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Thursday, August 7, 2003

CDF Wrap-Up

Even though there is still one day left of class, this is probably going to be my last entry for summer session. I'm leaving tomorrow after class for a week at the beach. Fall starts up again with Design Orientation two weeks from today, August 21st.

Today is all about wrapping up the USPS project and finishing our process books so we can turn them in tomorrow.

Looking back over the six weeks, I feel like we covered a lot of ground. It certainly wasn't a deep exploration of any of the six topics, but it was broad enough to give a little background in the subjects. Personally, I really enjoyed the Expressive Typography, Photography, and 3D modeling weeks, but no week was a waste of time. Was it really necessary for me to take this prior to fall semester? Probably not, but it was nice to ease back into school gently, getting used to the rhythm of classes and homework again after being away from it for so long. Plus, you do get to meet the second-year students and professors that are around, which has been pretty invaluable as far as advice and inside info about how CMU works.

All in all, it's been a fun summer. I'm really excited about starting my fall slate of classes, and hope these entries have given you a sense of what my student life has been like this summer.

See you in two weeks!

posted at 12:55 PM in classes | comments (0) | trackback (0) | link


Wednesday, August 6, 2003

The Last 10 Percent

It's said the last 10 percent of a project are the hardest. Slogging through the last 3 days of this 30 (school) day course, I feel the wisdom of that remark. I'm just having a hard time motivating myself to work on the final project. (This blog is great for procrastinating!) The multiple-personality-disorder aspect of CDF is starting to get to me. This week, this! Next week, that! It's kind of tiring after a while.

We're all working on our process books too, now, so that's an added thing on top of finishing the USPS form. Our process books are basically a binder filled with printouts of all the work we've done over the past six weeks. It sounds simple until you realize that half the work has been caught on digital camera and needs to make it onto a sheet of paper, printed in color, stuffed into a plastic sleeve, then put in some sort of reasonable order. It's time-consuming, although it is nice to have once you are done with it. It's a nice document of what you've done with your life. Kind of like a blog. :)

posted at 07:31 PM in projects | comments (0) | trackback (0) | link


Tuesday, August 5, 2003

Random Thoughts about CMU

Today's class was more of the same from yesterday, as we analyzed the current USPS Change of Address form, then began to sketch out some redesigns. Like so:

So I'll take this time to record some of the thoughts I've had floating around about CMU lately.

Fight the future: Every day as I walk to class, I pass by a classroom on campus filled with 10-12 year olds, busily working away on Macs. It's a Tech Camp for kids who feel that summer is overrated. And every day I realize the same thing: my competition for jobs in the future isn't going to be my classmates in grad school, it is going to be these kids, who grew up in a GUI world. My daughter, at age 2, is already surfing through sites and playing Flash games. Designing for these Millenials is going to be a challenge due to their sophisitication with UIs.

Locker room talk: The talk in the men's locker room at CMU is seldom about women: it's about nearly everything else. I've overheard conversations about everything from testing Unix servers to the acting techniques of Stanford Meisner.

Trucks: Pretty much the best food to be found on campus is doled out in styrofoam cartons from a row of food trucks that are parked in front of Margaret Morrison. Thai, Middle Eastern, Indian. It's all good, despite the initial reservations.

Office space: The design students probably have the best work spaces on campus. Our poor HCI classmates are buried deep inside windowless rooms in colorless buildings.

Assistantships: All design grad students get an assistantship along with an accompanying $8000 stipend. This is all well and good, but nothing compared with the deal that many of the HCI students get, with a decent salary and free or reduced tuition. We don't yet know what our assistantship for fall will be; they are going to tell us at Design Orientation on August 21st. They can range from being a TA to doing tech support. I'm eager to know what mine will be so that I have a fuller picture of what fall will be like.

posted at 02:24 PM in cmu, info design | comments (0) | trackback (0) | link


Monday, August 4, 2003

Information Design

This, our final week of CDF, is about information design, and is being taught by Bob Swinehart, soon to be the president of the International Institute for Information Design. [Ed. note: Maybe he can do something about the lousy information (and visual) design of their web site.]

Finally a topic I know something about! (Although, I am in school ostensibly to learn stuff I don't know.)

This week, like last week, is all based on completing a week-long project, in this case, redesigning the #2 form in America: the USPS Change of Address Form:

We broke into groups of three (randomly done so as to mix up the designers amidst the HCI folks), for two days of analysis and group discussions of the exisiting form and the user research that Bob and his researchers have collected about the form over the last year. I'm teamed with HCI master's student Rob and English master's student Sue for this analysis section. Each group is posting their "results" up on big sheets of paper like so:

After today and tomorrow, we head to InDesign to create prototypes of the new forms.

posted at 09:39 PM in classmates, info design, projects | comments (0) | trackback (0) | link


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All straight lines circle sometimes. - The Weakerthans