User-Friendly Interface is more important in recent days….

I recently received some news well quite interesting, like H5N1 bird flu in China, and hot sale of “Nintendo Dog”, etc. But one article catches all my attention, that is talking about Internet, which the meaning beyond the words is “Take Care what user want, and that’s one of nicky of success”.

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Finally, Sisyphus, There’s Help for Those Internet Forms

By JAMES FALLOWS New York Times May 15, 2005

EVERYONE who has used the Internet has had a version of this frustrating experience:

A week ago I was at the Minneapolis airport, with three hours to wait for a delayed flight. That’s not the frustrating part. I wanted to connect my laptop to the airport’s Wi-Fi Internet system, which meant filling out many spaces in an on-screen registration form. Name, home address, phone and e-mail contact, credit card details and so on – plus my requested user name for the network.

I clicked “Submit” – and two seconds later the system bounced back my application. Someone else, perhaps me on a forgotten previous trip, had already claimed that user name. So it was time to start over. I had to re-enter everything I had typed before, because every space in the form had been blanked out, and I had to hope that the next name I chose would work. (It did.)

At one level, such inconvenience simply reflects lazy or incompetent Web design. For years, good programmers have known how to make a system “cache,” or temporarily retain, typed-in information, discarding only the entries that caused a problem, like my user name, or needed special protection, like passwords or credit card numbers. A depressing number of e-commerce sites reveal such shoddy workmanship. You’ll know you’ve met one when, for instance, a hotel or travel site makes you start all over when you change any part of your itinerary. (Feel free to send links to such sites for a “constructive criticism” list I am assembling.)

But my little problem in the airport also suggests a more basic aspect of the way we deal with the Internet. This has been one of the Internet’s great limits, and there are fascinating signs that it is about to change.

Interactions with many Web sites boil down to modern and extremely fast versions of an old and often slow process. If you go to a government office or a bank, for example, you fill out a form, hand it to the clerk or teller and eventually get something back. That is essentially the way most Web sites now work. You enter data on a Web page. You send that information to a distant computer, by pressing “Enter” or “Continue” or clicking a link. Eventually the computer sends something back. The page it sends is usually as static as a form you receive from a clerk. If you want to see something more – the next group of search results, other flights on different dates – you have to send another request and wait for another response.

The time involved is trivial in absolute terms. But the need to transmit entire new pages of data, when only a line or two of information may have changed, slows the Internet’s overall responsiveness. And the query-and-reply procedure is reminiscent of the old days of sending data to mainframe computers for processing. At least half of all items placed in online “shopping carts” are never bought. One reason is the cumbersomeness of the typical Web checkout process.

Within the last three months, tremendous buzz has developed about related, not-exactly-new technologies that together may give Web sites a distinctly new feel. The easiest way to see what the commotion is about, as mentioned last month, is via Google Maps.

At, pick the satellite view of any point in America. Then click on the map, and pan it east or west or use the right or left arrow keys for the same effect. With most mapping programs, when you reach the edge of the area initially displayed, you can’t go any further without requesting and waiting for more data. With Google’s map, you can head east or west – and keep going, all the way around the world, with the ability to zoom in at any point. The detail varies by country, but it is as if Google sent your computer a map of the globe’s entire surface as soon as you logged on to its site.

Of course that’s not what really happened. Instead, the system was applying two basic tricks to make it seem that you had an infinite map in your machine. One was asynchronous updating – that is, instead of waiting for you to request more data, it was preloading what it thought you might want next, at the edges of the current map. The other was very selective updating, altering only the parts of the display that had actually changed rather than bothering to “refresh” the whole page.

Together, these are the main elements of an approach that Jesse James Garrett, of the consulting firm Adaptive Path, christened Ajax in a Web posting in February. The term itself has become controversial. It was popularized in a Wall Street Journal column in March. But David Mendels, executive vice president at the software company Macromedia, says “Rich Internet Applications” is more accurate, while Georges Harik, director of project management at Google, suggests “Rich Web Application” and Charles Fitzgerald, general manager of platform strategies at Microsoft, says that no special name is needed for tools that have been available to clever programmers for years. Whatever the term, all affected parties seem to agree on two things.

One is that “richer” Web sites can make for a far more satisfactory experience, especially but not only for online commerce. Mr. Mendels of Macromedia, whose Flash technology has functions similar to Ajax, gave several examples, including a Sherwin-Williams site where users can mix different paint hues on-screen and see how they would look when applied to the doors or windows of houses like theirs.

In general, he and others stressed that interacting with “rich” Web sites could become more and more like working at your own computer. For instance, Gmail, the Google e-mail service, now allows more sophisticated on-screen editing of its messages, and commerce sites can recalculate order totals and shipping costs instantly, as if they were spreadsheets. The key, again, is that pages are updated automatically, and only in the specific parts that have changed. For me at the airport, the difference might have been a box that let me try out user names and have them immediately approved or rejected, without affecting the other data on the screen.

The other point of agreement was that the increasing diversity of the browser market – Internet Explorer, Firefox, Opera and many others – has made it harder and harder to devise “rich” tools that work for everyone. Mr. Mendels thought the answer was his company’s Flash, which runs on all platforms. Mr. Fitzgerald of Microsoft said the answer would come with Avalon, a set of programming tools to be included in Longhorn, Microsoft’s next version of Windows. There will be more to report soon about this rivalry – and its implications both for users and for the competing companies.

NOW, a promised final word about Google’s aerial views. Last month, I mentioned that one small part of the American land mass was obscured in an unusual way. It’s not the headquarters of the C.I.A., which is there in such detail you that can tell the color of cars in the parking lots. Nor is the mystery zone a dam or a power plant. Some are clearer than others, but the differences result from varying quality of satellite photographs from place to place.

True, the roofs of the White House and two neighboring buildings have been Photoshopped, to conceal whatever protective systems may be up there. And the view of the United States Capitol grounds is blurry, though the contours of the main buildings are distinct. But to see what real camouflage looks like, zoom in on the satellite view of 1 Observatory Circle in Washington. That’s where Dick Cheney lives.

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CNET授權採用NYTimes 文章:James Fallows‧郭文興譯  2005/05/26








最近這三個月來,一些現存的相關技術,給予了網站全新感受,因而造成網路上一些騷動。要看看這些騷動所為何來,最簡單的辦法就是上Google Maps去看看。



以這兩個技術作為主體,然後再與其他元件整合的網頁設計方法,在二月時,被顧問公司Adaptive Path的Jesse James Garrett命名為Ajax技術。然而該名稱本身就有極大的爭議。雖然該名稱在三月的華爾街日報上就已眾所皆知。但軟體公司Macromedia的副總David Mendels表示應該要叫「Rich Internet Applications」(多樣化網際網路應用),而Google的專案管理總監Georges Hank認為應該要叫「Rich Web Application」。微軟平台策略部的總經理Charles Fitzgerald則表示,這樣一個聰明的工程師早已使用多年的工具,並不需要一個特定的名稱。不管名稱為何,所有相關的軟體陣營似乎都同意兩件事。



大家所同意的另一點,就是瀏覽器市場的差異性──Internet Explorer,Firefox,Opera跟其他的瀏覽器,讓設置一個可以在每種瀏覽器上運作的「多樣化」工具難上加難。而Mendels認為解答就是他們公司可以在任何平台上執行的Flash技術。而微軟的Fitzgerald則表示解答是被包含在下一版視窗Longhorn的一組執行工具Avalon裡面。接下來一定會有愈來愈多關於這種競爭──不管是使用者方面或是公司方面的競爭──的新聞報導。


而美國白宮與兩棟相鄰建築的屋頂,的確被使用影像軟體Photoshop處理過,以隱藏保護系統的所在位置。而州議會大廈的外觀也經過模糊處理,但整個輪廓還是相當清楚。但是如果你想看看真正的偽裝長什麼樣子,可以將華盛頓特區的Observatory Circle部分放大,那是副總統Dick Cheney的住所。

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