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Saturday, May 15, 2004

Graduation Day 2004
Graduation day. All the second-year grad students who've finished (or nearly have) their classwork and thesis work got their diplomas today at a ceremony in the University Center.

I shall miss them. In some ways, I'm as attached to the new graduates as I am to my own class. Most of them are closer to me in age and experience than most of my class (who, it should be said, have their own charms). And since I deferred for a year, I've always thought of myself as the phantom member of their class, like Elijah at seder. But of course, I'm not.

And now, I am truly a second-year grad student.

posted at 08:09 PM in alumni, classmates, cmu | comments (0) | trackback (0) | link


Wednesday, May 12, 2004

School's Out for Summer
Today was the last day of school for the 2003-4 school year. My paper is turned in. My project is over. My poster is finished. My thesis paper proposal is approved. My thesis project proposal is approved. My grades are in for the class I taught. My library books are returned and my thesis research books are on order from Amazon. My keys to my classrooms and grad studio are turned in. My fall class schedule is decided. I've got a summer job working at a local software design firm, MAYA Viz.

The only thing left to do is watch my friends and classmates graduate on Saturday and the year will be over. It's a bittersweet feeling.

posted at 08:16 PM in cmu, student life | comments (0) | trackback (0) | link


Thesis Project Presentations 2004
I spent Monday watching the second-year students present their thesis projects. Being there was like being a guest at a wedding: you're glad for the celebration, but equally glad you aren't the one getting married. Next year, it'll be me and my first-year classmates up there...

I've collected the projects (or their descriptions) I could find online:

posted at 07:57 PM in classmates, cmu | comments (0) | trackback (0) | link


Teaching Interaction Design
Since I just turned in my students' final grades and my students have already filled out their course evaluation of me, I thought I would jot down a few words about my first time teaching design and about the course in general. Call it a self-evaluation.

Obvious point number one: Teaching is moderately difficult. I'm not used to getting up in front of 20 people twice a week and either tell them what I know or critique their work. I also wasn't prepared for the blank stare that most students (yes, even graduate students, I've looked) have. It's daunting at first, and I was definitely prone to answering the questions I posed myself without allowing enough time for the students to answer the questions themselves. Teaching is actually easy, but getting the students to learn is what is hard.

Which brings me to point two. If I was going to teach this class again, I'd teach it differently. I think I spent too much time on interaction design concepts outside of projects. Although I tried to integrate the topics into the process (talking about visual design before the students did visual design, say), it probably would have been better to just toss the students into the digital pool, then talk about concepts as they arose during projects. I'd probably get rid of the first third of the class and replace it with a longer project. Make the class three big projects instead of two big projects and two small ones.

I would also probably change the nature of at least one of the projects. As I'm constantly being told, there is a big difference between designing a vase and designing something to hold flowers. Both of my big projects this time around were about designing vases. And the students designed really nice vases. And it is important to know how to do that. You do need to walk before you can run. But next time, the last project at least will be more open-ended, more about coming up with a concept and running with it. Maybe something to hold flowers...

posted at 07:25 PM in teaching | comments (0) | trackback (0) | link


Tuesday, May 11, 2004

One Year Old
Today marks the one-year anniversary of this blog. Seems like just yesterday, I was starting it. To date: 245 entries and 94 comments. About 550 distinct visitors a day. Thanks for reading everyone!

posted at 06:14 PM in meta | comments (3) | trackback (0) | link


Thesis Project Proposal
I've gotten my thesis project proposal (29k pdf) approved! My project will be creating an application prototype for what Don Norman refers to as pile cabinets: a different way of organizing things on the desktop. Instead of file folders and hierarchies, you arrange stacks of documents into thematic piles, just like you probably do on your physical desk.

posted at 05:49 PM in thesis project | comments (1) | trackback (0) | link


Thesis Paper Proposal
After seven (7) different ideas and proposals(!), I've selected a topic for my thesis paper: The Role of Metaphor in Interaction Design. My proposal (35k pdf) was signed off by my advisor Shelley Evenson this morning. Hooray!

In case you're wondering what the other, unchosen ones were:

  • A Taxonomy of Digital Adaptive Tools
  • Visualizing the Behavior of Adaptive Monitoring Tools
  • Designing for Creative Misuse
  • Cinematic Interaction Design: Using the Language and Conventions of Film to Enhance Applications, Web Sites, and Operating Systems
  • Refreshing the Desktop Metaphor

I'm not sure whether there was a progression in there or not...

posted at 05:19 PM in thesis paper | comments (0) | trackback (0) | link


The Sounds of the Amazon.com
My music map (608k pdf) of the top 20 Amazon.com albums and their connected links is finally done. It only took an estimated 120 or so hours of work. Tedious work. But it looks pretty cool. Nice big poster to hang up on the wall, for those of you with printers that can print 3'x6'.

posted at 05:01 PM in projects | comments (0) | trackback (0) | link


Sunday, May 9, 2004

SeeNote: Final Presenation
My team presented our final concept, specifications, and scenario of use (5.76mb ppt) for the Microsoft miLife project. We created a device (that could also be just a software platform) that combines the always-on, flexible nature of post-it notes with the intelligence of software. If you want to know what I've been up to for the last three months, this is it.

What you won't see in the PowerPoint is the 1.5 minute movie we shot as a sort of "commercial" for the device over the last two weeks. Unfortunately, it's way too big to post in its current, high-quality DVD state, but I'll see what I can do to post it later.

I can't tell you what a relief it is to have finished this project. It was a great project, but the workload, combined with three other classes, was pretty intense. Kudos to my teammates Jennifer Anderson, Chun-Yi Chen, and especially Phi-Hong Ha for putting up with me and for making my concept really come alive.

posted at 09:42 AM in classmates, projects | comments (4) | trackback (0) | link


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