May 14, 2005

Master of Design

This is my last entry for this blog, as today I am no longer a master's candidate, I am a Master of Design. This isn't a boast; it's my degree: M.Des. And today I will walk across a stage and be handed my diploma and my graduate studies will officially end. I hope you'll move over to my other blog and follow my adventures at Adaptive Path and beyond.

Last night, a group of us went out together with our families for a pre-celebration, and tonight, on this rainy Saturday in Pittsburgh, I'll do it again with just my family, my friend Jeff Howard, and my advisor Shelley Evenson. I'm sure we'll raise a glass and toast CMU.

What Dick Buchanan said on the first day of school is ringing in my ears: "We will teach you to do design so well that we will, at the end of two years, call you a master of it." And so it has come to pass. I hope you've enjoyed reading this blog, especially those of you who have been following it since the beginning. I'm glad to have done it--almost as glad as I am to finish it.

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May 12, 2005


I turned in my keys to my classroom and to the grad studio today. It reminded me of that day less than two years ago when Ian Hargraves took me to the Design office to help me get my keys in the first place.

I also cleaned out my desk, which had me recalling when I picked my first seat last year, and picking my seat this past year at orientation.

It's gone by so fast.

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May 03, 2005

Last Days of D School

The last days of graduate school are surprisingly quiet, although filled with anxiety and a tinge of panic. I went to my last class last week, which, like my first class, was with the inspiring Dick Buchanan. My last crit was yesterday, for service design, presenting a rethinking of Pittsburgh's light rail service, the T. Next Monday, I present my thesis project and turn in the final version of my thesis paper to be bound. Thus, these last days are about the final polish on my thesis work: typesetting and proofreading the thesis paper while creating the presentation and process book for my project. I'm also sending frantic emails to my developer, Dave Rowett, about bugs and final features to make it into the project prototype. It's all coming to a close.

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April 27, 2005


CMU has admitted a new group of students for next year's class, and I realize I probably won't meet them. At least not as a fellow student. I've passed on the moderator role of CMU Grads, our n00bie mailing list, to Laura Wright, and soon my tenure as Graduate Student Assembly representative will end as well.

I feel like I'm hitting a string of Lasts now. Last class. Last crit. Last food from the CMU trucks. Etc. It's making me a little blue. But then, all good things must pass, and I know I couldn't bear another year in school. I can barely stand another two and a half weeks. Two and a half that all that's left? It's hard to believe, and to come to terms with.

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April 20, 2005


With my post-school job settled and graduation looming, I've got the disease that affects millions of high school seniors every year: senioritis: the inability to do schoolwork or to care about the schoolwork you do do. I'm fighting it, but not very effectively. Which is bad news for my remaining schoolwork.

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April 17, 2005

Dark Suit, Black Tie

Today was the second time in two years that I've dressed in a dark suit with a black tie to attend a memorial service for someone affiliated with CMU design. I hope it is the last.

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April 15, 2005

Carnival 2005

A CMU tradition, Carnival, started yesterday and continues throughout the weekend. The Shins are headlining the big concert that rages on the CFA lawn in the center of campus tonight.

Today and tomorrow are the particular CMU institution of Sweepstakes: buggy races that go through campus and into Schenley Park and back again. It's an amazingly huge deal and a blast to watch. I've been looking forward to it since last year. Also like last year, the weather is glorious: sunny with blue skies: a Pittsburgh rarity.

This is one of the things I'll miss.

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April 14, 2005

T-Minus One Month

Only one month left. So much left to do, so many loose ends to wrap up. Things are starting to fall into place for after I graduate, but that puzzle isn't fully resolved yet by any means. The clock ticks and days get marked off on the calendar, one by one.

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April 10, 2005

Lost Time

I've been traveling so much lately I feel like I've lost two weeks of school--and I suppose I have. This leaves me with only about a month to finish:

And that's just schoolwork. This isn't even mentioning the ongoing job interviews and negotiations, house hunting from 2000 miles away, teaching my class, and various extracurricular things coming up like CMU's Carnival coming up next weekend.


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April 03, 2005


This has been a terrible year for the school of design. Christina Musante becomes seriously ill. John Rheinfrank passes away, as do other members of his and Shelley Evenson's families. And now this. It is nearly too much to imagine, to bear. My heart aches for the Boyarskis.

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Frequent Fliers

My classmates and I are scattered across the country these days, with job interviews and a handful of people presenting at CHI. The list of companies that people are talking to is impressive, a partial Who's Who of Interaction Design: Adaptive Path, Agnew Moyer Smith, Apple, Cooper, Google, IDEO, Microsoft, Motorola, Razorfish, Samsung, Sapient, Smart Design, and Yahoo. I wish us all luck.

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March 17, 2005


I ordered my cap and gown and Master's hood today. The sun is shining. I removed the lining from my jacket. Spring is here, finally. The end is in sight.

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March 14, 2005

T-Minus Two Months

It's an unusually bright and sunny day for Pittsburgh as I return back to school after break to start the last two months of school. The last ten percent of anything is usually the hardest, and I'm sure that could be the case as I wrap up my two-year odyssey here.

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March 03, 2005

Spring Break 2005

School is off for a week. The second-year women in my program are headed to Ashley Deal's father's house in Florida for some tanning. Me, I'm off to Montreal, where I'll be lucky if the temperature gets above 20F.

It's funny, but I can slowly feel myself disengaging with school. It's that feeling of being somewhere but your mind is somewhere else. School doesn't seem as difficult now because I'm not so wrapped up in it. I want to be finished, sure, and I'm enjoying my classes this semester, but it's not such a grind as, well, the first 3/4 of school were. Maybe it's because the end is in sight. Maybe it's because my thesis paper is mainly done and my thesis project is back in development again. Or maybe I've finally gone totally insane. Either way, it's a relief.

Have a nice break.

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February 26, 2005


In the last week, I

Anyway, this is what I've been dealing with. In this last semester, the schoolwork has gotten lighter, but the stress is still high.

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February 23, 2005

Career Dazed

The past two days have been the annual ritual known as Career Days, during which the School of Design is like a crazed bear half-shot full of tranquilizers, lurching around madly pawing at itself. I exaggerate, but only a little. For graduating students, it's a time of dressing up and subjecting yourself to a speed-dating style of job interviews in 20-minute blocks. Studios are cleaned, portfolios put together, interview clothes bought.

This year, like last, a reasonably impressive spread of companies came by with jobs to offer: Apple, Microsoft, GE, Google, Motorola, Sapient, Razorfish, and Siegel + Gale to name a few. A number of the interviewers were CMU alumni returning to rescue more of us and give us hope.

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January 19, 2005

Making Bouillon from a Cow

This week for the 2nd year grad students has been all about preparing for this Friday's thesis paper presentations, when we get 10 minutes to present the 30-some-odd pages of our thesis papers to the other graduate students, faculty, and guests. Currently, I have about 30 slides, which is one slide for every 20 seconds speaking time. Thus, I'm trying to edit down.

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January 11, 2005

The Path of Least Resistance

I've been doing a small version of the CMU tradition of signing up for too many classes, then visiting them the first week, looking at the syllabi, then figuring out which ones I really want to take and dropping the rest. At this point in my graduate career (i.e. near the bitter end), I'm pretty unwilling to take on more ambitious classes that will distract me further from my thesis work and post-school planning (finding housing, jobs, etc.). Right now, it's all about the path of least resistance to graduation day.

It sounds horribly lazy, and it probably is, but I feel like I've gotten my money's worth from school already. You could take classes forever, really, given the time and inclination. After meeting with some companies over winter break, I definitely have very little inclination to do that. I don't want to waste my remaining time here at school, but neither do I want to burn myself out completely. This semester is crammed with so much stuff: teaching, conferences, presenting my thesis paper and project, finishing my thesis paper and project, career days, and hopefully graduating, that something had to give. And that something was my desire to squeeze every last drop from CMU that I possibly can. It simply isn't possible and it's getting in the way of the goal: May 14th, when I will hopefully be called a Master of Design.

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December 22, 2004

Winter "Break"

I'm off for winter break, which involves trips to Baltimore for Christmas festivities, then off to San Francisco for job interviews and kindergarten tours (for my daughter). Somewhere in between I have to finalize the syllabus for the Interface and Interaction Design class I'm teaching, which starts January 10th. It's a substantial overhaul from last year's class, both in terms of projects and curriculum.

In any case, I hope you have a great and festive holiday season and I'll blog you next year.

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December 18, 2004

Fall's End

Elizabeth is right: it's at the end of the semester that taking studio classes really catches up to you, with their final projects. I haven't posted here in 10 days, which is probably the longest I've gone while school is in session without an entry. When I haven't been furiously working (7am-midnight, 7 days a week), or taking final classes, I've simply been too exhausted and/or burned out to blog.

In any case, fall semester is over now, and all my projects turned in, and I've even gotten some of my grades, including the first B I've gotten in grad school. (Bs in grad school are the equivalent of the "Gentleman's C" of an earlier era.) I'm trying not to be annoyed by it, but it probably blows my chances of getting into the graduate school's honor society, Phi Kappa Phi. My GPA is now 3.88, my lowest previous grade being an A- (and only one of those). But it's not about grades, right? Right.

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December 06, 2004

If Desktops Reflect a State of Mind... desk says it all on this, the last week of classes.

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December 01, 2004

A Light at Tunnel's End

In my email this morning:

Dear Carnegie Mellon Graduating or Graduated Student,
You are receiving this message because you have either graduated this past summer or will graduate this fall or coming spring.

Commencement is May sure to bookmark this web site for the most up-to-date commencement information.


Enrollment Services and the Office of Events Management

I can't tell you how happy this made me.

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November 22, 2004

Sick of It All

If you’re fine, you can wait
Don’t mention that you’re sick of this place
Say you’re not sold, you’re sick of it all
Say you’re not sold, you’re sick of it all
Just as long as it takes
What’s the upside of this place?
-Pete Yorn, "Carlos (Don't Let It Go To Your Head)"

This is a rant from a tired, burned out man. I can understand if you'd want to skip this post. You've been warned.

I am so sick of school. I'm tired of everything: the projects, the classes, the constant, unrelenting work. The lack of money. The lack of free time. (I haven't read a work of fiction in a year and a half.) The constant feeling that you are falling behind and need to be working on something. It's wearing me down and making me irritable and angry.

I feel like I don't have the time to do anything as well as I'd like, thus everything I'm doing sorta sucks. Everything is suffering. And I don't have the adrenaline (or, frankly, the desire) that I had last fall to just stay up until 2 a.m. every night to make it all come out all right. I am just creatively drained. Although I'm still learning a lot, the projects are all starting to just feel like impediments to my graduating, rather than being enjoying unto themselves.

Adding to my agony is the knowledge that I don't want to feel this way. I want to enjoy and appreciate school. I'm paying through the nose for it, after all. And I chose to do this. No one has to go to graduate school. And many would kill to be here, doing what I'm doing and learning what I'm learning. It's just exhausting and right now, I can't wait until it's over. I so envy the HCI students with their one-year program, and the classmates who've already graduated.

I'm hoping this is just some end-of-the-semester funk, because I've still got six months left of school to make it through. I am so over it.

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November 15, 2004

Wake Up Call

Today was probably the last time I'll ever wake up at 6:00 am, trudge blearily to my laptop, and register for classes before trudging back to bed again. It's good and bad.

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November 11, 2004

Waiting for Mok

Once every couple of years, the Design Advisory Board pays a visit to the School of Design to make sure we're on track. This week was one of those times. After a flurry of frantic activity, cleaning studios and hanging posters, most of the grad students hung out in studio all afternoon Tuesday, waiting for a studio tour that never happened. Oh well. Hopefully the visit went well.

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November 09, 2004

Post-Midterm Malady

It's about the time in the semester when, thanks to the unrelenting workload and the fluctuations in the Pittsburgh weather (65 degrees F one day, 35 degrees F the next), people start getting sick. I'm no exception: I've been fighting off a cold for about two days now, and I've finally lost. I woke up this morning with a raging sore throat. I think I finally got what a lot of my classmates had last week: the post-midterm malady.

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October 17, 2004


On Friday, most of the second-year students gathered at my classmate and friend Ashwini Asokan's apartment to celebrate the Indian festival of Navarathri. By celebrating, I mean eating a ton of food that Ashwini and some of her friends made especially for us and for the festival. I had to roll myself out of there.

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September 16, 2004

Design School Convocation 2004

The School of Design held its annual "Welcome Back to School" meeting yesterday. Dan Boyarski, the head of the school, introduced the students, faculty, and staff, talked about changes in the school both good (new facilities) and bad (the loss of some alumni and teachers). My CPID classmate and friend Christina Musante was also mentioned. Over the summer, she suffered a brain aneurism and is taking a year off to recover. She's lucky to be alive and I wish her well.

Afterwards, we all went outside for a barbeque. A nice way to start off the year.

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