Couloir ou fenêtre? L'avion idéal pour le passager [fr]

[en] As the editor for ebookers.ch's travel blog, I contribute there regularly. I have cross-posted some of my more personal articles here for safe-keeping.

Cet article a été initialement publié sur le blog de voyage ebookers.ch (voir l’original).

Il y a quelques mois, Lonely Planet faisait un petit sondage vite fait bien fait pour savoir si les gens préféraient les places côté couloir ou fenêtre dans l’avion.

Je vous le donne en mille: près des deux tiers des personnes ayant répondu au sondage préfèrent s’asseoir côté fenêtre. Quelle surprise…

Du coup, le blog de voyage Lonely Planet se demande comment on pourrait concevoir un avion répondant mieux aux demandes des passagers en matière de places fenêtre disponibles (parce qu’en pratique, dans un avion de ligne, la proportion de sièges côté fenêtre ne dépasse pas 40%, grand maximum).

Leurs deux propositions sont assez sympas: premièrement, l’avion à deux fuselages parallèles (on double presque ainsi le nombre de fenêtres), et deuxièmement, l’avion à sol en verre (faut pas avoir le vertige). Allez jeter un oeil sur les images illustrant ces idées — l’article lui-même est en anglais.

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Busy! [en]

[fr] Je cours, je cours! Pas mal de nouveau sur le site de Going Solo. J'espère mettre les billets en vente dès mercredi!

Gosh, have I been busy these last weeks. My “one post a day minimum” resolution kind of evaporated when I started [running all around town](http://going-solo.net/2008/01/21/venue-stories/) looking at venues for Going Solo.

Well, [we have a venue](http://going-solo.net/2008/02/04/the-venue/) now, and today I spent a fair amount of time playing with [Expectnation](http://expectnation.com) to try and get it ready to [open registration](http://going-solo.net/registration/) less than two days from now (fingers crossed).

We also have
badges to display in your sidebar (thanks, [Carlos](http://design.osez.ch/)!) and [more content on the Going Solo site](http://going-solo.net/2008/02/04/more-like-an-event-site/). [Pulled the badges after some feedback. New ones soon!]

I also seem to have found our fourth speaker, which I’m quite excited about (no, not telling — both parties are going to chew on it a little before we make it offical).

Now, I just need to sleep, prepare my [workshop](http://www.liftconference.com/get-started-blogging), rehearse my [Open Stage speech](http://www.liftconference.com/going-solo-being-freelancer-connected-world), announce the Lausanne [blogging seminar](http://stephanie-booth.com/fr/particuliers/initiation/) for 26th February and figure out how to market it.

Uh-oh! Night night everybody.

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Bunny's Print CSS Plugin Upgrade [en]

[fr] Deuxième version de mon plugin pour insérer automatiquement une feuille de style impression dans n'importe quel thème WordPress. Il y a maintenant un panneau d'administration qui permet d'éditer le CSS directement depuis WordPress -- et le CSS en question a été enrichi.

The [little print CSS plugin](http://climbtothestars.org/archives/2008/01/07/print-css-plugin-wordpress-needs-css-guru/) I threw together the other day has had a little upgrade already, and is also now [available in the WordPress plugin directory](http://wordpress.org/extend/plugins/bunnys-print-css/).

First, [Kjell Knudsen](http://kjell.langvass.org/) was kind enough to add to the very basic [CSS file](/code/print-css/print.css) I provided with the plugin. It’s now a little richer and should support K2, for example. It’s still open to improvement, so don’t hesitate to link to your propositions in the comments! Maybe at some point I’ll be able to offer more than one stylesheet with the option to choose between them.

Option? Oh yes, option. Because, you see, Print CSS now has an option panel. I’m pretty happy, because it’s my first plugin with an options panel, and I’ve been thinking I should learn how to do that for some time now. The options panel doesn’t do much, however: it simply allows you to edit the print CSS file through the WordPress admin area (if the file permissions are right — chmod 777 or something).

I’d like to extend all my thanks to [Yaosan Yeo](http://www.channel-ai.com/blog/), who wrote the [MyCSS](http://wordpress.org/extend/plugins/mycss/) plugin. I heavily lifted the code for the admin panel from it, as it does essentially the same thing: allow the user to edit a CSS file. I’m really loving MyCSS by the way, even if [there is a little capitalization glitch in it](http://wordpress.org/support/topic/152160), because I’m always adding CSS to my themes and it’s a real pain to copy-paste it all over the place each time I switch themes (or from one blog to another).

Off you go now, check out [Bunny’s Print CSS](http://wordpress.org/extend/plugins/bunnys-print-css/) in the WordPress plugin repository!

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Websites and Blogs, Where Does One Start? [en]

[fr] Petite prise de tête (j'aime bien ça!) au sujet du site pour Going Solo et l'entreprise (pas encore existante légalement) qui est derrière. Quel nom de domaine utiliser? (J'en ai enregistré toute une série autour de cette idée de conférences, ça m'a d'ailleurs coûté un saladier.) Il va me falloir une identité visuelle. Que bloguer où? Créer déjà un site pour l'entreprise? Bienvenue dans les méandres de mes questionnements.

Along the lines of [rediscovering some aspects of blogging](http://climbtothestars.org/archives/2007/12/17/feeling-like-a-born-again-blogger/), I’m rediscovering some tricky online presence questions which I’m more used to hearing in the mouths of my clients than in my head.

Questions like: do I create a separate blog for my company? for my event? how? when? who will blog on them? what will we blog on them?

To be honest, those questions aren’t actually all that tricky. For example, of course I’m going to create a site-blog (website with a blog) for [Going Solo](http://climbtothestars.org/archives/2007/12/14/announcing-going-solo/). Is it too early to create a site for the company, though? I’ve got a good mind for the moment to [hold off incorporating](http://climbtothestars.org/archives/2007/12/17/advisors-boards-companies-partners-oh-my/) it until the first event is done. I mean, not to be pessimistic, but if Going Solo doesn’t work out as well as I hope, and I decide to leave the event business at that, it will have saved me the trouble and grief of setting up the company “for nothing”, right? Other opinions on the topic?

A few weeks ago, I booked a pile of domain names (my poor credit card can testify). For the company, for Going Solo, for other events I already have in mind. I got .nets, .coms, .orgs, and even .co.uks. You don’t want a porn site as a neighbour, right? And if you’re going to build a name or a brand, who knows what you might want to do with the other TLDs 3 years from now? Better have them handy. Well, this isn’t really the topic of this post, but gosh, does it add up to a pile of money.

Of course, to make things easy, one of the .coms I didn’t manage to get is going-solo.com (it’s an insulin pump, so not much to do with what I’m plotting). Which leaves me with a choice of .co.uk, .ch, .net, .org. I’d say .org is out, as this is a commercial venture. As the event is going to [take place in Switzerland](http://climbtothestars.org/archives/2007/12/16/picking-a-city-for-an-event-lausanne/), .ch would make sense, but then what happens when we reproduce the event in other countries? (I’ve actually already been talking about that with a few people — and can you imagine: the first event hasn’t even happened yet that they are already showing interest…)

Leaves us with .net and .co.uk, the latter making sense if the mother company is indeed incorporated in the UK as I plan, but as it hasn’t actually happened yet, it could change. So, I guess for the moment I’d go with going-solo.net and set up a blog there, to start with.

I don’t have any visual identity yet so that means it would be pretty bland at first. (This is where I really regret not being a bit of a designer myself.) I’m half-tempted to try and recruit [Bread and Butter](http://www.bread-and-butter.ch/) (look at the [beautiful art they did for Adsclick](http://www.bread-and-butter.ch/portfolio.php?tags=adsclick)), but they’re already doing LIFT (maybe a bit of a conflict) and as they’re already nicely established, I’m a bit afraid about the price tag. My more realistic idea is to try to find a small design shop in Lausanne which could use the visibility (local and international) Going Solo will bring them, or see if anything could be set up involving [students from the ECAL](http://www.ecal.ch/).

As for the company, should I set up a website already, even if it doesn’t “legally” exist? (God, I wish I were a lawyer and understood all this stuff.) I’ll need a visual identity (at least a logo) and some content. I guess there will be a lot of cross-posting between the Going Solo blog and this one, at least at the start.

Also, languages! Oh my! Actually, no. Going Solo will be held in English, therefore the site will be in English. I’ll provide some French content for local sponsors to dig through, but I’m not going to do the whole [multilingual space](http://climbtothestars.org/focus/multilingual/) thing yet for it. Could be an idea in the long run, though… hmm.

Well, thanks for following my thought process. I’ll be setting up going-solo.net soon and cross-posting relevant content there so that we can all start linking to it! 🙂

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WordPress Sandbox Theme Problems [en]

[fr] Deux problèmes avec Sandbox: les menus déroulants qui se déroulent décalés sur la droite dans IE, et l'absence de feuille de style pour l'impression. Toute aide bienvenue.

As you might have seen, [Sandbox](http://www.plaintxt.org/themes/sandbox/) is now [my theme of choice for WordPress](http://climbtothestars.org/tags/sandbox/). [Diurnal](http://www.sndbx.org/results/designs/diurnal/), here on CTTS, is built upon Sandbox, and I’m using it with a client to build a new design from scratch. It’s a nice base to work from, in a [CSS Zen Garden](http://www.csszengarden.com/) way.

However, there are problems. Here are two I’m stuck with on my client site. I posted them to the [Sandbox forums](http://www.sndbx.org/forums/), but I thought I’d mention them here in case one of you smart readers had an answer.

1. [No print stylesheet?](http://www.sndbx.org/forums/viewtopic.php?id=221): does anybody have a print stylesheet handy for use with Sandbox? If I can avoid writing one from scratch…
2. [Broken drop-down menus in IE](http://www.sndbx.org/forums/viewtopic.php?id=220): I’m far from a drop-down menu specialist, so I’m not sure where to start to fix the IE wonkiness I’ve noticed. The menus in IE do not drop right below the parent menu as [shown here](http://flickr.com/photos/bunny/1998710028/), but overlap on the neighbouring menu item on the right.

Thanks for any help or pointers you can bring me.

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Jesse James Garrett: Delivering Rich Experiences (Web 2.0 Expo, Berlin) [en]

*Here are my notes of the end of Jesse James Garrett’s keynote. There might be bits and pieces missing and I may have misunderstood things. Thanks for bearing with me.*

*steph-note: missed the beginning, sorry.*

MS Word Displaying All Toolbars!

Word Toolbars all turned on sends the following message:

“Word processing is complicated. In fact, it’s so complicated that we, the developers of this tool, haven’t figured it out. So, we’re outsourcing that job (figuring it out) to you, our users.”

Look at video cassette recorders. They’ve come a long way these last 30 years, lots of buttons but… nobody seems to be able to set the clock, still now.

Mentions something Steve Jobs said in 1984.

Beautiful, elegant solution that works.

The product has aesthetic appeal (beautiful), maximises simplicity (elegant), has to address a genuine need/desire (solution) — many startups out there fail because they don’t address a real need — and can be used by its users, not just by us, its creators (that works).

Even MS word has started to get this. They’ve moved beyond toolbars. More simplicity. Not there yet maybe, but real progress. The new interface is much cleaner and simpler.

Last generation of video cassette recorders. Now, we have TiVo. But TiVo was only made possible by really taking a step back. Look at TiVo users: passionate. Users develop an emotional attachment to products which deliver on those four points.

Research seems to show that there is something different happening in our brains when we interact with complex technological tools. *steph-note: some variety of pets?* Like our interactions with other people, same mechanisms in our brains. We respond to these products as if they were people. We imagine they have personalities, moods… 12-year-old girl who kissed her iPod goodnight before going to bed on the day she got it. Or adults whose iPod breaks, go out and buy a new one, but can’t open the box for two days, because it would mean they have to say good-bye to their old, broken, companion.

iPod case “iGuy”. TiVo logo that has arms and legs.

Products who know who they are, and reflect a consistency in their behaviour.

Experiment: have users try software and evaluate it. One group, user same computer for both tasks. Group 2, different computer. Group 1 were nicer with their feedback, almost as if they didn’t want to *hurt the computer’s feelings*.

**Diamond Rio**, first mp3 player commercially available. Looked like a transformative product, so much that the record industries went to court to have it banned in the US. But nobody remembers it! Everybody remembers the iPod as the first mp3 player. Met with a lot of skepticism. (ipod = “idiots price our devices”). Too expensive, not enough features. But actually, it’s a beautiful elegant solution that works.

Developing software applications: we talk about them as data, wrapped in logic, and a user interface. User interface = shell.

But in the minds of our users: there is the user interface, and magic inside.

When we make choices about our products based on things that our users cannot see, we’re going in the wrong direction.

But this is changing. The web (2.0) is leading the way. We make decisions about the user interface first, and allow those decisions to drive technological choices. “Designing from the outside in.” (O’Reilly)

Web 2.0 companies are not being driven by a business or technology strategy, but by an **experience strategy**.

**The experience is the product.**

Any technological choices that do not reinforce the experience that we want the users to have of the product are the wrong decision.

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FOWA: Copy is Interface (Erika Hall) [en]

[fr] Notes prises à l'occasion de la conférence Future of Web Apps (FOWA) à Londres.

*Here are my live notes of this [Future of Web Apps (FOWA)](http://www.futureofwebapps.com/) session. They are probably incomplete and may contain mistakes, though I do my best to be accurate. Chances are I’ll be adding links to extra material and photos later on, so don’t hesitate to come back and check. [Read Suw’s notes, too.](http://strange.corante.com/archives/2007/10/04/fowa07b_erika_hall.php)*

FOWA 2007 131

Words are the most important components of your user interface.

Caveat: interface language found in the wild… American. So, not talking about internationalisation, different versions of languages, cultural issues…

Exciting interfaces: gesture thing Tom Cruise is using, Wii, iPhone… But not yet for data/information stuff.

You don’t know how people are going to access your application. Nabaztag. Applications people love today are made from text. Even interacting with our TV with a text-based interface.

Language is an interface.

Dopplr philosophy. Device independant. User benefits by having direct access to information. In our everyday life, our priority isn’t shiny stuff, but things that work. *steph-note: interpreting somewhat, here.*

How will the application developer benefit?

Though it takes a lot of skill to use language well, it’s easy to iterate. People will freak out when you change the colours of your site, but won’t budge much if you change language.

5 ways to get words right:

– **be authentic**; [consumating](http://consumating.com) vs. [eharmony](http://eharmony.com) (Erika’s pet peeve: the “submit” button. If you change one piece of copy, change that. People don’t “submit” anything.) Twitter has good “we’re down” messages. Sounds like there are real people behind that application. *steph-note: when putting a quote on a slide, read the quote in full.*
– **be engaging**; schoolofeverything.com, virgin-atlantic.com (“Hello gorgeous!”) Citybank: “Who was your arch rival when you were growing up?” as proposed security question. Pownce genders.
– **be specific** with the language you use. emusic.com
– **be appropriate**: it would be disconcerning if my bank tried to be my buddy. Amazon: “where’s my stuff?” Flickr “Talk Like a Pirate” day. But… some people were afraid the site had been hacked!
– **be polite**: rude doesn’t get much forgiveness. Feedburner: “Activate Feed” and “Cancel and do not activate”, including type size to help you do what you want to do. subtraction.com: “remarks”. particletree.com adding “Everyone needs a hug” as default text in their comment box, when they were dealing with terrible flame wars.

Things that have gone wrong:

8 kinds of bad:

– **vague**: basecamp, “file *should* be under 10Mb”; Apple: “some warnings occured. would you like to review them?”; Bank: “expand your relationship” (creepy!) Ask real people how they would call this thing they want to do.
– **passive**
– **too clever/cute**; “Murder your darlings.” Be ready to kill your pet phrases.
– **don’t be rude** or stupid unhelpful.
– **oblivious to your surroundings**: CNN — “*Don’t miss*: Bodies trapped in wreckage.”
– **inconsistent**: the whole “my/your” inconsistency. Read your interface aloud to see if it sounds dumb.
– **don’t be presumptuous**

You will still need designers. We’re sociable and entertaining, shouldn’t lose those skills when developing our application. Language isn’t going away. It will pay to pay a lot of attention to it.

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