Thursday, April 26Have key-fob, will travel. We've already made a reservation for our first trip, scheduled for next weekend, but if a space opens up we'll try it out sooner than that. This is one of the coolest programs I've ever heard of, and every interaction with them has only made me more impressed.
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Friday, April 20On the off chance that you, dear reader, don't know this:
I am looking for a summer internship. I'd like to work on a user interface design, user interaction design, usability testing, or information architecture team somewhere in the Bay Area. I'd like to get paid, at least enough to make rent. I'm available as of the second or third week in May. I'm a bright and eager grad student, and you know how much work you can get out of them. If you or someone you know has a potential opening, please e-mail me. You can take a gander at my resume as well.
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Wednesday, April 18Last night Jef Raskin spoke at an East Bay CHI event. The main thrust of his thoughts seemed to center around the elimination of modes in interfaces. I've found that when a speaker or writer puts forth an argument that goes against standard practice as much as this one does, much of the audience get hung up on trying to come up with exceptions and what-ifs rather than grappling with the point of it. I'm not sure if that means people don't understand the point, understand and disagree with it, or understand and agree with it but think that it's impossible for practical reasons. Maybe it means they're Computer Science types and are looking for edge cases. :)
If I understand Raskin correctly, he wants to get rid of modes (and therefore applications, which is where many people seemed to balk) not just because of mode errors (where you do something and it has results you didn't expect or want because you weren't in the mode you thought you were in) but because modes are inherently limiting. This came up when Rashmi Sinha asked whether there was anything powerful about modes--a good question, and one that Jef didn't really answer, although he hinted at it. My response would be that there probably are advantages that have to do with concentrating on one kind of work, but that could be outweighed by the power of combining types of work in new ways. How many times have you had the experience of wishing that the application you're using had a function that another application does, or does better? You can always choose to concentrate on one type of work if you want, but limiting software in that way makes about as much sense as restricting a word processor to the functions of a typewriter.
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Tuesday, April 17Apparently (according to Paul Grabowicz) the first newspaper published in America, Publick Occurences both Foreign and Domestick, was published with the last page blank--so that readers could add their thoughts before passing a copy along. Of course, the paper only published one issue--it was promptly shut down by the Lord Governer.
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Monday, April 9Urgh. Sick. Blah. No time for this. Must . . . be . . . strong . . . for . . . graduate . . . school. Rar.
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Sunday, April 8I attended the New Media Publishing Conference this weekend, and found myself scribbling "Morons!" repeatedly in my notebook while listening to people who I would have hoped knew better talk nonsense about how to do journalism on the web, how to make money doing media on the web, and how to 'create' community with media sites on the web. I'll be fair--there were a number of intelligent people making worthwhile points as well. With one exception, however, the "how to make money" panel was the most appallingly clueless.
The last is classic, but is probably a sign of Google's success. People most often notice an interface when it goes wrong. I found it amusing, though, as I'm currently trying to get an internship with Google's User Interface department . . .
- Someone using $100 research papers as examples of micropayments.
- An entire panel telling us that the only think to be learned from the adult business online was to "give people what they want."
- The representative from Variety assuring us that it has no competition (if it weren't for my Dean, they would have ducked the question of competition entirely).
- One bright fellow telling us in one breath that companies are only interested in 'buying content' in pre-sorted chunks from an aggregator (like his) and that weblogs will replace the editorial voice of newspaers and magazines online entirely.
- The panel entirely dismissing out of hand the possibility of a donation model for funding content online.
- My favorite: someone telling us that Google works because "it has no interface."
Other highlights included Tim Cavanaugh telling us that "The Chinese Wall between stand-up comedy and journalism should never have been there in the first place." Heh. On the other hand, I was disappointed to see Tim and a few others missing the point about engaging readers in discussion on the web. Tim bemoaned the effect trying to write articles that people would "talk about" had on peoples work. That's one of the least interesting ways to spark discussion and work with a community of readers, and one that retains the artificial wall between reader and journalist. In fact, if your goal is to merely be talked about, you've looking at the even more artificial wall between entertainer and audience. The better sites out there have realized that there are much more compex and interesting ways of involving a community in the journalism itself. I did appreciate the woman who talked about non-profit sites . . .
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Wednesday, April 4I received today what is possibly the most charming rejection letter I have ever received. I had sent an email to a smallish local design firm that I liked the sound of asking about potential internships. They replied, let me know (graciously) that they didn't need any extra help at the moment . . . and then invited me to their housewarming party. People are just cool sometimes.
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My brain is fried. Fried, is my brain. I have looked into the future and I have seen that there is a very large amount of very focused work required for school in the next month. Not to mention finding an internship for the summer, planning a wedding, and the usual personal projects I desparately want to move forward but am unable to figure out where or how to start. I think that I can do this, but I am a little intimidated by how much I think it will take to do it. Luckily, this is exactly what I want to be doing right now, or so I keep telling myself.
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Monday, April 2Over the weekend I reread Mark Leyner's My Cousin, My Gastroenterologist. It has great snippets of language, but I just can't see that it hangs together as a novel. It does, however, contain one of my favorite descriptions of cross-country driving ever:Bev was a speech pathologist. She had a twelve-year old patient named Bob. Bob had been in school one day standing in front of his class giving an extemporaneous talk. The assignment he'd been given was to describe driving on Interstate 80 through the Midwest. Suddenly Bob couldn't speak properly. He had suffered some sort of spontaneous aphasia. But it wasn't total aphasia. He could speak, but only in a staccato telegraphic style. Here's how he described driving through the Midwest on Interstate 80: "Corn corn corn corn Stuckey's. Corn corn corn corn Stuckey's."
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So, when you call your landlord and tell him that you've been having a problem with your downstairs neighbor, his psychotic stalker ex-girlfriend, and their increasingly loud and intrusive and violent unto the point of vehicular assault domestic disputes that you've been forced to call the police over twice now, and before you can even explain what's been going on, he says "I bet I know what you're calling about" even though he doesn't know about the domestic dispute or the cops until you tell him, but he does say that he "made a big mistake" in renting to this downstairs neighbor and "that guy's really weird" and "you don't want to go down there," when all that happens . . . should you be worried?
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