Tuesday, December 31, 2013

The Year 2013

It's difficult to reflect on the past year. Many aspects remain in flux. I minimized my belongings by releasing all cycling equipment. I left Tribune Company into an unknown world of contracting. I picked up golf, again. I acquired technology that exponentially improved productivity and quality. Yet with all these changes I feel more distant from family and friends, and more disconnected from reality.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Fleeting Memories

As an amateur photographer, why are there so few pictures of my daughter? The simple answer is time.

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

One-Year-Old Lessons

Parenting has a way of motivating (scaring) you into openness and learning: growth. Even with the head start of nieces and a nephew, there are aspects of parenting never discussed that emerge; mainly: the relationship with your partner. While the barrage of emotions is not new, the mad pace at which these emotions arrive felt like being a child all over again. Especially since we both were dealing with situations completely foreign.

My biggest misconception? The amount of control I would have over any situation. All it takes is one fever to feel immensely powerless and useless. For panic to take over. For target fixation to narrow my view on only one symptom: the temperature reading.

And even little decisions have me reeling because of their novelty. When do we change diaper size? What solid foods should we feed her? Which stroller should we buy? What should she wear today? Does she need heavier layers of clothing? Will she be too hot? Where can I get diapers and wipes the cheapest?

The biggest luxury we've lost that we didn't know we had is time. Time to sleep. Time alone with our thoughts. Time together. Time for work. Time for family & friends. Time for a movie. Time to prepare and cook a meal. Time to sleep. Time to eat. Time to watch our favorite TV show. Time to sleep (did I mention that already?).

It's easy to see why people turn conservative after having children: it's easy to take the "black and white" path, where answers come quickly. But I've tried and continue to take the more difficult path of questioning issues, experimenting methods and tactics. I'm coming to grips with the reality that there is no "right" path to raising a "perfect" child; there is only the direction of loving and raising our child.

I don't know how we could do this without the help of family and friends. I'm eternally grateful for the candid conversations, and advice and guidance, and reality checks, and sympathy and empathy, and motivation, and generosity.

Friday, March 1, 2013

UX Checklist (WIP)

- Assess influence
  - 1%, 5%, 10%...
  - complete UT Project Charter
  - set expectations
    - learning experience
  - hypothesize personas
    - traits
    - behaviors
    - goals
- Recruit
  - build rapport
  - determine likeness to personas
- Interview
  - continue rapport
  - discover
- Analysis
  - Brainwriting (written, silent) not brainstorming (vocal)
  - grouping
  - QUICKLY CURB TALK AND IDEAS ABOUT SOLUTIONS
- Presentation
  - tell a story
  - back the story up with data

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Photograph File Organization: Exiftool

Using exiftool by Phil Harvey, I performed numerous operations on digital photographs to clean up over 10 years of images spread across numerous platforms. This allows me to consolidate all rendered photos into one, organized location. Below are the command line arguments used to accomplish this task.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Improbability of the Improbable as the New Normal

+Kevin Kelly writes The Improbable is the New Normal (via Farnam Street Blog). 

I wonder about this, especially as it relates to news. What news do people read? How do they chose? Why do they go deeper into some stories and not others? 

In my experience: extraordinary is not the new ordinary. The Internet is not a lens that delivers the extraordinary as a focused beam. The Internet does not make us more expecting of the improbable.  We will not have an insatiable appetite for the extraordinary. 

Individually, we somehow choose our illumination of the day. It could be an "ordinary" photo from a relative that we find cute, or it could be an "extraordinary" photo from The Big Picture that inspires feeling. It could be a local news story about crime that makes us think twice about whipping our smartphone out while waiting for the train, or it could be an international story about a mass shooting that makes us ponder the safety of our family and our ourselves, and what it has to do with gun control. 

What I find extraordinary is how the news cycled has evolved. From 24-hours in print, to a few hours in radio, to a few minutes on TV, to a few seconds on the Internet. And perhaps the speed at which information is made available rather than the information itself is truly the improbable that is the new normal. 

We will be more selective about the news and media we consume, and the ways we consume it. We will be more selective about the way we share, and whom we share it with. And, hopefully we will be more skeptical of the news and media we consume, and we will form our own opinions rather than eat the opinions we are fed. 

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Creativity and UX and Design and Life


This short, 3-minute video hints at the importance of paying attention. The importance of observation is not only for good UX. It's not only for good design. It's not only for creativity. It's for all aspects of life! Observation is not only paying attention, but also being open and receptive to what the environment presents. Park your bias and preconceptions at the door; soak the world in. 

In other words: be like Dr. Gregory House! ;)

Friday, September 14, 2012

Connected Devices - Surprising Behavior

Over the course of this year I had the opportunity to interview nearly 100 people. While the focus of these interviews varied, inevitably we talked about the connected devices in each person’s life. Feelings towards these devices varied from despise (“I hate it when people have their face buried in their phone while at a party!”) to love (“I don’t know what I’d do without my iPhone!”). These feelings varied regardless of demographics: age, income, etc. In my observations I stumbled across a consistent behavior: safety and security.

Friday, August 3, 2012

Ad Hoc Usability Testing: Webcam Positioning

The overhead camera was proving to be an issue. The Logitech C310/C260 webcams have a 40cm minimum focus distance (infinite focus). The old setup positioned the camera too close. I converted a desk lamp into a multi-position webcam holder, allowing us to position the webcam farther from the device. The second webcam is positioned at the elbow and will point at the participant.


Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Ad Hoc Usability Testing: Smartphone/Tablet Stand

When performing usability tests, we want to record user actions. Easy enough on a computer with screen capture, a bit more difficult with a smartphone or tablet. Unfortunately, we don't have the budget (or fabrication machine) for a latch-on device such as the Mr. Tappy or Mod 1000. Next best thing will be to record the device using a stationary webcam. From past experience I have found the variable placement and angle of the device in a user's hands a difficult obstacle for consistent screen recording. I need the device stationary as well. So... how about a stand?