a beta preview the Del.icio.us team is using for feedback before rolling out the changes to everyone.
The site first announced its intentions of a massive re-design in early February, and just a few months back noted some fun statistics about their usability testing lab, which had apparently used more than 2,000 Post-it Notes to organize observations about the re-design. This may not sound too impressive, which is why I'd recommend taking a look at this picture, which gives me headache just to look at.
The first thing you'll notice about the new Del.icio.us is that the name has forgone its dots to simply be known as "Delicious." Besides making it easier for newbies to pronounce, it's also a departure from its roots of a small, independent Web site who was one of the first to pioneer the gloriously cheesy domain name hack, a practice that's even led to a startup that figures them out for you. The other thing you'll notice is that there's more emphasis on tags, and tagging in general, as they've been given a much more prevalent look and presence throughout the site.
The real change, however, is in search and navigation, which have both been streamlined and made faster. The old Delicious search was a tad on the sluggish side, whereas the new search is noticeably faster. The results have also been improved to show you who was the first to save it as a bookmark, along with pushing the tags out to the side in case you feel like drilling down by genre. The navigation now features drop-down menus to let you quickly drill down to various parts of the site, skipping an extra page view or two.
When it comes to actually creating new bookmarks on the Delicious site, the process is like Miss South Carolina: pretty but slow. Despite the advances in page design, you still have to navigate through two separate pages to add a new link via URL. I prefer the newer trend of opening up a lightbox pop-up to let me enter in information, and then getting shot back to the page I was viewing before. There's a handy bookmarklet to add whatever page you're visiting, which is actually the fastest way to add new content to the site short of clicking a site-integrated "add to Delicious" button, but the current system is still prohibitive for batch link uploading.… Read more
Have you ever known exactly what color you wanted to use to paint a room but had trouble describing it to another person or finding it in a paint catalog? How about finding the hexadecimal code for adding a specific color to your Web site?
For those of us hue-challenged Web users who can't tell Kenyan Copper from Korma, Chirag Mehta has created a very cool Web application for determining a name for any color you want to use, as well as its hexadecimal and RGB values.
Simply and accurately titled Name That Color, the Web-based application consists of a color wheel with a tint/shade box in the middle. Combine both input tools to specify the exact color you want, and that color's name, hex value, and RGB values will appear on the right. The larger outer box will display the color you've selected, while a smaller square inside that box will show the actual color of the closest named match.… Read more
Enough with the carping. We've been complaining recently about speakers with designs that are uninspired or downright boring. You'll be thankful to know that there's one that has finally shut us up (however briefly).
The "Dodecasub" from Elemental Designs bears an impressive form that matches its unique name. This beast has a dodecagon casing (that's a 12-sided polygon, for those of us who failed geometry) and boasts 10 subwoofers measuring 10 inches each that can blast 600 watts apiece--or, as Audio Junkies puts it more graphically, enough to "leave you feeling a little … Read more