Kevin Cheng  

Get Your Own Cameo!

June 4th, 2004 by Kevin Cheng :: see related comic

Want your likeness to appear on an OK/Cancel comic strip? We got it. I’m pleased to announce our OK/Cameo program! We know you have a lot of stories out there and we want to hear them. Any ideas that we use for a comic strip (whether we use the idea directly or some derivative of it) means you’ll also get a cameo in a future comic! Easy enough. Submit as many ideas as you like.

As a further bonus, we’re going to put all the submissions (whether they are used or not) into a draw for FREE OK/CANCEL T-SHIRTS! Of course, we don’t actually HAVE any T-shirts yet, which makes it even better because you get a say in what they will look like (see Tom’s post). So if you have ideas for a strip, !

9 Responses to “Get Your Own Cameo!”
Bob Salmon wrote:

Please could you do one about the film Independence Day? How on earth Jeff Goldblum manages to do all these correctly, I’ve no idea:

1. work out the physical interface to the alien machine (plugs, frequencies etc.)
2. work out the low level encoding over the channel (and so on up the communications stack of abstraction)
3. suss out the security system and bypass that
4. determine some flaw in the system (see below)
5. know how to exploit the flaw (his leet hacker skillz in Perl were obviously more transferrable than he thought)

But then I didn’t go to MIT.

Maybe he worked out that the alien spaceship was actually using Lotus Notes 53.8 but he realised that if he just said “This thing will crash itself given time” he wouldn’t look the hero, so he invented the bogus virus as just a way of looking smart. (Virus = vapourware.) You would have thought he’d have come up with a better bit of vapourware though, one that didn’t require being flown into the Heart of Darkness in outer space by Will Smith in an alien spaceship.

There’s possibly a rich seam to be mined here (computers in Sci-Fi): Deep Thought / Earth from Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy, HAL, C3PO/R2D2, the Death Star. (What would the UI be for the Death Star’s mega-ray: Are you sure you want to delete Alebaraan? Yes / No / Cancel?)

Bob Salmon wrote:

Another thread of suggestions (not Sci-Fi) so another post.

What happens when you wash a jacket that’s actually a wearable computer? Does it reboot? (Is that the way you reboot it?) If you wash it too hot, does it shrink from a Pentium 3 down to a 48k ZX Spectrum? Does the compute power run from your jacket into the socks being washed at the same time, so you have faded power in the jacket (Pentium 2) and a little extra power in the socks (Spectrum)?

Nanocomputing is going to be very powerful, but how on Earth do you type on a keyboard that small?

Quantum computing - have I got mail? Yes and no. No cats were harmed in the making of this computer. The measurement problem makes this interesting too: each decision means that the universe splits so that there’s a universe per possible measurement. Just try fitting all those usability testers into a room.

Kevin Cheng wrote:

I think you’re onto two of our bread and butter questions we try to ask every week when deciding on a comic:

From these, we often generate our detailed scripts. I’m sharing these questions with everyone in case it helps drive some new ideaas. Of course, we’re not constrained by those in any way, either.

Meri wrote:

Pet bugbear of mine is those “real world metaphors” that just don’t really work, or are slightly off and so don’t make sense. And itty bitty icons that are impossible to understand. I’ve taken to explaining the icons on Netmeeting in all sorts of interesting ways now, because no-one sees the same things!!

I can’t turn that irritation into comedy, but I’m sure you guys can if it gets to you too :-)

Tam wrote:

I have 2 major interface pet peeves:

1) Drag and drop syndrome - Sometimes, I feel like some companies sell software with a “carpal tunnel feature” - Do you want to give your employees lots of time off of work? Buy our product! Most functionality is ONLY available via the mouse! Just Drag and Drop data anywhere in the application.

2) Right click menu only functionality - It’s scary when users must right click on anything and everything in the canvas to see if there is functionality they missed. It’s like playing “hide and go seek” with the software. Why put the functionality in the toolbar or a proper menu system? It’s so much more fun to search for it? And, even more fun to watch participants search for it in a UT!

But who listens to us? Usability is just “lipstick on a pig…” or at least that’s what I’ve been told. ;-)

Bob Salmon wrote:

“Lipstick on a pig” reminds me of the (mangled) motto of the Sirius Cybernetics Corporation from Hitchhikers’ Guide to the Galaxy. The unmangled version is “share and enjoy”. On the Corporation’s home planet (i.e. a planet that is just their offices, underground) the motto was built in mile high letters.

Unfortunately the subterranean offices weren’t strong enough to hold up the weight of the letters and they crashed downwards, killing off many unlucky executives. What was left above the planet’s surface of the letters spelt something in the local language, which now features at the end of the Corporation’s song, which goes something like this:


You can complain to us, we won’t care a fig.
We’ll just say “Go stick your head in a pig.”

So, tangentially linked to Tam’s point (uncaring company giving poor UI). This is obviously brought to you by Bob’s evil twin.

Andrei Sedelnikov wrote:

What would the UI be for the Death Star’s mega-ray: Are you sure you want to delete Alebaraan? Yes / No / Cancel?

That one is really great! How about a topic on Accessibility for the Luke, trying to use fingertip-recognizing entrance mechanism? :)

Kevin Cheng wrote:

Just wanted everyone to know that some great ideas have been coming through both here in the comments and in e-mail. Keep ‘em coming! We already have one drawn that is based directly off a feedback so cameos will follow suit. This is going to be fun.

Craig M. Rosenblum wrote:

How about a star wars, luke vs darth, only instead of luke vs darth, it is e vs user in commerce.

Indicating that the battle of over who controls the experiences of internet retail.

It could go something like this:

e: I am using the power of segmentation, I know exactly what the user wants, I shall deliver it!

user: What the heck is segmentation? I just want my router table! I must summon the force of user empowerment.

e: No, not the force of user empowerment, I shall now summon the dark force of personalization, I recognize you as a repeat purchaser, and shall create dynamic content on the fly, that shall deliver what I think you want.

user: What the heck is that offer of a clamp? I am looking for a router table, what category is that under? How can I find what I am looking for? Ah hah, I invoke the light force of SEARCHING!!!

e: No, you must ignore those user impulses, only the e truly controls the experience on buying products/services. You want a router table, well I’ll give you a router table that is on sale!

user: I don’t want that router table, where is the one I want with the attachment I need. I must stay focused and remember why I even came to this site.

And it goes on like that.


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OK/Cancel is a comic strip collaboration co-written and co-illustrated by Kevin Cheng and Tom Chi. Our subject matter focuses on interfaces, good and bad and the people behind the industry of building interfaces - usability specialists, interaction designers, human-computer interaction (HCI) experts, industrial designers, etc. (Who Links Here) ?