Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Undecided About The 2008 California Primary Election

I must admit that I am undecided about tomorrows Primary election. I spent the whole weekend trying to stay warm and absorb as much political propaganda as I could stand, without loosing all sanity. One moment, I find myself leaning towards Hillary. Then, I think perhaps Barack is better.

All I care about is that whatever Democrat is nominated, they must be able to beat the Republican candidate. Will Hillary be able to win over John McCain? Can Obama? Anyway, I'm blogging about this because I want YOU to help me make up my mind.

Barack vs. Hillary Pros and Cons

Hillary Clinton
Pro: She's a Clinton.
Con: She's a Clinton.
Pro: She can get stuff done "from day one".
Con: Yeah but is she really looking out for the interests of the people? Or is she already in the pockets of the corporations?
Pro: She's a woman.
Con: She might not beat John McCain because she's a woman.

Barack Obama
Pro: Fresh meat.
Con: Too fresh? Is Barack just too young and inexperienced?
Pro: The Kennedys like him.
Con: I think the Kennedy's are elitists who do a lot of stupid things and get themselves killed a lot.
Pro: Change is good. I want change.
Con: I really don't want to vote for the "cool candidate" I really want the best person for the job.

I would relish a comment from you.

Monday, January 28, 2008

SFMOMA Shows: Jeff Wall, Olafur Eliasson, Gabriele Basilico

Tired of being stuck inside by the weather, I went to go check out some art, and was pleasantly surprised. I actually like some of the shows at the San Francisco MOMA right now.

Not to be missed!
Take your time: Olafur Eliasson
One room makes you sleepy,
and one room makes you small,
and the room next to the elevators
has absolutely no color at all...

Read the SFMOMA write up, or just go see it yourself.

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Gabriele Basilico
Wonderful photography of San Francisco & Silicon valley. It's interesting how Basilico captured such 'classical' looking photos out of such a modern place.

SFMOMA says: This exhibition presents a series of nearly 50 black-and-white and color photographs taken by Basilico at the invitation of SFMOMA during a monthlong residency in the Bay Area last summer. Chronicling the impact of the technology boom on the region, this exhibition will be the first of an ongoing project focused on Silicon Valley, in which artists will document the area on film. Basilico’s objective style and affinity for observing marginalized urban settings in a classical mode promises a compelling counterpoint to future installments in the project.
more

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Jeff Wall
I loved this exhibit, but it's over now. Amazing photographic compositions depicting the abstractions in seemingly everyday life. Those light boxes are genius, I want a dozen of 'em! You can still check out this cool interactive feature to see what I mean.

SFMOMA says: Canadian artist Jeff Wall is widely recognized as an innovative picture-maker whose dynamic photographs, both color and black-and-white, have affinities with painting and cinema. Their sense of scale comes from Wall's interest in the tradition of painting, and their methods of production from his fascination with cinematography. A number of the pictures are photomontages — combinations of different negatives digitally interwoven to create engaging narratives — often illuminated on light boxes. more

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An-my LĂȘ: Small Wars
I'm a lover not a fighter, so I had less love for this exhibit. But technically the photography is very good. I'm sure some people might like the subject matter. more

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Updating Studioroom.com

Hello! This post is to let everybody know that I am in the process of updating my website, Studioroom.com. I will be posting a new and improved up to date portfolio within the next two weeks. I hope to get this done before February 3rd.

In the mean time, I'm going to continue to blog right here in Informational Geometry. Look for more humorous observations about life, and Steph's take on the California Primaries. Thanks.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Getting Out of Jury Duty

Suddenly I remembered the one and only reason for not registering to vote when I received my latest jury summons for the San Francisco court. I hate jury duty. It's not that I'm an anarchist or that I dont like looking at men in uniform. I simply cannot afford to do it, one doesn't get paid for their service to the court*.

The night before I tried to find creative ways to try to get myself out of jury duty. Like printing a huge penis on a t-shirt to wear to the court. I suspected this might not work the way I wanted, so instead I picked out my "I'm a woman and I vote" t-shirt, and wore that instead. Hey, an opinionated woman is a scary thing to a lot of people, even... especially in San Francisco.

10:30 am: There I was at 10:30am reporting for duty in room 307 of the Hall of Justice. They took names. I felt like a child. Damn why couldn't my last name start with the letter A?

10:45 am: And now for the video. How delightful, California sponsored bullshit trying to tell me how important it is for me to not get paid! Now that we've been put in line, by a video, we're off to the court room.

11:30 am: All 50 of us potential jurors shuffle into a newly remodeled courtroom where names are called again. It's like sitting in a beige fishbowl with lots of chairs and a great big seal of California. There is absolutely nothing interesting to gaze at. Judge Jackson comes in, and the room is suddenly lit up by this beautiful african american woman. But any brightness she brings quickly fades as she launches right into a long winded bureaucratic nightmare.

Questions like; "Do you understand that you must be impartial?" and "Can you check your personal grievances at the door?" and "Can you speak English?" are asked. When is somebody going to ask me if I want to be here?

1:00 pm: After lunch, I'm starving. There are only bail bond places around the courthouse. They take our attendance, again.

It takes a while to ask people if they are fit enough to be a juror, as if they can't believe what anybody says, jurors are asked to draw out their reasons. I'm getting impatient. A few jurors argued that they aren't ready for jury duty, these poor people trying to explain, as politely as possible, that they "just cant be there right now". Its clear that people like the maid, and a cook, simply cannot afford this. Another web developer chimes in and uses deadlines as a reason for needing to leave. Sucker. Judge Jackson just sends them all back to room 307, nobody truely gets dismissed, just rescheduled. Where is my penis t-shirt?

For my part I was as flippant as possible without getting into trouble. As soon as they asked people if they could be impartial, I said, "NO". No explanations. No humoring stupid lawyers. just NO. That pissed them off. Actually I did give them an explanation, I said my brother is a cop, and I hear too many of his work stories, and I am incapable of being impartial, thanks. This was my only tactic for getting out of jury duty without getting sent back to 307. But would it work?

3:30 pm: I know all there is to know about the waiting game... How long does it take? I'm starting to get worried, like the cop excuse wasn't enough. Panicing I seized every opportunity to be annoying. Fidgeting and yawning a lot. What's this? What do I think about drug use? The conversation just got interesting. Suddenly a room full of adult San Franciscans are openly discussing the topic of illegal drug use, ON RECORD, in public. Then we're asked to say where we live, if we're married or single, and what we do for a living. What? Un-be-fucking-lievable. I just say I am a "self employed artist". OMG I think I've lost $500 already.

The story has a happy ending. My scheme worked but a little late, I was dismissed from jury duty the following morning, principles and personal information still in tact. Despite my bad attitude, the jury selection process was fairly well run. It was certainly better managed, and less of a waste of time than interviewing for a job in Silicon Valley. Certainly much, MUCH better than interviewing for a job at Google.

My only problem with jury duty, is not getting paid. Actually, you do get paid $15/day. Still clearly not enough money to even eat with in this city.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Oh God! Lyrica vs. Ecstasy

Here are a few fascinating news items which caught my attention this week and I wanted to share.

Guess which drug is illegal?
One deadens nerves, barely works, has foul side effects. The other helps you feel God

By Mark Morford, SF Gate Columnist
Friday, January 18, 2008


As reported by the Washington Post and the Guardian, as far as PTSD alone is concerned, some docs already see MDMA as potentially life-saving, a true wonder drug, which might even be administered to all our traumatized U.S. soldiers. Which could be good news indeed, given how an estimated 24 million Americans suffer from PTSD, whereas only a fraction of that number claim to have fibromyalgia.

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Um... how fucking broken and downright unfair is the entire banking system?

Baltimore Finds Subprime Crisis Snags Women

Published: January 15, 2008

... Though women and men have roughly the same credit scores, the Consumer Federation of America found that women were 32 percent more likely to receive subprime loans than men. The disparity existed within every income and ethnic group. Blacks and Latinos are also more likely to get subprime loans than comparable white borrowers.

In another study, the National Community Reinvestment Coalition found that women received 37 percent of high-cost home loans in 2005, compared with just 28 percent of prime loans. Preliminary research by the organization suggests that this gap may have tightened as subprime loans crested in 2006.
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Carrol Lloyd's Surreal Estate, is a column that I love to hate. Here is her latest illustration of how fucked up Bay Area real estate is. Revealing that a lot of new construction is in places that nobody actually wants to live. She makes an interesting (class related) remark in the last sentence.

Old home, new home: What can you get for the same price?

By Carol Lloyd, Special to SF Gate
Friday, January 18, 2008

Friday, January 11, 2008

YouTube Interview Homework

A friend suggested I post the doc of my 'homework' from my recent interviews. Why not? Below is a google doc, cut and pasted into Blogger.

What would I do as Community UI Designer. Find 3 things on YouTube that I dont like for me as a user, what changes would I make (to fix those things I dont like).


Watching/Sharing Videos
Although comments & response are very entertaining it's annoying to see stupid or inappropriate comments. Being able to sort comments via "Show Comments" pulldown is useful, but I want YouTube to be intelligent and do some of that work for me.

Suggestions:

- Adding friends is difficult to discover as it is buried in the sharing functionality. That whole interaction needs to be elevated.
- Change "Comments and Responses" header to "Conversations" or . And show user's online status (if appropriate) within the "Conversation" area. Consider incorporating user thumbnails next to comments.
- Showing user's online status should be more contextual overall.
- It would be interesting in a social context to show RSS feed content on the watch pages.
- Make the display of comments smart. Elevate better comments over bad comments. Automatically show higher ranked comments over top of newest comments.
- When sharing a video, the email that get's sent should have the User's Personal Message, thumbnail, & should be put at the top of the email.
- Wish I could see what actions I have taken on a specific video. As I revisit a video I would like to see My Rating, In which playlist, if it's a favorite, and if I've sent it to anybody. And then it might be interesting to show friend activity on the same page.
- When sharing a video I would like youtube to just get my friends email addresses strait out of gmail (geeky yes).
- It will be interesting to see how OpenSocial could work within the YouTube UI.
- Streamline the UI by tightening spacing and improving the fit and feel of the UI controls within the commenting area. (not community).
- Overall the area directly below the video should have be more streamlined looking, be more personalized informationaly, and show more contextual user specific info.


Me, Messages, My Account, History, & Community Tab
These areas are an informational mess. Clicking on this I expect to be able to find people. Contests and groups are related to community but what's the difference between the two since many groups ARE contests? Also, it's disjointed how all a user's profile info is hidden in the IA and is only accessible next to the Hello greeting. I can search directly for a user but the search results are weak (iow try searching for "John", you'll get too many irrelevant results). How do I know if some of my friends are already on YouTube? Finally profile information and some "My Account" page could get distributed better through some other pages and within the Community tab.

It seems like there's too much information under "My Account"...and it's out of sync with a lot of other websites. The word "account" is usually associated with account settings specifically, and can navigate to a lot more than manage settings from this page. Fundamentally, I feel like there's an AI problem when it comes to interacting with other people on Youtube. all content associated with community, account, user profiles ect.

Suggestions:
- Show where the user is 100% of the time in the main nav
- There could be some Dynamic Social Inbox, where users can communicate with friends.
- Form design for ALL of the Edit pages (example: Edit personal info) should be redesigned. All this info could get done / displayed inline with ajax. If users can update their profile easier, they will change them more often. And improve them more often. Creating a better ux over time.
- Users post URLs to their Profile, as lists. It would be awesome show rss feed information. For example, let people see updated blog text from a users blog.
- Some of the information a user puts in to edit: my_profile_personal should get linked.
- drilling down into contests I would like the ability to sort & filter the contests
- same for groups


Browsing Top Level Pages
I dont like it that I see a lot of offensive (to me) content when I browse. Some content is interesting, and I do like finding new things. I'm sure some other users like boobs, but I don't. I wish it was easier to find interesting things which are relevant to me.

Suggestions:
- A lot of personalization could go into the top level browsing and searching pages. Why make users drill down to get to relevant content?
Good personalization can create a very sticky "threaded experience" it would be great to move viewing history into the top level pages.
- On the Videos tab I could see browse filters like: "My Recently Viewed, My Playlists, My Shared, Recommended For Me"
- Channels tab could show "My Subscriptions" or "Subscribe to a tag"
- Search results could be richer and more comprehensive. Where's the advanced search?
- It would be great if you could set a home page, a "make this page my start page" button.

General
- Why not full 1024 pixel width?
- With embedability, YouTube could rely on other social networks to um, do the work of social networking.
- A lot of small flows could get simplified with AJAX interactions for example: - newplaylist > create/edit playlist
- It seems like the top nav tabs could be redesigned, with more tabs added
- What's the direction? Rely on other social networks to own user profiles limiting community to JUST video sharing? Or go in a communication tool direction? Or build in a fully integrated community?

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Thursday January 10, 2008 To-Do's

1. Finish Like.com style guide, wrap up design work.

2. Kick off new project with SD.

3. Call adult protective services or police to report the abuse & theft of my downstairs neighbor.

4. Go to yoga.

5. Go to Liquid Brain Trust.

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

No You Don't

Nobody reads this blog. Especially, not a single recruiter or any of my clients so here I go...

I broke up with my sugar daddy yesterday. Very casually, on the phone, on of my clients just isn't into his start-up company anymore. (secretly, I couldn't be happier.) He said he realized, over the last month that developing a new website would be a lot more tedious than he thought. It must have been that user survey I made him do over Thanksgiving. I think he now sees the disconnect between geeky ideas and what people actually want. Just trying to talk to the 2 engineers and manage that process was an unbelievable hassle for a tiny project. I wish I had nicer things to say about the engineers on this one, but I don't.

Meanwhile the recruiters keep banging on my door. Which is great, I guess. Oh yeah, remember all those wasted interview hours in 2007? NOT AGAIN! One job description asks for a Design Manager, but if you read it, it's very poorly written, it was probably all cut and pasted together. Most of the skills listed were programming skills, so I was dumbfounded by why they were calling this a "design manager" job. Another job description I got was for a strait up engineer, a "UI Engineer", DELETE! Recruiters can be the dumbest, laziest professionals in the world. It absolutely amazes me how they never fail to waste your time.

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Happy 2008

I was ready for the new year about a month ago. Not that 2007 didn't have it's wonderful moments, but I seem to have wasted too much time in 2007 doing a lot of useless crap, like using social networks. So I thought it was funny when at a party on new years I overheard a lady who works for Facebook talking about her job, "Because I sell Facebook apps I'm always installing them. Then as soon as I realize how lame they are I quickly remove them." Ha ha ha.

So big changes are afoot. The results from my poll are in and art/culture is the winner. Horay! Look for changes to this blog and studioroom.com over the next couple of weeks.