Counting Down to Seven: User Experience with Microsoft User Experience Gurus Bill Buxton and Albert “Windows Phone 7” Shum

Get Microsoft Silverlight
Don’t have Silverlight? Get it here or download the video in
MP4, WMA, WMV, WMV (High) or Zune format.

Welcome to another installment of Counting Down to Seven, a series of articles about mobile app development that I’m writing as we count down the days to MIX10, when we reveal more about the up-and-coming Windows Phone 7 Series.

"Counting Down to Seven" badgeWe’re a week away from the start of the MIX10 conference! I like to refer to this as Microsoft’s most “right-brained” gathering, as its target audience and topic isn’t just developers and writing software, but designers, design and user experience.

With designers and design in mind, it’s only fitting that I show you a video featuring Nic Fillingham interviewing a couple of Microsoft User Experience gurus who also hail from Canada:

  • Bill Buxton: He’s a Principal Researcher for Microsoft Research, and before that, he was Chief Scientist at Alias Wavefront and a professor at University of Toronto. And I’m pleased to report that he got his bachelor’s degree – in music – from my alma mater, Crazy Go Nuts University (which some of you may know as Queen’s University). He was the guy who thought of applying Fitts’ Law to human-computer interaction, did some pioneering work with multi-touch interfaces and invented the pie menu (which means that we owe weapon selection in Saints Row 2 and the full combat/spellcasting system in Dragon Age: Origins to him).
  • Albert Shum: He’s the Director of Mobile Experience Design for Windows Phone 7. Albert’s from Winnipeg, studied engineering and architecture at University of Waterloo and went on to do design work at Nike before joining Microsoft. You can watch a video showing him talking about the new Windows Phone 7 experience and the thinking behind it in a previous article of mine, Albert Shum on Windows Phone 7.

This article also appears in Canadian Developer Connection.


Microsoft’s “2019” Video

This article originally appeared in Canadian Developer Connection.

One of the things we saw at the behind-closed-doors, Microsoft-eyes-only TechReady 8 conference was the 2019” concept video shown to us by Business Division President Stephen Elop. Since then, the video’s gone public, with his showing it recently at the Wharton Business Technology Conference and its appearance on Long Zheng;s blog, I Started Something.

The video is a montage of “slices of life” in the year 2019, and shows a vision for how people could be using technology in their everyday life then. Don’t think of this video as an attempt to predict the future; they’re notorious for being hilariously wrong in retrospect. Instead, think of it as inspiration for future projects, a source of ideas for applications and user interfaces and a way to shake loose any assumptions or fixations you might have about how applications should work. As developers, I thought that you might find the video (it’s 5 minutes, 38 seconds in length) an interesting watch, and possibly even the spark that gets you started on your next project.

For those of you who are the type to analyze still frames from your favourite movies, you can see some close-ups of the future user interfaces featured in the video in the PowerPoint deck that Stephen Elop used when he showed this video.


Build Status Interfaces

Having a continuous integration system is nice, but what’s even nicer is if that system has a really clear way of telling you whether the build is working. weren’t happy with build status messages on the command line and went the extra mile to set up these illuminated bears:\'s red, yellow and green \"build bears\"’s Adrian Woodhead writes:

These 3 bears sit in a prominent position and watch our developer’s every move. When things are good we have a green bear gently glowing and purring, when changes are being processed a yellow bear joins the party, and if the build gets broken the growling evil red bear makes an appearance. The developer who broke things usually goes a similar shade of red while frantically trying to fix whatever was broken while the others chortle in the background.

I’ve been meaning to get back into a little hardware hacking (something I haven’t done since I was a teen) and learn how to build computer-driven gizmos like’s bears. In the meantime, I’ll have to satisfy myself by page-slapping the development team at b5 with these images created by Big Swinging Developer

You Broke the Build!

\"You broke the build!\" graphic

“Builds on My Machine…”

\"Builds on my machine\" graphic

Where’s the Build?

\"Where\'s the build?\" graphic