Connecting to WHS via Remote Desktop

by on May 25, 2007
in design

DISCLAIMER …this article is for the less technical readers out there who may not already know how to use remote desktop within their home network. This article assumes that you’re running one of the Beta/CTP builds and have a Windows Home Server connected to your home network. (Odds are that if you’ve managed to get that far you already know how to use remote desktop… ) but nonetheless here’s a quick refresher for the record.

Windows Home Server allows remote desktop connections from the computers on your home network that support remote desktop (XPpro, Vista Ultimate, etc…), which is a very, very cool thing. I’m running Windows XP pro and so that’s what I’ll be using in my example. There are two ways to get to remote desktop.

1. Click on: Start->All Programs->Accessories->Communications->Remote Desktop Connection

remote desktop connection dialog

1.1 Type the your server name (this would be the name you gave your server during setup) and click connect.

1.2 The remote desktop session will open to the home server with an log on prompt.

remote desktop login dialog.png

1.3 Enter Administrator for the username and the Windows Home Server password and click OK.


2. Go to: Start run and type, mstsc /v:servername

My servername is kynanwhs so I type: mstsc /v:kynanwhs

run prompt.png

2.2 The remote desktop session will open to the home server with an log on prompt.

rdc login dialog.png

2.3 Enter Administrator for the username and the Windows Home Server password and click OK.

Your now connected to the desktop of your server, now the real fun begins 🙂

Windows Home Server Console Prototypes 5 and 6 of 11

by on May 22, 2007
in design

Here we finally settled on a toolbar and listview interaction model. While this interaction model is very rigid, less scalable, and less flexible than other possibilities, it has consistently tested very well with many usability participants. This is what is employed within Windows Home Server today.

Windows Home Server Console Prototype 5
Prototype 5 (the first iteration to employ a listview)

Windows Home Server Console Prototype 6
Prototype 6 (a variant with a details / status pane)


by on May 12, 2007
in design

I’m thinking about tinkering with various web applications on my Windows Home Server.

In an ideal world this blog would be served up via my home server, but wordpress is a force to be reckoned with. Also not sure if a self host on WHS would hold up to the traffic (not a bad problem to have…)

This got me thinking about all of the folks out there beta testing WHS. Has anyone out there started tinkering with IIS? I recently stumbled across the Subtext Project. This seems like a great place to start. Are there any other .NET based open source blog platforms? Has anyone installed SQL, SharePoint, a custom CMS, etc?

Would love to hear from some folks about their experiences tinkering with IIS on WHS.

Rapid Interface Prototyping (RIP) an Introduction

by on May 4, 2007
in design

Some folks have been asking what process I employed while working on Windows Home Server. So I’ve been diligently working on a document to help others in the field with complex design problems and reaching for innovation.

Here is a quick introduction and an overview of the RIP process as employed while designing Windows Home Server.

I call it Rapid Interface Prototyping or RIP (yes another acronym to remember.) While I fully recognize that there are other similar methodologies in the development? world (Rapid Application Development-RAD, Extreme Programming-XP, etc…) I hadn’t ever come across anything specific to user experience design.

So while like most things in the world this isn’t an entirely new idea; the application of these ideas to design provides a very agile framework, which produces results, and most importantly the “right design.”

Rapid Interface Prototyping (RIP) is a framework enabling teams to:
– Iterate low-fidelity prototypes rapidly and effectively
– Embrace and manage change as the root of innovation

The RIP framework is separated into eight critical elements each with a specific goal. The name of each element intentionally starts with the letter “R”? to make things easy to remember.

Rapid Interface Prototyping Diagram
The elements of Rapid Interface Prototyping (RIP)

Understand and document all project constraints.

Ratify features against constraints. Cut features which don’t Ratify… early!

Rapid-interface-prototyping (RIP) in a virtual environment with low-fidelity results.

Incorporate strengths from each prototype and taper to a final prototype.

Either promote final prototype to plan-of-record (POR) or Reiterate again.

Back to Realize applying learning from last design pass.

Document “plan of record” (POR) relationships to effectively manage change.

Back to Realize or each subsequent feature until all features are POR complete.

Watch this space for the final document soon. It’s still a work in progress, but once I have everything finalized I’ll be sure to post it here for comment.

Windows Home Server Console Prototype 4 of 11

by on May 4, 2007
in design

More interaction iteration…

We played around with the toolbar, the property sheet, and commit model with this design.
We experimented with commit on type, rather than using the traditional (OK, Cancel, Apply) buttons of a property sheet.

Windows Home Server Console Prototype 4
Prototype 4

This design employs a minimalist approach of committing changes as a user types rather than requiring a button click. There is so much precedent in the Windows environment that this shift was considered highly radical and generally made folks uneasy (even though it’s very similar to Windows Desktop Search/Vista Search).

We were hoping to invest in a functional prototype and test this behavior against the current interaction/commit and see what users preferred, but we had bigger fish to fry, like closing on a final interaction model and designing the product. There was a lot of pressure at this point to start closing down on the interaction.

Perhaps lost UI innovation but not forgotten…

I “Heart” Designbum

by on May 2, 2007
in design

This is just simply great.
Issara Willenskomer is a designer that gives everything he designs away on his website as a free download… simply genius.
I absolutely love his philosophy regarding “ownership” and couldn’t agree more.

If only this ideology was more pervasive within the corporate world, then we’d see some serious innovation. You simply must visit if you have any interest in design it’s definitely worth the read and the download.

Also a shoutout here to Joe Hallock, another designer at Microsoft that links to Issara’s site.

Simplicity In UX

by on May 1, 2007
in design

Simple – easy to understand, use, is not elaborate or artificial

1. Simplicity in design is a reductive process (use your eraser before your pencil.)

2. Implement design tenets based upon your personas and value proposition.

3. Adhere to these tenets throughout the product lifecycle.

4. Remove everything possible (this will be controversial, expect to work outside your comfort zone)

(Things to remove text, iconography, features, unnecessary configuration, or settings, etc…)

5. Use rapid low-fidelity prototyping to find the plan of record.

6. Don’t confuse best-practices with simplicity.

7. “To truly create something, you must first destroy it.” – Picasso