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The design of Nokia's 3650


Russ was just wondering if Nokia's design decisions for their 3650 mobile phone were inspired or nuts, in particular regarding the round keypad.

I think that Nokia got it right, and not by accident. I am sure that they've done a lot of user testing, but they don't have to. Circular user interfaces have long been considered superior to "linear" UIs (e.g., menus). Why? Several reasons, but for starters, look at your hand.

Our hands are better suited for rotation rather than linear precision movements. Receivers, amplifiers, and so on, have dials for selecting volume, and one reason for that is that we have higher degree of "fine control" over rotational motion with our hands over linear motion.

Because of the nature of rotational movement, it's also better suited for learning/remembering than linear or arbitrary positioned interfaces. Why? Consider that with a circular/rotational interface, the "center of gravity" of the interface, the location to which movements are relative, remains fixed (as far as the user is concerned): it's the center of your hand. On a linear interface, meanwhile, the center varies depending on the current position of the device or the function selected in the user interface. This makes it much easier to activate functions by direct motion rather than having to look at what the interface is doing.

One disadvantage that circular interfaces have is extensibility: since the space you have is limited you can't create menus with a bazillion options (like some software companies like to do). On the plus side, this means that the designers really have to think about how to create the UI, rather than piling up stuff on already-overcrowded menus.

Circular menus should become more common as we understand better how to use them, even in the context of PC user interfaces. One great example is Pie Menus for Mozilla.

Another comment on the nokia design: the teardrop shape seems to me more comfortable for holding: again better adapted to our hands.

Categories: technology
Posted by diego on March 27, 2003 at 5:04 PM

look and feel, part 3

On the previous entry about my search for a different Swing L&F Mark posted a reference to JGoodies Looks. Nice! Another one to consider.

In another comment Roberto was wondering what are my thoughts on SWT (I've made some comments/references before on the state of Swing here and here). I have several reasons, not the least of which is that the idea of using an SDK that is more recent (and therefore more buggy) sounds a bit risky, but the main one is this: objects allocated in SWT have to be released "by hand". To me, this is unnacceptable. I don't want to go back into the having to find memory leaks. If they fix that, I might reconsider :-).

Categories: clevercactus,
Posted by diego on March 27, 2003 at 4:56 PM

to be or not to be

Whether 'tis nobler in the mind to suffer The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune, Or to take arms against a sea of troubles, And, by opposing, end them?

Hamlet, Act 3, Scene 1

Okay, so maybe Shakespeare didn't quite intend it for what I mean.

Poetic license aside: I'm thinking of starting a company based on spaces and its related technologies. I have been talking to someone here who has experience with other companies, we've discussed possible names, how it would be done and so on.


Well, for one, to let spaces prosper and grow faster, and make it a more visible contender in what is becoming a highly competitive field.

To make sure that a free version can be supported by a structure that companies can be comfortable with, and would be willing to pay for.

To be able to get some sleep.

And so on. :-)

Regardless of my decision, I'd like to get other opinions.

Comments? Ideas? Questions? I'd like to hear what you think. Leave a comment on this post, or


Categories: clevercactus
Posted by diego on March 27, 2003 at 2:05 PM

bowden on iraq

An article by Mark Bowden on the strategy apparently being used by Iraq and its consequences for an invasion of Baghdad. Bowden wrote Black Hawk Down (which before being a movie, or the book on which the movie was based, was a Philadelphia Inquirer series, online here) and Killing Pablo.

Categories: geopolitics
Posted by diego on March 27, 2003 at 9:41 AM

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