Vote for me on the SXSW Panel Picker

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I can’t be self-promotional all alone here, people. I need your help! Vote for meeeee!

My proposal is up for voting right now on the South By Southwest Interactive Panel Picker. It’s a geek frenzy over there. Vote early and often.

VOTE HERE (login required)

Panel Proposal:

Video Game Research: Failing Our Way to Victory

Users are weird. They tell you one thing and do another. They click everywhere and read nothing. Erica Firment, a User Experience designer for Linden Lab/Second Life, chronicles fast and effective ways to make your software suck less by spending a few hours watching users fail.

  1. How can video games win by watching their players fail?
  2. What is video game user research?
  3. What do you mean by “watch users fail?”
  4. Can’t I just send out a survey? (NO!)
  5. Why are 3D world interfaces hard to design?
  6. What are some things in Second Life that got better by watching users fail?
  7. How does Second Life collect information?
  8. Why should developers and product managers invest in user research?
  9. What are some easy ways for me to do user research?
  10. What are some cheap ways for me to do user research?

SXSW Interactive 2009 – Funologists live and in person: Guerilla Game Research

Happy news! I was invited to be a panelist at the South by Southwest Interactive conference next month, as part of their ScreenBurn track. bendoverbackwards.jpgI’m on a panel called “Funologists live and in person: Guerilla Game Research.”

I’ll share my experience starting some low-budget user research cycles for Second Life, and my work translating those frustrating observations into shippable engineering requirements.

There will be pretty pictures, and possibly cake.

The cake is a lie, but you should stop by anyway. There could be cake.

There certainly won’t be cake and not cake. Not at the same time, I can assure you.

Drunken blog post #3

The Thursday night Linden Lab whisky tasting has degraded in the traditional way. I’m surrounded by tipy nerds, discussing the glories of JQuery. One of my co-workers is wearing a shirt that reads “The Age of Consent Tour 1997”. Nerdcore rap blares from the QA office.

Life is good.

Librarians love Liquor

In which I write about my evening as though it appeared in a social column:

Librarians-turned-Software-Goons Sarah Dilling and Erica Olsen spent the evening discussing religion, the raising of rhetorically skilled children, and workplace mentoring this evening over mojitos at local bistro Luna Park. Rumor has it that the field of software development pays more than *twice* that of Librarianship, and offers larger amounts of free food. Where will this double dose of database-discussing debutantes appear next?

More Second Life employee Rap Battles

Oh yes. The IRC Rap Battles continue at Linden Lab, creators of Second Life. My friend Bridie is in town, and we decided to bitchslap some suckah MCs…

Bridie:
I got so much chips I swear they call me Hewlett Packard
I got so much chips you can have a bag if you’re a snacker

Me:
Running on energy I stole from Half-Life
Too dark to see gotta use my keyboard backlight
Preying on newbies / I like to watch them break down
Running with Bridie / We start the grid they take down

Both:
Aww. Aw yeah.

Previous Linden Lab rap battles

Wikipedia entry on a Second Life location

I took a stab at writing a Wikipedia stub on one of my favorite Second Life locations, Caledon, the steampunk/Victorian sim. I’m a Wikipedia n00b, and my stub got flagged for deletion (rightly) due to a lack of notable references.

wikiclock

Any of you SL-lovin’ librarians out there wanna take a crack at improving it?

Link to deletion discussion

Notability guidelines

Link to Caledon Stub (fictional places???)

Library Tourism

bernallib.pngI visited my local Bernal Heights library branch this afternoon, in search of a place to sit and read. It turned out to be one of the last weeks the building is open before it closes for an extensive renovation. On a kid-filled sunny spring Saturday, the current building gives the impression of being a community center rather than a library, with more conversations, computers, and chaos than visible books.

I’m looking forward to the new design. The neighborhood obviously is drawn to the location, which swirls with families out walking dogs and babies.

— — — —

Things I’m currently researching…

  • Wedding venues in the Detroit area that are:
    • Non-religious
    • Interesting-looking or unusual
    • Cheap, cheap, cheap!
  • Things to do in Brighton, UK
  • Search Engine Optimization
  • Cat grooming (did you know you can use baby powder to make your cat less itchy?)
  • Better WordPress plugins (I’m playing with a new Twitter sidebar)
  • Management jobs in SF for my sweetie Chuck this summer

Arr! Yahoo, prepare to be boarded!

pirate-flag.gifWith the recent news of Yahoo’s potential acquisition by vile Microsoft and its prior layoff of 1000 hardworking geeks, there was a bit of an air of piracy in the office last week.

Linden Lab is going into another round of recruitment, focusing on web developers, QA folk, and other nerdy types. If any web developers out there (you, yes, YOU Joy!) want to work in a more stable, hilarious, and weird environment, you might want to fill out an application to work at Second Life. Free beer, the Love Machine, and a frightening amount of RockBand can all be yours!

Linden seems to be where the socially-developed nerds go to work. There’s a much larger % of women, extroverts, parents, and charmers working at Linden than is considered industry standard. Which means you tend to not find yourself in conversations with dudes who can’t make eye contact with a girl, or folks who get REALLY EMOTIONAL about their code.

It’s good to be a god, too, even if it’s only in-world. You can read more about our wickedcool office culture in the Tao of Linden.

Wanna be a user tester?

Want $40? Got 90 minutes or so? Want to get paid to check out a 3-D virtual world?

sl_color_horiz.gifMy employer and I are looking for local San Francisco people with NO experience using Second Life to help us evaluate some possible changes, tweaks, and/or new features to our software and support portal.

Interested? At a minimum, you should:

  • Be over 18
  • Be able to get to downtown San Francisco
  • NOT be an expert computer-user.

Still interested? Take a brief survey. As opportunities arise, we’ll put the word out to those who fit our testing needs. I’m looking forward to meeting you!

Nerdcore Rap Battles in which I have participated…

In my new role as a user experience goon at Second Life, I’m often called upon to participate in rap battles with other employees.

Because we’re all busy, rap battles tend to be text-only and asynchronous, conducted over IRC, twitter, or instant messenger.

Past themes have included: My prowess as a Developer, My (imaginary) Car, Linden Lab Office Culture, and Various Programming Languages.

Below are a few examples of my amazing rap power, mostly gleaned from IM logs. Enjoy responsibly, and please remember check yourself before you wreck yourself.

Killing jira issues like Rambo kills commies / Tasks and subtasks crying for their mommies /As&Os got me going mental / Yoz wants to rap but he’s too CONTINENTAL

Chillin wit’ Jonhenry / Talking ’bout JIRA / Drank me some coffee / Wish it was a beerah

open up email to try and cat-heard / 60 threads later / time is going backward / I just get in when wham! it’s lunch / wtf have I done besides data-crunch?

think you bad / ’cause you so much taller? / you may be blue / but I’m white collar / rollin’ in my office working on a search / you think you’re rapping but its SO MUCH WORSE

Kickin’ it smoove in my GTO / ops wants to have a meeting / but I’ve got ta go!