First Watch This
Done? Okay good… Now read this.
Bask in the glory that is a video of a cat meowing the theme of a popular tv about dragons and stuff.
Now bask in the fact that you have this opportunity at all… the internet (for those lucky enough to enjoy it) is the pinnacle of luxery and awesomeness. And basically free vs the amount we pay and what we gain from it (though some would argue hours of funny animal videos on demand has no intrinsic value).
Still we do important stuff on there as well… like further technology, humankind and stuff.
It is an invisible omnipresent ”box” of awesome.
What would Maud think?
I sometimes wonder what a person from the middle ages would think about the internet… Let alone just as far back as my late grandfather Dido.
“You mean you spend hours on a magical box which has the power to calculate the meaning of life ? But is used mostly for living pictures of cats meowing songs from another magical box called a TV (and naked pictures)?
Now excuse me, I need to go survive the bubonic plague…”
What will I think?
What further farcical inventions will our children invent? Can’t wait…
“You mean a tentacle that you suck onto your left elbow which transfers smells to your shoulder (how we will smell in the future) so that you may fully enjoy the gelatinous laser cats puppetshow (and naked pictures)?
Now excuse me, I need to go survive the NEObubonic plague…”
Excellent – S
Also required/related watching (unless you hate swearing or are at work). Love Louis CK.
And now a review of Cosmopolis because a status on my Facebook was not enough…
I have been watching a lot of movies lately thanks to my handy dandy UGC card. And afterwards I have been reviewing them very briefly on my facebook wall (I am lame). I tried that with David Cronenberg’s Cosmopolis… but it was just too difficult. So much to say… It’s that kind of movie.
I honestly am not very well versed in David Cronenberg’s style/movies as I am pretty sure this is the first one I have seen. So this perhaps will be a useful to other Cronenberg philistines like me.
Enough of that… Quick! Plot Synopsis! Go!
The movie is artfully and of course purposefully, based primarily in Parker’s limo. He is among but withdrawn from the people, sealed off with cork so that he does not hear the outside world… much. Parker meets with the people in his life as he slowly is driven to go get a hair cut.
Also, it is a commentary on Capitalism.
Weird huh? It is.
See it! Or not…
Cosmopolis is a mind meld or a mind “f***” to be crude about it. As I am told it is typical Cronenberg style, as the king of venereal horror (fancy talk for body/mind horror).
Cosmopolis is not a normal “enjoyable” movie, though you may find it enjoyable. The trailer will trick the masses into seeing it (as it makes it out to be some cool action/NINesque music video flick) but the masses will not enjoy it.
Even in France, a nation known for dry drawn out movies and polite patient audiences, there was a mass exodus in 15 minute intervals. At least 10% of the people left.
But even if you do not enjoy it… I argue you should respect it. It is an exercise of the mind. Something not so enjoyable for those who went to the movies for escape (after all we have plays and books for thinking!)
In fact, it feels very much like an esoteric play, especially given the style of acting which is wooden like a poorly rehearsed play. But I can only assume Cronenberg wanted this from his actors.
Very dry. Very disconnected. At first very alientating… but in the end perfect for the reality of the film. Because that is what it is… disconnected “slice” (I cringe to say that cliché) of realities on either ends of the economic scale.
How to enjoy this film
You will hate this movie until you accept its weirdness. Like the main character Parker, you must observe the passing world.
And afterwards you may find yourself needing to “digest” the film. Austin and I walked home instead of biked just so we could discuss it.
Digest it, think about it afterwards, bring a friend so you may discuss it later: but during it, just hang on to each word and observe.
The acting… did Pattinson sparkle?
Robert Pattinson… was really good in it, or maybe the “plasticness” of the acting style necessary for this movie fit his style of acting. Actually though it made me want to check out his following flicks.
I must say I found myself impressed with his bed eye acting style (well really… perhaps “romanced by it” is a better turn of phrase). I understand why the girls swoon. He has sexual magnetism even when getting an anal check up (pretty good scene actually!) or hugging a big burly black man.
On other actors not named Pattison
Some really grade A acting overall: intense and funny at parts.
You get to know the characters in passing… there is little to no explaination and you may fall behind if you do not pay attention to the nuances of each line… it really is a quite unforgiving film.
You may not even realize who the characters are until well after they are off screen.
But still the characters, each basically in their own strange vignette as they come into contact with the main character, are interesting and on the whole very well acted.
[ELITISM ALERT] And another thing…
After reading some reviews… this is going to sound really bad. But if you think this movie is poorly constructed, its probably because you didn’t understand it… And this probably threatened you.
You don’t have to love or even enjoy this movie but you should respect it.
So in the end?
I have convinced myself the more I think about it… I really enjoyed the mental exercise that is Cosmopolis.
I dare you to try it – S
My need for lightness + veggies + balsamic vinegar + SPICE (PUT SPICE IN ALL THINGS!) lead to….
This salad was invented by my husband and actually only has one conventionally “spicy” thing in it (can you spot it?). The rest are veggies that just naturally have that zing. Not only is this salad intellectually and thematically interesting.. but its tasty too!
Ingredients/Steps for One Serving
Basically cut up and add to a bowl in this order… AS PER USUAL: I no good at this measurement thing… so best judgement is need.
- Two handfuls of Roquette (Argula) - (WOW, the english wiki has nothing on roquette… So here is the french one, look at the pretty pictures) Mixed greens can be substituted if necessary. But roquette has a zing that completes the salad. Edit: Thanks, Cliff! It’s called Argula in the states.
- Cubed half of a tomato
- 1/8 of an onion sliced – Three slices about
- Handful of julienned radish – Small red ones or large white one
- 1/4 julienned zuchinni (optional) – Not sure if this adds anything but it was in my fridgerater and hence in the picture above. Just more greenery! Sliced cap mushrooms are also a nice neutral complement.
- 1/3 cup cubed feta (optional) - Optional only if you want to save some calories. OTHERWISE ROCK THAT FETA! I like the basil, olive oil soaked type… but any will do!
- 1/4 cup Hot wasabi fried peas (optional) – Okay, not really optional. Because they are awesome. But I suppose you can save some calories again by cutting them out. I prefer the spicy wasabi ones but you can get them non-wasabi’d.
- Dress with 1 tbsp of olive oil and 2 tbsps of balsamic vinegar - I actually like to use the olive oil from the jar feta.
- A couple dashes of ground pepper on top – Do not even bother if its not fresh ground pepper.
Creativity is for hippies… and well everyone else as well.
In my previous post (“Ode to the Art of Product Development.”), I waxed on the artsiness of product and UX development. Still these professions are not always treated so. Often there is a trap that even I fall into, where we expect that anyone can plan/layout a site as long as they understand user experience concepts or the product goals. And that when the site moves to the graphic designers, that’s when the real artsy magic happens.
But it takes some serious problem solving, inspiration and creativity to lay out a site in a logical, readable, attractive manner that supports the product goals and suits the target market’s needs. This especially can get difficult with more “tool” like websites that must be easy to use for a variety of different workflows. Or for those in product development, discovering that perfect product or “tool” for your market.
Knock Knock. Mr. Deadline who?
But we don’t have time! Deadlines press on us and the world turns! And often we try to set a time limit on the product and UX design process.
Marty Cagan speaks about this in his book Inpired: How to Create Products Users Love (a must read for web professionals even if you are not a product manager recommended to me by the awesome Mr. Tim Rosenblatt). I feel that this conundrum of needing to meet deadlines but allowing time for creativity effects all areas of the web development process including UX design, marketing and software development.
Following are some tips that help me when on deadline and needing to work quickly and creatively… Applicable to all though I may tend to write from a product/ux/consultant point of view.
1. Research Should Not Be Sacrificed
No matter how snap the decisions have to be made: do not let it snap your necks. As in, take the time to do SOME research, even if you have to timebox it to a short period of time. This research can be as simple as searching the internet for inspiration. All your decisions need to be informed, and being more informed will in the end give you more ideas, helping with your creativity. Best yet, giving you informed ideas!
2. Keep Open
While working under pressure do not let that limit you (easy to say, huh?). Maybe you won’t have time to wireframe out all your pearls. But atleast start by listing or sketching out all your ideas before pursuing one. As with research, to ensure you stay on deadline be sure to timebox your brainstorm session.
What is key is to not judge these ideas right away. The biggest poison to creativity is closing yourself off by judging prematurely. SURE the idea may be stupid at first, but if you have a little time to follow the thought process out you may arrive at a golden solution. And if you train your brain to judge your ideas immediately, you shut yourself off from fully utilizing its creativity. Meaning, less ideas come out when you blockoff pathways. Also, when you move on to picking the key ideas you will pursue, you still have a list of ideas to fall back on.
3. Keep Focused Via the POWER OF LISTS
I. Love. Lists. As anyone that knows me… well, knows. YES keep open but at a certain point you need to hone in (or clear the clutter of your frantic mind). The best way to keep your priorities straight is to have lists. Make a list at least of your top product goals (or other goals if you are not a product manager). Also a clear list of feedback is good, when reviewing your solution for a 1st, 2nd or 3rd time. Try to keep these lists short though… even with feedback, try to boil it down to key points.
Now you have these lists, use them. When you get lost, refer back to them and center yourself. Another reason why for product manager’s personas (<– click there to read all about the magic of personas) are key!
4. Digitally Brainstorm, Save Trees, Save Time
For the first three tips you could do this on paper. And for sketching that is often the fastest unless you have a tablet and software skills. But for the rest, try to do this using google docs, a word processor program or a awesome list software like WorkFlowy.
Why? Because when the time comes to present your ideas, spec your ideas, etc, you already have them typed up. Clean them up and VOILA. Saves you time from parsing your scribbles on paper and transcribing them for that power point. Yay, for copy and paste! In addition, those brainstormed ideas are digitally saved for later.
5. Feedback early and often
No one likes to waste their time (or your client’s, colleagues, etc). You will find when you are working close with your client (maybe even in the same room) you will move faster. Or if this is not a client situation, your teammates, test user, etc. Like in a game of Marco Polo, you need to get feedback often or you may hit into the wall of the pool opposite from your target.
Do not do get feedback via email - if possible. Even if you have to arrange an impromptu, walk over to your client/boss/colleague’s desk for advice or video skype meeting, be sure not to waste your time writing up some big email just to get quick feedback. Also that way you can see their reaction first hand and quell any worries on their behalf.
6. Feedback as Inspiration
To continue the last tip’s line of thought, you need to strike a balance between showing people your product too early and shutting them off from you following that train of thought and getting the feedback you need. This is especially true for consulting… and I could write a whole novel on this. So while I encourage early feedback, do take some time to fully explain your idea and make it clear this is just the beginning of the baby’s life. Depending on the client, you will have to find the sweet spot, where early is not too soon.
What is important is, do not let feedback/judgement stymy your creativity. Take it as a challenge/new aspect to design around and not necessarily a reason to move on immediately. Feedback is not a final deathtoll and is is just a reason to reflect and adapt your idea. At points you do need to give up the ghost on an idea, but the first negative feedback should not be the death rattle. And starting over should be avoided especially when on deadline, unless with more feedback you realize its a deadend. Even then parts and main concepts learned for your idea should be salvaged (thank you Mr. lists).
7. Take a break
When especially frustrated… take a walk! Bounce a ball against the wall! Or if you cannot rip yourself from the computer, just peruse the internet for inspiration. Something as simple as searching for your key goal words in google images, to see what comes up. Work smarter, not harder.
GO TO YOUR HOME!
So in summary, the above tips are for creativity when in a pinch. There are of course more tips necessary just to ensure you MEET your deadline. Such as avoiding the dreaded feature creep beast. But that is a post for another time..
Let’s end with a laugh shall we? This is what I think about every time I cannot figure out where to place an item while wireframing:
You too good for your home? – S
Lately I have been working with a company giving UX advice and revising wireframes for their new site. It has been a fun and rewarding experience!
Friday it struck me once again, with a sappy sort of realization how creative the user experience design process is. This should be evident but by the word, “design” but often the process is not thought of as so.
Product Development as well demands such creativity (and really any of the web professions, when you need to problem solve and develop).
I wrote a WHOLE post about creativity, tips, etc, but that needs to be honed and posted another day. (Edit: That day has come! Seven Tips for Keeping Creative while on a Deadline)
But for now I present a metaphor…
I like to think of the product development & user experience process like sculpting.
You happen upon a big lump of concept in which you can see a glimmer of an fully formed profitable product inside.
You chip at it and make something that you think is pretty darn good looking, using inspiration from experience, other artists out there (past and present), books about sculpting and what you know about your future viewers.
But then you step back or have an art critic look at it… And its a hunk of crap.
And with the feedback you roll up your sleeves and jump back in with your chisel.
And repeat this… for who knows long until FINALLY you step back, look at it from all angles, have that critic come back over to gander, show your mum and some random passerby… and it is right! Or right enough to test further.
Funny things is it often looks MUCH different from what you originally invisioned… but if done right…
This week I launched: SILMACOR.com! I built this site for a client and it was a very pleasant experience.
- Design matching provided Logo
- Section 508 Compliant
- Ajax Contact Form with Validation
Design/Dev Thought Process
This was a very smooth process and I appreciated the client’s trust in my expertise and content readiness. It helps to have the content ahead of time!
The idea of the design is to be clean and up to date but still speak to the bank clients that will be directed to the website, that might not be as into the super modern design aesthetic.
The client plans to use this almost as a presentation that he would point potential clients to, hence the sliding navigation. My idea was to allow the client to even use this if necessary as a power point, which is aided by the one page format that does not require multiple page loads ( as you may know, you never know how the internet will be at conferences or outside the office…)
I was asked to clean up and match the diagram to the website style. In addition, design wise, I was given the task to add blue to the pre-existing red and grey logo color scheme. The client did not want to overuse the red color, which can be alarming.
I learn from each project I do. With this project, it helped stretch my design abilities by exercising my use of simplicity and quiet design for a client who may not have a Web 2.0 per se audience.
Thank you Silmacor! – S
So life is exciting to say the least!
I feel where I’m finally in a moment where I no longer have to rush forward.
- No age markers to wait for (18, 21, etc)
- Graduated from college
- Moved to the city of my dreams
- Working in a job that drives and fits me
It’ll be a while before I even have to consider kids or possibley grad school. For now… I can just be. While I am still young, newlywedded and gainfully employed. The world is at my finger tips.
I do not want the moments to go quickly anymore. I want to sit back at a cafe and slowly drink them up.
Odd feeling as I have always been someone PUSHING forward, trying to get to that next moment. I’m still progressing, but its in daily life and no longer a “rush” of scenary.
Also that whole, working on “living in the moment” thing, that’s helped.
But how do I encapsulate this in a 140 character tweet?
#firstworldproblems I know. Guess that’s why its going into the ole blog.
Despite being wired into the internet via phone and laptop. Despite the apps to stream my outpouring of banal musings, photo captures and video romps.
I feel I am not doing enough. I need to capture more. I need to share more.
I need to take more pictures, edit them, write a blog on them, share the funny ones on Tumblr, tweet my blog post, post the pictures on G+, Flickr, Facebook in an organized systematic, tagged manner to the correct circles.
Out at a bar? Gotta rate the bar service, the beer, the food (while sharing a picture of it). Gotta check in and become the mayor AND duke. Gotta check into both.
Five minutes later I emerge from my phone and my friends are turned and talking amongst themselves. What happened to living in the moment?
But sharing is caring!
I love sharing! I love reading the comments and discussing with my friends near and far. Giggling, commenting & up voting. These are people I miss and respect. Awesome collaboration often comes, and sometimes a merging of my “circles”. All learning and growing and sharing.
Is this not ultra connectiveness?
But meanwhile in real life I am missing those I respect IN PERSON. And while my eyes are glued to the screen, they are not looking “around” me.
Or are they? But is the internet my true reality? Especially if I’m reading about “reality”? GAH!
And if the cities are man made and so is the internet, what makes going out on the town talking with new friends better then staying home and talking with new friends?
Those that loved, lived and died in the Matrix never knew the difference. Did their lives suffer if every moment they enjoyed just because they never truly touched soil?
Enough of that… I don’t have the answers.
*Deep Breath* One post at a time….
I am a month behind on hoards of pictures I have to post about my adventures. I have not written a post on my blog in over a month, well until now. My flickr is woah-fully unorganized/tagged. My portfolio site is half finished. And its stressing me out, man.
What have I been doing?
Mostly learning french, building friendships, working & traveling. In general, soaking it up & establishing a foundation.
It takes TIME to represent yourself fully on the internet. To chronicle your life. To gain the feedback of others. Sometimes it takes double the time!
Is it worth it if you never go back to relive/look through the chronicling (that counts 3x+ the time).
SHOULD WE NOT BURN ALL OUR POSSESSIONS AND WALK NAKED INTO THE WOODS AND EXPERIENCE EACH MOMENT WITHOUT LOOKING BACK?
Well, that’s a fun Foursquare tip.
In the end… I suppose… kinda…
We use the internet as a pool of reflection. A place to throw our thoughts and see what sticks (like this blog post). And perhaps search on Wikipedia to win bets.
But as soon as we let it hinder our relationships (despite building distant ones), because we do need support structures nearby, then perhaps we need to put down the 3g, man.
But then again, who cares?
Vive la difference!
If it makes you happy to check into three different geoloation social media sites, then get on with your bad self!
For me I think I’ll continue scrambling forward trying to cobble together my internet identity and build a memory basis. It’s good for my career in the internet industry and darn it, I enjoy it! Though sometimes I laugh at the fact that the introduction of G+ made me have to rethink my “social media” strategy for easily posting food pics.
I will take moments to nurture my self that needs the internet reflection pool. There is a reason I edit my photos & post them, because each one reminds me of a dear moment and allows me during the process to meditate on what I learned & experienced.
BUT I think I’ll try to stop feeling bad about being woefully back logged. After all the internet…
Is a series of tubes – S
Though my portfolio does need updating… THE VICIOUS CYCLE CONTINUES… until next time.
So not hard to see why Google Translate (http://translate.google.com) might be awesome for an expat. It is ESPECIALLY useful for me in the office, as sometimes some French emails wander into my inbox…
Thanks to Google Translate I have:
- Found a temp appartment and upkept dialog with a landlord who does not know English.
- Understood my husband and I’s work contract…
- Translated WHOLE dance sites so I could figure out where to go dance!
- Understood work emails…
- Figured out how to pronounce some French words!
- Understood French TV! (kinda… its kinda strange)
This is due to these lovely Features:
- Translate a whole web page – While using Chrome when you a visit a foreign site it will ask you if you want to convert the text to English (whatever you computer’s language is set as). This uses google translate and well… where was once French is now English. Sometimes this fails, but I’ve had pretty good success with it.
- Text Conversion Back and Forth – The usual translation tool, visit: http://translate.google.com copy and paste or type in text and then quickly convert. You can hover over converted text and it will show you the corresponding word in the source text. Knowledge++
- Pronunciation – Any converted text you can hear! Just click the little sound icon at the bottom. Good for practicing!
While I like the main google translate site, I needed some more in browser window translation POWA. So both in firefox and chrome I have downloaded some plugins so I can #1 have some chrome translation functionality in firefox… and #2 be able to select text and translate right away!
I’m not a hundred percent happy yet with the plugins I found but so far good enough. As in they are good but I wish I only needed one! Check out:
- Google Translate Extension AutoTranslate – https://chrome.google.com/webstore/detail/obgoiaeapddkeekbocomnjlckbbfapmk – Select and Translate
- Firefox Add-on Google Dictionary and Google Translate - https://addons.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/addon/239624/ – Translate whole pages
- Firefox Add-on My Translator - https://addons.mozilla.org/en-us/firefox/addon/my-translator-google-translate/ – Select and translate
- One suggestion I got is to write what you want to say, convert it and then convert it back. If it still makes sense then its good to send!
- Be wary as always as to ambiguities of language especially with foreign words inserted in the foreign words… I swear that makes sense! EXAMPLE: At work I was converting a document into English from French (a whole page conversion via Chrome) and the document kept on talking about a “Nice looking cat”. Now we like cats at work… but why would we want to include that in our product? What the document meant was “Nice looking chat“. The english word chat was amongst the french.. and in French “chat” is a meow meow. So in this multinational world… be careful! Actually at some internet cafe’s the add a t, so “tchat” so that the French pronounce it right!
So to conclude….
I heart Google – Sheila
P.S. Google if you read this… First, “Hi!”. Second, please add a copy all to clipboard button for the translated text. You know we gonna do it any way!