Book Review: Web Eyetracking

Review: by Gregory West
prospector16(at)gmail.com
Member of the Computer Operators 
of Marysville & Port Huron (COMP)

eyetracking websites

excellent info on web design and what works and why and how

Eyetracking
Web Usability

by Jakob Nielsen and Kara Pernice
Published by New Riders
newriders.com
(an mprint of Peachpit)
ISBN-13: 978-0321-49836-6
Pages: 437
USA: $59.99 / CDA: $71.99

Have you ever wondered why certain parts of a website catch your eye and you ignore or completely miss others? Whether you are designing a corporate website, simply working with a private site, or setting up a blog for the first time, this book will take you into the world of design and what works.

Authors: Neilson and Pernice take us on a detailed journey demonstrating what works and grabs your attention longer than a split second. Eyetracking technology allows you to see what people see on mainstream websites.

This book’s main focus is “to study look patterns and how they relate to Web usage”. It is “not a general book about Web usability”, although it gives an excellent insight into why people go to certain areas on a page. Throughout the eight chapters, we learn how “Eyetracking” technology works. Also, you will find a summary covering human behavioral patterns, resulting from these extensive studies.

The second chapter is a little dry as it explains how this technology works, data collected, fake tests, study participants and cost evaluations. Other chapters get into the heart of page layout, navigation design elements and images. Chapter seven covers advertisements which is a major aspect of the Internet. Everything, from when people look at ads to the impact of ad placement, is detailed in a quite interesting fashion. Here is where you find out what works and what fails.

The authors point out the need for corporate executives to stand aside and let the professional graphic designers do their job. They show how upper-level management employees who know nothing about design and graphics can destroy the design due to ignorance of “web usability” and drive customers away.
Not contained in the book keeping “this book at a manageable size” are two “separate reports” made available online:

Eyetracking Methodology: How to Conduct and Evaluate Usability Studies Using Eyetracking: http://www.useit.com/eyetracking/methodology and How People Read on the Web: http://www.nngroup.com/reports/reading

If you are, in any way, part of a team that works on websites, or if you have your own personal blog and want your sites to work, this book is something that you will keep going back to as a reference guide. There is an excellent Table of Contents in the front and a well laid out Glossary in the back to make sure you find exactly the topic to research and learn.

iPad Shoppers Beware!

Please Note: This article is published in First Monday magazine April 2010.

iPad Shoppers Beware!
by Gregory West

Apple's iPad

To Buy or Not to Buy?

If you are bent on getting an iPad don’t ready any further. However, if you are trying to decide between buying a laptop and an iPad this article is for you.

I like my laptop because I can load any software, connect any device such as a digital camera, memory stick, backup drives, by USB connections. I like the idea of being able to load free software from any company or source and not be restricted to one company such as Apple.

“Your computer should be yours to control,” said Peter Brown, the Free Software Foundation’s executive director. “By imposing such restrictions on users, Steve Jobs (APPLE CEO) is building a legacy that endangers our freedom for his profits (The Microsoft Blog).”

For me, choosing a laptop is simple: Macbook. I run Windows XP and Windows 7 on my Mac laptop without a glitch. Of course there are many other laptops, notebooks and net books that work great too and all of them avail you the opportunity to install third party applications, many at no cost.

The iPad has landed in North America and is creating huge hype. Rightfully so! It is a wonderful device allowing for various functions. According to Wikipedia the iPad “is part of a device category between a smartphone and a laptop computer.” This may be true but it is not close to my Macbook laptop, not by a long shot.

For starters the hard drive is only 16 to 64 gigabytes (GB) of flash memory (a technology that is primarily used in camera memory cards). My laptop is 250 GBs and with a terabyte hard drive connected by USB, I now have a grand total of 1274 GBs of hard drive space. Very different from 16 to 64 GBs of the iPad.

The iPad’s 9.7-inch (25 cm) screen has a low end resolution of 1024 X 768. What this tech talk means is that the iPad will not support HDMI video which many have come to love. With high definition the rave…Why go back to a lessor screen resolution. This does not make sense.

Other features lacking in the iPad are: no camera, no webcam, no multitasking, no drag and drop file management, no USB port, no SD slot, no Flash, no HDMI out, no 1080p playback, and no native widescreen. Are we going backwards here? In 2005 it was “the Year of High Definition Video,” according to cnet.com. How come the iPad lacks these features?

Many are saying the iPad has its neat functions and is esthetically appealing. Just make sure you are getting the exact features you require in any tech device. Do your homework on this one.

[bi-line]
Gregory West is a Mac Instructor for Lambton College. 
He is also Webmaster at Central United Church, the home of the new COMMUNITY Computer Room at: http://central-united-church.org/news

Gregory Can be reached at: prospector16@gmail.com

Google411 for Travelers and More

Google411 – The Perfect Phone Feature

by Gregory West
prospector16@gmail.com

Probably by now most people have used or heard of the free directory assistance that is available on the Internet: canada411.ca. That service works for both individual and business phone numbers and addresses.

Google has taken this technology much, much further. Enter: Google411.
Google offers a free phone directory and calling service that finds businesses and their phone numbers. Google will also connect you to the business immediately, or you can simply listen to the list of businesses and then make your choice.

The service is quite easy to use. You simply dial up 1-800-GOOG-411 (I have GOOG411 on my cell phone’s speed dial) and state your city and province. Then you say what it is you are looking for.

I tested it out by saying: “pizza”. A google voice began voicing the area pizza restaurants. If I had been hungry I could have easily been connected to the pizza business of my choice. This proves to be an excellent travel tool as you may want to book ahead a hotel room, reserve a seat in a restaurant and maybe check if a certain store is still open. At the present time Google only offers this service for business and non-profit listings, but not for residential information.

I love canada411.ca on my laptop for looking up names, addresses, and phone numbers, but when I nowhere near a WiFi hotspot, my cell phone gets me the information, connection and listings fast and extremely efficient.
For more information, head on over to this website: www.google.ca/goog411 and watch a Google voice engineer demonstrate this highly excellent and free service.

Note: “ Google doesn’t charge you to access Google products from a mobile phone…Check with your provider for more information about fees associated with accessing the Internet from your mobile phone” (google.ca).

Gregory West is a Mac Computer Instructor for Lambton College.  He also holds free “Basic PC Computer and Internet Training” seminars at Central United Church: 
http://central-united-church.org – (Click on “Groups).
Gregory can be reached at prospector16@gmail.com
More TIPS on Greg’s Blog: http://tips4computers.wordpress.com

Leopard OS X – A Review & Preview

Missing Manual Leopard OS X

A Must Have

Mac OS X Leopard

The Missing Manual

by David Pogue
Published by O’Reilly Media Inc.
ISBN-13: 978-0-596-52952-9
Pages: 893
USA: $34.99 / CDA: $34.99
missingmanuals.com

If you love your Mac, you will love this book. This book details every aspect of the Leopard operating system, from simple to advanced. Looking up how to do something is fast and easy, although this book is a real treat for simply browsing topics to learn some tricks and tips that you won’t find in most other Help sections.

For instance, only about 4% of us back up our computers and now there is no excuse. Leopard comes equipped with its own backup system, Time Machine, and with this book you can easily follow the simple step-by-step process to ensure you never lose anything again. When working through these types of sections you can easily set up the process, read the technical stuff, or try out some of the exciting tips that are all highlighted: basic, moderate, and advanced data. But the bottom line is all these sections are designed to get you going, give you the “under-the-hood” scoops, and show you some magic tricks to boot that helps make this book a good read.

Apple created 300 new features inside Leopard, however they failed to let you in on many of the tricks and tips that “demystifies” this amazing new operating system. In this book David Pogue also shows “refugees”, who escaped Windows and moved to a Mac. Windows users need no other books, as Pogue shows where they went in Mac OS X 10.5.

This book is spread out in six parts: The Mac OS X Desktop, Programs in Mac OS X, The Components of Mac OS X, The Technologies of Mac OS X, Mac OS Online, Appendices.

In the first part you discover folders and windows and how to organize your data. Pogue takes you through the various items such as: Spotlight searching, using the Dock, Desktop and Toolbars and gives you an expert feel as you see how simple Leopard is to use.

Without a doubt, this book is a great refresher; it is one that you will refer to when you you’re stuck. The thing I really like about this book is that you can pick it up and open it anywhere and begin reading.  I highly recommend this book for all level of users, both as a learning tool, and as a quick reference guide. Before you call a technician for a problem, treat yourself to this “must have” book first.

GET A SNEAK PEEK PREVIEW OF THIS BOOK –  CLICK HERE

Review Written by Gregory West – Member of COMP & APCUG

O’Reilly Media HELP Website

Your Questions Answered HERE

CHECK OUT THIS COMPUTER HELP SITE

See people helping people…

You won’t regret the few seconds it will take to find yourself gaining the how tos on topics from not just computers, but also Q&A on the Internet, Twitter, Facebook, digital photography and so much more you will not have a question that cannot be answered.

Let’s say you “know it all”, why not lend some of your knowledge to this site by way of answering questions posed by users. It is a lot of fun and you will be helping out other computer users. And who knows, like myself, you may just find yourself learning more about what you thought you knew and didn’t.

CLICK HERE to give this site a TEST DRIVE.

CLICK HERE and get involved with O’Reilly’s New Program

FREE Computer Help 24/7

Please Note: This article will appear in the December issue of First Monday magazine.

No Strings Attached …

“Computer Problems Solved FREE OF CHARGE”
24/7 Service for the Public

http://tinyurl.com/ask-pamela

by Gregory West
prospector16(at)gmail.com

The title of this article is true. Just ask members of the Sarnia Computer Group: SCUG (www.scug.ca), as they know first-hand how fast and efficient this free service works.

All too often we find ourselves sinking in the mystery sea called Windows. We know what we would like to do but just can’t figure out the “how”. The further we click through our computers the worse our adventure becomes. We end up at a DEAD END and completely frustrated to the point of never wanting to turn the computer on ever again.

If the above situation sounds even remotely familiar, read on because now you are in luck and at no cost this time. Our saving grace: “The Computer Tutor”, Pamela Tabak.

When I was the editor for the Sarnia Computer Users’ Group (scug.ca) I met Pamela somewhere in Cyberspace as she was writing a monthly article in another computer group’s newsletter. The one thing that struck me strange was that this person was offering a free computer-help service, not only for free, but offered answers back within 24 hours. Of course, it wasn’t long until we had The Computer Tutor column on the Sarnia computer group’s team as a columnist. Many SCUG members who began using this free service quickly began raving how simple and fast the answers back came.

Pamela tells the story of an “old gentleman” who told her he purchased a new computer.  He contacted Pamela for help because he was “tired of waiting for a phone call from his children and grandchildren” for computer help. Pamela did help this man to learn about his computer. Pamela quickly points out that “it is never too late in life, or even impossible, for seniors to learn about them.”

So how does this free 24/7 help service work?

Simply go to this site: http://computertutorinc.net/survey/questions_2008.htm and fill out the form with the details of your problem/question. One thing to keep in mind is that you must fill out the entire form, not forgetting to enter your email address so Pamela can reply to your issue.

After many suggestions and requests Pamela made the decision to publish a book that demonstrates the main questions others have queried via email. Pamela’s new book comes with the “most frequently asked questions” by seniors using computers. It overflows with excellent “how to” computer tips.  Check it out her website at: http://www.computertutorinc.net and see how she is helping others. Oh yes, Pamela is also a certified Ebay instructor so if you have questions on Ebay fire away!

TIP OF THE WEEK: BUTTERSCOTCH

Almost everyone likes butterscotch, right? Well if you do you will like it even better now. Butterscotch is now online, you cannot taste it, however you can use this website to get free video training on hordes of subjects, programs and more.

How about free tutorials on MS Word 2007, Blackberry Basics, Finer Points of FACEBOOK, Buying and Selling on Ebay, adding your Photos to Flickr, using gmail and Google Earth and so much more.

As well, Butterscotch has a downloads section where you can get some free software, shareware and demo programs for every computer system. (www.butterscotch.com/tutorials.html)

Thanks to Gerry Timm of Sarnia, Ontario for Emailing me this excellent find.

Gregory West is a Mac Computer Instructor for Lambton College.  He also holds free “Basic PC Computer and Internet Training” seminars at Central United Church: 
http://central-united-church.org – (Click on “Groups).
Gregory can be reached at prospector16@gmail.com
More TIPS on Greg’s Blog: http://tips4computers.wordpress.com

eHow To Do It EASY

Here is a website that shows you HOW TO in many areas.

GREAT HOW TO DO THINGS WEBSITE

I find this site http://www.ehow.com/guide_5-computers.html very useful in the latest computer tips in PLAIN ENGLISH.

If you like video tutorials this site has them too:
http://www.ehow.com/videos.html – scroll down where it says: More Featured Videos and use the slide bar on the right to see tons of topics.

let me know how you find this site???