Monthly Archives: April 2012

Huge Phone Menus

The Windows Phone menus seem to be wasting precious screen real estate.  The Foursquare app has pushed me over the edge, and now it’s time to look for solid proof.

We’ll be comparing the Yelp, Foursquare, and Netflix mobile apps on Android and Windows Phone.

Disclaimer: the pictures are painfully fuzzed and the fault is mine.  Next time I’ll bring the safari cam.

Yelp

Android (L) Windows Phone (R)

The title area is certainly smaller on the Android, but this looks like a design issue specific to the Yelp app and not a platform standard.  So, not great support for my claim that Windows Phone menus are unnecessarily large.  Maybe in the restaurants screen.

Android (L) Windows Phone (R)

This is closer.  Android has incorporated an input box, buttons, and a label into the same top area.  We see the standard application menu at the bottom on the right.  Even so, the Windows Phone version looks nicer.  Hmm.

FourSquare

Android (L) Windows Phone (R)

Look how much space is wasted on the Windows Phone menu!  However, it’s still prettier and has more information because of the grid layout versus the list used on the left.  Hmm #2.

Netflix

Android (L) Windows Phone (L)

Ack!  The menus in the Netflix queue screen look the same size.  Unrelated, but I’m not sure whether I like the titles wrapping or not.  Final showdown: Netflix home screen.

Android (L) Windows Phone (R)

I don’t know what to tell you, dear readers.  The menu navigation is different, but they are taking up nearly the same amount of space.

I’m going to keep an eye out for better comparisons, but for now I’ll concede that Windows Phone is not wasting more of my precious mobile screen real estate than Android.

Is perceived wasted space equivalent to actual wasted space?  When it comes to user experience, different designs can feel roomy or cramped while taking up the same physical space.  Pretty cool.

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Online Pictures

I was reminded recently that sharing pictures online is not a solved problem.  Below is what I wanted, and what I found.

Ideal Online Pictures

Wish list:

  1. Web and mobile support
  2. Easy to browse
  3. Easy to organize pictures
  4. Privacy settings for  individuals and groups
  5. Sharing with individuals and groups
  6. Original picture resolutions saved and available
  7. 20+ GB of free space, with expansion available (paid okay)

Comparison of 3 Popular Picture Sharing Sites

I chose SkyDrive (Windows Live), Picasa, and Flikr as my potential picture sharing sites.  If you know of a better option, please let me know.

SkyDrive Picasa Flikr
Uploading easy easy not easy
Original picture size yes yes no
Organization Multi-level folders Single level albums Photos can belong to multiple sets
Privacy settings On groups (folders) On groups (albums) Only on individual pictures
Easy sharing yes yes yes
Web browsing good good good
Mobile browsing Web & App App no
Free Space 7 GB 5 GB 300 MB/month

Analysis

I ended up using SkyDrive, with Flikr my second choice. Sorry Goog.

Browsing pictures on the web was easy on all three.  Only SkyDrive had a good mobile experience..on my Windows Phone.

Sharing photos or groups of photos was easy on all three.  Privacy settings is a difficult user experience, which held here.

Organization was a big factor for me, since I recently had 1000+ wedding pictures to save and publicize.  Flikr allows you to put pictures in multiple sets. For example, if I have a picture of me eating wedding cake, I could put it in a Cake set and a Wedding set.  Unfortunately, SkyDrive and Picasa are not as flexible.  Picasa provides a single group of albums, which is horrible.  SkyDrive allows sub-folders, which at least lets me put cake pictures nested inside the wedding pictures.  Hopefully the two stragglers catch up with Flikr soon.

However, not allowing the original picture size without a paid Pro Account was a deal breaker for Flikr. Also, its site feels much older than the other two, which was annoying. Too clunky and slow!

None of these sites was awesome.  If you have a Windows Phone too, SkyDrive is probably you’re best bet.

Examples

Flikr

PicasaWeb

SkyDrive

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Things I No Longer Do

Once you’ve got two of something it’s time for a list.  If you’re lucky, you’ve got blog post material as well.  Here are some things I don’t do anymore.

Open Bank Accounts for “free” Money

Brick and mortar banks, online banks, credit unions, financial brokers, piggy banks, etc.  A delicious buffet of financial accounts to keep us sated.  But, we soon ended up at Bank of America adding people to accounts (or subtracting?) during the typical post-wedding death-of-fun administrative tasks.

“Do you want to open a personal checking account and receive a free $25″, the friendly bank lady asked me.  “And if you blah blah blah, your wife she gets $25 too”, she added helpfully.  Hmm, I don’t have one of those yet, I probably thought.  I don’t remember how long you had to keep it open for the free cash money, but I’m sure it was reasonble.

“Sure, let’s do it.”

3 months later I received a letter in the mail explaining that my wife’s existing BoA disqualified us both from the free money.  3 months after that I tried to close my new account at a local California branch, but couldn’t because there was -$4.94 in savings.  That’s right, negative money.

It turns out Washington BoA branches can’t talk to California branches, yet.  I’m assured they’re working on it.  Oddly, I had the business card of the bank lady who originally opened my free money account.  She was able to reverse the minimum balance charge and close the account over the phone.  Still very friendly.

I no longer open bank accounts just to get free money.  Not even if you dangle sweet alumni-themed cards in front of me.

Make Your Own Ice Cubes

I mostly don’t know how much things cost at the grocery store.  Unless it’s organic milk or peanut butter, I just buy the cheapest version.  Either you need an item or you don’t.  However, the actual price of something caught my eye recently.

Ice is practically free!  It’s $.30/lb on Amazon Fresh, and I hear they deliver.  If my math is correct, that means you’ll just need to cut back on absolutely nothing to make room for ice in the budget.

Time for a significant life decision: I will no longer be making my own ice in the little plastic trays.

This is a break from the long tradition of Lotts making their own ice, which I was indoctrinated into at an early age.  I tried to convince my Dad that he also should stop making ice, but it was a stalemate.  Apparently only future generations will be saving time and freezer space by fully adopting modern refrigeration.

Speaking of refrigeration, my current apartment came with the latest in home ice creation technology.  I think these are reusable ice cubes (that don’t fit in the trays!?).  I would test them, but that would violate my new policy of spending zero time creating ice.

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