Intelius UI Design

I just received a post from one of the Intelius web developers. He said he was open to suggestions or input from others, and asked me if I had any UI suggestions for their site. I was excited to here that he was open to suggestions. I hope I can recommend an obvious UI flaw (well, obvious to me), and see if it will get changed.

Some time ago, I posted a review on Intelius and commented on how their purchasing page could confuse someone (like it did my wife). I believe others have made the same mistake and recommend to Intelius to make the change on their site. They never did. Now I have hope that it will be updated.

Here is a screen shot that shows the current UI with the purchasing discrepancy.

Intelius Original

Intelius Original UI

Here is my recommended fix to clear up the confusion
(or some other change would be fine).

Intelius Suggested UI

Intelius Suggested UI

REASON: It does not make since to have radio buttons that “do nothing”, especially if the buttons get changed once you click on the “Buy it” link. If the code relies on the buttons, and it will be a pain to remove, then just set the radio buttons visibility to false or hidden.

I appreciate Michael contacting me and for having an open mind. You can do what you want, this is just my suggestion, but I feel it may keep a few support calls from happening. I hope I have been able to help you guys out. Thanks for contacting me. If you have further questions, please let me know.

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Free Adult Content Filter Using OpenDNS

I have been looking for a solution to Adult Content Filtering for some-time now. A co-worker lead me on to the OpenDNS website, and I noticed that it had the Adult Content blocking feature I was wanting. See here are the steps that I took to get Adult Content Filtering on my home network:

Hardware: Dell XPS M140 Laptop and another Dell Desktop

Operation Systems: Windows XP Professional, Ubuntu 7.10

Internet Browsers: Internet Explorer 7, Firefox 2.0

Internet Service Provider: Charter Communications

Steps to use OpenDNS (I choose the wireless router path)

  1. http://www.opendns.com/start
  2. I used a D-Link DI-524 router at home and followed the DI-624 instructions (these are the same instructions)
  3. I then used the following OpenDNS IP addresses: 208.67.222.222 (primary) and 208.67.220.220 (optional)
  4. You should now be set to use OpenDNS (check here) –> http://welcome.opendns.com

If you have made it this far, then you are almost setup for your adult content filtering. To get this working do the remaining steps;

  1. Create an OpenDNS account.
  2. Add your network IP address (top right corner of webpage)
  3. Set the Adult Content to block

Here is a list of the categories you can block:

Block lingerie/bikini sites
Sites displaying or dedicated to lingerie/bikini that could be considered adult-only.

Block nudity sites
Sites that provide images or representations of nudity.

Block pornography sites
Anything relating to pornography, including mild depiction, soft pornography or hard-core pornography.

Block sexuality sites
Sites that provide information, images or implications of bondage, sadism, masochism, fetish, beating, body piercing or self-mutilation.

Block tasteless sites
Sites that contain information on such subjects as mutilation, torture, horror, or the grotesque.

Block adult-themed sites
Sites that are adult in nature and are not defined in other rating categories. Note: This category should only be turned on if you want to be very restrictive on your network.

Block proxy/anonymizer sites
Sites providing proxy bypass information or services. Also, sites that allow the user to surf the net anonymously, including sites that allow the user to send anonymous emails.

There is even a feature that allows you to make exceptions for unblocking specified websites. All you need to do is add the website URL to your dashboard Whitelist. The best part of all this is that it will help keep you more secure from phishing and keep a good portion of the sleazy parts of the internet from our children and yourself. All changes to the OpenDNS dashboard can be applied to all content going through the network. You can even use the same account to monitor multiple network IP’s at a time. I like that this is not software based, and can be accessed through the internet. OpenDNS also gives the administrator the ability to pull reports on what blocked websites are being requested and from what IP address. It also lists the time and day that the activity happened so you can track down who is attempting to access the site.

This service is exactly what I have been looking for. I think this is a great FREE TOOL and I highly recommend it. Thanks OpenDNS for a great service!

Use OpenDNS


Facebook: First Review

So what’s all the hype about this Facebook social networking site? It’s worth over a billion dollars, and the the numbers keep going up. I attempted to try Facebook now twice. The first time I tried, I was not allowed to sign-up. I was not a student or alumni with a current university email account. Later on, Facebook decided to open up there social network to everybody. You need to join a network if you are going to be anybody. I tried out the service near the beginning of 2007 and was not much impressed. I guess it is my lack of social interaction or lack of friends.

I realized that this service was one hundred times better than Orkut; the worst and slowest social networking site ever. I gave up on Facebook because I could not find friends on it. I was not able to connect to my school and just did not want to waste my time with people I don’t know or have not meet. So I deleted my account to find myself once again trying the service again tonight. So here is what I liked and disliked:

I found that creating an account was very easy. Joining networks like Dothan, AL or Newbury Park, CA was easy as well. Attempting to join a college (I attended) without a current college email address still returns nil (which disappoints me throughly). Facebook makes it super easy to find friends from your email accounts. It supported my GMAIL, Yahoo! and Hotmail accounts; and found all the people from my contact list that use Facebook and allowed me to add them to my new Facebook Friend List. Once you invite someone to be your friend, you need to wait for the person to confirm that you are their friend. This makes sure that the friendship is mutual. I had two people confirm that I was a friend within 20 minutes or so (that means that I must be popular – thanks Cary and Rebecca).

I found people from high school that I might want to contact and that’s about it. I seems as though there is not much market for this kind of thing for the married man that I am. Who knows I may just delete my account for a second time. If I stick with it, then I will let you in on the cool things I learn about or the neat things you can do with Facebook.

Below are some stats on Facebook vs. MySpace. My opinion is that the owners of MySpace should have sold long ago when it was worth something. MySpace seems to be trash to me, but don’t take my word for it (look at the spaces for yourself), I have never used it, and I never will. I bet others feel the same way as me.

Facebook vs MySpace

GigaOM Posting

If you are friend of mine that is on Facebook, then let me know and I’ll try to add you to my friend list (that is if I like you). If you use Orkut I recommend you delete your account.

Oh, here are some fun Sale Rumors that were circulating (source: wikipedia)

Sale rumors

In 2006, with the sale of social networking site MySpace to NewsCorp, rumors surfaced about the possible sale of Facebook to a larger media company. Zuckerberg, the owner of Facebook, has said that he does not want to sell the company and denies rumors to the contrary. He has already rejected outright offers in the range of $975 million, and it is not clear who might be willing to pay a higher premium for the site. Steve Rosenbush, a technology business analyst, suspects Viacom.

In September 2006, serious talks between Facebook and Yahoo! took place for the acquisition of the social network, with prices reaching as high as $1 billion. In October, after Google purchased video-sharing site YouTube, rumors circulated that Google had offered $2.3 billion to outbid Yahoo!

Peter Theil, a board member of Facebook, indicated that Facebook’s internal valuation is around $8 billion based on their projected revenues of $1 billion by 2015, comparable to that of Viacom’s MTV brand and based on shared target demographic audience.

Adobe Digital Editions: Does It Deserve a 1.0 Status?

Tonight I tried out a new product called Adobe Digital Editions. I had some thoughts on what I liked and disliked, so here is my review.

I think the project concept is neat, but I think that Adobe could do some things different to make the product better. First off the installation is easy. You can download a version from:

http://www.adobe.com/products/digitaleditions/#download.

I think that Adobe could do a better job with this application. First off, the application should give the user an option to search for all .pdf files in common areas on your computer (for example: My Documents) and add them to the library automatically. They could also provide a Tools > Options… for adding folders for the application to scan for updated .pdf files. This could be done in the background. A desktop icon was added and it was easy to drag and drop my .pdf files onto the program.

Adobe Digital Editions Icon

I like the UI a lot. Looks like they programmed this in Visual Studio .Net 3.0 utilizing WPF (Windows Presentation Foundation), but then again I do not have .Net 3.0 on my home computer, so I guess they did not take that route. This application makes me feel like my XP machine is running a Vista program. The dark theme is nice, but I think some of the colors chosen for the font on the left (the maroon red) makes the selected bookshelf text a little hard to read. I personally don’t like to read books on my computer, and it seems as though this application is intended for this. I also don’t purchase .pdf’s or borrow any .pdf files. Borrow and Purchase are Categories that are already created for you, and they cant be deleted. I also don’t know how to store documents into those bookshelves. It would also be nice if there were a feature to “view all uncategorized” documents. This would make it easier to find the documents that still need to be organized.

On a side note I also like the idea of labels from GMAIL. I wish that others like Adobe would incorporate this concept. Allowing users the ability to tag or label documents (not limiting them to one folder or one category or on bookshelf) makes organizing documents and books much nicer. You could then have a label that could be Microsoft Books or WROX Books, and a programming language like C# or C++ and then label a document with two labels or tags like WROX Books and C++.

I search for just about everything. I use search to find email, documents of certain types, research, etc. But there isn’t any global search feature to search all documents within your library. This feature does not exist in this release. I think it should be added.

I also encountered a software bug when trying to move a lot of files from the “All Items” List View to the new Bookshelf. When trying to view the new Bookshelf, the List View then gets screwed up and you can not view your documents. Here is an example screenshot of the “List View” error. Notice that item one’s text is screwed up. It looks like it is trying to put all the documents on one line. I have over 10 documents listed here and only two items show up. Take a look!

Adobe Digital Editions

Conclusion:

Does It Deserve a 1.0 Status? No. I think Adobe should have put some more development time into this product before releasing it to the public as a 1.0 release. I feel this release should have been a RC1 status. I don’t feel the 1.0 build has been QA’d well enough. Gosh, it reminds me of Safari on Windows. Try Again! Sorry Adobe, but I expected more from you. We will have to see what the next version looks like. I hope it is more robust.

Finding Friends Online – Intelius Review

I have found many friends of mine through the internet. Friends from school, mission or places I have lived. A lot of websites (in the end result) will bring you to a company called Intelius. So when I tried to find a friend from college I decided to use Intelius for giving me the information on the individual.

My wife then went through the motions one evening and attempted to order the most expensive report for the cheapest price. I know this does not make since, but that is what happened, and it should not allow you to do that. Below is a screen shot of what she did. Please click on the picture below to see the whole image.

 

Intelius People Finder

Well as I looked at the steps that were taken to buy the report, I noticed that Intelius has radio (circle) buttons on the left side (of the table). This column does not need to exist!!! There are no constraints on the users ability to select a cheaper “BUY IT” button with the radio button selected. With the radio buttons on the left, the “BUY IT” buttons on the right should be disabled (if they cannot be clicked on). I would think that a company like this would know that.

So I decided to call the company (phone number: 425-974-6100) I then asked for a refund which I was politely denied. I was then told that I would receive a credit in my account that I could use within the next 30 days. I was told that I should talk to Keith Jones and inform him of the problem with the UI (user interface). He has still not returned my call which I was told he would do yesterday.

As far as the report went, I was not happy. That basic report had just as much info in it as did free places online. If you are trying to look for a friend, here are some helpful hint:

  • try to find them on ZabaSearch first
  • check your college alumni website
  • try a website that they may have registered on (like a mission website)

Let me know if you need help, I can offer more suggestions.

UPDATE:

I found out that Keith Jones was out of the office for a few days (sick) and returned my call promptly the following week. He took down my complaint and suggestions for revising the website. He told me that he would pass this information on. I highly doubt that this is a high priority bug, so I do not know how long it will take to fix.

I just checked the website and noticed that if you click a radio button, then select the “Buy It” button, it changes the radio button to the selection you made when you click the “BUY IT” button. This happens without user input. This is not a fix at all. I don’t remember this happening before, so maybe they think this is a fix. In my eyes this is not a bug fix at all.

Joost Update

Ok, so I downloaded the latest version of Joost (0.10.3) and tried it out. To my surprise, it was a whole lot better. The installation was easier, and even informed the user that as long as Joost is up it will be using your computer as a p2p file sharing application. The main Joost menu is not bogging my system down like it did before. Also my volume control buttons on the laptop now work. That was a nice fix for me. The program line up is a whole lot better also.

While looking at some of the programs, I came across “Aqua Teen Hunger Force”. This is a program that some guys at work have been all about. This show does not portray my type of humor but I know it does for others. Here is what it looks like on Joost.

Awua Teen Hunger Force

It seems as though Joost is playing video’s On Demand (previously recorded) and not live streaming. If I am wrong, then it is not very intuitive to me. Getting to know the menu for Joost takes getting used to. I think they are headed in the right direction though. Anything that is FREE is almost always worth taking a look at, at least I feel Joost is worth it.

Honda Odyssey EX-L GPS Navigation Review

So yesterday we took a trip to Atlanta and we got to try out our new vans Navigation capabilities. So here is the low down from our trip. First off, the mapping ability is impressive. I do dislike one feature, and that is the annoyance of the GPS not mapping out unverified roads easily. There are ways of attempting to trick the system, and that is by causing a detour.

If I were to enhance the NAV system, I would provide a feature for the unit to accept a “Learning Mode”, so that when you travel on a road that is unverified, you can allow the unit to change it to verified. In the south, we run into numerous unverified roads in the county, and it is annoying to have the GPS unit tell you to make a U-Turn every 100 feet.

A nice feature the NAV has is the ability to search for restaurants in select large cities via Zagat 2006. There is not much of a problem when you are in a city that is listed in the Zagat system, but when you are in a smaller city you can run into quite a dilemma.

When my wife took a trip to Panama City, Florida she was very aggravated when trying to find a McDonald’s. When she did a search on the NAV system for the restaurant two results popped up in different states across the country. So I received a call from work so that I could give an address of the closest McDonald’s, then she could put the address in the NAV and have the route mapped.

If you have a cell phone with text messaging capabilities, here is a tip for all those wanting to find any local place in an unfamiliar city. Ok, grab your phone and start a text message. Send the message to 466453 (Google) and enter your search criteria. For McDonald’s in Panama City I would type: “mcdonalds, panama city, fl” and then send the message. You will receive results that have phone numbers and addresses, so now you can call and make reservations for a restaurant or use the address to enter into the NAV system. This system works great for finding anything you need. To get a list of other search results like finding movie times or local listings, then take a look here: this is Google’s list of text messaging (SMS) searches that are available.

All in all I love the navigation system, it changes the time automatically when changing time zones, and mapped out our route perfectly. Minor quirks were found, and we loved the directions when changing roads. Changing freeways is easy, and saves me time and money (paper ind ink) from having to print directions from the computer.

Also I am glad my wife encouraged us to get the NAV system … she was right “I would have regretted it!”