I love Amazon.

I wouldn’t be able to own these books without Amazon.com, I’m so happy with it’s service.

This time is the turn for both start-up reading and usability:

Amazon monthly autogift

I’ve been looking the Interface Design book, and it’s by far the best and most complete practical book for usability and interface design book I’ve ever seen. It’s really updated, it has flickr and gmail examples among others. I really like the multiple examples it has, AJAX web interfaces, mobile phones, Windows and Mac, it covers the most common use cases for a modern interface designer. It was a better bought than expected.

PS: Luis, thank you for your recommendations on my last post, it helped to overcrowd my amazon wish list though.

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Target audience performance.

Quim, I can’t do anything but agree on what you’ve just said.

I’ve been involved on the GNOME community since 2002 when I needed to write a small app on pygtk for a job. Since then, most of the time I’ve spent on it has been spent on trying to figure out things. I needed to figure out what Object Oriented programming is, I needed to improve my English skills to be able to perform a good communication with the whole community, I needed to figure out how CVS and bugzilla works, I needed to figure out what C pointers are for, I needed to figure out what usability really means. I tried to surround myself on the GNOME culture, and improve my programming skills.

One of the things more frustrating for me is, after all this time spent in understanding how the culture and philosophy works, if I try to solve a problem (write a patch for example), I need to spent few days solving a lot problems that has anything to do with my initial one. I need to set up and have an updated jhbuild environment, and there is no one-way to do it, and if often crashed for obscure reasons. Then I need to get used to the internal app API reading it, then I have to look at the GTK tutorial and reference and finally start writing the patch. I know that this is a very spare explanation, but my point is not this.

But in order to setting up all this things with none around to tell me step by step what should I do, I should take a look at 10 different websites at least that the only way to reach is through google, for me this is not only frustrating but I also get exhausted once I figure out what do I really need to do to solve my initial problem.

Part of this situation comes from a low simplification of the toolchain, but most of the problem is about how we are organizing our documentation. I think that the wiki approach is good, but when people get into http://www.gnome.org, is really hard to figure out that the up-dated and most-cool documentation is inside that "wiki" link, instead, people goes to the documentation site.

I think that in this sense there is a lot to learn from the trolltech guys, but also from other models like the Gentoo wiki, where the wiki is the "natural" way to document and learn, and the Ruby on Rails/TurboGears screencasts, that give users an exhaustive and enjoyable way to solve problems and a low entry point to our platform.

So, as performance hackers does, I think that we must improve the bit that takes most of the time for newcomers, we must improve the documentation bit in order to be less time-taking.

 

iCon

The past week I received iCon Steve Jobs: The Greatest Second Act in the History of Business, a Steve Job’s biography of his life until 2005.

I’m about to start up a company but, for some reason that I can’t tell yet, it has to wait some time to get ready to see the light. So I’ve decided that I could use these months to learn more about the software business and learn about the companies’ success and failures. So my first choice has been this book.

The reason why I got interested about Seteve Jobs has lot to do with my interest in promoting and build market around free software. Apple has built a community of passionate users of their products, and I think that such success is not a coincidence or pure chance they followed specific stepes to achieve that goal. The marketing machinery around Apple and their products catch my attention and wakes a feeling close to envy, I would like to see the same kind of strategy used to promote free software, although some projects like Mozilla has reach a similar strategy. Jobs has been one of the brains behind that marketing (with its full meaning) strategy, It’s really funny to see his keynotes and the impact that it has into the media, even outside of their user base, they build great shows around their products announcement. On the other hand, I think that we should learn about the failures too, they had  lost the mass market once, and such failure wasn’t about chance either.

I’ve just finished the book and I’ve enjoyed it a lot, it talks about the three startups t Jobs has been involved in (Apple, NeXT and Pixar) with lot of attention on his failures, which had let me learn a lot of what kind of things shouldn’t be made while you run a company. I admire how him has turned Apple and Pixar into great successful companies but I disagree lot of the techniques he has used to achieve it, the book unleash a really dark side of him which is worth to know in order to be aware of what a good manager shouldn’t do.

Now that I have finished my book stack, I need to fill it, I’ve just ordered The Cluetrain Manifesto:  The End of Bussiones as Usual, a book about how to drive human oriented business using the internet as a main tool to let users and the whole company perform market through fluent conversation and I’ve also ordered Designing Interfaces from O’Reilly  to start learning formal user interface designing.

I’m about to go out to prepare the Ubuntu Installation Party that we’ve organized on the Free Software Office at the university. I’ll give a talk about the kind of cool things that users can do with Linux and Ubuntu’s GNOME, I’ll post some photos tonight.