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?

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

17 Days Early

Her tiny toes

April 30, 2012

  • 3:00 AM CT - Contractions begin. Kathleen experiences moderate cramps, but the timing isn't consistent. Since we're 17 days from due, she decides they're just part of being pregnant and in her last trimester. Kathleen gets rest here and there, I sleep through the night. 
  • 8:00 AM CT - I cook us eggs and tortilla with salsa for breakfast. Kathleen notices bleeding (a bit more than spotting) and is worried about a detached placenta or some other complications (Internet searches make us all self-diagnosing, paranoid freaks). After paging her doctor, we're advised to check into triage for a once-over. Kathleen eats a light meal of bread and water, in the unlikely event she's in labor. I eat the eggs and tortilla in the kitchen to reduce the torture of Kathleen's hunger pangs. We're still pretty confident that we'll be released back into public; after all, we're still 17 days from due. 
  • 10:00 AM CT - We check into triage. Once the sensors are attached, we're told that Kathleen is having contractions. Another check shows that her contractions are about 6 minutes apart and she is 3cm dilated. Maybe we'll be asked to come back when the contractions are under 5 minutes and she is more dilated. Wait, does this mean the baby is coming now, and not in over two weeks from now? 
  • 11:15 AM CT - No time like the present to get my Tdap! I've been trying for two weeks to get this vaccination; my doctor's office ran out. When I called this morning at 9 AM, I learned a new batch had arrived, and I scheduled an appointment (thinking I'd simply drop by after our quick visit to the hospital). Instead, it's a near sprint back-and-forth to the appointment. Thankfully, the office is just down the street. It's starting to really set in for me. I think, "Wow! I'm going to be father!"
  • 3:00 PM CT - An ultrasound is ordered to check the position of the baby: all looks good for birth. Contractions are about 4 minutes apart and she is 5cm dilated. We're admitted into the ward, officially going from Early Labor into Active Labor. Although I had a big breakfast, I'm feeling a bit hungry.
  • 3:30 PM CT - I am tasked with getting the luggage from the car. Taking advantage of the time, I head over to Chipotle to grab a quick bite; who knows if I'll be able to eat a full meal tonight. I also drop into the apartment to grab some movies to pass the time. How is it that Kathleen has never seen Ella Enchanted?!
  • 4:00 PM CT - We're only at 6.5cm dilation and the doctor recommends we push Pitocin to get the delivery back on track or even speed it up. Kathleen is apprehensive because of the added pressure and pain as a side-effect. She wants to proceed without an epidural; if we go with Pitocin, she decides she'll definitely get an epidural. For now we wait and monitor her progress, hoping it picks up again. 
  • 7:20 PM CT - A little bit of progress in labor, but not as much as we hoped. The choice of Pitocin is almost a given, so specialists are brought in to start the epidural process. As they check her body, her bag breaks. Labor is back on track! Pitocin is no longer necessary. However, the decision is made to proceed with the epidural because of the intensity of current contractions. I assure her that there is no right or wrong decision here; I let her know why I think that both decisions are good and support her. I can see the tiredness setting in like slow torture. 
  • 8:30 PM CT - She's at 7cm dilation, and the pain is ever increasing. Right before the epidural takes effect, she rates the contraction 8/10 but really cannot take any more (meaning it's 10/10). Despite the power of Chipotle, I'm about running on empty. The cafeteria is closed, but luckily the nurses are willing to share their coffee pot with me! 
  • 11:59 PM CT - The doctor is called in to help with the birth. Kathleen spikes a temperature of 101.7 (101.4 is the threshold). Pushing is delayed while antibiotics are pushed into Kathleen's system. It's all just a game of hurry-up and wait. 
May 1, 2012
  • 1:00 AM CT - After just 10 big pushes, Alexis is pushed into this air-breathing world. She lets out a scream as soon as she is pulled out! The doctors and nurses are taken aback by her quick adaption to breathing our air. I cut the cord. She is given a quick rub down before being placed into her mother's awaiting arms. Kathleen is near tears of joy. "She's so beautiful! I love her!" We cuddle her for several minutes. Her temperature is 102.7, and the tentative decision is made to bring her into the nursery to bring her temperature under control. But while she is cleaned and measured, her temperatures drops to the normal range; she came out hot because of Kathleen's fever. She is allowed to stay in our room, foregoing the nursery. We're now a family of three!

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Google Offers + Google Latitude

Today's email from Google Offers includes a "Near work" link. I cannot recall entering addresses into Google Offers; I assume it pulled my data from Google Latitude. Yay! I really enjoy and appreciate when Google products play nicely with each other.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

iPhone Camera - Lens Flare

The lens protector on the iPhone 4 (and other iPhones) have a tendency to get scratched. I'm not sure why Apple chose to use cheap plastic instead of glass... after all, it's a camera. I tried buffing the lens, but to no avail. Apple charges something like $30-$40 to replace the "lens."

This temporary fix cost me nothing since I already had these screen protectors in stock (I found them on Amazon for $3.66: Why does this work? The liquid adhesive fills the tiny scratches on the lens.

Even if you don't have this problem with your iPhone camera, I'd recommend placing this screen protector on the back of your iPhone to prevent future damage.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Weening Off Upgraded Shipping

Amazon Prime is awesome. Who doesn't like receiving their packages in two days, versus the "5-7 business days?" And for every single item Amazon can ship, you too can use and abuse this sense of urgency for a mere $80/month. Is there any way out of this addiction?

Amazon thinks so. With the rising costs of oil (and therefore shipping) and instability/sustainability issues surrounding oil, we're bound to see a plethora of solutions for the energy crisis. But what can Amazon do besides raise the prices for Amazon Prime? What can Amazon do to postpone (or perhaps avoid) complete backlash from its current customers? How about electronic money?

While purchasing items today, I noticed a link after the 5-7 days shipping: "Get $1 to Spend on MP3s - Learn More." That's one song. That's 1/10 of an album. Considering that I just bought a couple albums (Gotye and Lisa Hannigan) and considering my sporadic desires for a song here-and-there, this piqued my interest, and may ween me off the addiction to 2-day shipping.

Amazon Shipping: Get $1 to Spend on MP3s - Learn More

Friday, March 9, 2012

What Clothes to Pack

Tonight, while doing laundry before heading out on a business trip, I thought about what clothes to pack. As I fold the clean laundry from the previous week, I realize the clothes to pack are now neatly folded in front of me.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Google Mobile Ads videos

I keep losing links to these videos, so I'm posting them here. I really like how compelling they are.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Common Sense Is Not Common Sense

If some political actor, say the president or Congress, attempts to alter some of these choices, say by shifting the tax burden from the working class to the superrich, or by taxing consumption rather than income, or by eliminating subsidies to various industries, then it is certainly valid to argue about whether the proposed changes make sense on their merits. But it is not valid to oppose them simply on the grounds that altering the distribution of wealth itself is wrong in principle.
Everything Is Obvious: *Once You Know the Answer (Duncan J. Watts)
- Highlight Loc. 3414-17

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Social Networking of Old

Long before Facebook, MySpace, Friendster, and Google+, I tried to keep track of all the people I knew in my life. The following is a page taken from my website back on July 23, 2001, but I had been working on this page for a few years already. Funny to see the "circles" I had created way back then. Some of these entries contained links to photos, but those links are dead so I have removed them.