The ribbon and why others are applying it.

It is my firm belief as a user of many of Microsoft’s applications that one of the best ideas to ever to come out of the Microsoft stable is the absolutely brilliant ribbon interface. The reasons why I feel this way about the ribbon interface are really quite simple. The ribbon interface enables a new user to learn how to use an application quickly and easily and additionally allows the new user to be able to discover and utilise features of that particular application that otherwise they might not have easily discovered or come across because they were hidden or buried under a multitude of menu’s and list’s and therefore would be be harder to discover.

Ribbon in Word

Yet to hear some users talk (and the disgruntled tend to be users who have used that particular program for quite some time prior to the introduction of the ribbon interface)  to make your applications easier to use for everyone  especially the newbie seems to be paramount  to committing some sort of crime. They seem to prefer that all users have to do things the hard way and continue having to use a cluttered up user interface requiring the user to need to drill down into menu’s and lists ad infinitum in order to find all the programs features, or alternatively use  so called  ‘keyboard shortcuts’ (which incidentally I find are never short or time saving at all and usually require the user be able to remember them all and to press either two or three keyboard buttons at the same time in order to enable  a feature that could just as easily be acquired with one click from a well designed user interface.)

Ribbon in Paint

So if its so unpopular with ‘old hands’ then why are other sites and other program makers  intending to use the ribbon interface  for their applications and programs?  Its really very simple.  Instead of having new users put off from ever using your program or application just because your complicated interface gets in the way, then it makes sense to make your program easier to use for everyone by utilising the Ribbon and thereby simplifying your user Interface.  The ribbon interface simplifies the use of any program or application simply by  presenting the user with only those  features  that they need at that particular time, without cluttering up the screen with unnecessary choices and options that are not required at that point in time.

Prototype UI for open office We have already heard that the Open Office bods are considering applying the ribbon interface to their Office suite (where in my opinion it would then make using Open Office far easier to use for everyone and I myself have been put off in the past from even considering using Open Office because of its ‘unfriendly and confusing interface)  and now the latest news we hear is that Mozilla are also considering applying it to the next version of Firefox.

Ribbon type interface for Firefox

I have no doubt that every Firefox fan  will be up in arms about it which makes this ordinary user ask why?  Why are long term users of any browser, application or program so against making that program easier to use for everyone concerned? Are they so set in their ways that they hate any change at all to the user interface? Do they want it to remain  as complicated to learn as possible for any user who is unfortunate enough to be a newbie?  Or is it simply because the original idea came from Microsoft?


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Social Networking overload.

thumbnailCAH8WGQV Are you like me suffering from Social Networking overload? Lately I seem to be subscribing to more and  more social networking sites that profess to be the latest ‘must have’ to enable you to keep tabs on all of your online friends and contacts.  it’s got so bad that I now find myself subscribing to sites that  promise to amalgamate all of my social networking sites into one place and keep them all organized for me so that I can keep on top of it all!

windowslive icon I’ve completely lost track to be honest of just how many sites I am currently subscribed to and despite being retired and therefore able to spend a great deal of my available time online I just haven’t the time to contribute to them all.  Of course the answer is to stop joining any more but as soon as I tell myself not to join or sign up to any new sites I will often find that I’ll read someone’s tweet about a fantastic new site they have found  that is the next big thing or I’ll read someone’s blog about a new ‘social networking’ service that’s the latest must have and next thing you know I’ve signed up and joined another one! 

Twitter_logo For my blogs I am now busy trying to find gadgets and plug-ins that  let my readers know just exactly which sites I use so that they can find me, although its highly unlikely they will come across me on any of them as I just don’t have the time, and lets be honest here, if a retired Granny hasn’t the time to contribute to lot’s of social networking sites  then who has?  I really will have to refrain from joining any more. It rather reminds me of those Sky users who pay out a huge amount every month so that they can have hundreds and hundreds of channels and then spend most of their time just watching the same old four or five they could get for free.  Besides which I have badly been neglecting my blogs of late, usually because I am too busy tweeting or else I am reading all the updates from my vast collection of  social networking sites!

friend_feed_logo_allrightsreserved Let’s face it, we can only be in one place at a time when we are online, no one can  be everywhere at once,  and I have realised this recently  having become aware of  just how many new services are becoming available just to help us keep on top of all that Social Networking we are all doing. The other downside of having all of these different Social Networking sites occurred recently  when I needed to upload  some photographs so that my family and friends  could  see them.  Instead of just uploading  them once  to one particular site, I found  myself having to upload them to my Windows Live SkyDrive, my flickr account and my Facebook account which meant that because I had  quite a few photos to upload the computer was  busy for up to an hour or more. (Is there a photo uploading service that you can upload your pictures to once and then it distributes your pics to all of your photo sites for you, and if not why not?)

digg-logo_2 I know that I am not alone in experiencing ‘Social Networking overload.’ When the Windows Live teams introduced Web Activities to Windows Live, quite a few users on there turned most of the updates from their friends off after finding them to be ‘too noisy’. As a matter of fact, I was personally informed by someone in my Network on Windows Live that  my twitter updates  were  ‘too much’ and so I ended up disabling most of my updates on there so I didn’t annoy others in my Network.

We might all feel that we need to be constantly  broadcasting every move we make whilst we are online, every picture we take, every news article we read, every new ‘social networking’ must have we have stumbled upon, but do remember everyone,  it doesn’t necessarily mean that your online friends want to be constantly reminded of your online presence or what you are doing from one minute to the next,  and they just might go and turn you right off!


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The Race is on for Real-time!


RSS As an avid RSS user for all my news feeds, I have been absolutely thrilled this week to read that despite the fact that some were heralding its untimely death, instead good old RSS had a trick up its sleeve. It too can update almost instantly. The ramifications of this are immense. After all, RSS is available everywhere. Most sites use it, its used for news feeds such as the BBC etc, its used for blogs, its used for comments on blogs. So you can understand my joy on reading that Dave Winer had programmed RSSCloud which WordPress then enabled for all of their RSS feeds!  Here is the news as it appeared in Dave Winer’s post at
Home > Archive2009September7

Any WordPress blog can be cloud-enabled

Monday, September 07, 2009 by Dave Winer.

A picture named umbrella.gifThis is worth a special post. Permalink to this paragraph

WordPress did two things today. Permalink to this paragraph

1. They enabled rssCloud support on This means that any weblog hosted on their server can publish real-time. This is the announcement that got all the attention. Permalink to this paragraph

2. But equally important is that you can install the rssCloud plug-in on any WordPress blog that you host and it adds a cloud element to your feed and handles notifications for subscribers. That’s how we got to be cloud-enabled. It takes a couple of minutes and you’re ready to go. Permalink to this paragraph Permalink to this paragraph

At almost the same time, those ex FriendFeed developers, now busy beavering away at Facebook were ready to release their offering Tornado which isn’t based on RSS feeds, but something called Python. (I am not into programming, or protocols so all this is all gobblygook to this Granny.)  So it looks as if I was right in my fortune telling that the next big thing was real-time and that the race for real-time services is only just beginning! It’s such an exciting time. And don’t forget, as these two begin to evolve we also have Google Wave coming soon to a browser near you!


It’s all go isn’t it? For me, I can’t help admitting my soft spot for RSS, and I shall be rooting for it to be widely adopted by all sites and applications. After all, most already use it in its slow form.

There’s never been a more exciting time in my opinion, and this Granny is determined to keep up with it all!


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