Friday, October 30, 2009

This is Living


"There is so much continuous development going on in the life of every committed designer that design might be better described as a journey, rather than a job. You are forever creating design expertise; you are forever becoming a designer…" -Frans de la Haye

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Apple Legend Jonathan Ive Talks Design


A very, very rare and enjoyable glimpse into the design process of Jonathan Ive, vice president of Apple's industrial design. Watching this clip makes me want to design even more. Design like painting. Design like a never ending river.

La Haine Review


La Haine presents a state of affairs of the alienation faced by many young people living in the projects. It's accurate, gritty, and does a great job neither glamorizing or patronizes he characters in any way. They hate their life because it's boring, and despite the society that's created it for them, together with parks, football fields and a few mod cons with which to comfort them. In particular, they hate the police, who hate them right back. It's a story of divide, and brings forward a message that is clear and direct; hate simply breeds more hate, and it's only a downward spiral from there. 8.7/10.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

It's All About Me


It ain't about you. You. Or you.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Drag Me To Hell Review


Looking to stray away from the unbearable trash that's been recycled over and over again (Yes, Saw, I'm looking at you), I stumbled upon Drag Me To Hell. For one, the IMDB reviews had me hooked? A recent horror flick over a rating of 7? Count me in. While cinematography and story aren't its strongest points, it's the effortless execution of mixed sarcasti-horror with little hints of comedy that makes for a very interesting mix. However, by the end of it all, I must admit it falls a few steps short; plagued by a heaping spoonful of unoriginality and lameness, DMTH makes for a average weekend movie, but nothing more. 7.0/10.

Livin' with Fancy Woods & White Walls


My parents used to call me fancy pants. Not because I wear any Seven jeans, but because I enjoy the little premiums in life. Like having a nice contrast between wooden architecture and furniture to complement my boring stucco walls.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Mac Hack Attack: Multiple Identities on Apple Mail Edition


If you've ever tried setting up multiple alias with a single e-mail using Apple Mail, you'll notice it isn't nearly as easy as setting it up in Thunderbird on a PC. You either had to manually add a Reply-To address or throw a pissy fit.

The main reason for this is because there is no box or anything remotely logical to get the alias to add. Luckily, there's an easy solution, thanks to yours truly. Here it is:

  1. Open Mail App.
  2. Go to Preferences
  3. Click on Accounts
  4. Choose your account
  5. In the "Email Addresses" data entry field, add your aliases (identities), separated by a comma.
  6. Save your account.
Now, when you compose a new email, your aliases (identities) will be in the "Account:" drop-down menu.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Modern Fireplace Sans the Mounted TV


You know. Just sayin'. TVs just never look right sitting atop the fireplace like that. Case in point can be seen over at Honky Design.

Rug Hunter


Nothin' like bright, colorful rugs to spruce up that shabby chic space of yours. Toss in some shiny round balls and futuristic decor pieces and you'll undoubtedly be the ultimate "cool" on your block.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

CSI Uses Modern Technology


Someone develops a GUI interface using visual basic to track a killer's IP address. I think Java would've been faster.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Shelves That Float


If there's one thing I must have in my future home, it's shelves. Shelves that sit above the ground. So little Roomba can get in and do her job.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Jack Purcell, Race Around Hi Kicks


I absolutely love this shoe. Not just because it matches all my recent leather purchases, but because my old pair of Converses from high school recently decided to roll over and die. Probably because of the daily abuse from 5 years of negligence, but I can definitely see this pair getting me some good mileage while I stylishly strut my stuff around campus. $80 to join the cool club.

It's Pervasive. It's Computing. It Needs Testing.


Evaluating early prototypes of any design requires a little bit of know-how. Luckily for us (insert sarcasm), as the paradigm shifts towards the more pervasive end, traditional desktop-centric tests no longer apply. Well, they do somewhat, but perform so badly that it's essential we find new tests and find 'em quick.

In comes a variant of experience prototyping; instead of simply letting users loose on a design, we address the group-think strategies most people tend to fall into (something that's always an issue with pervasive computing) by becoming immersed in the target population's current practices ourselves. And it's not just faking it - it's critically confronting a design's assumptions and finding misinterpretations.

However, one should proceed with caution. When researchers are also participants, they need to be careful not to let the interaction experience descend into artifice. Now what does that mean? It means bias is readily there and it's quite tempting to get carried away with your own judgments, clouding your actual experience to the point where it's truly elusive.

To top it off, we must address the fact that pretending a prototype is more accurate than it really is poses its own set of difficulties. Which is why we need a really, really good Wizard of Oz that can make it possible. Mix experience design and a sprinkle of magic together and "Bam!" You now have a suitable alternative to true contextual evaluation on very early design prototypes. In the end, you'll be gaining some realism at the expense of impartiality, but also the reverse; impartiality at the expense of realism.

Now, isn't informed design grand?

Sunday, October 18, 2009

The Wonderful World of Hyberbole


These guys mean business when it comes to contemporary art. I mean seriously. Who in their right mind would build a twin lens reflex camera all out of cardboard... 20 times the actual size of the camera?

Color Theory, Ya'll


Not sure if I'll ever turn away from the eclectic, shabby-chic modern style. It just seems too fun. Luckily, design team Color Theory over in Boston sure know their stuff. If I ever end up in that area, I may be giving them a visit or two.

Tennis Ball Steady Cam Hack


This is fricking geneous. Ya. Geneous. All you need is a tennis ball, a utility knife, some pliers, a Sharpie, nuts and bolts, and a little bit of patience. Gawd this is so awesome I think I'm going to do it tomorrow night.

But wait, I need a camera first. Dammit all!

Friday, October 16, 2009

Zebra Sharbo X LT3 Matte... The Orange Flame!


One thing I'm starting to notice while I'm designing killer robots for the future is that I tend to run through gel ink pens everyone couple of weeks. It's ridiculous how many plastic shells I've tossed. This is where the Sharbo comes in. It allows me to switch between two gel colors and a ballpoint. I do wish the shell didn't cost so much, though. $45 is enough to make a grown man cry.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Lot 18: So Modern It Hurts


Now this house is just slightly amazin'. Conceptually a U-shaped plan which interlocked with the central landscape and swimming pool area, this 3-story modern monster takes the edge off the neighborhood and puts it straight yo' face.

Soup & Sandwich Tray


Now this looks like something I'd love to have in my kitchen arsenal. Soup bowl and tasty grilled cheese sammich plate. Bonafide classic!

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

More Notebook Fun


Because it'll be a whole lot harder explaining the content of my work when I actually start working in the field. It's much easier when you're a broke ass grad student living off Diet Dr. Pepper.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Experience Design Like Photography


I love movies. So, let's talk movies for a little bit. Well, specifically, the role of the director of photography in a film. Great cinematographers - another way to call 'em DP's - are able to understand the stories they are trying to tell, adding to the material that already exists. They really work to understand the subject matter and language of the discourse, even when the language is far more complex than words can describe.

What's interesting is that often the discussion of good photography often removes itself from simple aesthetics completely, and instead, moves to the function of photography in engaging the audience. In many ways, a directory of photography is an experience designer. He has a deliverable (the shot). Passed to the implementation team (the camera man). But the exposition? You can't put that in words. You experience it. Like a beautiful, intangible expression.

My favorite example is the orchestration of the 10-minute hallway scene in Leon the Professional, photographed by Thierry Arbogast, accompanied with music done by Bjork (You can see it in Spanish here). What's the mind going through as we watch through this scene? Panic. Urgency. Fear. You don't need me to tell you that what we're experiencing is emotion. And for the most part, this is the hardest and most essential thing we're missing in modern day HCI.

But how do we gauge the emotional element? Is it that magical word, "context?" Perhaps. I'll say again, Context is king, baby! Because it's not just about fun, easy, or happy that equates to good experience design. It's more than that. Like a director of photography, we can craft the entire spectrum of human emotion. We need people to engage, both externally and internally; embrace eloquence and sensibility.

Thanks David for letting me use the photo above. And great talk by Jesse James Garrett from Adaptive Path for the inspiring talk that has led to this posting.

Nathan, You Will Be Remembered


Two pointer fingers up in the air. Scooby Doo voice. A smirk to terrorize the angels.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Ólafur Arnalds Does Fireplace Visuals


I've had dreams about transforming my fireplace into something like this. Yes, dreams about turning fireplaces into 3-dimensional audio visualizers that puff smoke and clouds and things.

Tumi Snow Collection Backpack


I want to be prepared for snow. First in a lifetime, you see. I need to be ready.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Harajuku: Half-Man, Half-Hype Machine


With brands like A Bathing Ape and Neighborhood under his belt, one better pay attention when he plans to unleash a mountain full of new brands and designs for the upcoming decade.

Thursday, October 08, 2009

Fall Colors and Rainfall


Been caught in rainstorms twice now. These angry little clouds seem to enjoy coming out of nowhere. Or maybe I just need to check my iPhone weather app more often. Anywho, enjoy some fresh Fall colors. Better yet, join Apartment Therapy's Fall Color Contest and win big!

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Defining the Digital Home


Now here's a problem space we can all associate with. The home. Well, let me be specific; the digital home, to be exact.

Here's a quote from Miss Seto, who thoroughly enjoyed her stay over in Reykjavik, Iceland in the above pictured space above:

"Check out the cool furniture and the flatscreen tv. There was also a Mac Mini loaded with movies and speakers for our ipods. We really felt at home.

The apartment was very central-- close to the main drag but removed enough so that we didn't have to hear the very heavy partying until 5 am. Those Icelanders (and all the visitors from the UK can really party)."
For some, technology in the home ends with an entertainment system. Anything else would be considered outlandish and be labeled as a "mancave-esque." This is an unfortunate stereotype as the possibilities are becoming rather limitless as we slowly shift to a new era in ubiquitous computing. An era where OLED's are so cheap, they're pretty much embedded in everything, bedroom mirrors double as screens, and by holding clothes up to it, one can figure out if it's "hot" or "cold" wash via fabric recognition. Microsoft came up with these ideas first, by the way. Back in 2006.

And so the exploration continues. Luckily, for our upcoming design project, numero tres, we're to do just that. Take a ridiculous hypothetical situation - in our case, deal with the merger of Google and Crate and Barrel - and create a product which the furniture craft masters will sell in their stores under their new Home Tech line. Oh, and it has to utilize GPS technologies as well.

If you don't call that insane, I don't know what is. Luckily, this insane project happens to be due in 2 weeks so if you don't hear from me, that's probably what I will be doing. Sketching. Prototyping. And filling the design studio with plentiful volumes of vibrant cursing.

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Design for the Future


Today's humanistic reaction to technology takes the form of discipline convergence and an ever increasingly large pool of devices embracing the semantic, social, and structured web.

From a user perspective, this means a constant array of surprises around every corner. New ways of thinking. New methods of communication. New outcomes. And because of increased collaboration via these tools, it's often not industry which drives innovation, but the users themselves.

From an industry perspective, making sense of all this "stuff" isn't all that easy. If technology didn't matter, perhaps it would be favorable to ignore it altogether. However, to some degree, today's complicated networks of information and cross-collaboration creates an environment which requires an attentive eye for refinement and ability to identify these new trends. But how exactly do you understand all of this?

Let's just put it this way. Keeping persistence is being fair to the user. As fields come together, it's becoming more and more obvious everything is connected to information. In a trans-disciplinary world, narrow perspectives only make things harder to grasp. By designing with users in mind (whose requirements are constantly evolving), one can essentially create effective "tools" needed in the future context.

So, design for the future. One probably wonders, "How do I fit into this whole collaboration-hungry notion of constant change?" As a student, this means understanding a resume for the future isn't merely composed of a set of tools, but a portfolio full of experiential expertise. Now you have something to talk about.

As an employer, this means placing an emphasis on integration of cross-disciplinary teams. This comes with the acknowledgment that tools do and often change, but problem solving often stays much the same. So, you don't need team with merely sharpened utensils, but one that can challenge the numerous weeds out there. A team capable of chopping them down and taking cultural responsibility for fertilizing multiple channels of knowledge throughout the entire world.

Sunday, October 04, 2009

The Richter Side of Things


Our guiding principle was that design is neither an intellectual nor a material affair, but simply an integral part of the stuff of life, necessary for everyone in a civilized society.

Friday, October 02, 2009

Another Throwback Saturday


In addition to catering to my pen addiction, The Pen Addict has also been giving me some sweet recommended tunes for listening. My personal favorite comes in the form of an 80's band from Austrialia called, "The Go-Betweens." Just started listening to their Sixteen Lovers Reissue recently and I must say it's pretty damn good stuff, even though they kind of remind me of the HCI/d PhD students running around the Informatics building at times...

The Curious Case of Benjamin Button Review


It's quite rare that a movie leave me speechless; The Curious Case of Benjamin Button happens to be one of those gems. It's a film unlike any I've ever seen - an epic story encompassing every single chapter of one's life, lead through wonderful direction and delivered with sheer simplicity and a tantalizing musical score. I will admit the film is quite demanding emotionally, forcing you to experience every death in Benjamin's life, but we also experience his joys and momentous adventures as well. Even at 3 hours, by the end of the film you'll only wish there was more to tell. I must say without a doubt this graceful depiction of life, love, and the things we lose should not go unnoticed. Big kudos to Finch on this one. 9.1/10.

Searching for the Perfect 0.38 Gel Pen


So I have a confession. I'm obsessed with gel pens. Like a 7th year old girl, yes. And not just any gel pen. They must be at 0.38mm in size, light, and be shelf stable for at least a year when not in use. I've summed up my top picks from my 14 years of research below (okay, maybe 2 months):

Dong-A 3-ZERO 0.38 Gel Pens - These Korean-manufactured guys are rare. Really fricking rare. And one of my favorite pens of all time. I lucked out recently by finding them sold on eBay by some guy in New York, but it looks like it's going to be impossible to replenish my collection after my last Dong-A pen gets used up. They tend to go from $0.75 to $3 a piece.

Uni-ball Signo DX UM-151 Gel Pens - Made to rival the G2 Pilot, these guys clog less, are thin like the Dong-A's, and come in more colors than most. They go for about $2.25 a piece.

Pilot G-2 Retractable Gel-Ink Pens - These are the perfect office pens. They're cheap, flow great (when they work), and have similar qualities of the Dong-A in pen stroke. You also get a sweet rubber grip, which helps when you've got greasy fingers. They go for $1.30 a piece when bought in bulk.
Don't believe me? Just purchase a couple (if you can find 'em) and try it out for yourself. Believe me, you won't be disappointed. I am the pen expert, after all.

Thursday, October 01, 2009

DJ Maar Gets Selbyfied


It's always nice to draw some inspirations from some of your favorite artists and designers, and I especially love it when they show me their homes. The clustering of ideas. The context of inspiration. I love every moment of it.

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