Why task analysis doesn’t do it for me

picture of buttons on printer

Like every self-respecting human-computer interaction (HCI) lecturer, I introduce task analysis or the technique of analysing how people perform a task or job, to my students a couple of weeks into a given course. Each time I am aware that I fail to get excited about task analysis and so give it a bad press. Continue reading “Why task analysis doesn’t do it for me”

Codebreaking: Humans are the weakest link

People are the weakest link in all computer systems. We hear about the best cryptography money can buy: integrity checking, sender/receiver identity authentication, digital signatures, and then someone leaves a list of passwords on a post-it note stuck above a computer and in an instant renders all the algorithms pointless. Or the same someone automatically gives out his password over the telephone or by email when ‘technical support’ asks so that they can reset it – another victim of phishing. Continue reading “Codebreaking: Humans are the weakest link”

Cognitive Science for IT Security

pic of padlocked software screen

Humans are involved in 80-90% of IT security system breaches. We have the technological capacity to keep our software systems secure with but we cannot control the way people use IT. As the complexity of IT systems increase, designers must view users as key factor in the design process. Continue reading “Cognitive Science for IT Security”

Who ordered pizza?

SIM ordering pizza at thinkport.org

In the above picture a newbie gamer has organised a telephone for his Sim so that it can order pizza. Unfortunately, in the series of pictures which follows, the delivery girl arrives too late and the Grim Reaper delivers the pizza which means that the Sim dies of starvation. Apparently, Sim starvation is common in The Sims 2. Continue reading “Who ordered pizza?”

Human-computer interaction: Can you see what it is yet?

check out the video of this interface on ted.com

The recent furore over the 2012 Olympics Logo reminds me of how people react to the user interfaces they find on everything they interact with, from websites to washing machines. If an interface, like a logo, is well-designed, no one notices or mentions it. If it is difficult or unsightly, people complain loudly and when given a choice, won’t use an interface they don’t like. Interaction designers, like IT support staff, are never thanked when all is well and severely criticised when interfaces cause users problems. Continue reading “Human-computer interaction: Can you see what it is yet?”