Jochen Wolters

Jochen Wolters

Usability Engineer & Technical Communicator

Areas of Expertise:

  • Information Architecture
  • Interaction Design
  • UX Design
  • Mac OS X
  • iOS
  • consulting
  • speaking
  • training
  • writing
Jochen Wolters is a usability engineer and technical communicator. Besides making interactions between man and machine friendlier and more enjoyable, Jochen works as an independent writer and speaker, covering a wide range of technology and creative topics. He shares his everyday user experiences at The UI Observatory.

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Getting Ready for Macworld Expo & Conference 2010

February 02 2010

With Macworld Expo & Conference 2010 mere days away, it is about time to stop worrying over what it means that Apple has pulled out of the show; to put aside the discussions about how revolutionary the iPad really is; and, instead, to focus on what will be happening at… read more

A Virtual "New" Tab for Movies in iTunes 8

March 27 2009

In the comments to my blog post on adding custom genre artwork to iTunes 8, one reader asks if there is a way to add a "New" tab to the grid view for Movies. I am not aware of a hidden iTunes preference to enable such a tab, but its… read more

A Quicker Search of Almost Everything

February 09 2009

Mid-January, yet another interesting software project was introduced by the Google labs: the Google Quick Search Box. According to its project page, Google Quick Search Box -- or "QSB" for short -- "is an open source search box that allows you to search data on your computer and across the… read more

Audio Gear Highlights at Macworld Expo

January 15 2009

Just like in previous years, those interested in making music would find lots of getting-started information at the John Lennon Educational Tour Bus and the Macworld Music Studio at Moscone. But there were also a few exhibitors who presented new products at Macworld Expo 2009 that were targeted at musicians… read more

An AppleJack a Day

January 13 2009

In the comments to my near-desaster story of last week, several readers suggested I should have a look at a utility called AppleJack. In hindsight, I cannot tell whether AppleJack would have been able to fix the problems that caused my Mac to refuse me access to my main user… read more

A Solid Macworld Expo Keynote Presentation

January 13 2009

Once the news was out that Apple would pull out of Macworld Expo after this year's show, and that it was Phil Schiller, and not Steve Jobs, who would present the keynote speech, many assumed that there were no major announcements to be expected from Apple at this event. And… read more

An Apple Genius Saved my Visit to Macworld Expo

January 10 2009

In recent months, my MacBook has occasionally slowed down to a sleepy snail's crawl: applications would respond with a major lag, switching between applications would take a few seconds, and the time for launching another application -- including Activity Monitor for hunting down the culprit -- could be measured in… read more

Everyday Automation - Processing Downloaded Files

December 30 2008

If you live a highly Internetworked life, there will likely be certain types of files that, after downloading them from the 'Net, you perform the same regular tasks on: say, archiving bank statements to a folder, printing electronic invoices, etc. You can highly automate processing such files by using Folder… read more

Some Apps They Like at Apple

December 23 2008

Whenever there is a major Apple presentation, the demo machines are meticulously prepared, showing a well-managed list of documents and a sparkling-clean Applications folder. Some of the video tutorials on the Apple website, however, provide a more candid view at which applications Apple employees like. read more

Macworld Expo 2009 Ahead

December 16 2008

With just three more weeks to go until San Francisco's Moscone Center opens its doors for Macworld Expo 2009, it is about time to start preparing your visit to the year's most important Mac event. This handful of resources is useful for planning your trip, but they may also come… read more

A Mac Lovers Favorite Gift Guide

December 09 2008

Still searching for that perfect gift for your favorite Mac user? The 2008 TidBITS Gift Guide is a Christmas list with a twist. read more

MacMania 8 Roams the Eastern Mediterranean

December 02 2008

What do you get when you combine a higher-end off-the-shelf cruise vacation with a choice selection of on-board seminars presented by well-respected Mac experts, plus some 170 passengers who are died-in-the-wool Mac-heads? read more

Take Control of iCal Invitation Replies

November 25 2008

In the comments to last week's post on the caveats of using invitations with iCal, a reader pointed out John Maisey's iCal Reply Checker. As it turns out, that little utility delivers a set of useful options that should have been built into iCal all along. read more

When Not to Send iCal Invitations

November 18 2008

Making travel reservations online has come a long way, and some airlines now even include standard vCalendar files in their confirmation emails, so it takes just a few mouse clicks to add all flight-related information to your digital calendar. One such airlines is Lufthansa, who include vCalendar _invitations_. And that,… read more

What to Pack When Traveling With Your Mac

November 06 2008

Courtesy of my MacBook and a Lufthansa ticket, I am typing away at this blog post en route from London to Munich, cruising along at some 30,000 feet. Which is just the right environment for writing about what to bring along when traveling with your geek equipment. read more

CoverScout Gets Major Overhaul for New Release

October 28 2008

One member of the "Trio of Album Artwork Utilities for iTunes" that I wrote about three weeks ago was CoverScout. Because there were some minor "misunderstandings" between this software and iTunes 8, I was expecting an update that would fix these issues, and that update came out last Friday. Little… read more

A new version of Mail Act-On is in the mail

October 21 2008

Indev Software's Mail Act-On extension for Apple Mail has been updated to version 2 last week. Among the new features are an improved user interface, support for undo, and applying rules to outgoing email messages. read more

Everyday Automation - Renaming Files

October 14 2008

Renaming multiple files at once in the Mac's Finder can be a pain, unless you use a renaming utility. While there is a wide range of such utilities available as third-party offerings, Mac OS X has a flexible renaming tool built right in. read more

A Trio of Album Artwork Utilities for iTunes

October 07 2008

Whether it's List view, Grid view, or Cover Flow -- finally, with iTunes 8, album cover art is available in whichever view you look at your digital music collection. High time to fill the remaining cover art gaps in your library, if you haven't done so yet. There are numerous… read more

Apple's Software User Guide Diet

September 30 2008

AApple's handheld devices are an example for miniaturization at work: with every new release, iPods have gotten a little smaller, and "incredibly thin" is the new "insanely great." Unfortunately, Apple has also miniaturized some of their software user guides read more

Playing Pan's Flute to Twitter From my Mac

September 23 2008

Two weeks ago, I was still searching for the "perfect" Twitter client for the Macintosh. In the meantime, I've been testing yet another client called Syrinx, and I am so impressed with it that it is now the only remaining Twitter client on my Mac's hard drive. read more

Custom Genre Artwork for iTunes 8

September 16 2008

When browsing your media library by genre in the new Grid View that debuted with the recently released iTunes 8, each genre folder is adorned by gorgeous genre artwork -- as long as you stick to iTunes's default genre names. When using custom genres, or if you're unhappy with the… read more

Still Looking for the Perfect Mac Twitter Client

September 09 2008

Little more than four months ago I signed up for Twitter. While I am still not able to pinpoint exactly what it is that makes this webservice so appealing, I have since used it regularly to keep up-to-date with what some of my friends are up to, learn about 'net-related… read more

Some Further Reading on OSS Usability

September 02 2008

Matthew Paul Thomas has written a thoughtful and thought-provoking essay on the state of usability in Free and Open Source Software. In "Why Free Software has poor usability, and how to improve it", he gives a concise and well-presented overview over the issues that often plague software projects maintained by… read more

German OS X Developer Conference Debuts

August 26 2008

Sometimes, small events deserve some blog coverage well beyond their target audience's locale to make sure that the word gets out. One such event is Macoun, a new one-day conference aimed at OS X developers, which will debut in Frankfurt, Germany, on 25 October. read more

Secrets Unhides Hidden Preferences

August 05 2008

Hidden preferences are among the favorite items covered in the Tips & Tricks sections of Mac-related websites, and the method usually presented for setting these preferences is via the defaults Terminal command. Thanks to a utility called Secrets, which compiles an extensive list of hidden preferences for the software installed… read more

Software Usability Testing for the Rest of Us

July 29 2008

If you're a software developer and you honestly care about the user-friendliness of your software, it is not enough to simply guess which user interface works best for your application: you must _test_ your products with real users. A new usability testing tool for the Macintosh, called "Silverback," now makes… read more

Have Apple Mail Pre-Prioritize Your Messages

July 22 2008

Handling email has always been a kind of fight for me: unfortunately, I am highly susceptible to procrastination, so as soon as I spot a fresh mailing list digest or a new issue of my favorite Macintosh e-zine in my inbox amongst all those _important_ emails, it's the latter which… read more

Build Your Own Audiobooks

July 15 2008

In iTunes and on iPods, "audiobook" is not just another genre, but a distinct type of audio file with a few useful extra features. Creating your own files of this type is possible, and there are numerous tutorials on how to do this. But this is a non-trivial and tedious… read more

"Made on a Mac" on a Big Scale

July 08 2008

With 170 print titles -- including the best-selling German tabloid "Bild" --, some 10,000 employees, and a revenue of 2.6 billion Euros in 2007, publishing house Axel Springer group is one of Germany's leading media companies. Thanks to their recent decision to go all-Macs, they will also be one of… read more

Dude, You Get a Dell IM Service Now!

July 01 2008

With a little help from their friends at SightSpeed, Dell have launched their own video chat service, aptly named: "Dell Video Chat." It's a nice touch that a Mac client for this service is available. But is there a good reason to actually use it? read more

Another Round of "Next Action" Hide-and-Seek With OmniFocus

June 24 2008

Two weeks ago, I complained about something not being quite right with the way OmniFocus -- a task management application based on GTD -- handles repeating actions, which may cause most of a project's actions to be hidden from you. In the comments to that blog post, a reader suggested… read more

ScreenFlow Wins Two Apple Design Awards

June 16 2008

The bottom line I gave to my review of ScreenFlow, Vara Software's screencasting studio software, last month was that " ScreenFlow does deliver on the promise of providing a one-stop-shop tool for creating high-quality screencasts with excellent visual effects, and it does so in a polished, modern, and totally Mac-like… read more

SmartSleep Makes "Safe Sleep" Safer

June 16 2008

When, three weeks ago, I blogged about Patrick Stein's "SmartSleep" preferences panel, which lets you configure a Mac laptop's sleep and hibernation (aka "Safe Sleep") settings, I explained that I wanted to use this software to switch off Safe Sleep altogether, because that feature had failed on my MacBook so… read more

When OmniFocus Plays Hide-and-Seek With "Next Actions"

June 09 2008

One of the fundamental concepts used in OmniFocus is that of "Next Action." Each project has a Next Action, and it is the very next task you have to get done in order to keep that project moving. Being able to focus on such Next Actions is tremendously helpful for… read more

Another Small Brick in's Anti-Malware Wall

June 02 2008

One of the few "dangerous emails" that made it past my rather aggressive SpamAssassin setup recently was a phishing attempt, claiming to have been sent by Google's AdWords service. When I took a closer look at this email, I noticed a header field that I hadn't come across before, and… read more

Make Your Mac Laptop Lose Some (Safe) Sleep

May 27 2008

The Safe Sleep feature in more recent Apple laptops is a good idea in theory: every time the computer goes to sleep, the entire contents of its RAM are written to disk so that the machine's state can be quickly restored in case the computer runs out of juice while… read more

Mac-compatible vs. Mac-like

May 20 2008

Thanks to cross-platform GUI libraries, writing an application that can be deployed on more than just one computing platform is reasonably straight-forward. But there is more to making an application truly Mac-like than just compiling it for Mac OS X. read more

Multi-track video effects with ScreenFlow

May 13 2008

Commenting on my recent review of ScreenFlow, my esteemed colleague David Battino wondered if this screencast recording software could also serve as a replacement for Apple's iMovie for quickly editing videos. The short answer to that is, no, ScreenFlow can't replace iMovie, but -- it does have some tricks up… read more

Twitter, Twitter, little Mac

May 05 2008

Sometimes, new phenomena show up in Internetland that, at first sight, make you wonder about who would really need this. But keep an eye on them for a while, and you may notice a few things about them that make it well worthwhile to try them out yourself, after all.… read more

How (Not) to Distribute Software Online

April 28 2008

The Internet has revolutionized the distribution of software: search for what you need (or want), download it, install it -- instant digital gratification! And yet, some developers still manage to make this process a highly unpleasant experience. Here's one example of how _not_ to distribute your software. Plus a few… read more

Psystar shows off Open Computer in a video

April 26 2008

Psystar, the company that caused a bit of a stir recently by announcing a Mac-clone called "Open Computer" have now posted a video which, they claim, shows that machine in operation. read more

Get Info on a Mac Without Logging in

April 21 2008

To find out a Mac's serial number, don't bother hunting for the tag on the machine's enclosure, as it's right there in the "About This Mac" dialog box. But what about looking up this information without being logged in? read more

April 16 2008

Macs have always been a favorite with musicians and audio engineers, and at this year's Musikmesse Frankfurt, the world's biggest trade show for musical instruments, studio technology, and accessories, you could literally see them everywhere. read more

Don't Panic Just Yet

April 08 2008

At the "PWN 2 OWN" contest during last month's CanSecWest, which claims to be the "world's most advanced conference focusing on applied digital security," a MacBook Air was the first of three laptops to be "pwned," i.e., to be broken into. The other machines were running Windows Vista and Ubuntu… read more

Apple, Microsoft in Talks Over Sale of Macintosh Business Unit

April 01 2008

With a sweet $18 billion of cash in the bank, it was just a matter of time until Apple would consider a major acquisition. Who would have thought that Microsoft's Macintosh Business Unit would be their object of desire. read more

The Controversy over Apple's Safari for Windows "Update"

March 25 2008

Like many Mac afficionados, I have to resort to using Windows for some of the work I do, and while working on a Windows machine, I rely on the familiar QuickTime and iTunes combo to add some music to my work day. The installer for this software includes a special… read more

Find Some Serenity on Your Mac

March 18 2008

As much as I love working in a home-office setup, there's one thing I sorely miss: a little quiet corner to retreat to for a quick break from work. Who would have thought that I would find this in the form of a screen saver called Serene Saver 2 HD? read more

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