Month: December 2011

Interviews and digital solutions from my team’s project at Medill

Posted by – December 19, 2011

Population data as it can be viewed in our interactive Disparity Map display.

As I mentioned a few weeks ago, my team at Medill recently completed our project with The Chicago Reporter, developing digital solutions and recommending business strategies to help the magazine be more effective online.

It was a real pleasure to work on. We conducted user research, talked to journalists at news sites and mapped out a thick set of ideas that we believe can help strengthen one of Chicago’s best investigative news sources.

There are three great places you can visit now to learn about the work we did, and they are:

Medill’s website, where you can read an interview with me about our research and final proposals.

• Our Disparity Map, which is an interactive tool we developed to display race, education, income and housing information about Chicago communities.

• And of course, a live recording of our final presentation at the McCormick Tribune Center, where you can see everything explained. It’s about an hour and a half long, though, so find a comfortable chair.

Where Microsoft is catching up with Apple and vice versa

Posted by – December 19, 2011

My personalized cover to Flipboard this morning, featuring an Instagram photo from Sean Dove.

2011 was an exciting year for consumer tech developments. As Apple continued to devour market share in the PC market, Microsoft got behind their Kinect controller and got together with Nokia to give the Windows Phone platform a bigger push. I don’t think that you’ll find too many critics willing claim that Microsoft has been ahead of the game in the mobile or desktop OS markets over the last few years, but some notable apps and news stories have percolated recently that offer a little perspective on the battlegrounds and cross-pollinations that will be worth watching in 2012.

• First is the insurgence of Windows Phone-looking design concepts that have been making their way onto the iPhone. Like Bing vs. Google, Windows Phone interface designs have differentiated themselves from traditional iPhone dev schools of design. When I think of Windows Phone screens, I think of tight grids with big, sharp-edged boxes and icons that often just sink into the nav bar, rather that bubbling up on additional shapes. Both the Flipboard and Xbox Live apps have introduced such things to my daily mobile experiences recently, and I think that both work marvelously overall.

• The television market is another place that’s going to be fun to observe in 2012. I looked at a Google TV last year at about this time, and I’ve been testing out an Apple TV over the last couple of weeks. The Wall Street Journal reports that voice commands will likely be a part of the next generation of Apple TVs. Apple already has Siri out in the wild on the iPhone 4S, which no doubt means that they have been gathering lots more user data to funnel into a better voice interface for home entertainment systems. Microsoft began experimenting with a limited set of voice commands when it launched Kinect, so both companies are obviously looking at similar issues and looking for ways to distinguish themselves.

The Apple TV, from what I’ve experienced thus far, differentiates itself by emphasizing AirPlay, the ability to stream content directly from iPhones and iPads. Additionally, Apple seems to have been thinking about things from a Nintendo Wii U perspective, allowing developers to implement two-screen gaming experiences.

I think the Google TV largely failed out of the gate due to some poorly executed (and in many cases, un-executed) partnerships, but I’m sure it will remain a player to some extent as well. I’m looking forward to seeing what other trends and developments appear in 2012. Although, I won’t lie to you; in the voice-recognition race, I care a great deal more about who will finally bring me some software that does a halfway decent job of transcribing interviews.

3DS Wi-Fi, a PS Vita copycat and ‘Diablo 3’ in gaming news for Monday morning

Posted by – December 12, 2011

Just catching up on games industry headlines from the weekend:

• Nintendo made a smart partnership decision business-wise when they brought free Wi-Fi for the DS into McDonald’s restaurants. Airport visitors probably know who Boingo is and recognize why free Wi-Fi for 3DS users at Boingo access points could also be a wise move. (via Joystiq)

• As many of you know, I’ll soon be out in Washington, D.C. The timing for The Smithsonian’s “The Art of Video Games” exhibit couldn’t be better. I don’t know about these fan pictures though.

• This Chinese PS Vita knock-off is just laughable—or at least it would be if it weren’t so sad.

• The Spike TV Video Game Awards took place over the weekend. I didn’t tune in, though I did keep up with the winners (Skyrim came out on top). Based on the years when I have watched the show, I tend to agree with Giant Bomb’s Jeff Gerstmann, who suggested that a better name conceptually for the event would be “World Exclusive Mania: Game Trailers You Ain’t Seen Before: The TV Show.” I should note that I do love new trailers. But I often prefer watching them on the Internet if the alternative requires setting aside an evening at home.

• And speaking of VGA debuts, a cinematic trailer for Diablo III showed up. I have to admit that I was rolling my eyes throughout much of the first half. It picks up and gets much less abstract toward the end.

And if you’d like to catch up on other trailer reactions, I suggest checking out Rick Marshall’s commentary.