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product experience strategy and design

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February 20, 2005

Ajax

When Google introduced Gmail last year, I started formulating some ideas about how the approach they took could be generalized and combined with some other emerging technological trends -- a new way of creating Web applications that could deliver a higher level of responsiveness while still building on all the knowledge we've accumulated about traditional Web technologies.

After using this approach on some client work, I became even more convinced that this represented a major turning point for Web apps, and Google's subsequent projects (like Google Suggest and Google Maps) only confirmed my opinion.

Ajax is the name I came up with as a shorthand way to refer to this new class of applications. And in case you can't tell from what Lane and Peter and Jeff have written, all of us at Adaptive Path are pretty excited about the new possibilities Ajax opens up for Web interaction design.

Obviously, there's a lot more to be written about Ajax, and this essay just lays the groundwork for what's to come.

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The forthcoming film adaptations of C.S. Lewis's Narnia books pose a delicate problem for the studio: how much to say, and to whom, about the fact that these stories are allegorical treatments of Christian theology.

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February 18, 2005

If you can't make it to SXSW Music this year, Dan's worked up (with a little clever automation) the next best thing.

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FlySketch is a new product from the makers of VoodooPad that promises functionality similar to Pixar's internal Sketch Review tool for Mac users. Now all I need is a Cintiq...

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February 03, 2005

Palomar: Palomar III: Revenge of Palomar

I don't know why this shiny pop gem hasn't gotten more attention. Palomar III lacks the off-kilter angularity of their last record (you guessed it, that would be Palomar II; I can only hope their next one will be titled with a series of unpronounceable runes) but makes up for it in, well, almost every imaginable way: the hooks are hookier, the girl-group harmonies more harmonious, the songwriting tighter and more focused, and the production polished to a high and glossy sheen. At just over half an hour, it's probably exactly as long as this sort of record should be, but the ending always catches me by surprise -- "What, it's over already?!?"

Palomar
sample tracks

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The question of who gets your data after you're gone has taken on a particular urgency for families of soldiers killed in Iraq, for whom the last memories of their loved ones may be locked up in emails and blog posts controlled by hosting services.

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February 02, 2005

Panic, the Mac developer behind such fine applications as Audion, Transmit, and Unison, now offers a variety of T-shirt designs through the slickest shopping cart interface you've ever seen.

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Amazon Prime is a new subscription service that gives members cheaper (or free) shipping.

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The Fiery Furnaces: Blueberry Boat

I can't imagine there are many people who have mixed opinions on this one. Really, it pretty much comes down to where you stand on whether rock songs ought to be able to have movements -- not only does this record contain no fewer than five tracks in the eight-to-ten-minute range, but even the shorter tracks might contain two or three more or less complete songs within them. If that sounds like an awful idea to you, you will surely hate this record. The shifts from movement to movement are downright whiplash-inducing, from piano and noisy electric guitar one second to burbling synths and acoustic strumming (or, occasionally, some essentially tuneless hodgepodge) the next.

Despite all the craft and creativity evident in the endless dabbling in different styles, I can't quite escape the nagging feeling that this post-ironic prog-rock opera is all a put-on -- an elaborate prank at the expense of the listener. Bands like Ween and Mr. Bungle have tried similarly kitschy experimentation (although this sounds nothing like those bands), but they let the audience in on the joke; I get the sense that the Fiery Furnaces are laughing at me, not with me.

The Fiery Furnaces Fan Site
"Quay Cur" (11.9 MB MP3; 10:25, but it takes a few minutes to get going)

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