Sunday 10.31.10 - Today dawned dewy and autumn-esque, of which it remained through most of the day as the touch of chill did not leave the air. All of this called for a walk amongst the old oak trees at Irvine Regional Park before the whirlwind of All Hallow's Eve began.
October 2010 Archives
Thurs 10.28.10 - Photo taken by Ms. Jen with her Nokia N8.
Wed 10.27.10 - Photo taken by Ms. Jen with her Nokia N8.
If you like to read and have been more than bewildered by the sub-genres that have spawned off of sub-genres, go read Charlie Stross' rant on Steampunk* - The hard edge of empire.
It is a good and glorious essay/rant:
We've been at this point before with other sub-genres, with cyberpunk and, more recently,
paranormal romance fang fuckers bodice rippers with vamp-Sparkly Vampyres in Lurve: it's poised on the edge of over-exposure. Maybe it's on its way to becoming a new sub-genre, or even a new shelf category in the bookstores. But in the meantime, it's over-blown. The category is filling up with trashy, derivative junk and also with good authors who damn well ought to know better than to jump on a bandwagon. (Take it from one whose first novel got the 'S'-word pinned on it -- singularity -- back when that was hot: if you're lucky, your career will last long enough that you live to regret it.) Harumph, young folks today, get off my lawn ....
I am not a big fan of Steampunk the sub-culture, as I have only seen it in the late stages of its decline - the point where it is a fashion/identity sub-culture**. As for Steampunk the literary sub-genre, I have only read one novel that even has a bit of steampunk in it, of which the book was a tongue-in-cheek bit of romance-vampyre-regency-werewolf-steampunk-victorian-humor fluff of the best read it in three hours sort.
But then again, that is how I find myself reading many genres of fiction, I start off reading the humorous parody novels, get curious, and then start reading the 'real' books in the genre, which is not a bad way to find books to read.
All that to say, go read Charlie's The hard edge of empire.
* Steampunk is a sub-genre mashup of SF/Fantasy, time anachronisms, Industrial Revolution dystopia/utopia, and sometimes with the addition of either the historical Romance and/or Vampyres & Zombies genres.
** Now as a person who has participated, with joyful abandon, in several fashion/identity/music sub-cultures, I will not condemn the folks who are having fun living the steampunk life, I am merely stating that it is not my thing (too much brown, sepia, and finicky metal bits).
Both photos I took today were test photos and not up to snuff for posting, the rest of the day was spent working on a client website.
This afternoon, I tried to make light of it on Twitter:
But by 7pm this evening, my sense of humor had departed:
Feeling ill, plus being on deadline, is a bad combo. Am going to do what I can do in the next hour and then go to bed.
And goodnight to you and yours.
Johnathan Stark on On the Popularity of Instagram: My big takeaways from this are:
- Define target market as narrowly as possible. One persona is ideal.
- Ruthlessly trim features until you have the concentrated essence of
the app. It's like reducing a sauce: you end up with less liquid, but
- Gorgeous design (icons, graphics, typography, etc) helps."
Fri 10.22.10 - Major Milestone: Magnolia's 1st baby tooth fell out today, with lots of wiggling of said tooth. The best part is that Magnolia is one week shy of her 5th birthday. I call overachiever status for loosing her first tooth at 4.98 years old. ;o)
Photo taken with Ms. Jen's Nokia N8.
My programming professor at Trinity after our classes were over encouraged me to learn Python, of which I have done over the course of the last few years. In the last two years, I have had the opportunity to write several full web apps from the ground up. All of this has been hard, satisfying, and more than a bit of a stretch.
But I am glad that I have pushed my own boundaries and didn't listen to the naysayers, not the ones 15 years ago or last week, who said that an artist/designer/webdev can't learn to code/program.
If you can learn to speak/write/read a language and can reason, of which most of us have done at least once, you can learn to program.
Over the last few years, I have found myself getting increasingly frustrated that there is not the mobile app that I want out there or the one that is out does not have the features that I want, etc etc etc. Up until recently, at least from my perspective, programming a mobile application has been hard as one has to be a "real" programmer, the kind that learned Java/C/C++ in a four year Computer Science bachelors degree.
I am an optimist and frequently over commit myself by getting excited about how easy it will be to learn a new technology or language and then find myself more than a bit overwhelmed. But a funny thing happened along the way, C++ doesn't seem so obscure/opaque and/or hard any more. In experimenting with it recently, I found myself delighting in how easy it was for me to learn it and make simple apps. All that programming in python for Google App Engine over the last 18 months has paid off.
This has me excited. Excited enough to go two weeks ago up to San Francisco for the Nokia Developer Day at CTIA to see the demos and presentations on Qt. Excited enough to then go to the Qt Training Days in Austin this week.
I have mobile app ideas running around my head and now is the time to start programming to get them out and about.
Ms. Jen's DIY Programming Series:
DIY Dev: Program or be Programmed
DIY Programming: Should HTML be Required for Literacy in the 21st Century?
Update: 10.20.10 - 7:34am - Just checking to see if all the photos came up correctly as I directly loaded them from the N8 to the website last night when I got home and they did - Go little Nokia N8, go!
I had a bit of trepidation to come to Austin when it wasn't SXSW (odd, but true), and I have to say it is absolutely delightful. Austin is not just a lovely city to come to a conference in, but it is a lovely city year around. I got a ride from one of my Qt Training classmates into downtown and then I walked from 4th & Congress to South Congress to meet up with Beth Martinez for dinner, the weather was balmy, it was fun to walk over the bridge, down south Congress peeping in store windows and taking it all in with no rush.
Stockholm Syndrome is defined by the of behavior of kidnap victims who, over time, become sympathetic to their captors.
According to some of the phrases that Ben Smith uses in his Nokia N8 review, I must have Mobile Stockholm Syndrome, as I *actually* liked the Nokia N97 from November 2009 to May 2010 and I do *love* the Nokia N8.
Ben says in his last paragraph:
The issue is, Nokia fanatics aside (and I mean them no slight - we all have to be passionate about something), the user experience hasn't improved nearly enough yet so most people will get better real world use from other devices. Only a small minority will accept - long-term - sacrificing general usability for one exceptional feature (in this case the camera)...
The N8 does have its flaws*, but as a camera phone, it is excellent. But as I read Ben's last paragraph, I started to laugh, as I realized that I do have Mobile Stockholm Syndrome, then again, so do most people when it comes to their mobile and carrier/operator relationships.
Come on, admit it: You are willing to put up with an amazing about of _insert_name_of_bovine_excrement_ in exchange for having the coolest/cheapest/bestwhaterfloatsyourboat mobile on your block. You, too, have mobile stockholm syndrome.
And if it is not with your mobile phone, it is with the carrier / company that provides the phone and data service. You haven't left AT&T yet, even with all your grousing about dropped calls, now have you? You are actually kind of fond of it, as it did get you off that uncomfortable call, right? You are just waiting for the iPhone to go to Verizon so you can deeply enjoy your iPhone and local AT&T network without all the hoi poloi junking things up, right?
I am right there with you. Really. Holding my Nokia N8 with the excellent 12 megapixel camera waiting for the teaming iPhone millions to trot away from my network. Darned folk, don't appreciate everything that AT&T has done for them...
While usability does matter for me in many instances, I would rather have a great camera phone with mildly OK usability in terms of the mobile's OS, than to have great usability and only OK to crappy camera. In this I differ from most of my designer friends who love love love their iPhones. Every time I use an iPhone, I just get frustrated and wonder how they can be so over the moon for a phone that is just ok.
Each to their mobile own. We all love our respective mobile captors while we yearn for the perfect mobile or perfect mobile carrier / network, which may only exist in our own minds for that day or week.
*More on this later, but right now it is the radio changing channels and crashing when I am walking due to the motion sensor that is driving me a bit mad. Angry enough to turn off the sensor, but then the radio app still crashed when I was changing channels.
I am not a super-uper-duper early adopter with device lust who *must* have a new device [Insert Name of Object] NOW - of which that now is every few weeks to month.
No, I am another person entirely. I am the person who knows and is friends with the super early adopter device junkies, who is conversant in the various bits about new devices, but whose dirty little secret is that I like to keep my mobile phones for at least 18 months and my computers for at least 3 years before purchasing a new one.
I like getting to know them and living with them over time. And I name them.
I name my cars. I name my computers. And I name my mobile phones.
I had my Nokia 7610 for 18 months. I had my Nokia N95 and used it for 3 years, on & off after the first 18 months. And I have only had my Nokia N86 (love the little beast) for 5 months now and am not sure I am ready to give it up for a new device, no matter how shiny, pretty, new and full of 12 megapixel camera goodness.
When I took my sim and memory chips out of the N86 and did the device transfer to the N8, knowing that it was not a couple week trial but instead for good, I was not ready. I was not ready to give up my N86 yet. I was not ready, no matter how delicious of a camera on the Nokia N8 to give up my precious baby N86.
I have been keeping the N86 with me most of the time without a sim chip in it, ostensibly to take photos for a side by side comparison with the N8. But the real reason is that 5 months is too short of a time with my beloved N86 8mp little tank of a slider phone.
Whatleydude was right, there will never be another mobile like the N86.
Mon 10.11.10 - Local nopal cactus poses for photo. Taken by Ms. Jen with her Nokia N8.
The Nokia N8:
The Nokia N86:
Sun 10.10.10 - All week I have been shooting digital photo stills and video comparisons with the 12 megapixel Nokia N8 and the 8 megapixel Nokia N86, of which this post is Part I of III. I will let you all be the judge here, of video quality - not my poor video'ing skills. I made an effort to not change my location but just do a 360 turn with each camera phone.
While I am not the biggest video fan, as I much prefer digital still photography, it is the 12 mp HD 720p video recording capacity on the Nokia N8 that has folks in a hot sweaty internet bother.
The above videos were shot today at Dog Beach in Huntington Beach sometime in the 4-5pm hour. The text introductions were added by me using the on-board native Nokia video editing bit, no extra editing was done, and then uploaded to Flickr.
07.07.07 - At Book Making Class
06.06.06 - Notice : Under Construction
05.05.05 - Happy Cinco de Mayo
04.04.04 - The Wittlest Cowboy In The West (my favorite in number and in photo)
03.03.03 - Can't remember what happened on this date as I was a month and a half from starting this blog, but I must have been excited about SXSW'03 where I was to hear Mena Trott talk about Movable Type & meet Jish (see 08.08.08 entry) that would inspire me to start this blog.
01.01.01 - Visiting my friend Denise in Boston, gone to see the Amazing Royal Crowns the night before.
Dave Winer on I cheered for Bob Woodward when I read this: "The only way to get what we want is to make the stuff work the way we want it to work. We can't wait for Silicon Valley to do that for us, because they will never do it. It's not in their nature."
Mike Philips in Prospect Magazine on How multiculturalism fails immigrants: "Grouping people according to their "historical" cultural identity is both divisive and dangerous. Migration is about change, not ossification "
Cristiano Betta on My Thoughts on Hack Days: "The great thing though is that this promotes team work. At many Hack Days I see people work mainly in pairs or alone, because we all know it's a pain if you are in a team of 5 and you win ONE prize. Who is taking it home, who will eBay it, who put in the most effort in the hack, etc. I worked in a team of 4 this year at CharityHack and it was the best Hack Day fun I had in a while. I wish more Hack Days would somehow promote team work, either by prizes per team member or any other way."
Last monday at Mobile Monday Silicon Valley, a panel discussion on Native vs. Web apps was had. Here is two summaries of the disucssion:
Mike Rowehl on Apps vs Web Apps Recap at Mobile Monday SV: "[Mobile] Web rendering engines are evolving and getting better at pulling in hardware optimizations in a way that makes the web UI as smooth and efficient as a natively coded version. But there's also a design time solution, forming your UI in a way so that it's compelling to the user but also not overly taxing on the rendering platform. It's a set of design skills that are relatively hard to find currently, but as mobile grows so does the number of folks with the right skills."
Ronan at MobiForge on Mobile Apps vs. Mobile Web: "With all of the buzz around apps & app stores it would be easy to assume that mobile apps have unstoppable momentum and that the mobile web is taking a back seat. It's worth taking a step back to see how this is all going to pan out. Will mobile apps dominate completely and overwhelm the mobile web or does the mobile web still stand a chance?"
Photo taken by Ms. Jen with her Nokia N8.
Ms. Jen, in one sentence please tell us what you think about the Nokia N8:
Here are my first impressions as a photographer, developer, designer, and mobilista in a bit more detail:
1) The Nokia N8 is smaller than I thought or remembered. I did see a few in the wild in May and along with all the promotional photos, I thought/remembered it would be the size of an iPhone in width, but have been pleasantly surprised that it has a huge screen but is still small enough to fit in my little hands comfortably.
2) The screen is amazing and is even better than amazing in strong sunlight. Today at 11am, I sat on a bench on the edge of the San Francisco bay in front of the Ferry Building and was able to check into my flight on Virgin America with my sunglasses on! Yes, the screen, in strong sunlight with sunglasses on was very visible.
4) Symbian ^3 & all touch screen. Anyone who reads my Twitter or this blog knows that I am pretty agnostic about Symbian and not a big all/only touch screen fan, as I do like my buttons. But the Nokia N8 is the first mobile I have met that does not have me yearning heavily to the point of frustration for a keypad or a qwerty keyboard. To that end, while I would like a little more haptic feedback while typing on the virtual on screen keyboard, I am happy with the layout of the keyboard. Honestly, it would be nice to have a mashup of the best of capacitive with the best of resistive touchscreens, but the N8's capacitive touch screen is working for me.
I know that lots of folk have called for Nokia to send Symbian to the dustbin of mobile history, I do think the Symbian and Nokia folks have done a very good to great job of iterating the Symbian S60 5th edition that was on the Nokia N97 into a very usable and yet still familiar Symbian ^3. I have only had a few struggles to find where a function would be and for the most part everything is just so much easier on the N8's OS than on the N97.
5) My only real complaint is that I wish all messaging and all music functions were under one app/folder for each major idea. I would like my email and sms to be in the same folder/silo, as previous editions of Symbian, and not separated out into two different silos. Messaging is messaging, what technology and how long the message is should not matter to the user when tapping an icon. Once I have tapped the icon and am in the app, then I can choose if I want texting or one of my email accounts.
The same goes with Music. I would like one icon for the home screen that then opens a folder/silo where I can find the music player and radio, rather than a bunch of different icons and activities.
6) The hardware build is lovely. The aluminum body feels smooth and organic rather than cold & metal. I love the big screen. I would further love to flip up (twack!) the screen and reveal a physical qwerty keyboard, but I am told I will have to wait for that. And I am darned glad for the gorilla glass front, as my neighbor now has a shattered iPhone 4 front screen due to a gravity storm. Say what you would like about Nokia, but they do make great mobile hardware.
7) Last but not least, the camera is fantastic. Not good. Not decent. Not even great, but fantastic. If you see 'bad' N8 photos, blame the person pushing the shutter button not the N8.
Please look at the unretouched, though resized with the on board editor, sunset photo in the post before this. I purposely set the camera to the highest setting of 12 megapixels and have been just astounded at what a point & shoot camera phone delivers in terms of color, clarity, and color accuracy. The era of crappy camera phone photos is now over.
I would like to publicly thank Damian Dinning and the whole Nseries team, as well as the camera team, for making a truly revolutionary camera phone. Damian and the team's quest for excellence is highly evident. As a photographer who wants my camera with me wherever I go, I am very, very pleased.
In closing, I am not just excited for the camera, but also to develop apps for the N8. I have ideas, now I just need some time and there is that small matter to learning how to use PySide, the python bindings for QT. Thank you to Nokia for the lovely Developer Day and the Nokia N8 for the developers.
Wed 10.06.10 - Photo taken by Ms. Jen with her Nokia N8.
Photo by Ms. Jen with a Nokia N8.
Testing my pipe in Pixelpipe
Photo taken by Ms. Jen at Dog Beach this morning with her Nokia N86.
Recently Ryan Carson lobbed the digital equivalent to a molotov cocktail in to the User Experience bloggers corner and did folks come out swinging!
To get a bit of perspective, let's start with a few salvos from The Great UX Mini-Debate of 2009:
Pabini Gabriel-Petit on Specialists Versus Generalists: A False Dichotomy?
Dan Saffer on A Fool and a Liar
Jeremy Keith on I don't care about UX
Jeremy starts with a quote from Mark Boulton's twitter stream:
"Since when did good web design suddenly get called 'UX'? Everywhere I look now, good UI design is called 'UX', good type = 'UX', Colour? UX."
I find Mark's tweet to be a good place to jump off from, as I have spent the last two years scratching my head in wonder how the formerly mostly academic and large company/agency discipline of HCI/user-psychology/UX had morphed into a the job title du jour for web designers. My bafflement continued when at a party last year a prominent user experience designer introduced me to others as a mobile user experience designer. I was a bit flabbergasted, as while I am very interested in Mobile UX and I wrote my master's thesis on how creative professionals use their mobile phones, I am very reluctant to use the title Mobile UX designer.
My preferred job title is Professional Art Weirdo, but that doesn't go far in terms of business and professional contacts, although I do get a laugh from folks who know me when I use that title. In the course of my now decade plus career of actual practice in web design & development, as well as mobile design & now mobile app devloper, user researcher, systems designer, occasional information architect, small business strategist, plus social media bits and whatever other hat seemed fun to wear at the time when a client needed a task to be completed.
While I am most confident using the title 'web designer' as it encompasses the broad range of tasks that one does in the course of a freelance consultant career, I have found there to be pressure over the last two years to declare a specialty or even a sub-specialty in one's job title - be it on LinkedIn, Twitter, one's resume/CV, or on a business card. In the last two years to use the title 'web designer' is seen as either naive or one is just a small time, small business hack, even if one has mad generalist skills and a deep specialist skill set or two.
I have also spent much time lately revamping my resume/CV and portfolio in preparation for a job search, as I have decided that I would much prefer to work on a team at a company or agency than by myself as a freelance consultant. Companies and agencies or their recruiters/HR specialists want definition out their applicants or at least the appearance thereof. How does one define a decade long freelance career to folks who see a lot of resumes from specialists or bullshitters. I am not interested in misrepresenting myself.
Thus, my interest in the Great UX Debate of 2010. Go read the various links and let me know what you think:
Ryan Carson's defense of his tweet: 'UX Professional' isn't a Real Job
Andy Budd takes the first swing in Why I think Ryan Carson doesn't believe in UX Professionals, and why I do
Mark Boulton gives a little history on the Debate in On defining UX
Cennydd Bowles finds a molotov cocktail to throw back in The pollution of UX
Scott Berkun asks 'UX professional' isn't a real job? and simplifies the debate
Oliver Reichenstein in iA breaks the debate back down and reassembles it in
Can Experience be Designed?
I will conclude with Scott Berkun's second to last paragraph:
I'm fond of simply calling myself a writer. There should be a verb in your job. Usability engineers are really analysts or consultants. Designers of all flavors are, surprise, designers. Information architects are planners. If they are expected to be leaders beyond their specialization, then add the word lead. And on it could go. one word, preferably a verb, and we're done. The pretense is fancier titles better convey the role, but I think that's the real bullshit. Simpler titles, based on a verb, would be way more useful for clients or co-workers in figuring out what you can do for them.
And if push comes to shove, I will use the verb designer to describe myself, as well as the verb developer.
Photo taken by Ms. Jen with her Nokia N86.
Photo taken by Ms. Jen with her Nokia N86.