Objects in Mirror

Objects in Mirror: November 27, 2007 Archive

Headlines from MPR's Law & Justice coverage

Posted at 7:55 AM on November 27, 2007 by Julia Schrenkler

Part of MPR's Issues collection:

*Two more suspects charged in burned body case near Mankato This brings the count up to five people charged in the death of Alberto Samilpa Jr. who was found shot in the head, stabbed in the neck and burned.

*Minneapolis council settles police officer's lawsuit MPR's Brandt Williams reports on the $4.5 million settlement.

*Officer, another man shot in downtown Minneapolis According to the article officers at the scene did not return the gunfire.

Interested in tracking stories that cover Minnesota's law & order? Subscribe to MPR's RSS feed of Law & Justice features, it is quieter than a police scanner and easy to use. (Learn more about MPR's RSS feeds.)

Your turn to pick the Top 89 albums of 2007

Posted at 9:17 AM on November 27, 2007 by Julia Schrenkler

Web Producer Michael Wells launched The Current's Top 89 of 2007 yesterday, and I'm stealing some time to really get into it this morning. Thanks to the Musicheads I even remember some trivia about the new releases...

Anyway, if you didn't participate last year the Top 89 is your chance to vote on your favorite albums from this year's CDs. It works like this:

1) The Current lists the albums they played on the air during 2007.
2) You register or login to pick your faves, which count as votes...
3) We take a deep breath and do the math!

Then The Current kicks off 2008 with the best of 2007 as chosen by you. Seriously, they'll play each of the Top 89 listener picks starting at 10 a.m. on New Year's Day. It easily beats multiple and annoying spins of Auld Lang Syne.

But wait, there's more! Everyone who votes (and is eligible according to the official rules) is entered into a drawing for a 16 gig iPod Touch + 89 iTunes downloads.

There's still more! You can compare your faves to the staff picks.

All eyes on you at the U of M Usability Lab

Posted at 3:58 PM on November 27, 2007 by Julia Schrenkler

Thanks to Michael Skoler, the Executive Director of the Center for Innovation in Journalism @ American Public Media, several of us at MPR were able to visit the U of Minnesota's Usability Lab today. We went to observe test sessions of our own Preserving the American Dream Idea Generator, which means we were probably more wired than the usability volunteers.

If you haven't seen the lab, my shorthand professional description is it's completely tricked out. Their testing station employs a Tobii eye tracker and is well-monitored by various - and not painfully obvious - cameras. As observers we were on the comfortable side of a one-way mirror, able to watch the site tester as well as see monitors which displayed the user's screen, the user, and an overhead cam focused on the keyboard/mouse.

The volunteers were given some tasks, some open time to free-navigate, and plenty of encouragement to "think out loud" & describe what they were seeing. I observed two volunteer sessions, and particularly enjoyed these aspects:

*Watching eye tracking in real time is dizzying. A blue dot with what amounts to a tracer represents where the volunteer's eyes are on the screen. According to Nora Paul, the Director of the Institute for New Media Studies, the system has several options in finding hot spots or can be set so dots actually get bigger the longer the user fixates on a spot. Excellent.
*I found it interesting to see how often the tester's cursor actually trailed the eye movements...and when it didn't. Next time you're navigating a new page, check out your own subconscious eye-hand coordination.
*Thinking out loud is still unacceptable on the bus but is terribly useful in usability testing.

The entire experience was satisfying, as I not only came away with notes (not to mention action items) but it refreshed my interest in the larger topic of usability.

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