Category Archives: school

The end is near!

I did my first two usability tests today. Yay! The end is in sight! Thanks to Stephen and Pierre for being my two friendly guinea pigs.

Stephen spoke well of my prototype when he passed by Pierre's computer. Apparently he thought that I had either built a terrific tool or a terrific test. Someone once said that any sufficently advanced technology is indistinguishable from a rigged demo. My prototype is neither advanced nor rigged. I kept expecting it to crash, and every scenario that passed without catastrophic failure was a minor success already.

I am conscious of the fact that I had chosen the tasks to fit the tool, and I built the tool to fit the tasks. I'm probably even biasing the usability test results by my presence. Still, if the study explores something new, then maybe I'm not an imposter after all. (Oh, to silence that small voice in my head!)

Recruiting more friendlies for usability tests next week. I will however have to steel myself and test with new people as well...

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I actually have a project

In the middle of explaining my thesis project to a usability expert at IBM, I realized that I *have* actually managed to build something interesting. As I explained the problem to him and showed how this problem would be addressed using the existing tools, I realized that there was a real problem and that my prototype might be a step in the right direction. And my demo didn't fall apart, either! Whew!

When you're too close to something, you can find it difficult to appreciate. I tend to err on the side of downplaying the coolness of what I'm working on. I keep telling myself: It's just a protottype. I don't have the data I need to make it truly useful. It's nowhere near as cool as the thing that I really wanted to build if I had the data.

Well, forget that! If I can show my prototype to someone and get them excited about the idea of Web 2.0, if the way that I visualize things will make someone campaign for adoption even in a small group... that'll so be worth it.

Wow. I have a project after all!

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Ethics approval!

Yay, got ethics approval for my usability study! Now I just have to work on polishing up the prototype and making sure that it's testable...

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Much progress!

I was stressing out about hooking up the back end of my metasearch engine to the front end that I'd prototyped in Ruby on Rails. Progress was much smoother than I'd expected! I'm happy about the work I did today, and I'm looking forward to going to the Wikinomics event later. =) Life is good.

And yeah, Facebook is addictive... ;)

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Rediscovering the Graduate House reading room

To my surprise, there's a copy of the Battle Royale novel. That wasn't there before. And it's great reading foreign papers. From The Guardian, I learn that the British are upset about friendly fire from US soldiers (which naturally gets hushed up in US news). From Haaretz Weekly, I learn that the tiny community of Samaritans (who can trace some 126 generations of high priests) has relaxed prohibitions against marrying outside the community and taken to importing brides from Ukraine in order to address inbreeding (there you go, the up side of mail order brides). The Wall Street Journal is, of course, the Wall Street Journal.

Ah, to rediscover this the month before I leave... I'm sure the Toronto Public Library will have something similar, even if I have to make myself reading dates at the reference library branch. =)

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