25 November 2007

Want to work for Facebook?

Justin Rosenstein had this to say when he was leaving Google for Facebook (June 8th, 2007)

A couple of months ago, after three years as a Google product manager, I decided to leave for Facebook. I am writing this note to spread Good News to all the friends I haven't already overwhelmed with my enthusiasm: Facebook really is That company.

Which company? That one. That company that shows up once in a very long while -- the Google of yesterday, the Microsoft of long ago. That company where large numbers of stunningly-brilliant people congregate and feed off each other's genius. That company that's doing with 60 engineers what teams of 600 can't pull off. That company that's on the cusp of Changing The World, that's still small enough where each employee has a huge impact on the organization, where you think about working now and again, and where you know you'll kick yourself in three years if you don't jump on the bandwagon now, even after someone had told you that it was rolling toward the promised land. That company where everyone seems to be having the time of their life.

I'm serious. I have drunk from the kool-aid, and it is delicious. Facebook is hiring ambitiously across the organization. If you're an engineer, UI designer, product manager, statistician, bizdev god, general entrepreneurial badass, whatever, and you would even consider considering Facebook as your new place for hat-hanging, please send me a Facebook message. We can have lunch, or I can give you a tour, or we can go kick it with Mark Zuckerberg -- whatever it takes.

It wasn't very long back that Google was voted the best place to work for, and I wouldn't argue with that. Google has been coming up with innovative new ideas, products and things that us geeks will be able to appreciate. Their stock prices have been rising (valued at $750+ at last check), and according to this video, it's a "really" nice place! Putting all those things together, it's not really rocket science to see how amazing it would be work for the company.

Or would it?

Techcrunch reports that Google employees are switching over to Facebook at 'an alarming rate'. Gideon Yu and Benjamin Ling already switched, and Justin Rosenstein is the latest. It seems there is something that is pulling these people away from the 'dream job' they once had, working for Google. It really does seem that Facebook is the new Google, and Google; they're calling it the new Microsoft. I don't know how true that is, but it does seem really harsh. Facebook rather, seems to be the young and fresh entry, which seems to have high ambitions, great energy and the 'want' to do something. Those are qualities every engineer and developer wants in the team he works. Justin's e-mail shows that as fact too. What I wonder is, how much is hype and how much is true.

But by the by, I won't mind a job at Facebook or Google ;)

24 November 2007

The whole 'online office' thing

Sometime between yesterday and today, Sabeer Bhatia (creator of Hotmail) released Live Documents; a service exclusively for Microsoft Office, which allows you to do all the things you can with Google’s and Zoho’s applications, but now with Office. Personally, I feel like this is the tagging thing all over again!

We already have enough players in the ‘office on the web’ market, and very frankly, I don’t think the user count of the existing one’s is good enough for one more to popup. I know people prefer to stick to the desktop versions, simply because they’ve grown used to it, and most of the time they’re on the move and hence not connected. People who use office applications at a high frequency are mostly executives. I’ve yet to meet an executive who lives outside of Outlook, and by default, Microsoft Office. If you’re on a Mac, it has to be iWorkOr by the looks of it, Office 2008 for the Mac. In both cases, you’re offline because it’s faster and you have many more features than a web counterpart.

But most importantly, there is nothing new that these services have to offer, except for the technology they use, which only increases their speed and to a very small degree, what they can do. Google brought in AJAX, and Live Documents is bringing in Flex.

Same goes with Google Documents. I was happy when Writely was Writely. Ever since the change to Google Documents, it just looks and feels so bland. It’s useful for finishing English assignments because friends can get together and collaborate, but I honestly don’t see real world uses of these features. I haven’t even touched Zoho ...

It'd do us all good if we got more consumable services which have scope to grow. But as of now, I’m not even bothering applying for an invitation. Let’s see if I’m wrong on this ....

23 November 2007

GUI Elements I like, and one's I don't #

GUI (Graphical User Interface) is such an integral part of our computing lives, I really doubt we stop and analyze the separate elements that make it what it is –– easy and intuitive to use. It has evolved over years, suggestions and loads of empty coffee cups. It’s one problem designers try to solve always, but no matter what they do, there is a part of it which can always be improved. So here’s my little list of the things I like, and don’t like in user interfaces.

One's I like

  • Check/Radio box: The simplest element. I think it was a natural decider to use this for lists, which would let you select multiple options, or only oneNot many people know, but the difference between the two ‘is’ how they allow you to handle options marking.. I’d really like to see them make checking off more intuitive (shift+first+last to select all in between).

  • Tooltips: Help without asking for it. I feel very disoriented whenever I don’t know what a button does, and even moreso when the little help box doesn’t popup telling me what it does. This is partly the reason I love Office 2007, where every button on the Ribbon has a briefly detailed explanation of what it does.

  • Ribbon: This is one of the newest elements, present in Microsoft Office ‘07. It’s probably the perfect and complete alternative to the menu bar. Every option is categorized under one tab, and similar options are grouped into sections. Every button has explanatory tooltips, and they do a very nice glowy thing when you mouse over, highlighting the selected section as well as button. Looks like Microsoft got something right :P

  • Pie Menu: Last, but my most favourite. This one takes some getting used to, but once you do, it gets annoying when you don’t have it somewhere. The perfect example of this is mouse gestures in Firefox. All it takes it a click, and movement; but movement which is very intuitive (like left for back). I’d love to see this in operating systems, because it’ll be a huge navigation boost!

One's I don't!

  • Menu bar: I won’t complain about this too much. With the onset of ‘Ribbon’, we can now start to do without the menu bar. Although, this is a better option when conserving screen estate. A retractable Ribbon seems the way to go :)

  • Heads Up Display (HUD): This is more of a ‘focus on few things’ kinda thing. An HUD is supposed to be unobtrusive to the ‘bigger’ picture, but the moment all those extra stuff start popping up, you can’t not be distracted by them. That’s one of the reasons research is on to come up with a better way of relaying information to pilots through their visors.

  • Sidebar: This my most unliked element. Having something on the edge of your screen constantly is irritating. Dashboard is a ‘much’ better implementation, although it’d be nice if you could keep ‘some’ widgets always visible. Retractable drawers are also a type of Sidebar, but atleast they’re retractable :)

So, there you have it! These elements are a part of our OS, and now with the onset of Web 2.0, most of them are being adapted for use on the web to make things snappy and more OS like. I’d love to see an alternative to sidebars, especially on blogs. It’d just make things a little more interesting ;)

I haven’t touched on UI elements like modal dialogues, throbbers etc., but they are more of symbolic and rare use elements –– used to signify something or alert people of something. They’re important, no matter how irritating they might get. There’s a nice article from Alex Faaborg about his tussle with going modal or using normal dialogue boxes for Firefox, but it kinda answers the basic question (Would you Like to Redesign ...)

What elements do you like? And what do you don't?

21 November 2007

Another return!

I know my dear and beloved blog has been neglected for a ‘very’ long time, but that has mostly been because of college, and me being a little lazy :P I got caught up in a lot of different things at the same time, and I couldn’t do them all :P But now another semester is coming to an end, so I see some free times, and I plan to make the most of it.

There ‘are’ a lot of things that I’ve been wanting to share with all you guys, and going by my latest feed readership, most of you have hung around! Thanks a lot :) I hope to not disappoint ;)

So a quick update about my Blogger keep current date/time on post script; I’ve fixed it. I think Improbulus sent me a mail a long time back, but thanks to the reasons I’ve mentioned above, I wasn’t able to reply or respond. I got around fixing it this time, and it’s working wonderfully again :)

So, here’s to another return! :)