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)
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.
- How can video games win by watching their players fail?
- What is video game user research?
- What do you mean by “watch users fail?”
- Can’t I just send out a survey? (NO!)
- Why are 3D world interfaces hard to design?
- What are some things in Second Life that got better by watching users fail?
- How does Second Life collect information?
- Why should developers and product managers invest in user research?
- What are some easy ways for me to do user research?
- What are some cheap ways for me to do user research?
Bad books aren’t worth talking about. Good books, however, should stand up and be recognized.
To that end, I invented a new thing that I’m going to act like I’ve been doing for ages: The Librarian Avengers Stomp of Approval.
As you know, Librarian Avengers stomp around quite a bit, railing against things and waving our arms around.
In this case, we’re stomping in approval of Lizzie Skurnick’s new book Shelf Discovery: The Teen Classics We Never Stopped Reading.
Shelf Discovery is a compilation of Ms. Skurnick’s excellent Fine Lines posts on Jezebel, in which she lovingly scrutinizes Young Adult books read by bookish girls of the X/y/whatever generation.
I’m always surprised to find such quality writing just floating around on the web for anyone to read, and I’m glad there is finally a dead tree version available as well.
If I suffered from Pageant-Mom syndrome and wanted to create an exact replica of myself from the raw material of some random pre-teen girl, I would begin my narcissistic experiment in literary manipulation by having her read all of the books celebrated in Shelf Discovery.
Which is all to say that I love this book and you should too. So, yay.
Stomp stomp stomp stomp.
Above is a photo of me undergoing a brief moment of Muppetface onstage. Last week I spoke at OSCON Ignite, the evening entertainment bit of the O’Reilly Open Source Conference and the Google Awards.
Talks took the traditional Ignite format of five minutes, 20 slides. Slides auto-advance after 15 seconds, ready or not.
Speakers were encouraged to address their personal brand of geekery. I chose to talk about the Librarian Avengers Film Rating System, which addresses some movie metadata I’d like to see. Things like “This film contains a Creepy child Singing” and “Warning! Sylvester Stallone!”
OSCON Ignite is online at blip.tv here
My bit starts around (44:45), but stick around for the whole thing. Make sure to check out Kirrily’s talk on Geeky Things you can Do with Textiles, and Liz Henry talking about the barriers to wheelchair hacking.
The format kept everyone pithy, and although I had to speak before the amazing Damian Conway, I didn’t throw up from stage fright once!
Chuck works on motorcycles, and I’m a kitchen clean freak. We used to go through a shameful amount of paper towels. Like, buy in bulk, hate-the-earth, bulldoze-Costa-Rica amounts.
Then my friend Skud gave me a great idea. I cut up a cheap jersey sheet I had kicking around (those things pill up in about 5 washes, FYI) and I sliced up a couple conference t-shirts. We now have a canvas bag full of washcloth-sized fabric squares hanging in the kitchen.
This provides an endless amount of cleaning rags for just about any job.
They are washable, bleachable, and nearly indestructible. You can run them through the wash and re-use them, or if they are gross, just toss them into the compost.
It’s a great way to re-use otherwise disposable fabrics, and they are cheaper and more sturdy than paper towels.
Take that, Brawny!
Data junkie? Obsessive compulsive? Come to the Freebase hack day on July 11, 2009 here in SF. There’s food, drinks, an excellent network, plenty of powercords, and a nice room full of geeks to chat with.
It’s a fun way to dive a bit deeper into making cool data mashups, relationally documenting your brain contents, and getting your questions answered by actually standing in front of Metaweb developers and staring at them until they make go.
Drop me a note if you are going. :)
This is my dad, the best joker in the world.
Who else would dance to “Re: Your Brains” (Jonathan Coulton’s Zombie song) at his daughter’s wedding?
My dad, the legally blind man who taught me to drive a stick shift.
This is the guy who plopped me in front of a VIC-20 when I was 5 years old and taught me LOGO.
He kept Adobe font catalogs and WIRED magazine around the house, inspiring a lifelong love of design and geekery.
I owe him most of my bad jokes, and all of my pedanticism.
It’s a good life. Thanks Dad!
Today I Skimmed Schmaltz, and was Rawked at by a Raven.
The schmaltz came from a mess of chicken soup I made. A thick layer of chicken fat rose to the top overnight and was skimmed off and used to season the cat’s breakfast.
Chicken soup for the soul by tsheko
The raven is a Common Raven, who was hanging out in one of the San Francisco parks that I walk through on my way to work. Common Ravens are more common out here than they are back east.
They are about the size of a small dog, and live shoulder to shoulder with their smaller corvid friends the Crow and the Western Scrub Jay. All three species enjoy Rawking, poking at things with their substantial bills, and Making Trouble.
What alliterative things happened to YOU today?