Tag Archives: feedback

N900 Multitasking: Nokia wants your input

Own a Nokia N900?  Peter Schneider of Nokia Maemo marketing has a challenge for you: he wants to know how important multitasking is for N900 owners, and exactly how they take advantage of it.

A new poll at talk.maemo.org breaks it down by number of concurrent windowed applications on the desktop.  The poll has a slight design quirk (it has categories for 0, 1 to 3, 4 to 6,  6 to 9 and > 9 apps, whereas 7 to 9 might be better for the 6 to 9) but it’s not enough to undermine the purpose.

So if you have not already, take a moment to respond to the poll and then post your typical use cases that either require multitasking or explain why it is unnecessary for you.  Your input could be valuable for future product considerations!

This effort has the endorsement of the maemo.org community council.

UPDATE: It was brought to my attention the poll has already closed.  I am very sorry that I didn’t notice.  I’m quite frankly surprised it was not allowed to run longer.  However, posting comments may still be helpful.

Giving users what they don’t know they want

I spent many years as a product designer, in various fields.  I even had some cool inventions for consumer tools and medical devices that sadly got hung up in former employer bureaucracies.  It’s been so long though since I was heavily immersed in the world of design that I had forgotten some key principles.

Reading Juhani Risku’s clear and well-considered thoughts on Nokia’s survival brought it all back to me.  On page three of the online Register article, he makes the following point:

“There is a philosophy called Contextual Design, every designer at Nokia has been trained in it by the guru Karen Holtzblatt.  Everybody has attended her courses and got her very expensive book signed.  The idea is that you ask the users what they are doing, then design something.  If you think about Apple, they don’t ask anybody.  The idea of users as designers is a catastrophe!

It’s only relevant to evolutionary products, it’s not relevant to blue-sky products.  When you have a blue-sky product, there are no users, and so there are no users’ opinions.  We have to rely on what the desires of users are and trust the designers.”  Continue reading

Akademy 2010: Day 5

I didn’t have much to report for days 3 and 4, sorry.  I had planned to attend the Qt workshops on day 3 but got engaged in a really fascinating offline discussion with Nokia’s Knut Yrvin instead.  Day 4 I spent in my gracious host’s apartment suffering from some bug of the human variety.

Today I felt a little better which was good, because I was highly interested in attending the NEPOMUK workshops.

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Akademy 2010: Day 1

I’m typing this up toward the end of Akademy 2010‘s day 1 in beautiful Tampere, Finland, so please forgive any signs of weariness.

The day began with Valtteri Halla promoting Meego and demonstrating how the project has already benefitted KDE, Akademy’s coordinating organization, with upstream development for KOffice and other applications.  From there came talks along the tracks of community and mobility, including mine on user engagement (presentation on slideshare; project site here).  Even Maemo was mentioned!

I was nervous about my talk but while it didn’t go as smoothly as I would have liked, it wasn’t the disaster I feared either.  I’ll take that.  😉

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The seeds of a feedback ecosystem

A few posts ago I kicked off a series of talks here on the subject of a feedback ecosystem and how such a thing could enhance user engagement, particularly on mobile devices.

While I did touch on what such a thing might be, I want to explore in deeper detail tonight.  First some personal background.

How I Originally Got Into This

Nokia hired me in 2005 to be a Quality Feedback Analyst in support of cell phone factory operations.   I had never performed in such a role (I had never even owned a cell phone!) and was surprised to get the job offer.  But my new manager said she saw all the right pieces in my engineering past and that the passion I had for quality was obvious.

I was glad she gave me the opportunity, as that turned out to be the most enjoyable and rewarding job I’ve ever had.  The challenge to analyze and improve the error reporting and corrective action processes was a real thrill!  I had finally found the right home for my problem-solving inclinations.

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Input on a feedback ecosystem

I am about to plunge this often-erratic blog over a sharply-defined edge and into a sea of clear certainty.

Now that I have your attention, let’s talk feedback.

How many times have you been presented with a survey in which you were highly interested but failed to complete?

How often do you play a song you enjoy yet neglect to rate it?

How many software bugs have plagued your mobile device of choice and were not followed by reports sent to the developer(s)?

I think it’s safe to say that the one aspect of feedback that keeps our complaining (or praising) confined to unproductive quarters is the frequent disconnect between the usage and the feedback opportunity.  At least in my experience, far too often the feedback mechanisms are separated from the origin of their need, especially when that starts with a mobile device.  The greater the gap, the less likely we may be to take the step that can actually serve to prevent future aggravation.

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Maemo Fremantle PR 1.1 community test

In a tremendous show of trust and good faith, Nokia’s Maemo team has invited certain maemo.org community members to test pre-release Maemo firmware designed for the Nokia N900.

Currently being without an N900 means I have to sadly decline the invitation to participate, and I’m only mentioning this to the world at large to demonstrate proof of the slow-but-steady progress of Maemo toward increased openness.

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Post and Haddock

My last fishing expedition was for purely personal reasons, hoping to hook up with readers who could offer more than a quiet repose on the poop deck.  The pleasant surprise so far was in seeing responses from readers who admit to lurking without commenting until now.

Maybe they’re reading for the halibut.

Okay, enough with the bad fish puns.  Given the obvious international readership of TC there’s a risk that they’re going to fall as flat as a flounder anyway.

There was some helpful feedback in the mix of recent comments and I hope to hear from more of you.  Sometimes all it takes to draw out the shy ones is the comfort of a crowd.  Maybe I need to pay some regular commenters…

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Fishing for Feedback

Most of my ramblings here garner about 30 or 40 views, and I can live with that.  But every once in a while some subject seems to resonate with a large number of readers and I enjoy a nice, brief spike.

What I’m curious about, though, is the disproportionate read-to-comment ratio.

Don’t get me wrong.  I’m not complaining about the comments received thus far– many have been very helpful and inspiring.  But I’m surprised still by the low numbers… especially after what I believed to be provocative (read: politically-charged) pieces.

So in full embrace of the irony, I’m asking for comments about why there are so few comments.  If it’s the email requirement, don’t worry: I don’t do anything with it.  If you’re still uncomfortable entering your own email address, then put in something bogus.  I’ll even provide one: nospam@cynicalsigns.com.

I hope to hear from you.  Many of you.  Your thoughts can guide this blog.  😉

Making surveys work

Time for a break from politics and social analysis, and back to some talk on best practices.

I recently attended a short presentation where the speaker enthusiastically described the journey to quality by his employer, an upscale automobile dealership.  I was impressed by many of the items covered but most especially by their commitment to feedback.  Some useful data was obtained via customer surveys but the speaker said the best guidance came from focus groups.

Participants in focus groups are typically compensated for their time, so they have a high motivation to contribute.  Which led me to wonder: what do survey takers get?

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