Tuesday, January 24, 2012

High Contrast Google Analytics is Easier to Read

I am not a big fan of the design direction Google has been taking lately.... great products (mostly) but supposedly for the sake of consistency they are ugilifing, and more importantly, making less usable various applications of theirs.

The primary manifestations of their misguided UI direction can be seen in:
  • Terrible contrast (especially the use of small or thin gray fonts on off-white or light gray backgrounds) 
  • Lots of empty / wasted space (vertical space is at a premium on laptops and tablets, yet they are opting for more scrolling and pushing everything down the screen for no better reason than to make the search bar stand out more)
 Google Analytics v5 will soon be the standard interface for all GA users.  A lot of the functionality is very welcomed (new user flows, better custom reporting), some is a waste of time / fad (real time reporting is the antithesis of web analytics for most purposes), and some is a step backwards (readability, more use of sampling, "fast access mode").

I have made a new userscript that addresses the problems with contrast I have found in GAv5.  Please give it a try.

Download the Better Contrast Google Analytics Script directly from userscripts.org

Better Contrast GA Script Homepage

Here is an example comparison showing GA without the script and after applying the script
I was blind but now I can see...

Download the Better Contrast Google Analytics Script directly from userscripts.org

Important Note: Google is updating its UI and CSS fairly regularly (seems about every 1 to 2 weeks they upload a change) and there is the chance that the class names or CSS may change.  I will try to keep the replacement CSS loaded by the userscript fairly up to date, but there may be times when it is out of sync.  If you find something that breaks the  CSS at some point, please post a comment to let me know.  Thanks!

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Bringcast Podcatcher for Mango V3 feature requests

I just received my Nokia Lumia 800 from Nokia yesterday thanks to their developer program launchpad. I now have the SDK installed and hope to start tackling my first WP7.5 app soon.

In the meantime, I had to get the phone setup with the microSIM (cutting my old SIM down to size did not work I think because my previous SIM was way way too old and had a different chip pattern). Also, I started loading the phone with apps. WP7 may not have as many apps as iOS or Android, but the list so far is much more impressive then I have seen for Symbian, especially considering how short of a time they have been in the market with this platform. Mango is less then 6 months old and WP7 only launched publicly in Oct 2010.

One of the most glaring faults with the OS is the lack of a podcatcher and the need to sync with Zune on a PC. I download podcasts every day and I do not want to have to turn on my PC to get new podcasts. Nor do I ever listen to podcasts on the PC.

The good news is that I found BringCast for WP7. They apparently released a Mango optimized version in December (v2) and I decided to give it a try. Well, after 30 seconds I went ahead and bought it. From what I have seen and read so far it is the best podcatcher for WP7.

I saw that the developers are considering v3 new features so I wanted to give them a list it consider for v3 (and if not v3.5 or v4):
  • Automatic updates to check for new podcasts in the subscribed feeds that is configurable (every 2 hours, 4 hours, 6 hours, 12 hours, 24 hours, only manually, etc...)
  • Automatic download of new episodes with configurable general defaults (none, N, all) and also per feed settings (for example, I want all Slate podcasts, but only the newest episode from WTF?, 2 newest from Fresh Air, and none automatically downloaded from the Economist)
  • Perhaps automatic deletion of old podcasts (x days after 100% completed). I do not like how from the playlist you can delete it but you cannot delete the actual media. You need to go 1 by 1 in BringCast to delete the media
  • Live Tile integration:
    • # of new episodes
    • Now playing
    • Status (updating, downloading, etc...)
  • If possible, full podcast integration with Zune player on the device, not just via playlists. For example, from Zune, I cannot delete the downloaded podcast episode, I can only remove it from the playlist.  To delete it I need to go back into BringCast to delete media.
While not feature requests, I also found two things that seem like possible bugs:
  • While trying to do background downloading of podcasts, I received an error saying that the OS policy does not allow non-WiFi downloading of podcasts.  However, in my settings I have the checkbox set to allow 3g downloads.
  • I tried importing an opml file from a public dropbox url and the app just did a refresh of the screen but did not import anything.
So I hope clarkezonesoftware.com will take my requests into consideration.

For any WP7 owner who needs a podcatcher app, check out BringCast.