31.12.2012 - J. Edgar (2011)

J.Edgar

Regizor: Clint Eastwood. Ce mi-a mai placut de la el: Letters to Iwo Jima, Million Dollar Baby - cu care a castigat si Oscarul in 2005. 

Scenariu: Dustin Lance Black. Este acelasi scenarist care a scris si MILK. “No wonder now” am zis dupa ce am vazut filmul. Totusi, filmul cu homosexual(i) care mi-a placut cel mai mult ramane Reprise.   

Filmul prezinta povestea lui J. Edgar (Leonardo di Caprio) in cei 50 de ani petrecuti in FBI. Nu este o biografie si nici un film istoric, contine atat fapte reale cat si fictiune. Este insa un film din care poti sa inveti multe despre personalitatile secolului 20 din America si despre dezvoltarea unei institutii de catre un individ. In cea mai mare parte povestea este prezentata din perspectiva lui Edgar, care isi dicteaza biografia de erou obsedat de comunism facand trecerea catre adevaratul miez al filmului - viata personala marcata de conflictul intre figura puritana a mamei si a barbatului pe care il iubeste, care ii este asistent. 

Ce nu mi-a placut: efectul de imbranire al actorilor, B-movie quality :( 

Overal rating: 3 ursi (din 5)

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Affordances

“In one case, the reinforced glass used for panel shelters (for railroad passengers) erected by British Rail was smashed by vandals as fast as it was renewed.
When the reinforced glass was replaced by plywood boarding, however, little further damage occurred, although no extra force would have been required to produce it.
Thus British Rail managed to elevate the desire for defacement to those who could write, albeit in somewhat limited terms.
Nobody has, as yet, considered whether there is a kind of psychology of materials. But on the evidence, there could be.”

The term *affordance* refers to the perceived and actual properties of things, primarily those fundamental properties that determine just how the thing could possibly be used. A chair affords for (*is for*) support, and therefore, affords sitting.
Glass is for seeing through, and for breaking.
Wood is normally used for solidity, opacity, support or carving. Wood is also for writing on.

Hence the problem for British Rail: when the shelter had glass, vandals smashed it; then they had plywood, vandals wrote and carved it. The planners were trapped by the affordances of their materials.

Affordances provide strong clues to the operation on things. When affordances are taken advantage of, the user knows what to do just by looking: no picture, label, or instruction is required. Complex items may require explanation, but simple things should not. When simple things need pictures, labels or instructions, the design has failed. A poor design can also allow false causality to occur.  

— Donald A. Norman - The Design of Everyday Things

"Any design based on a written specs is a design based on theory. A design based on a prototype is a design based on experience and practice."

On overlays

In the past weeks I’ve been explaining at work the notion of overlay. My colleagues were using the term “pop-up” to describe the lightweight layer assuring stay-on-the-page functionality. I’d like to sum up things and use this post as future reference.

1. What is an overlay?

  • a mini-page displayed in a lightweight layer over the page, obtained by using either Flash or Ajax-style techniques (Dynamic HTML)
  • in-page object, controlled by the web application, not the browser, so the developer has complete control over the visual style of the overlay making it visually integrated into the application’s interface

Why not browser pop-ups?

  • browser pop-ups display a new browser window; as a result these windows often take time and a sizable chunk of system resources to create
  • browser pop-ups often display browser interface controls (URL bar)

Why not using JavaScript alerts?

  • don’t provide a consistent user experience between operating systems; under Microsoft Windows they will appear centered in the browser window, but with the Macintosh they will slide out from under the title bar; depending on where the action takes place, users may have to move their mouse a lot further each time they need to dismiss the alert
  • there is no way to control the look and feel of the alert pop-up

2. Modality

Overlays can be modal or non-modal. A modal overlay requires the user to interact with it (perform the action or cancel the overlay) before he can return to the application. Modality can be reinforced with the Lightbox Effect.

Lightbox effect = Dimming down the background behind the overlay; this cues the user that this portion of the interface cannot be interacted with. The Lightbox Effect should be used to emphasize modality or call attention to special information in an overlay.

In the case of a non-modal overlay the user can click anywhere outside the overlay (in the dimmed area) and the overlay will dismiss; the Lightbox Effect is not needed for most non-modal overlays.

3. Types of overlays

  • Dialog Overlays
  • Detail Overlays
  • Input Overlays

4. Activation

  • on click
  • on mouse over
  • delayed mouse over

5. Anti-patterns

Overlays are a good way to avoid sending the user to a new page. This allows the user to stay within the context of the original page. However, since overlays are quick to display and inexpensive to produce, sometimes they can be tempting to use too freely, and in the process, may actually break the user’s flow.

  • idiot boxes - avoid unnecessary dialog overlays
  • mouse traps - avoid activating the overlay on mouse over too easily; presents an annoying experience
  • non-symmetrical activation/deactivation - it should take the same amount of effort to dismiss an overlay as it took to open it
  • needless fanfare - once activated, show the overlay immediately; avoid lengthy animations or effects that delay showing a overlay
  • hover and cover - the overlay can completely obscures other items displayed on the page
  • don’t use an overlay when a simpler, in-page interaction would suffice