My favorite images from the week:

January 27, 2008

I was in a local pharmacy and immediatly located Kristine’s first Valentines Day treat:

M&M green full display
Green + Chocolate + M&M’s = Kristine happy

M&M green (detail)

My interest in finding a small bag for mobile devices and a notebook were renewed when I purchased an iPhone last week. I have become frustrated with my large Timbuk2 bag; it is too big for my current situation – it was perfect for all-day UIUC treks across multiple departments. I have been unable to successfully locate a small bag for mobile devices (no laptops welcome) until Kristine found a great bag from a local Forest Park shop, modified the strap, and then 2 Day expressed the bag and a box of Downy dryer sheets to me!!!

Images of the Downy box (featuring Kristine’s turtletoons) and the bag are forthcoming.
Kristine sewing
Kristine sewing a new strap onto my new bag to contain my mobiles on urban adventures.

To Kristine’s left is a relatively new coffee table Stanley has been trying to summit…

Stanley on coffee table!
and he did!

Kristine’s favorite green sweater became Stanley’s object of desire for a moment, but first he had to obtain the garment.

Stanley reaching for sweater
and he did!

Underdog has nothing on this pup:

Stanley as Supeerman
Kristine helping adjust Stanley’s superhero cape.

Stanley's cape in the wind

After a long day of flying around with green superhero cape, Stanley decided to rest for a bit before future adventures!

Stanley sleeping z z Z
z z Z

Following Stanley’s visits to his grandparents home, he returns as a plump, well-nourished, 19lb pug.

Stanley going under the couch.
Entering the space between the floor and the couch, once an effortless task, now requires much scrambling and several breaks to recover his breath.

Eventually Stanley’s goal is accomplished and he lingers for some time, possibly realizing the energy expelled to be in the space demands an extended rest to justify the effort. Like all populations of migratory animals, Stanley returns to the comfort of home…

Stanley returning from the couch's under space
…the cycle will begin again…


Recent [favorite] Skpe & iChat pics

December 1, 2007

Green Goblin 1
Green Goblin 1

Green Goblin 2

2 favorites: Kristine & a pomegranate – 3 if Stanley was present.

Kristine: when can we read your superhero adventures?

Manish also irons!

Currently Screening:

July 9, 2007

Signals, Truth, & Design

Google Tech Talk: Signaling Theory lecture presented by SMG’s Judith Donath and Peter Morville’s Ambient Findability talk.

And Danah Boyd ‘s informal conversation in North Carolina.

Mediated Giraffe Vision

June 19, 2007

Over the weekend I visited the Brookfield Zoo outside of Chicago. The zoo (to its credit) provides many interactive educational experiences before/during/after each exhibit to help contextualize the animal. One of the most interesting devices was a tool designed to simulate a giraffe’s view.

giraffe view tool

Approaching the the faux giraffe-scope I anticipated a non-digital mirror-based submarine-like periscope. The giraffe-scope was a live camera feeding to the monitor in the view area!

giraffe vision

My immediate response was: surveillance as faux zoo animal? I imagined an American military scheme combined with a Far Side cartoon panel. While viewing the feed I wondered if my actions (using the giraffe-scope) being recorded and evaluated by a vision group? Maybe I can attribute that fear to 3 years in an HCI lab. The structure of the giraffe-scope is hidden from the view of the local giraffe population, allowing another population to view and possibly record their actions.

A mirror-based periscope demands the design of a long tube to function correctly, a video feed does not require the same infrastructure. Ok, the tube is a great place to run cables to the monitor, and not worry about them being ruined. Why restrict the feed to a singular view? Continuing the cctv surveillance model suggests multiple views will provide a more robust experience for the viewer. Why not embed additional cameras in the exhibit?

Immediately upon confronting a low resolution video monitor the simulation of giraffe height collapsed. The singular image was too similar to a cctv security camera and removed the fun from the viewing experience; I became aware that I was watching a monitor, not looking through the eyes of a giraffe. Children who arrpoached the device seemed to share in the same disappointment (they are tech savy). I observed a few children approaching the device with interest and enthusiasm, quickly being replaced with disappointment.

How to improve giraffe-scope:

Improved viewing experience: better monitors, maybe a zoom control(?).

Additional stations, with varied height, distributed around the exhibit. This will help support the narrative of a giraffe’s view.

An interface that appeals to a child, maybe pop-up labels that identify giraffes (colorful arrows + audio cue).

iPod .0

June 8, 2007

original iPod

My current iPod’s hard drive -click wheel- died. No music, no files, no access. A Chicago Apple Genius demonstrated a new listening technique: placing my iPod against my ears to hear the spinning of my hard drive.

I used my iPod every day for three years, and received my money’s worth from the product; it survived numerous falls, bangs, and other assorted sudden impacts and less than ideal handling conditions.

While waiting to speak with a Genius, I watched them distribute shiny new iPods to customers with the slightest complaints…is this my lucky day? I tried every repair/recovery technique suggested by Apple, all failed.

Following the Genius’ evaluation of my machine, the Genius informed me that my Apple Care just expired. He tried to console me by explaining to me that that iPods are expected to last 3-4 years…then he notified me that it is my lucky day!  I can trade-in my defunct iPod for 10% off the purchase of a new iPod.

Leaving the store sulking, not knowing how to cope without my favorite luxury item, I remembered my original iPod from 2001 sitting at home unused in three years!

The First Half-Hour of Parking is Free

June 4, 2007

I left Champaign, IL at 1:00 p.m. (2:00 p.m. est) to pick-up Lin (NorthWest Airlines(NWA) 1007, Detroit) at 4:30 p.m. from the Indianapolis International Airport. Prior to my leaving Champaign, Lin’s arrival time was 4:30 p.m.; upon arriving to Indianapolis International Airport, NWA 1007 was delayed until 7:36 p.m. and continued to be pushed back later into the evening.

I approached the NWA ticket counter and spoke with Lee, a NWA representative.

NWA rep


Me: I am here to pick-up a friend on flight 1007, why has the flight been been delayed; is the delay mechanical or weather related? What is the probability of the of flight’s cancellation?

Lee: [Turning to the arrival monitor behind her] It arrives at 8:06 p.m.

Me: Right. Why is the flight delayed? Do you expect the flight to be cancelled?

— Personal experience with NorthWest flight has demonstrated that a rapidly increasingly departure time (late into the evening) has concluded with a cancelled flight.

Lee: It is currently in the air.

Me: In the air?

Lee: [Gesturing towards flight 1007 textual representation on the arrival board] It is in red. If it is red, it means the flight is in air.

Me: How long is a flight from Detroit to here?

Lee: 45 minutes to an hour.

Me: It is 5:00 o’clock!

Lee: Oh, [long pause] I am not sure when the flight will arrive.

Around 8:00 p.m. Lin descends from the Arrival Gate A’s escalator and meets me before Baggage Claim #1; 30 minutes later her last piece of luggage appears and we are off.

Between Luggage Bag #1 (8:15 p.m.) and Luggage bag #2 (8:30 p.m.) an exhausted crowd’s long wait for their luggage was treated to a small gift, a pair of fundies.


WiFi Networks Along Amtrak Rail Line from Chicago – Champaign May 23, 2007

May 31, 2007

I was running iStumbler on my return trip from Chicago to Champaign hoping to discover available WiFi along the rails during a stop. The following image is a compilation of all the networks my machine detected along the route of my trip.

Network Names along Chicago-Champaign Amtrak line

An Uncommon Courtesy Reveals Bad Design

May 29, 2007

Bathroom seat lifted before sensor

Champaign-Urbana Amtrak Station’s Men’s Room (2 urinals, 2 stalls)

I was surprised/confused to see the rare courtesy of a public Men’s Room toilet seat lifted, except the bowl was full of urine. Who makes the effort to raise a set and then not flush? Maybe the automatic flush is broken? Following a few questions I noticed the raised seat obstructing the automatic flush sensor!

I lowered the seat, immediatly triggering the flush mechanism.

Bathroom seat lifted before sensor

Following the discovery in stall #1 I went into stall #2 to see if this flaw was consistent. Stall #2 featured a sensor above the actual toilet, allowing the automatic system to function regardless of the seat’s position.

I eagerly share this design flaw with my companion, a finance person who expressed more disgust than the (anticipated) giddyness I was hoping for.

Bathroom seat lifted before sensor