12 Forbes Terrace
Pittsburgh, PA 15217










Thursday, January 15, 2004

miLife Project Kick-Off
My team for our semester-long project for Microsoft consists of me, Hong, CPIDer Jennifer Anderson, and Chun-Yi Chen. I think it's a pretty solid team and we should do well on this project.

We had our "kick-off meeting" (as we used to call them in my agency days) with the client, in the form of a conference call with Michael Lenahan, User Experience Manager in the Mobile PC Group, to get more details about the project.

As it turns out, the project constraints are fairly minimal. It should be a mobile device, preferably in the "thin and light" or "ultra-mobile PC (UMPC)" range, which means a 4-14" display, 2-4lbs, and connection via wifi. The design that we come up with should be able to be executed within the next three-five years. It must build on users' needs to be mobile throughout the day, yet be more than just a transportable device. It should work on a Windows platform, but there's no MS constraints on style. In fact, it's supposed to be "a product [that users would think] would never come out of Microsoft." The hardware form should be "personal and relevant." We were shown a marketing piece for MS Media Center as an example of the type of "casual, lifestyle" products they were interested in having us create. There's no set target audience. It's very wide open.

We have a lot of work to do.

posted at 09:14 AM in projects | comments (0) | trackback (0) | link


Wednesday, January 14, 2004

Welcome Back Saffer
The main thing that's been occupying my time lately is preparing the syllabus and initial classes for the course I'm teaching this semester: Visual Interface Design. It's a class for 20-some-odd undergraduate HCI double majors on the basics of interface and interaction design. If you're interested, here's the syllabus (84k pdf).

posted at 09:45 AM in teaching | comments (0) | trackback (0) | link


Really Final Classes for Spring '04
After a week of testing out some classes and making some hard choices, my class schedule is set for this semester. I was sort of heartbroken to drop the beloved Time, Motion, and Communication, but the workload is very heavy, and the likelihood of my doing a lot of kinetic typography work in my professional life is pretty small. Plus, I'd like to take Grad Typography before I do something advanced with type.

I also dropped my undergraduate class: Reason, Passion, and Cognition. (I had to drop all X,Y, and Z classes, apparently.) It was too much work to keep track of. I know that sounds crazy from a graduate student, but there were three exams, a paper, and weekly homework. Way too much to constantly keep on top of.

My choices for a classes (aside from Design Seminar and Design Studio, which are required) are Sketching & Modeling (to improve my atrocious drafting skills) and a late addition to the schedule: Mapping & Diagramming. (I kept all the Y & Z classes apparently.)

S&M (!) should be fun. It's designed to give those of us without visual design backgrounds more of the fundamentals. It rotates between four different teachers and is focused on lots of in-class exercises to improve our skills.

Mapping & Diagramming is a small class focused on information design as it is displayed in, well, maps and diagrams. It's being taught by Karen Moyer, who also teaches typography and color, so I'm hoping we get some of those mixed in as well. She has an Old Skool graphic designer's sensibility, with a clear sense of the right way to do things, which is sort of refreshing. I should learn a lot from this class.

All in all, I think this should be a pretty interesting suite of classes for Spring.

posted at 09:29 AM in classes | comments (0) | trackback (0) | link


Tuesday, January 13, 2004

First Readings for Design Seminar II
We having readings before the class has even begun! Our first readings are:

  • "Action, Interaction, Reaction" by Nico MacDonald from Blueprint Magazine
  • "About Interaction Design" from our colleagues at the Interaction Institute, Ivrea
  • "From Formalism to Social Significance in Communication Design" by Jodi Forlizzi (our professor) and C. Lebbon from Design Issues, V18 n4.

posted at 09:37 AM in readings | comments (0) | trackback (0) | link


Monday, January 12, 2004

The Goal of Interaction Designers
Design Studio professor Shelley Evenson today also offered her list of the type of interactions that designers should strive to create:

  • Compelling. Capture the users' imaginations.
  • Orienting. Help users navigate the (digital) world.
  • Embedded. Becomes a part of the users' lives.
  • Generative. Promises more good things.
  • Reverberating. Makes users say to others, "You just have to try this!"

posted at 08:26 PM in big ideas, design 101 | comments (0) | trackback (0) | link


Grad Design Studio II started off with a bang: the formal (although it's been an open secret for weeks) announcement that we're doing a project with a little company called Microsoft this semester. It's one big project for the whole semester, revolving around a MS initiative called miLife (not to be confused with Apple's iLife suite). Apparently, although we're going to find out more on Wednesday during a conference call with 'the client," it involves Microsoft wanting to move into more non-office (and non-Office-) spaces. miLife is about "Realizing the benefits of the personal computer through hardware and software integration." Whatever that means.

On Wednesday, we'll find out who is on our in-house team, which is important because you are stuck with them for the whole semester. The team will work through a version of Alan Cooper's design process towards a final product, which MS may or may not go forward with.

Should be interesting.

posted at 08:18 PM in projects | comments (0) | trackback (0) | link


Sunday, January 11, 2004

Back to School Brunch
In honor of school starting back up, my wife and I hosted a back to school brunch for my classmates this morning. Nice to see everybody again and get warmed up for starting classes. I'll be glad to be in school again.

posted at 04:56 PM in extracurricular | comments (0) | trackback (0) | link


‹‹ preceding entries




All straight lines circle sometimes. - The Weakerthans