The UX of “Old”

I have a terrible affliction called “Old”.  It is fairly common for people born before 1975. The symptoms are fairly broad.  Weakness in the joints, inability to heal quickly, weight gain, hair loss and vision degradation, just to name a few.  Seriously, this thing is worse than any disease I have ever heard of.  Many people have died of “Old”!  Each year, more and more people are afflicted.

So far, there is no cure.  You can only manage “Old”. For example, I was looking at the ingredients of a sports drink for my kid over the weekend.  The small text was giving me a headache and was difficult to read.  I happened to be near a rack of reading glasses, so I grabbed one and put them on.  The text grew in size and came into focus. I sat down and realized, “Old” has struck again.

When I was a child, I wore regular glasses.  I had approximately 20/60 vision.  Then in 1997, I had LASIK surgery on my eyes.  It was a bit expensive, but I thought it was the best money I have ever spent.  My vision was perfect after the surgery and has only degraded slightly over the years.

LASIK does not improve reading vision.  It reshapes the cornea to put distance objects in focus.  Reading vision requires the muscles around your eyes to be flexible and they do the focusing for you.  Unfortunately, my eye muscles have “Old” and are less flexible. Thus, I need to get glasses again for reading.

I’ve read about some solutions including have one eye focused short while the other eye focuses long.  I am unsure if I like this option. More research is required.

Do you have “Old”? What symptoms have you been experiencing?  It sucks, doesn’t it?

Fledgling Designer Challenge

Are you a fledgling designer?  Just graduated from General Assembly or CMU?  Well, I am hiring.  But wait, I don’t want to hire you yet.  You don’t know what you are doing.  Here is a challenge to help you get off the starting blocks.

First, Redesign your website.
Check out these awesome UX portfolios. Or maybe these ones. So many to choose from. It’s nearly infinite.  These are GREAT UX PORTFOLIOS!

I want you to design your site to be as good as any of those.  Feel free to copy styles or even HTML/CSS.  Just make your site as cool as theirs.

The work you show should be whatever you have, but make the site a wonder to behold.  Show you know how to make something lovable and great.

Second, Redesign Google Analytics.
On your site, you can put Google Analytics for free.  Then use the service.  (Still free).  This is one of the most popular business intelligence systems in the world.  It’s not spectacular, but it is rich in terms of functionality and interesting tidbits.

I want you to redesign it.  Redesign as much of it as you can. Put the results on your site.  Showcase your process and the resulting designs.

Why do I ask these two steps?
I will absolutely judge you, fledgling designer, by what I see on your site.  You are the product and I am the user.  I want to know you can create an experience for me, the user.  Additionally, I want to see if you know how to design something.  Google is a great free example of something that is complicated, yet extraordinarily powerful and popular.  This will fill out your portfolio with something “real world”.

Lastly, this will show you can take a challenge and make it happen.  Attitude is half the battle. You can get in the door with these two steps.  The rest is up to you, but at least you have a chance.  And worst case scenario, you should learn something through the process of design.

Let me know how it works.  Put your designs of the above in the comments.

Sprained Wrist

I play alot of tennis. It is my favorite pastime and I feel I am pretty good at it. MY USTA level is 4.0. The best part of my game is my serve. This is virtually the only physical exercise I get on a weekly basis.

Last September, I played mixed doubles one fateful night.  The next day, my wrist hurt.  I had to play again in the Sectional Playoffs, so I gobbled up Advil and wrapped the wrist in a brace.  That was painful, but tolerable.

Since the playoffs were over, I allowed my wrist to heal.  October…November…December.  Why wasn’t it healing?  I started to ask my doctors at Kaiser Permanente. The first doctor said it was a sprain and would take a few weeks.  The second doctor said it was a sprain and it could take a few months.  Then I got an xRAY and MRI.  The last doctor eliminated all other possibilities (like occult ganglions and torn ligaments).  he said it was a sprain and might take up to a year to heal.

How could such divergent healing schedules be told to me?  It seems like they were just randomly picking a date in the future and hoping I stop bothering them.

I tried to play again by taping up the wrist and using a brace.  Not only was my game terrible, but the pain lasted about a week. (My game dropped to roughly 3.0 level)  The last doctor said that if I push it, I could end up with a rupture and much more serious injury.

I am left in a quandary.  I can’t play and currently get no exercise.  The doctor has given me no course of action other than to stop playing.  I am using a gyro ball as a form of physical therapy. I have no idea when I should start playing.

If this continues, I am considering getting a ball machine and practicing lefty.  I wonder how long it would take me to get to 3.0 or 3.5 level as a lefty.

Growing old sucks.  Hair falls out.  You get fat. Your body started to fail.  Excema.  Ugh. Even if I heal, I likely will have to wear a wrist brace for the rest of my life.  Thanks Old Age.

CES and buying a Chromebook

Apparently CES, the big electronics show is happening today.  This means there are announcements all day about new great laptops.  I can’t buy one now.  I need to wait until they ship in February.

In the meantime, I need to get something to replace the broken Samsung Series 9 that I bought in June 2011. (Which we loved for a long time)

I decided to try out a Chromebook.  Specifically, I chose the Toshiba CB35-B3340 13.3-Inch Chromebook 2. It won’t run Windows software like Word or Excel, but should run Google apps fine and possibly run Microsoft cloud apps as well.  We shall see.

The price is way lower than a laptop, so I am not expecting it to last 4 years like the previous one.  However, if she hates it, I could always use it as a guest machine or something for the kids during trips.

Buying hardware like this can be nerve-racking. So many choices.

Nerve-wracking or Nerve-Racking? Decent explanation here.

Which new ultraportable laptop? Jan-2015

Every few years, one of my various computing devices becomes old and breaks down. This is what happens to old things, like me. Getting old sucks.

Anyway, in this case, it’s a lightweight ultrabook. I have narrowed it down to a few choices. I’ve made some little comparison tables way down below. It’s not comprehensive. There are tons of videos out there on the differences.

I am feeling a bit of Paradox of Choice right now.  Too many options and it’s unclear which one we will appreciate the most.  Here are some of my thoughts on the subject:

  1. Speed. The newest i7 Intel chip is much faster than the old i7.  However, more RAM is always a cost-effective way to increase performance.  The Zenbooks 301 and 303 both have good performance on this front.
  2. Low heat is critical.  It’s a LAP-top.  It goes on your lap and fries your legs if the chip is too hot. It’s unclear which is the winner here.
  3. Sexy matters.  I’d like to say it doesn’t, but it does.  I want a laptop that makes you want to kiss it all over and rub it on someone’s face when they notice it. Someone told me that “sexy” was the wrong adjective for a laptop.  Let’s go with Alluring. Better?
  4. Cost.  I don’t mind spending extra to get a great device.  It lasts longer and gives much higher happiness ratings. This is a case to not be penny-wise and pound foolish.
  5. Resolution. Actually, this may be a case where good = bad. Super high resolution devices make text extremely small.  This means you get eye-strain.  Windows 8.1 currently does a poor job of adjusting to the high resolution.  Even Windows Apps have a max of 1080p.  What is the point of ultra high resolution if you aren’t using it and it just hurts your eyes?  I imagine one day, Windows 10 (?) might do a better job of adjusting, but I believe that 1080p might be just fine.
  6. Screen size.  Is 13.3 enough?  I think so, but I am not positive.
  7. Weight. Less is better. It’s incredible to me how thin and light these devices are.  It’s like some sort of magic.

Which do you think I should get?  I flip-flop about 3 times a day.

Asus Zenbook
Amazon Link UX303LN-DB71T
Cost: $1250
Screen 13.3 (3200×1800)
Chip I7 4510U 2 GHz
HD 256 SSD
Ram 12 G

 

Asus Zenbook
Amazon Link UX301LA-DH71T
Cost: $1800
Screen 13.3 (2560×1440) IPS
Chip I7 4558U 2.8 GHz
HD 256 SSD
Ram 8 G

 

Samsung ATIV Book 9
Amazon Link
Cost: $1600
Screen 15.6 (1920×1080)
Chip I7 4500U 1.8 GHz
HD 256 SSD
Ram 8 G

 

Acer Acer Aspire V17 Nitro
Amazon Link
Cost: $1600
Screen 17.3 (1920×1080)
Chip i7-4710HQ 2.5
HD 1TB + 256 SSD
Ram 16 G
Weight 6lbs

 

Acer Acer Aspire S7
Amazon Link 392-7863
Cost: $1300
Screen 13.3 (2560×1440) IPS
Chip i7-4500U 1.8
HD 256 SSD
Ram 8 G
Weight 3lbs

 

My Personality Test Results

I’m not a big fan of the personality tests like Myers Briggs and Colors.  I feel like I could answer the questions either way almost every single time. Also, I feel like the results are always generalities like “You have a long ‘love-line'” that you get in palm reading. I’m a skeptic and believe I am a unique snowflake.  However, I did the tests anyway.

From the Myers Briggs test, this is my result:

INFP
Introvert(11%)  iNtuitive(75%)  Feeling(12%)  Perceiving(33%)
  • Slight preference of Introversion over Extraversion (11%)
  • Distinct preference of Intuition over Sensing (75%)
  • Slight preference of Feeling over Thinking (12%)
  • Moderate preference of Perceiving over Judging (33%)

The text didn’t seem that accurate to me.  I don’t know what any of it means.

On the other hand, I recently did the 5 Dynamics test.  It was very short, lasting under five minutes.  I tried to relax and go with the gag.  The results were much more accurate.  I showed it to some peers and they all think it nailed me to a tee.  One person was laughing and said, “They must have been stalking you!”

Here is my “5 dynamics energy map”.

Glen_5Dynamics

It basically says I am “effortless” at everything except EXAMINE.

Examine definition: Drafting a detailed plan, to analyze data, and anticipate what could go wrong. “Someone who enjoys planning, the details, and finding mistakes.”

In looking at the details there are items that resonate strongly with me and some that feel slightly off.  It’s funny, on the first reading it felt 100% accurate, but a week later, I saw many flaws in the details.  I think one reads these things with a leaning to hear what they want to hear.

If you are interested and/or would like to psychoanalyze me, feel free to read my full results.

So, even though 5Dynamics seems accurate, I am still fairly skeptical.  I’d like to see other people’s results and not rely just on a single data point.

Blogging: A Look Back and Ahead (2014)

I spent a few minutes filling in the early archives of Commadot.com, specifically 1996-1997.  My predictions were sometimes incredibly accurate and other times … not so much. My writing style was also fairly immature. My spelling was atrocious.  The worst thing was the font: Comic Sans.  What was I thinking?

It brought back some memories and made me think about the last 18 years.  Time has a way of changing the facts.  For example: I can’t find any blogging by me between 1998-2004.  I can’t believe I didn’t blog for 6 years, but I can’t seem to find it anywhere. I think I just didn’t blog for that period. Time has changed my memory and filled in that gap.

I hope that I continue to blog for a long time.  It sharpens my writing skills and acts as a creative outlet.  It forces me to think, “What was interesting today?”  Not as easy as you might think. In the past year, I’ve encouraged a few people to try blogging.  It has not been easy for Anna or Penny. I hope they stick with it though.

My first blog entries were made by hand using Notepad and then Homesite.  Later (in 2004), I switched to Blogger, which was purchased by Google. Finally, I switched to WordPress in 2006.  The technology is getting better and better. WordPress is an absolute dream from a UX standpoint.

I wonder what 2015 will bring.  I wonder what the next 18 years will bring. I am excited for the future.

All I know is that the Jets will win the Superbowl next year.  You heard it here first.