Sunday, December 11, 2011

Vickie Ho (1978 - 2011)

Vickie was the brightest personality I knew at UCLA. Even after college she was  vibrant and fun. Despite our vast differences, we shared lengthy conversations, mostly reminiscent of the past. We had fun walking around Irvine Spectrum and enjoying lunch somewhere around her work while she was in Southern California right after college. She dropped a visit to Chicago to see the sights; the above picture is from our stroll around downtown. I will always remember the joy she brought to my life.

She will be missed.

Email from her husband:
It is with great regret and sadness that I write to inform you of Vickie's passing on December 9, 2011. I am consoled by the fact that she passed peacefully with her family at her side, and that she is no longer suffering from the cancer that she fought so bravely for the past year and a half.
May her soul rest in peace.
Vickie 8/29/78-12/9/11

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Why Do People Watch Television?

America in Primetime: this PBS series offers a glimpse into the reasons why television is so important in American society. It's told from the creative side, not the viewer side. But it's compelling to hear their theories about people's motivations to watch TV, and how TV is viewed within the profession. I have only seen episodes 3 and 4, and plan to catch up with the rest this weekend. Watch online.

In an attempt to compel you to watch, below are some quotes from the series. 

There’s something about a shared experience. You used to know that millions of other people were watching the same thing, and there’s something (kinda) cosmic about that. You feel a deeper thing, and you know that deeper thing. --David Lynch, America in Primetime, Episode 3: The Misfits.

Audiences create these guidelines by what they choose to watch. Artists need to be in a position to (sort of) push the boundaries and let the audiences speak back to them. That’s the way it works. That’s the way art is supposed to work. --Ron Howard, America in Primetime, Episode 4: The Crusader.

Storytelling is like making everyone part of a big family so that members of the audience are able to identify with characters in their full complexity. That type of deep, emotional attachment is what television at its best is capable of generating. --David Milch, America in Primetime, Episode 4: The Crusader

Professional Vision (a work in progress)

Professional Vision: UX in Journalism - a living document whose first draft is below

WHY: Foster innovative journalism to keep American democracy alive.

HOW: Create subjective discussions surrounding our designs: products, features and deliverables.

The business world wants to objectify everything. “Let’s create a focus group and learn the best execution.” “Let’s survey users and learn how to design.” “Let’s test users to determine the best interface.” Business people want objective data to make the best, informed decision. Business people want innovation without risk and without change. Business people want a high profit margin. Business people want only success. This is not reality.

Reality is a subjective discussion of users. Reality is making a decision because it aligns with values and identity. Reality is an iterative design fueled by failure but driven by success. Reality is making a profit. Reality is an unambiguous vision.

subconscious and conscious decisions
behaviors and goals
motivation and passion
awareness of others’ perceptions
connection with community
unconditional concern among family and friends
constructive debate

acknowledgement of imperfections surrounding journalistic integrity, but the goal for perfection nonetheless
professionalism and acceptance among peers

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Amazon Using Kindle as a Vision

"The next generation Kindle." Now that is vision for Amazon employees working on their tablet project. That is how you give employees clear direction. That is how you focus them on the product. No camera? No problem. No Google App store? No problem. This is the next generation Kindle; make sure your ideas and designs fit that message and cut everything else out.

$250 including a Prime membership? There's no way I'm missing out on this.

Read more about Amazon's tablet at TechCrunch.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011


I just discovered Panoramio, and it is awesome.

After uploading a picture, it automatically placed the picture on a map based on my Latitude history.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Monday, June 13, 2011

Google Maps Bugs Persists

I mentioned earlier of a bug that results in Starbucks missing from my Google Maps search.

Today, Google mentions a "Drag 'n' Zoom" feature that isn't there. Why is my account all whacked?

Friday, June 3, 2011

Andre Alforque Joins Tribune Technology UX Team

From: Alforque, Andre 
Sent: Friday, June 03, 2011 4:27 PM
To: Tribune Media Services employees
Subject: Andre Alforque Joins Tribune UX Team

My dear colleagues,

I have accepted a position within the field of User Experience (UX) in the Tribune Company family. Beginning Monday, June 20th, you will find me on LL2 working for the Tribune UX team.

It is with sadness that I announce my departure from Zap2it and TMS, effective Friday, June 17th. You have been my family for over 10 years, and we’ve shared many successes along the way. I have been fortunate to be given many opportunities at Zap2it: from Jeff Rowe and Barbara Needleman believing in a student fresh out of college to lead operations, to Rebecca Baldwin and Jay Fehnel believing in an operations manager to lead major Zap2it projects, and everyone between. Beyond technical and leadership skills, you gave me lessons in business and in life.

You need not travel far before our paths cross. As part of the Tribune UX team, one of my projects is Zap2it. So it is with happiness that I remain within the Tribune Company family.

Andre Alforque

Thanks to my sister, Audrey, for the proofing.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Public Relations/Marketing Success and Failure

PR/marketing campaign from Kings Island and the March of Dimes: pregnant women participate in a Flash Mob to an altered rendition of Baby by Justin Bieber.  I see this as a success because it got me to watch.  I see this as a failure because there are no clear follow-up actions.  

VIDEO: Pregnant Women Flash Mob at Kings Island on April 30 to benefit March of Dimes:

Google Buzz FTW

Smart asses!  :-D

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Google Maps: No Starbucks Here

Very odd thing happened when I searched my for "starbucks:" no Starbucks locations appeared.  This is only happening to my maps; did I do something to omit Starbucks from Google Maps?

Monday, May 2, 2011

Google Latitude: Check In

"Check in, gain status, and unlock offers." --Google Latitude - Check In.

Google Latitude takes on FourSquare, Yelp and similar check-in services.

Below are some points I see as advantages using Latitude on my Android mobile phone

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Meeting is a SUCCESs!

Thank you Chip & Dan Heath, authors of Made to Stick. Employing two main concepts from the book, SUCCESs and Comander's Intent, today's meeting is a success!

The acronym SUCCESs stands for:

Commander's Intent is derived from the quote, "No plan survives contact with the enemy." It can be described with the following traits.

  • Crisp, plain-talk statement that appears at the top of every order, specifying the plan's goal, the desired end-date of an operation. 
  • Never specifies so much detail that it risks being rendered obsolete by unpredictable events. 

Google Search Results: Google Profile

This may have been occurring for a while now, but I just noticed this today. Your Google Profile now appears within Google search results.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Living with Cancer: Vickie Ho

Most of you know my friend Vickie. If not, she is my friend from UCLA that is fun, dependable and a great person to hang out with. She is living with cancer. Please help her and the UCLA Fights Women's Cancer team acheive their fundraising goal of $30,000 in the Revlon Run/Walk for Women, Los Angeles 2011. There's no amount too big or small.

Click Here to give your encouragement and share your donation.

Good Picture? by alforque
Good Picture?, a photo by alforque on Flickr.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Mobile Phone Headset

Why doesn't Plantronics make a wired headset for mobile phones (like the iPhone)?  They make headsets with 2.5mm jacks that work great for home phones and the office, but seem to lack in the 3.5mm market.  From what I've read, the adapters don't work too well.

All mobile phones seem to ship with headsets with a microphone attached to the cord.  These don't seem to pickup my voice that well, and I wind up having to hold the microphone close to me.  How is that "hands free?"  There is the Bluetooth option, but that has numerous issues: battery life and static the most common, and the booms are usually so small that they do not pickup my voice.

Any suggestions?

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Contact Lens Trial

I've worn Bausch & Lomb Toric SofLens (alphafilcon A) lenses since forever.  The lenses are meant to be worn for 2 weeks, but I usually stretch them out to 4 weeks.  I find my eyes very dry after just a few hours of wearing even new lenses.  I know newer types of lenses have been released, but not until today did I do research on them.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Double Click

While playing Fleck one day I thought, "These actions would be quicker and easier if I had a double-click button on my mouse."  Until now I've been using the same Logitech Marble Mouse with two buttons for 5 or more years.  I discover the current version contains four buttons.  Score!  I use my Logitech gift card (from the delayed release of the Logitech Revue with Google TV) and have an amazing mouse that I don't know how I lived without.

How did I survive this long with a two-button mouse?  On top of the obvious benefits of a multi-button mouse, I am a gamer and therefore accustomed to multiple buttons.  I use keyboard shortcuts all the time.  Seems to make logical sense to have a multi-button mouse.  Opening an e-mail is now one button.  Opening a file is now one button.  Now I need to find a purpose for the fourth button.  For home I purchased an even crazier version of the Marble Mouse.  It has a scroll wheel and seven buttons.  So many choices!

What actions do you assign to your 3+ mouse buttons?

Monday, March 14, 2011

Interactive Game on Google for NCAA Tournament

I don't know why, but this game is addictive.  Lots of skill involved with a touch of luck.  A bit like Angry Birds, I guess.  Go here, then click on the basketball hoop; my top score thus far is 130.

Edit: My highest score is 280!

Friday, March 11, 2011

Google 404

I've never encountered a Google 404 until today. It's pretty cute. This page loaded while attempting to hit Google Latitude because I enabled Chrome Instant in the Omnibox.  I was typing and had reached "" when this page appeared.

Google: Doing Good

One of Google's philosophies is "Do good."  Below you see Google's page: it posts the Tsunami Alert.

I think despite how good or evil a corporation may be, we must always remember that there are people behind them.  And in this case, Google is doing good amidst the tragedy of the Sendai Earthquake.

Edit to add: Google now links to a the 2011 Japanese Earthquake and Tsunami Crisis Response page.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

(Notification) New Location:

FYI: My Blog is now located at  Google should redirect everything, but feel free to update your bookmarks!  ...all 2 or 3 of you that follow me.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Facebook as a Messaging Platform?

I tried to send a message to a friend on Facebook.  I hit the "Send" button and receive the message below from Facebook, "That message could not be found."  After spending some time to craft my message (a recommendation for a friend), you can understand my frustration that the message was now gone.  No auto save.  "Browser back" did not retrieve the typed message, only an empty message box.  Very disappointing.

Facebook: Suggest Photos of Me to Friends

Facial recognition on Facebook is now live.  The default setting is "Enabled."  A month ago I noticed the option for automatic facial recognition was coming soon.  That time is now!

If you are like me and have customized settings enabled on Facebook, you can easily manage this feature.  To manage these settings follow the steps below.

  1. Visit Privacy Settings on Facebook: Account > Privacy Settings.
  2. Assuming you use Custom settings, select Customize settings.
  3. Scroll to the section Things others share.
  4. Find Suggest photos of me to friends (When photos look like me, suggest my name) and hit the Edit Settings button.  You will be given the option to enable/disable like the screenshot below.  

Minimalist for GMail - Browser Access

I received the notification below that Minimalist for GMail now requires access to Your data on all websites, Your bookmarks and Your browsing history.  Apparently the programmer, Matt Constantine, is attempting to make this a portable plugin.  Hopefully, he creates a separate version for portability, as the additional access is freaking people out (me included).

Edit: The author created a "classic" version. :)

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Why Does Apple Hate Me?

No manufacturer has given me as much frustration as Apple.  They could have made it easy and been backwards compatible.  Or they could have at outright told me when things will not work.  Instead, I am given false hope.

iPad not working on OS X 10.5?  Okay, fine. That's on the iPad specs.  But isn't it odd that it will work on WinXP?  I mean, what is it about 10.5 that you don't like?  Is it that I haven't paid you to upgrade my OS?

iPhone 3G jacked with iOS upgrade.  I don't even know how long it took to fix this because I switched to Android.  Is it even fixed yet?  I mean, completely fixed?

iPad not working on my WiFi.  This just baffles the mind.  And then you go about fixing this 6-8 months later without any notification.  I just tried it on a whim, and now it works!

Bluetooth keyboard not working on OS X 10.6.6.  You suckered me into buying OS X 10.6.6 (thanks for the discount, Amazon!); and now my $70 Bluetooth keyboard will not work.  I've been trying for two hours to get it to connect because some thread on the Apple forums tells me to be patient.  No dice.

Do you just not like compatibility?  Do you hate it when we don't pony up the cash to buy the newest hardware or software?  What am I supposed to do with all this "old" stuff now?  My keyboard is barely 3 years old!  The iPhone wasn't even 2 years old.  And the iPad had these issues straight out of the box.

I am glad that Android surpassed iPhone (and RIM) as the top smart phone OS in the US (Nielsen: Who is Winning the U.S. Smartphone Battle?).  You had a good thing going with iTunes.  You kept us on a string with the iPhone.  But now I just don't see the utility in Apple.  And really, that's what products are supposed to be about: utility.

Friday, February 25, 2011


The legacy you leave behind is the whole of who you are: the sum of the parts.

Subconciously you live the past of someone else's life. The clothes you choose, the breakfast you eat, the way you travel: these parts were travelled by others and now by you. You are influenced by the past with each and every moment. You are experiencing someone's legacy, known or unknown to you.

And then there are the magical moments of conscious choice. The moments where you choose to live a moment in dedication to your spouse, your friend, your mother, your father, your brother, your sister, your child. You not only continue their legacy, you contribute to your own.

This is immortality. We live it each and every day with the small choices we make. We live it each and every day with the large choices we make. We live it each and every day with our subconcious reactions, with our personalities, with our involvement, with our indifference. We are the sum of our parts, but those parts are rich with legacy. And the person we were, are, and will be: you are immortal.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Facebook: Picture Viewer: Theater

I just noticed a new picture viewer by Facebook.  They label it "theater."  I liken it to the "lightbox" view that Flickr offers.  The utility it offers is a reduction of clutter when viewing images.  Because when I'm looking at pictures I just want to flip through an album or set of pictures.  It's interesting that Facebook keeps functionality on the bottom of the picture.  Also, the URL with the text "&theater" inserted into the URL fails to load this view.  The view appears it is only reachable by clicking on a photo from an album (or profile or whatever).  And when you click the "close" link, it returns you to the action grayed out in the background.

Google Navigation

I just noticed a change in Google Navigation.  Above the top links now appears a blue bar to indicate the selected section of Google.  Also, the sections appear to be in a rail with shading, rather than simple text on a white background.  I wonder where they're going with this.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

We Live in Public

Who is Josh Harris?  What was  I am watching We Live in Public on Hulu right now.  Fairly interesting retrospective about an idea for online TV networks.  Hard work, innovation and best ideas: the ingredients for success sometimes lead to failure.  Sometimes you fail despite being right.  It takes more than just intelligence and determination to "make it" or "be successful" in the business world today.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Fandago: FanMail e-mail Usability Issue

A bit disappointed when I opened this e-mail from Fandago claiming "X-Men Trailer Debut Now Live!"  How exactly do I view the trailer (the subject of this e-mail)?  Why is it buried in the "Entertainment News" section?  You are sending this e-mail promising the trailer for X-Men: First Class, but instead give me a bunch of Justin Bieber information.  If you are going to pitch another movie, you should at least pitch a movie from the same genre.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

What's New Tonight on TV?

New Shows on TV Tonight

Here is a concise list of new programs airing tonight (prime time: 8:00pm - 11:00pm Eastern Time).  We left off programs without episodes, but for the most part it will cover the program you're looking for.  It's a great place to go when you want to browse for something new to watch on TV tonight, or queue up on your DVR.

For example: tonight's new episode of Nova looks into the IBM supercomputer that will be competing in Jeopardy!

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Facebook: Facial Recognition

It appears facial recognition will soon be enabled on Facebook.

Facebook Privacy Settings

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

State of the Union: President Obama

Tonight we heard President Barack Obama talk about the state of the union.  In the world of politics, Obama is the straightest shooter I've come across.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Warmer Tone

I've been told I need a warmer tone when communicating. While my opinions may largely be accurate, my method of conveying them sounds condescending.

I'm not sure where to take this other than attempting and failing and learning. Unfortunately, failing may involve hurting feelings along the way.  And with those hurt feelings I only learn to keep my mouth shut rather than being able to take away some positive feedback.

How am I supposed to change?

Monday, January 17, 2011

Friends in Chicago

I have no friends currently living in Chicago (apart from my wife, of course).  From the perspective of time it's freeing: no appointments or obligations.  But then there's nobody to call up and hang out with.  Or share exciting news.  Or just to grab a beer and talk about nothing.

Movie Discussion: The Social Network

I watched The Social Network last night.  Since its release, my boss hounded me daily to watch the movie.  Rather than blow $20 to watch the movie with my wife, I waited and bought it for $13 on Amazon.

This feels like an intellectual movie that lacks intellect.  The connection with characters lasts as long as a scene at any particular point in time.  Not that I mind that style of production: it just fails with me in this context.  The skipping timeline is an impressive feat given the 2-hour length of the movie.

Am I supposed to connect with Mark Zuckerberg?  His character goes from a pretentious know-it-all to a pretentious know-it-all.  The twins?  Their characters go from smart jocks to smart jocks.  Eduardo Saverin? His character actually develops!  But the story isn't about him, all we get is that he is totally screwed out of a bunch of money.

Perhaps I'm being to critical?  Perhaps I had a misconception?  I think my friend, Chad, puts it best: "it's like a listing of facts; and the facts are actually wrong, a lot of times."  What did you think?