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Back from UPA (usability) conference; UPA 2007 in Austin

Last week I attended the Usability Professionals’ Association (UPA) conference in Colorado; I would have blogged then, but half the laptop keyboard went flakey (wrong characters)! So, I'll blog soon on the critical sessions I attended (AJAX usability, wiki-based use cases / func specs, remote usability on the cheap).

The conference -- which focuses far more on practice than theory -- was hugely attended (over 200 more than they expected: 600+) representing 18 countries, with rapid chapter growth in China and India. Good news! The 2007 Conference is here in Austin, June 11-15.

ATLAS control test harness

One of my major frustrations with web development has been the lack of good testing tools for the user interface. Back at Dell I worked on one tool which we developed using the .net httpRequest objects and some scripts to check the html and step through some pages, but writing tests was entirely too tedious and broke often. Plus it didn't handle client side well.

My next approach was to wrap the DOM in an XPathNavigator. This made the process less error prone since you could do things like //a[text='next'] or //div[@id='contnet'] however the COM overhead made the searches too slow and you ended up adding hints into the document layout to speed up the searches. The advantage with this approach was that you could find and test just about anything on the DOM including javascript events, etc.

Process Manager in New 10.6 Virtual Machine

Over the last 4 weeks, I've been using the new 10.6 Virtual Machine for all my major demos, and I've been very, very pleased with the performance and the full functionality I can now adapt for every single demo. Kudos to Fernando Carreon and everyone else who helped configure the latest VM, I know it was a major challenge and all I can say is Wow!

For example, you've gotta check out all the new types of opportunities available in the 10.6 VM. Sarah Hoddinott has added some incredible new ways to do business. Some examples:

VBA Signing Certificate Available and another way I can help you

Do you use controls or write code to run in Office files? The Law Department does both with the License Agreement to screen that the form is properly filled in. The TradeMark Buttons on the Word/PowerPoint/Excel toolbars that fix up iMIS and other trademarks also use macros. However, when you open a document with macros or controls, you get a warning message that a virus may be hidden within. However, an author (like ASI) can be added to a trusted publisher list and once the publisher is trusted, the warning never appears. So, if you need a macro or control signed for a document, just send it to the Law Department and I will sign it for ASI.
More help:

Innovations Edition of Business Week: 19 June 2006 Edition

Wow. Man. Oh. Man. If you are at all interested in seeing where business is going, if you are a total non-believer and think innovation means cutesy chairs and justly died with the dot com 90s, or if you need some inspiration and hope, this weeks BW is a must read. The pull-out section mid-magazine talks about innovation and is designed to be innovative--right down to a different look and feel to give a totally different user experience for the reader. What's the bottom line? Collaboration, fusion of ideas and disciplines, and the need to aggregate seemingly disparate facts, notions, ideas, and observations in order to create new wholes. I personally feel like I have hit the Golden Age for people like myself who don't fit into one container. This issue is a perfect supplement to Daniel Pink's "A Whole New Mind" book which, if you know me, you know that I absolutely adore. Wes Monroe's brother--Bro Monroe--if you will, is a perfect example of the combination of thought-skill that is providing innovative solutions to problems. The only thing I get down on myself about is all of these people have favorite blogs and websites and I honestly barely ever use the stuff--I know you don't believe it, but it is totally true. I really need to find more time per day to peruse. Can you tell me how much time you spend reading blogs, etc online?

BI Article

Web 2.0 Easy Ramp Up Resources

A lot of people have been talking about Web 2.0 lately in the virtual halls of ASI it seems. Happened to see this on BW Online--nice collection of info about the topic if you aren't familiar with it and want to be.

Article:
Web 2.0 Has Corporate America Spinning

Programming style

I've been using Framework Design Guidelines for a couple of months now, and reading Brad Abrams blog for longer. It's a great book BTW. Not only does it go beyond the usual naming convention standards, it let's you know what to expect from the .net framework and how to write code that works well with it.

One of the suggestions and also one of my pet peeves has to do with returning collections. You should always return a collection even if it is empty and never return null. Null doesn't add any information to the caller and just forces them to write extra code which has no real meaning other then handling an edge case.

Useful IQA queries

As part of our IQA training, we would like to offer the students some useful queries they can take back to the office. Please submit any ideas you may have. Provide a brief description and the criteria, such as joins and parameters. Thanks.

Bob's 2006 iNNOVATIONS Conference Message

Welcome to the 2006 Innovations Conference!

Believe it or not 2006 is the 15th anniversary for ASI and iMIS!  Yes that little membership screen that I first saw in the spring of 1990 on Don and Eddie’s garage deck has carried us all the way to 2006! And you know I think it is going to be like the Everready battery! It will keep on going and going and going!

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