MyXray a friendly radiography viewer for the iPad

.myxray_icon_blogA new app for those interested to have fun exploring radiographies. Now you can get what doctors get too.
MyXray is an easy and intuitive app that will let you see your x-ray files as a real doctor. You will be able to get all the details and the extra information that is embedded in x-rays files.

When you take an x-ray the image is saved in a format called DICOM. When you take an x-ray ask your doctor or the radiologist to provide your DICOM file. You can then use MyXray to see that DICOM file. Remember it’s not a normal image. You can’t see it with a common image viewer. DICOM is what doctors and processionals use, and now you can use it too!

What’s the difference with a normal image? Well with a DICOM file you can:

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DICOM IR a DICOM viewer for the iPad

I’m really excited to announce that my new app DICOM IR is now available on the App Store. DICOM is a standard for handling, storing, printing, and transmitting information in medical imaging. The main target for this app are doctors interested to have a DICOM viewer at hand to see a patient radiography. This is not just an image viewer. DICOM IR can access images locally from emails, Dropbox or web links and also it can connect to a PACS server which acts as a DICOM repository.

DICOM is a standard that provides information like patient name, patient ID, age, modality and much more. DICOM IR can also be used by patients which have access to their DICOM files.

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What is hidden in positive statements

I just finished reading The Emotion Machine: Commonsense Thinking, Artificial Intelligence, and the Future of the Human Mind by Marvin Minsky It was a really interesting book which I really recommend. I would like to highlight this part from the first chapter “Falling in Love”

On the surface such statements seem positive; they’re all composed of superlatives. But note that there’s something strange about this: most of those phrases of positive praise use syllables like ‘un–’, ‘–less’, and ‘in-‘un-’, ‘-less’, and ‘in-’—which show that they really are negative statements describing the person who’s saying them!

Wonderful. Indescribable,
—— (I can’t figure out what attracts me to her.)
I scarcely can think of anything else.
—— (Most of my mind has stopped working.)
Unbelievably Perfect. Incredible.
—— (No sensible person believes such things.)
She has a Flawless Character.
——(I’ve abandoned my critical faculties.)
There is nothing I would not do for her.
—— (I’ve forsaken most of my usual goals.)

Positive statements might hide what we really are thinking about. Did you heard in a wedding someone saying “He’s a very lucky man for marring her”? What that person probably meant was something like: “He’s lucky because I can’t understand how a woman like her could marry a man like him” or “He’s lucky because she could find a better man”

Reading about iOS7 Design Resources in the iOS Human Interface Guidelines I found a similar approach comparing iOS 7 and iOS 6. Look at the screenshot:

ios7ios6

This looks wrong. One thing is to talk about the improvements of iOS 7 and the changes they made, and another thing is to trash your previous product. They are not doing it explicitly, but they are doing it indirectly.

  • Deference. The UI helps users understand and interact with the content, but never competes with it. (The previous design competed with the content and wasn’t clear)
  • Clarity. Text is legible at every size, icons are precise and lucid, adornments are subtle and appropriate, and a sharpened focus on functionality motivates the design. (Icons weren’t precise and adornments were not appropriate)
  • Depth. Visual layers and realistic motion impart vitality and heighten users’ delight and understanding. (Previous design lacked vitality and was hard to understand)

These three positive statements would be just fine if they were announcing iOS 7 as a new product for the first time. In that case the listener wouldn’t have a previous model to compare with and would use the hidden negative statements on the competition. But comparing in this way your current product with the previous one is just trashing your previous work. That damages the credibility of what Apple continually claims about their products, depicting them as the best in the market. How could they say they have the best Mobile OS if they are trashing it when the next version comes out.

I think that the right thing to do should be to avoid direct comparisons between your own products and only point out the evolution, the improvement, the new features instead of sending subliminal messages to costumers saying “today we sell you gold and tomorrow we will call it shit”.

The challenge of user interfaces simplification

iOS 7 is here. I’ve been using it since the first beta. As far as user interfaces are effective, I don’t care too much about aesthetic, also because it’s totally subjective. What is ugly for you is beautiful for someone else. In a previous post I shared a couple of screenshots showing the difference between icons in Xcode 3.2, 4.6 and 5.0. You can see a progressive simplification of the interface. First flatting colors then flatting depth. The challenge with this design is to avoid reaching the point of maximum simplification. Let’s look at the icons in detail:

simplify

Symbols don’t have any meaning by themselves, we give meaning to symbols and icons which simply are symbols, ideograms, pictograms. If we keep the design around the first icon on the left, it’s possible to change its look without changing its meaning. It’s not a practical need, but an aesthetic one, and I understand that’s more a marketing choice than a practical one. Even if nothing really changed inside the application, a new look gives you the idea that you have a new and fresh product.

The problem with the icon on the right is that simplification reached the limit. It’s so simple, so minimalist, that a change of its design means also changing the symbol and therefore removing the meaning. Symbols are powerful and that’s why many people over the years in history tried to steal symbols and change their original meaning, like the the Nazis did with the swastika. We should avoid changing symbols too often, because that removes semantic consistency in the interface and creates confusion.

Another example:

simplify02

The icon in 5.0 is a simplification of the correspondent in 3.2. The icon in 4.6 is a change in the previous symbol, creating confusion and inconsistency. Then they changed it back again to the original one. The new one has very little room to evolve or change without changing the symbol. It’s the extreme simplification of the original one.

I think that iOS 7 and the OSX interface and design are great. They are simple, effective, intuitive and fun but over simplifying hides the potential risk of reaching a point where simplification cannot be accomplished anymore and the only possible choice is changing the symbol, therefore breaking consistency.

I’m curios to see if, at this point, they will be able to update the design in the future without breaking the symbolic consistency.

OSX flat design doesn’t mean cryptic.

Xcode 4.6.x had already some sort of flat design. They removed the colors and everything was flat and grey but at least it had some sort of depth. Look at these screenshots:

Xcode 4.6.x

xcodeorg01

xcodeorg02

Now look at the new Xcode 5.0 flat design. I don’t see an improvement. It looks like an old fashioned GUI of the 90’s. It’s even hard to understand what the icons mean. It’s so abstract that someday we’ll need an ideogram dictionary to understand what those icons mean.

Xcode 5.x

xcodenew01

xcodenew02

Now look at a very old version of Xcode 3.2.x and tell me which one do you prefer. Honestly I don’t see an evolution in the look and design from colorful and self explanatory icons to cryptic flat ones. Flat design is not bad and it doesn’t even matter if it’s flat or not. The point here is that an user interface should be self explanatory, an icon should be worth a thousand words.

Xcode 3.2.x

xcodeold01

xcodeold02