Category: Software

Slideshow Predation on YouTube

February 9th, 2009 — 3:22pm

If you’ve been to youtube lately (or… ever), you have probably noticed evidence of the over-population of Windows Movie Maker users, eager to show off their madskills at generating white text on a blue background with their favorite to 90’s track pumping. Advanced users will also add real, full-color photographs with transitions such as wipe and crossfades.

For people who are playing with video editing software for the first time, this is great. They can throw something together and upload it to YouTube in a few minutes, and gain some sense of accomplishment without having to do anything overly technical.

For people who are on YouTube looking for an actual video (which I assume is all or most users), this is just awful. I’ll go out on a limb and assume that most people searching for something on YouTube are not overly critical, they will tolerate mediocre-quality video and amateurish production – that is the whole appeal, but it is fair to assume that these people are, at the very least, looking for video. Not slideshows.

And you can’t blame the MovieMakers. Making slideshows is easy, and fun. But what I cannot fathom is how YouTube has fostered the growth of this truly unwelcome phenomena on their service. If I am searching for an eagle attacking a wolf, I would expect, at the very least, to see an eagle attacking a wolf, not a handfull of photographs someone found of the same, with a cheezy hip-hop midi in the background.

Considering all of the energy Google has devoted to identifying copyright-protected content in YouTube, you would think they could use some of that same mojo for at least identifying what content is actually a video. How many “videos” for example, are there out there, that are just a still image with a full-length copyright song? Come on!

The technology required to identify slideshows and still images is pretty basic. This could be implemented where the user uploads a video. They could tick off a radio button that identifies the content as “full motion video” or “slideshow”. Viewers could also flag content as a slideshow when the creator does not. And furthermore, the video itself could be analyzed, either when it is uploaded, or on a random / periodic basis, to determine if there is motion from one frame to the next. Really, there is no excuse for them to leave all these slideshows “in the soup” of a site intended for video.

All it takes is a little “Mark as slideshow” link, like this:


Comments Off on Slideshow Predation on YouTube | Interface Design, Rants, Service, Software, Video

Just a sec. No wait. Just a minute. No wait. I’ll be right back. Probably.

February 7th, 2009 — 6:01pm

All you mac users know what I am talking about. The fucking beachball. Along with preemptive multitasking (thank god), one of the advancements OSX brought us over OS9, was the upgrade from the bitmapped wristwatch icon to the 24-bit glossy beachball of doom.

The OSX beachball could represent one of the greatest failures in the history of Apple, who single-handedly put the “personal” into “personal computer, and set the benchmark for user-friendliness. For starters, new users are given no explanation about the meaning of the beachball, either implicitly or explicitly. The pre-OSX wristwatch at least gave us a sense that we need to wait a moment. Instead, uninitiated users have to guess what it means, or search google.

Searching apple’s own website does not give any explanation for the beachball, probably because they don’t call it the beachball. Buried deep inside their Human Interface Guidelines documentation is the following:

The spinning wait cursor (see Figure 12-1) is displayed automatically by the window server when an application cannot handle all of the events it receives. If an application does not respond for about 2 to 4 seconds, the spinning wait cursor appears. You should try to avoid situations in your application in which the spinning wait cursor will be displayed. The Spin Control application provided with Xcode can help you eliminate code that is causing this cursor.

Figure 12-1  Spinning wait cursor     

Spinning wait cursor

Well, thanks Apple, for clearing that up. Now when I see that beautiful spinning tie-die beachball thingy, I will know that the application cannot handle all the events it receives.

I will credit Apple for at least advising developers to find ways to avoid this cursor from appearing, but it still does, a lot. Especially for a power-user who has lots of apps going at once. But would it kill them to look for an alternate representation of an application being unresponsive? Here is a simple suggestion – maybe they can mull this over at apple for the next decade or two, while they are putting the final polishes on 10.7:

The whole application window(s) would “grey out” with a large white clock icon in the centre (similar style to the volume indicator), with a message that says “Application is busy” followed by a timer indicating how many minuter/seconds have elapsed. When the timer reaches a specified threshold, say 5 minutes, a message will appear that says “This application has become unresponsive, click force-quit to force this application to quit, or relaunch to relaunch the application”. The timer would continue until the user makes a selection… Like this:


Until then, those of us who need a way to vent our frustrations with this beachball can visit and indicate how long they have been waiting for the beachball to stop. The time feeds into a group timer indicating the total time all visitors have spent watching the beachball.

Comments Off on Just a sec. No wait. Just a minute. No wait. I’ll be right back. Probably. | Interface Design, Rants, Software

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