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…

Random Emacs symbol: eshell-skip-prompt-function – Variable: *A
function called from beginning of line to skip the prompt.

Writing writing writing

1455 words so far for the paper due on Thursday. I can do this!

Random Emacs symbol: message-citation-line-function – Variable: *Function called to insert the “Whomever writes:” line.

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!

Random Emacs symbol: mail-extr-disable-voodoo – Variable: *If it is a regexp, names matching it will never be modified.

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…

Random Emacs symbol: tenth – Function: Return the tenth element of the list X.

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… ;)

Random Emacs symbol: ido-max-dir-file-cache – Variable: *Maximum number of working directories to be cached.

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. =)

Random Emacs symbol: tool-bar-button-relief – Variable: *Relief thickness of tool-bar buttons.