New Years Resolutions for 2008

27 12 2007
Got these cool Von Zipper sunglasses for my birthday from Lauren

It’s been a while since I’ve posted anything here at Ideate. I’d blame it on my new, more substantial co-authored blog, the UIThread, but I have to admit that procrastination has a lot to do with it. I think I might go ahead and give an update before I list my new years resolutions for 2008- mostly to satisfy my self.

The best way to give a personal update may be to revisit my new years resolutions from last year and see how I’ve done (Cody’s 2007 New Years Resolutions). I have to say that I am a little proud of myself- I have accomplished all of them successfully! That may be a first! I think the secret to setting and completing personal goals like this is to create easy goals operationalize some kind of measurable outcome. Often people set goals like “I want to cut back on eating fast food” or “I want to start doing more things for the community”. These goals are self-gratifying on a plane of non-accomplishments such that you leave the goal just vague enough to either ignore or justify in the future. For instance, if I decide to go to Subway once or twice when I was thinking about going to Carl’s Jr., it will be easy for me to tell myself that I’ve done what I set out to do. But really, is that what we meant when we made that new year’s resolution? What have I gotten out of cheating myself? These goals should be important, powerful, and measurable. You shouldn’t be afraid of failure to the point that you rid the chance of success…

Here is a wrap-up of my 2007:

For resolution 1, I did indeed run a 5k under 25 minutes. In fact, it was just about 24 minutes. Not bad. I also successfully ran my fastest half-marathon (while sick might I add). I only take partial responsibility for these personal feats as I owe a significant portion to Nike and Apple for my motivational toy of the year. I do still feel like I have a lot of room for improvement in the overall fitness area though (to be honest, my expectations are set so high that I fully anticipate having a magazine-cover physique. Probably not realistic. I don’t know what that says about me). I suppose I will build upon this resolution for next year and see how I feel then.

For resolution 2, I was hired at my new job, Mitchell International, in June as an Interaction Designer. My resolution stipulations were that it paid well and that it would have great benefits- all of which are true. Not only that, I have found myself significantly challenged and working with some really intelligent and well-experienced colleagues that I think I’ll continue to learn a lot from. I don’t know where my employment will take me, but for now I am very glad that I made the transition and completed my second new year’s resolution.

Resolution number 3 was also completed. In fact, Lauren and I just got back 4 days ago from the Bahamas where we stayed at Atlantis with my sisters, brother-in-law and niece and nephew. Although expensive, it was a great trip. I definitely would not have been able to accomplish this on my own! Since my first visit to the Bahamas in 2005, and subsequent travels afterwards, I have since come to realize the power in new experiences such as vacations. Memories have increased their value for me, even in monetary notions. I think about all of the things on which I spent my money over the last few years. Only some of them I remember and still care much about. The memories created by great vacations and new experiences in unfamiliar places are so precious to me and I look forward to chasing more of this in the future.

Lastly, and perhaps the greatest accomplishment, is my resolution number 4, which called for my engagement to my girlfriend of over 7 years. I have to say that this was a huge success and I am really happy with the way it went down (by the way, she said yes). It involved surprise, deception (in a good way), family, a ring that I loved, and great atmosphere. What more could I ask for?

I’ll go ahead and weave this last completed resolution for 2007 into the first for 2008. Here are my new year’s resolutions for this year:

  1. To successfully help plan for Lauren’s and my wedding in August. This would include my responsibility to plan and book our honeymoon. Right now I am interested in Fiji. We’ll see how this goes! I recently participated in review the new and upcoming site Blissport, which is a website dedicated to planning and booking honeymoons for newly engaged couples (targeted at the guy) based on their preferences. I am interested to see it when it is launched and hopefully it will aid me in my tasks!
  2. Along with that, my second resolution is to have moved into a newer, nicer, and larger apartment. I still don’t plan on buying a house or condo until Lauren is finished with college and we have two salaries at our disposal. Hopefully that will happen in 2009, or early 2010- before the market picks up again and prices begin increasing. Nevertheless, I’d like to be in a place with at least 2 bedrooms and a bit closer to work until that time.
  3. To continue on my quest for physical fitness and health accomplishments, I have a two-pronged resolution. I’d like to attain a weight of 180 lbs or under, and I’d also like to accomplish one of two things (if either of them are accomplished, I’d be happy); Either run a half-marathon in under 1 hour and 48 minutes, or run a full marathon (no time constraints here).
  4. Lastly, I want to either be started in a Graduate School program, or at the very least have my applications sent and a plan of attack for attaining my Master’s degree. Right now, I have an idea on where to go and a general cloudy notion of how to get there, but I need to get more specificity regarding funds, scheduling, validation in preferred school and program, etc. Currently, I am leaning towards starting a MS in HCI at Rensselaer (RPI) in Fall 2008 through their EWP program, which would allow me to work my day job and do school at night and weekends from home. However, if I am absolutely sure I want to do this, I need to get on with taking the GRE soon and getting letters o recommendation before I can even apply…

Well, since I accomplished all of my 2007 resolutions, I guess I should say that I had a fantastic year. If I can do the same for 2008, I can only hope that it will be just as fantastic. In addition to accomplishing my goals, I am also planning on going to Cape Town, South Africa for DIS 2008 in February with a good friend. Let’s see how it goes this year!

Hope everybody reading is setting great goals for themselves as well and GOOD LUCK to everyone in accomplishing them! Happy New Year.





My Firefox Addons

16 07 2007

Here’s a list of the firefox addons I have installed:

  • Google Notebook
    Nice little notebook that you can access at any time by clicing it’s little icon at the bottom of your browser. Good for those who get random useful thoughts while surfing the web.
  • GoogleBar
    The Google Toolbar…
  • Google Gears
    If you use Google Reader, and are worried about being able to read your feeds while offline, use Google Gears!
  • Google Reader Notifier
    Like the mail notifier, can let you know how many new items you have to read without having to visit the reader itself
  • Google Calendar Notifier
    Same idea as above- but lets you have constant access to relevant Google Calendar items…
  • Web Developer Toolbar
    GREAT resource if you do any web development. The amount of utilities is too many to list…
  • ColorZilla
    Lives at the bottom of the browser and allows you to find out what the exact colors are of an area of the webpage. Good for developers trying to match specific colors…
  • Measure It
    Lives at the bottom of the browser and lets you measure certain areas of a webpage to find its dimensions. good for developers trying to fit a specific width or height…
  • Del.Icio.Us
    Allows you to easily bookmark pages and save them to your Delicious account and collaborate with others
  • Scribefire
    If you are a blogger, this is a good tool. It allows you to instantly open up your editor and post to your blog account easily. Best for quick blog entries, but have some pretty impressive features for more complicated posts too…
  • StumbleUpon
    Click it and away you go! Can’t say how many hours I’ve spent stumbled from page to page during down times…
  • ViewSource Chart
    For developers- lets you visualize the source chart to see what elements are nested where!
  • Clipmarks
    Pretty neat tool that les you select certain elements on a page and save to your online account
  • Locationbar(2)
    Casts a spell on your url bar so that you can quickly drill up into other areas of the site you are on
  • Snap
    Coolest Addon of the year! Allows you to see a thumbnail of the site that a link refers to. Just hover of the link (I have it set so that only the little snap icon produces the effect), and you can see where the link wants to send you. It’s almost like window-browsing…
  • Piclens
    I don’t use it much, but it’s pretty impressive. Basically a site with lots of pictures can be turned into a pretty slideshow with fade-in and fade-out effects and all!
  • Package Mapping
    If you order a lot online, this is helpful/cool. Allows you to track packages and visualize their path taken…
  • Mouse Gestures
    I don’t use this much because I use my laptop mostly, but basically lets you navigate your browser using user-customizable actions with your mouse!
  • Map This
    Any address on any site can be highlighted, right clicked, and you can access the Google Map for it!




Acronyms: friends or foes?

29 06 2007

alphabet soupThere I am, a homegrown English-speaking American in an English-speaking American office, and I constantly don’t understand the language being spoken to me. Are my co-workers foreign? Well, some of them- but that’s not why the language barrier exists. The problem is I’ve noticed everyone is speaking in acronyms and I don’t know what they mean yet! It’s like some vernacular that I have to speak and understand only when I am inside the walls of my building and nowhere else!

It really got me thinking about the nature of acronyms and what they can offer or detract from a community that uses them. For instance, in a business setting, acronyms seem to be used to save time (I suppose this reason is pervasive throughout all acronym use). Instead of repeating Cost-Benefit-Analysis all day (8 syllables), one only has to say CBA (3!). The hook here being that people have to understand what words each letter of C-B-A stands for.

People are usually pretty good at this because context plays a large role. If I discuss CBA with my friend Andre over lunch in the middle of a conversation about Big League Chew, he is not going to follow my language code. However, just because humans are contextually intelligent doesn’t mean that they don’t have to learn the meanings of the acronyms at some point.

I realized that anyone a company hires and brings into their community of both global and specialized acronym-talk, will have to be, in a sense, trained. The more acronyms used by the company, the more time and effort to be taken by the new employee to be able to converse comfortably with his/her co-workers.

It got me thinking- I wonder if the acronyms end up really saving time (and time is money, no?), or if they end up just really creating and breaking down language barriers, each new employee at a time. Of course, it would depend on the turnover rate of this place to say whether the cost of training would beat out the cost of time and tongue-weariness.

…Or, is it all about creating a shared sense of knowledge to gain a sense of pride and belonging, like in a social network. I remember working in a warehouse doing shipping and receiving while in school. I developed this excel spreadsheet report that I dubbed the “Weekly Receiving Inventory Report” (or WRIR) and while I worked there, I thought it was pretty official-sounding… Uggh! Try and say that a few times…I’m surprised nobody ever pushed me down the elevator shaft.





Jeff Hawkins on TED Talks

27 06 2007

Are you infatuated with Jeff Hawkins and his model of Hierarchical Temporal Memory systems too? I thought so…

If you don’t know, Jeff Hawkins is the man behind the Palm Pilot and Foleo (among other technological inventions). He also opened the Redwood Neuroscience Institute and began his company Numenta a couple of years ago. This is his talk at TED Talks in Monterey. He discusses his framework for how the brain works and some of the implications for computational implementation in the near future. Brilliant…

Read his book, On Intelligence.





Catalyze: A new community for people in the field of User Experience

26 06 2007

Catalyze

I’ve just started getting interested in a social/professional web resource called “Catalyze”. Basically it takes some elements of a professional networking site, like LinkedIn, and includes more collaborative blog rolling and resource gathering for people in the fields of usability, design, and business analysis.

I like it because I have been noticing articles, blogs, links, and interviews on the site that I haven’t seen anywhere else. Just the fact that it’s catered towards people like me, and it is community driven is a really attractive idea. I look forward to getting more involved and helping it to be a first-hand resource for user-centered professionals.

The site is backed by Usability Professionals Association (UPA) and International Institute of Business Analysts (IIBA).





The Fridge of the Future Present

20 06 2007

Appliances: Dry Erase Fridge Makes Food Preservation Fun Again – Gizmodo

Here’s a nice low-fidelity solution for interactive refrigerators. You’ve heard of/seen the ones that live at Fry’s and Best Buy and contain interactive touchscreen computers, allowing you to keep grocery lists, order food, and even examine current refrigerator properties like temperature and known food contents (which would have to be self-input…In the future, all groceries might have RFID tags bypassing that painful and needless step).

This one is much more simple: Coat the fridge with dry-erase material and let the humans go to work!

I’d like to have one to leave notes for family members, keep on-the-fly grocery needs, and any other thoughts that find my whilst in the kitchen! It’s a great capture tool…The best part is that it doesn’t assume what tasks you would use it for like a computer would almost surely do. (actually, the best part is the comparative $$$ savings, but that’s much more obvious).





My new wireless productivity tool

20 06 2007

My new logitech wireless headphones

Problem: I needed some nice headphones to serve the purpose of listening to music at my desk, while also not constraining my movement around my desk as I swivel, move from surface to surface, and turn to use my white board.

The Answer: Logitech Freepulse Bluetooth Wireless Headphones. They cost about $100 and are designed well. Range is about 30 feet (which is more than enough to move around my cube, and also pick up prints from the copier.

There are no volume buttons on the headphones. Instead, the right headphone disc is a rocker panel. when you press on the top portion, the volume turns up. When you press on the bottom; down. The headphones are equipped with sound feedback that is just salient enough to be informative but not intrusive so as to annoy you or interfere with your listening material.

They sound great too.

Warning: They can be fairly uncomfortable if you don’t have then adjusted JUST right. I find myself with the sore-lobes every so often after a long stint of listening bliss…

the box