Friday, October 17, 2008

I am not a Web Designer

I always feel out of my element when I have to design a webpage. Sure, I can use an HTML editor just as good as the next person, but designing site usability and flow is another matter. Recently I came across an inexpensive product called Mockups, which as its name suggests is a mockup program for designing websites. The product is ridiculously simple to use, and it produces conceptual mockups of pages:

I like the whiteboard look because it keeps you from stressing about the details (fonts, colors, icons, etc.) and helps you concentrate on the big picture. You can try it out online. It runs on Adobe AIR, and you can use the desktop version offline. The main feature I wish it had is the ability to make the links in a mockup jump to other mockups. This would be very helpful in making a dynamic mockup of site flow. Still, it's a nice tool.

Tags: website mockups, balsamiq

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

FIRST Robotics

A colleague of mine pointed me to this very positive review of Wind River Workbench, our Eclipse-based environment for device software development. This customer was thrilled to use a product that "just works" after it's installed. He's also a big fan of Eclipse. The most humorous part of the review:

The good people at Wind River allow you to download a trial version of Workbench, after you fill out a form about a mile long and agree to give them your first born child.

(Actually Roger, we don't require that you give us your first born. However, we do ask that you rename your child. You may pick from our convenient list of executive names.)

FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) is an awesome not-for-profit organization created by Dean Kamen, inventor of the Segway, the "Luke" Prosthetic Robotic Arm, and several other cool things. Their mission is:

to inspire young people to be science and technology leaders, by engaging them in exciting mentor-based programs that build science, engineering and technology skills, that inspire innovation, and that foster well-rounded life capabilities including self-confidence, communication, and leadership.

The FIRST Robotics Competition is one of the programs run by FIRST, and Wind River supplies students Workbench and VxWorks. In grad school, I dabbled in robotics while working on my thesis, and I love reading their mailing lists--sensors, actuators, algorithms, oh my! I'm also thrilled to see groups like FIRST spurring interest in Science and Engineering in the US.

Tags: FIRST, workbench, vxworks, robotics, luke, segway, robotics