27 Feb, 2011
Posted by: Jure Cuhalev In: usability
In my free time, I’m an Apple geek. This means that new OS X users come to me and ask me about essential apps for their shiny new Mac. After explaining to them that there is Microsoft Office for Mac and that they should chat using Adium, I try to sell them on idea of App launcher. Currently my tool of choice is Alfred App. I love it because it has a great personality, design and it works great (in that order).
It’s a helper app so you often don’t think about it, it’s just a quick Ctrl+Space away. After todays update, I’ve clicked around the preferences and discovered this gem:
They keep track of usage for me. Data geek in me is thrilled about this and I now also have a new argument for newbie OS X features – it’s that great that I run it on average 36.8 times a day!
Does your app give me such a great chart to share?
If you’ve somehow missed it, we’re doing a MobileCamp targeted towards people who are involved with android (dev’s, marketers, etc.) – on 5th of March in Ljubljana. Do join us.
Guys at Packt Publishing were kind enough to send me a copy of their OmniGraffle 5 Diagramming Essentials book by Ruben Olsen to review, as I’ve written about OmniGraffle a couple of times and use it regularly.
While the book claims that it’s intended audience is everyone from novice to a pro. I’ve found it more suitable for novices that prefer to learn through user manual instead of exploring the real application and Googling for more complex solutions. The book covers all the parts of OmniGraffle, from creating basic diagrams, stencils, shapes and advanced editing tools. While I was familiar with most of the content in the book, the in-depth instructions with great screenshots still presented a few new tricks inside the application that I didn’t know that I miss – until now. Since OmniGraffle is available both in basic and Pro editions, they make sure to clearly mark if a feature is specific to Pro version.
If you have experience you’ll get through first two-thirds of 349 pages pretty quickly. The last third has best content, where author explains how to create great looking diagrams and organize your work as your files grow bigger. This is the point where I found a few aha moments as I didn’t even think to lookup advanced ruler and shape settings. There’s even a chapter on all the keyboard shortcuts that you can use, which while might sound geeky is something I’m definitely planning to learn in-depth to save time.
I’m not a big fan of books that basically cover all functions of user interface. That is why I appreciate example projects through which author shows how exactly are they useful for rapid prototyping of iPhone user interface or for creating boring workflow diagrams. I use OmniGraffle mostly for wire-framing, so creating a complex workflow diagram was something I always had problems with. The book explained all the possibilities and shortcuts nicely and even learned that it can create ideal distribution of objects on canvas for you.
If you care about your OmniGraffle skills check out their example chapter – Making your Diagram look good, which is one the best chapters in the book and very much suitable for pro users as well.
Overall, the book delivers on the promise – a bit for everyone and you can pick it up as a complete novice or if you’re a pro. I would recommend it to people who feel that they need to have a manual next to their application. If you’re a pro you’ll probably Google advanced topics as you need them as you already know most of the book.
Official page for OmniGraffle 5 Diagramming Essentials book.
I would also like to encourage Packt Publishing to figure out how to deliver their content to Kindle. I’ve read a few technical books on a Kindle while commuting and it was a real pain to get iPad just so I could read their digital PDF. Why not go with paper version? I’ve discovered that I can read Kindle version of a book in a week, that it took me a month for a paper version.
DjangoCampLjubljana was more of a micro-barcamp compared to 100+ attendees that we did before. It was also the first camp where more people showed up then signed up for tickets. So from initial 12 we ended up with about 16 participants. This turned out to be about the best size for such a group, so that everyone could hear everyone without having to use the microphone and we could have open discussion that mixed with presentations.
As for communication channel, we used EtherPad server and it worked great. There’s chat windows as well as collective note-taking editor that we used extensively. I can fully recommend setting-up dedicated EtherPad documents for each session track.
What did I personally learn from the conference?
- Gunicorn is great for serving Django and I should learn it
- Jinja2 is a great template engine, but is not compatible with Django’s
- Django Forms are a big and complex topics that could do with better documentation.
- If I ever need to build ajax projects – Dajax can help me
- Django-history and Django-reversion can help with time based revisions of models.
- AppEngine doesn’t solve any of my problems, but introduces many new ones.
Probably most important: Django community in Slovenia is growing and that everyone should join Django-slo mailing list to further participate.
Where in Ljubljana it’s most likely that your car will be towed away? In short: city centre, beginning of Vi? and around Metelkova.
Click for interactive version
or alternative visualization
Click for interactive version
Source of this data is page from Javni Holding Ljubljana that publishes your car info and the street it was towed away from. Gašper created Scraper wiki for it and is collecting data for last 3 months (aggregated source, if you want to reuse it).
Heatmap as a visualization technique was chosen because the data itself is very fuzzy (only street names are given, without the street number). It also tells you which neighborhoods to avoid.
If you want to help us bring more of such mashups into the world, please consider adding other sources of data into si.ckan.net. These pictures are end results of one such example where data was not hidden behind a telephone or a piece of paper (in a locked filing cabinet in a disused lavatory behind a door that says “Beware of the tiger”).
Thanks goes to RTV Slovenia for hosting OpenData Hackday.