Profile for Herbert Poul

Name Herbert Poul
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  • Application Development, Distribution and HCI for a Post-PC Era
    Board » Herbert Poul's Personal Blog
    How are ubiquitous mobile devices change development and distribution of HCI. Some rough thoughts about it in this nice little work entitled Application Development, Distribution and HCI for a Post-PC Era.
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  • Mobile UI Design is hard - TabSplit Participant Select
    Board » Herbert Poul's Personal Blog
    Sometimes it's really hard to decide on a UI for a mobile application. Even if you have a couple of possibilities which seem useful it's just hard to know what could work best.. I'm currently deciding on a UI for TabSplit.

    So imagine you want to add participants to a tab on TabSplit. What would be the best option? I have three examples:


    This is pretty simple - You take the usual contact list and add checkboxes. Once you are done selecting all participants you click 'Select'. I could also simply add a way to filter in that list or sort differently, etc. It would look something like this:

    What's wrong with this? Well.. it's not that easy to see which contacts are already selected, you have to scroll through the whole list - imagine if you have 50 contacts, there is no way to quickly see who is currently selected. This gets even worse when you apply filtering.. Those contacts which are selected but don't match your filter are simply not displayed and you obviously don't see them.. Which is probably a usability nightmare?

    Multi Auto Select

    This would work similar to the email application. You edit the participants directly in the Tab, but get a auto select which looks pretty much the same as the contact list.

    This actually works pretty well. You see who participates quite easily (although not really nice) and you can add new participants by simply typing a substring of their name and then clicking on it. But it's quite hard to remove contacts, and you always have to start typing before you see suggestions, which is not really smooth..

    Contact List with a top bar of selections

    The last thing i came up with was to modify the contact list that you would simply select a single contact which gets added to a "stack" on the top of the page so you can see who is selected.. this stack can scroll horizontally and might display the name of the "active" avatar.

    i think this is a nice solution, but i'm not sure if it's really easy to understand by all users.. and the avatars have to be quite big so users can recognize them which uses quite a bit of screen space.

    What do you think?

    I have actually no idea which one i like most.. currently i think the last one makes the most sense to me, and looks quite cool (although i think i'll have to make the horizontal list of avatars aligned left). The only problem is that i have to ensure that users add avatars, otherwise this screen wouldn't make sense at all.

    Do you have more ideas? which one do you like most? i appreciate any kind of feedback.
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  • Taking care of your "Social Debts" - with TabSplit
    Board » Herbert Poul's Personal Blog
    Im often sharing a restraunt bill, or split up bills from a holiday with friends. The only problem - I'm just too lazy and by the time i can motivate myself to enter the bills into any system they are unreadable because they spent months in my pockets.. So the simple solution? Take a picture on your Android phone, mark the participants and at any time later just "digitalize" them on your PC. (Or hope that any of your friends is bored and does the job ;-) )

    How that works? well.. head over to and take a look. It's still an early beta and i'm heavily developing the website as well as the android client, so expect a (much) better usability in the next few weeks. But it is already usable and i'm already using it for "real" debts, so the data will be preserved forever. You can follow the progress on the TabSplit Blog. I also welcome all kinds of feedback - either in the blog or directly via email/IM/etc.

    I'm still thinking about all the use cases - from sharing a restraunt bill to recording your own expenses or some sort of "group financing" where you can find participants for an expense before making it..
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  • Content Management System - Starting from Scratch
    Board » Herbert Poul's Personal Blog
    Imagine you have the opportunity to design a new CMS from scratch. I guess everyone in IT has already made his fair share of CMS’s - from simple blogs or wikis to generic systems. But sooner or later you wind up with a big and flexible CMS of your choice. As good as this is, it won’t solve all your problems and you will definitely find many areas where your own CMS by far outfeatures your nice big generic solution. So what would happen if you take all your experience with developing your own CMS to working with a bigger CMS and design a whole new system from scratch? What are the most important aspects you would definitively integrate into the core architecture of your CMS and which aspects are a mare afterthought? Here are a few things i could think of which might be important for a CMS - let’s say - pick three of your most important things :)

    • Workflows
    • Multilingual and Internationalization
    • Data consistency - no way for dead links, no way for invalid css styles, classes, etc.
    • True Content Management (vs. Web Content Management) - the content should just be content, no editable markup. Editors should work on pure content and should have no say in how the final page should look like (although they could obviously be given a possibility to *see* how it will look like while editing) - Another aspect might be pure semantics. An editor has to edit ‘Articles’ or ‘Surfcamps’, but not ‘Pages’. Articles are simply content which might be rendered as a Page (or rss feed, or sitemap, or PDF)
    • Performance - imagine you could render an uncached page within a few milliseconds. true frontend rendering without the need to prefill a cache after modifications were done. (this would simplify personalization, etc.)
    • Flexibility - give as much power as possible to the implementor - use a nice scripting language to interfere with all and every part of storing the data, finding the required data to rendering the data.
    • Real Versioning (always have consistent data - imagine you could browse your website how it was half a year ago by simply changing the timestamp value of your renderer)
    • Hardcore Versioning for Development - imagine you can have several developers and editors work on a new version of your website while others maintain the current one and afterwards merge content and implementation back into the main branch - just like version control for source code works. - or even better - imagine the same thing with distributed version control. an editor could download a snapshot, work offline on an airplane and afterwards push all changes back.
    • Full Developer API to use all data in custom web apps (more like an application framework). - Comments and (Frontend)Tagging should be part of the CMS, just like Content of the page itself.
    • Personalization - to render a page you have to authenticate a user, make sure he has the necessary permissions and render it depending on user settings. (not just backend - also the frontend obviously so frontend applications can authenticate users when posting comments, etc.)
    • Frontend Editing - No need for an editor to log into the backend, just edit on the website itself.

    The most important things for me would probably be: Frontend rendering (and editing), Developer APIs and Real Versioning. Do you have other priorities? How would you start developing a new CMS ;)
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  • Cross-Plattform Mobile Development
    Board » Herbert Poul's Personal Blog
    After quite a while i have finally created a new blog post - unfortunately in german so check it out: Cross-Plattform Mobile Entwicklung.
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  • Silvester: Four Days, Four Lenses
    Board » Herbert Poul's Personal Blog
    During the new year holidays I had again the opportunity to play around with all four of my lenses. I one day want to post the best shots for each of them, but for now I'll simply try to find the best ones of the last four days, should be easy enough :)

    Canon 75-300mm f/4-5.6 IS

    This is actually my lens for surf photos (and i've done plenty of those) - It is perfect for photographing any kind of sport - but somehow I wasn't able to get really great snowboarding/skiing shots - The day wasn't perfect, 1/800 is probably too slow and you might not want to overexpose the pictures :( (I usually do this for surfing shots to get more details in the faces of the surfers, since the white of the waves would lead to an underexposed face.. but i guess when shooting snow you need more details in the white areas)

    Canon 100mm f/2.8L Macro

    This is my newest addition to my collection of lenses. I still need to get a hang on how to really make use of it, but I simply put it on during a walk and got a few nice shots. I still needed to force myself not to put on my Wide Angle Lens though :)

    Canon EF 24-105mm f/4 L IS USM

    This was my first quality lens and if you ever have to limit yourself to one lens, this would probably be the one. I really made nice style-photos while skiing. Equipped with a Polarizer Filter it's probably the best thing for shooting snow.

    Sigma AF 8-16mm f/4.5-5.6 DC HSM

    I have to admit this is my favorite lens right now :) Perfect for shooting against the sun, perfect for sceneries, perfect for parties (always a nice perspective, and doesn't look like a point and shoot camera - quite hard for the flash though).

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  • Photos from Golden Gate Park
    Board » Herbert Poul's Personal Blog
    Just uploaded new photos from the golden gate park to my photo gallery. I almost forgot them. They are from May but i finally came to look through them and improve them a bit in Aperture. I slowly start to really like post processing photos, it's amazing what you can do by increasing contrast, saturation and definition.

    Hey, we have Signatures !!! Great, isn't it ? ;)
  • jsontidy - Pretty printing JSON data
    Board » Herbert Poul's Personal Blog
    I recently came across the problem of needing to "pretty print" a json output to debug a JSON API call. The only script i came across was a .NET application?!?! anyway, a few lines of python did the trick (i guess 1 line of perl would've done the job, but it doesn't have a standard JSON library)

    import sys
    import json
    x = json.load(sys.stdin)
    print json.dumps(x, indent = 2)

    pretty sophisticated, right? well... 10 minutes of googling solved by 1 minute of coding.. great

    usage is obvious i guess...

    Herbys-i7:~ herbert$ curl -s \
      "http://xxx/data/admin?cmd=listInactiveUsers&format=djson" \
      | jsontidy
      "users": [
          "username": "test5", 
          "id": "d3292a0c-d152-42b1-98d0-335ded789bc6"
          "username": "test2", 
          "id": "0d947487-bccc-4742-bf4e-0b0afeb2011f"

    Of course you could also do it in one line.. how about using the following in your .bash_profile?

    alias jsontidy='python -c "import sys,json;json.dump(json.load(sys.stdin), sys.stdout, indent=2)"'

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  • Founding TaPo-IT - OpenERP and Mobile Development
    Board » Herbert Poul's Personal Blog
    It has been a while since i have made my last blog post, so it is slowly time again to show that i am still alive. So I figured i'll simply write about our newly founded company. We still need to get a valid tax UID number - but other than that we are all set and already hard at work.


    TaPo-IT OG (Yes, very creative name, we really thought hard and long about it! This was the best we came up with) will focus on solutions for Enterprise Resource Planning using OpenERP. We are also providing development services specifically in Mobile and Web Development. So we are always looking for *interesting* Android, iPhone projects as well as Java, Python and PHP Projects.

    More will be coming in the (near) future - Our first mobile application Billdroid will shortly receive an update which finally makes it a bit useful. I will probably try to keep this blog up to date in the future.

    p.s. Thanks to Mac for your beautiful logo design.
    Hey, we have Signatures !!! Great, isn't it ? ;)
  • The pain of SEO
    Board » Herbert Poul's Personal Blog
    Can anyone share some insights into the world of SEO? I know all (ie. most) of the tools, all the terminology and i think the most important techniques. I have even read books about SEO ("The Art of SEO") (let alone months of searching through the web).

    But i still can't figure out how to rank high - or sometimes even rank for a given keyword - or how to find out the most important keywords to look out for (Yeah, i know about google adword's keyword tool, google trends and adwords).

    For example I have no clue why the terms: surfen lernen can't find the website on google germany. It is in the first position on but i am not able to find it on google at all. Another odd thing is that searching for: on google the root site is on the last page of the search results.

    (And yes, i hope this post will change the search rankings ;) - hey, this site has PR 4 after all ... wrong audience (umm. none?), topic and language.. but it still has to count for something, right?)
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Personal website and blog of Herbert Poul. Also check out my Photo Gallery.

Herby's Photo Gallery



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