The second video – which I helped to put into the public space – is also from the vision’n’concept department: Starfire by Sun Microsystems 1994.

At CHI ’98 I’ve attended a presentation by Frank Ludolph on Apple Lisa. Frank had also booth duty at the conference where he spread a couple of VHS tapes of Starfire. What marvelous concepts! Multitouch, voice UI, wall-size displays, tablets with motion and orientation sensors, telepresence for video conferences, among many more…
Years later – in 2005 – I asked Tog for a digital copy. Of course he had one – but no permission for sharing. By chance I was working for Sun at the time and got approval from Sun’s VP Juan Carlos Soto to release the video. So please enjoy_

Starfire Director’s Cut, Sun 1994

More References

Sun Founders Panel 2006

I was a little concerned when I realized that a video has vanished from a Computer History Museum‘s page at the time when Sun’s website was reorganized during the transition to Oracle. It was an intriguing panel with Sun founders and pioneers Andy Bechtolsheim, Bill Joy, Vinod Khosla, Scott McNealy, and John Gage. Ironically I remember the quote

“Get them on tape before they die.”

And if you have them on tape, keep the video up regardless of any changing situations; you are a museum! But here is the good news (thanks Oliver): The webcast is still available on YouTube. Enjoy!

Some quotes at A Tribute to Sun Miscrosystems: A Night to Remember

sun systemnews Jan 4, 2011:

Redundancy is sometimes the salvation of technology. Certainly in the case involving the supposed holdings of the Computer History Museum, without redundancy and YouTube, the Sun Microsystems Founders Panel (Bill Joy, Andy Bechtolsheim, Vinod Khosla, Scott McNealy and moderator John Gage) would have vanished forever since the video disappeared mysteriously from the museum’s web site during the confusion around the reorganization reflecting Oracle’s acquisition of Sun. Now, in all their glory, the founding four, courtesy of YouTube, share their personal stories of the early days at Sun.

sweet microblogging

When Peter approached me a few weeks ago to work on the UI design for the next release of Sweet, I had just started on twitter in order to understand what all the fuzz is about. Well, I cannot say I get it, but at least I got some interesting links that I had missed otherwise.

Now Sweet is our internal microblogging service, based on open source You can try out laconica at or take a look at the before state_

sweet user interface /before

It is not possible to significantly change a project in mid air – but this is exactly what I did by tweaking the CSS and a few images to create a pleasant and inviting design for Sweet. Note the logo (done with, the color scheme, the layout, the text counter, the tabs, the font changes, and the tag cloud in the after image. BTW_ the bird in the tree indicates that a tweet is also visible to the public on twitter.

sweet user interface /after

Paying attention to the ‘design details’ can even improve the usability of such a project. A professional design increases the perceived quality and therewith the user experience. Since the relaunch we have more users and we even figured out that there was another installation of laconica running inside Sun — they are now planing the migration to Sweet.

All this took me less than a week. I learned a lot about dirty CSS hacks, and got in touch with 2 nice colleagues at Sun whom I never met in person. Peter was a kind of project lead, and Olof the engineer behind the curtain. And guess what, our main communication tool was… Sweet!

it is the user's itch that needs to be scratched

The Summer 2007 issue of interfaces contains an article on our User Experience Project. If you are not a member of the British HCI group, you can read “User Experience for” on my website.
The first rule of open source development is also the reason for an inherent usability problem: "Every good work of software starts by scratching a developer’s personal itch."The result is a self-referential system – developers develop for themselves rather than for the average user or the target audience. Usability engineering is considered as superfluous extra. However, to provide a good user experience, it is the user’s itch that needs to be scratched.This article presents user experience activities in the context of The author – co-lead of the User Experience Project – will discuss the status of building an open source community of usability professionals to improve the usefulness and usability of the application.(read more…)