Friday, August 22, 2014

Tune in to 570 on the AM dial

This week I had a fun experience promoting Fluxible on the radio (and, yes, I’ll write more about Fluxible soon). Bob Barlow-Busch and I were on 570 News, joining Eric Drozd for the Tuesday #TechHour and a lunchtime discussion about UX in general and our experiences with Fluxible.

We were initially connected with the show by Chris Plunkett of Communitech, and we were thrilled at the opportunity to talk about user experience for an hour in the middle of the day on AM radio. Where else but Waterloo Region could that happen? Of course, Bob and I quickly realized that the two of us talking for a whole hour would wear a little thin. We recruited Fluxible 2013 speaker Steve Portigal, Fluxible 2014 speaker Brent Bisaillion, and UW Stratford faculty member Karin Schmidlin to join in as well. That made for a much more interesting range of voices!

Eric was a wonderfully engaged, and engaging, host. He made it easy to talk about the role of UX in creating meaningful products, and the hour flew by. And, as an aside, it was a far different environment than in my days in university radio, where the studios were filled with vinyl, carts, and reel-to-reel tapes!

If you missed it, you can listen to a recording of the show here.

Big thanks to Chris, Eric, and producer Neil Adams for making this happen!

Monday, August 18, 2014

Designing and building at Boltmade

Boltmade
It’s been a while since I wrote a post for this blog (though I do post at Fluxible and uxWaterloo), but there are a few things happening that warrant posts here. For now, I’ll mention that I’ve joined Boltmade, a terrific software product design and development shop here in Waterloo. I’ve known Jim Murphy and some of the other folks at Boltmade for several years, and I’m delighted to be working with them to create great software for our clients. It’s a wonderful group of people, and I love what Boltmade is doing.

I enjoyed four years of designing and building heathcare products with the team at Karos Health, and will miss the daily opportunity to work with them. On the other hand, they’re just a short walk away from Boltmade, and I know that lunches and beers after work will remain a staple of those relationships!

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Open Ears and Little Match Girl Passion

I joined the board of directors of Open Ears earlier this year.

Open Ears is a “Festival of Music and Sound”, the next edition of which is coming in June, 2014. There will be some great stuff happening, and artistic director Gregory Oh has been hard at work putting together what looks like will be a fantastic program. Announcements will come as things firm up and the marketing train gets rolling!

I’m excited about the musical adventures that I am a part of in my role at Open Ears. The main activities have been a little on-site volunteer work at the Between the Ears festival last May 30 and May 31 (along with one of my sons), and working through planning for next June’s main Open Ears event.

There’s another Open Ears event coming in just a few days that you should know about as well.

David Lang’s Little Match Girl Passion will be performed at Conrad Grebel College Chapel in Waterloo, at 2:30pm in the afternoon on Saturday December 21. You should really check out all the details, but the piece is based on a Hans Christian Andersen story about the dreams and death of a young girl, and draws musical inspiration from Bach’s St. Matthew Passion. Oh, and it’s the winner of a 2008 Pulitzer Prize and a 2010 Grammy Award!

Gregory told me last week that the performers have been moved to tears during rehearsals for Little Match Girl Passion, which is pretty amazing.

Tickets are available in advance online, and can also be purchased at the door. But really, why wait and risk disappointment? Get them online!

Monday, July 29, 2013

You’ve heard about Fluxible, right?

Fluxible: A User Experience Design Event
Once again, it’s been a long while between posts here. Oddly enough, though, I’d created several drafts on topics that, in some cases, no longer seem timely. I’ll see about getting to some of the others.

Meanwhile, one activity that has been a focus of my attention is ongoing preparations for Fluxible, this year’s edition of the user experience conference that I co-chair with Bob Barlow-Busch. Last year’s event was a wonderful success, as hinted at in the video that we released this past March, and this year’s version promises to be at least as engaging, enlightening, and energizing.

Have a look at the line-up of wonderful speakers who will be sharing their wisdom and experience through our program of talks and workshops. Of course, the chance to meet and talk with UX folks from a variety of settings remains an important part of Fluxible. Great stuff!

And, as was the case last year, the Festival of Interstitial Music will be happening concurrently in time and space with Fluxible. It’s pretty certain that we’ll have some fun surprises in store as well.

Registration remains a bargain, with Early Bird pricing available until August 9. Go register now to ensure that you’ll be able to attend what Bob and like to call the UX party conference.

Monday, March 25, 2013

Video highlights from Fluxible 2012

Some of you may recall that Fluxible is a user experience design conference that I co-chair with Bob Barlow-Busch. We ran the inaugural edition of it last September, and and currently planning the next edition for September 14 & 15 this year.

Here’s a video that we put together showing a few highlights from the first event, set to the toe-tapping tune “The Fluxible Song (More Than Users)”. Enjoy!


Monday, March 18, 2013

Text + Tech = productive fun


As I’ve mentioned before, I’m involved with REAP at the University of Waterloo. It’s a terrific program for the students and community partners who work together on various projects.

This past weekend I was fortunate to be a part of the Text + Tech event, a joint initiative between REAP and Pat the Dog Playwright Centre that saw technologists and theatre folks come together to help the latter better understand how emerging interactive display technologies might be incorporated into theatre pieces. It was hosted at Felt Lab, and at Quarry Integrated Communications.

It was a fascinating experience, with some unexpected insights.

Both groups were surprised by how often the question of whether something was possible was answered with yes, but with different perspectives. Theatre folks were surprised that something was possible, while technologists were surprised that the questions were so easy.

My favourite activity was when the whole group sat around a table and listened while each playwright outlined a piece they are working on, and asked how a display technology might be used to address a specific challenge. The discussions were fantastic. The process of collaborative problem solving was pretty much the same as what I experience in software product development. While details were different, we were all able to work together to discover potential solutions.

Everyone was happy to work together — there was no big gap between the arts and tech groups. Of course, as someone with a foot in both groups, that felt like business as usual for me.

Monday, February 11, 2013

Silent, but keeping busy

It’s been quite a long while since my last post here. It was an unintentional break, caused by inattention and a focus on other activities.

uxWaterloo continues to be a monthly priority for me, and for the other folks who join in on our regular meetings. January featured a visit to Beertown on Waterloo to learn about designing a restaurant experience. We have another good one this month, with Daniel Iaboni talking about designing for augmented reality.

Also in January was Interaction 13, the annual conference of the Interaction Design Association. This year’s version was held in Toronto, and I spent the whole week there enjoying some terrific talks, and meeting some amazing people. There was much to learn and think about!

There was an Ignite Waterloo event to attend back in the fall, with another coming up this week. While I’m no longer directly involved in organizing the events, I’m looking forward to extending my attendance streak to a perfect 11 events.

I also made it out to the first meetings of the KW Ruby on Rails Developers meetup. We use Ruby on Rails at Karos Health, and it’s good to hear from others about their experiences and approaches.

Speaking of Karos, fall was very busy with preparations for our annual visit to Chicago for the RSNA conference. It was a rewarding experience, as always.

The biggest holder of my attention, of course, was Fluxible, which came and went last September and provided a great experience for everyone involved. We’re in planning mode for the 2013 edition of Fluxible, and should have news to announce soon. Needless to say, we’re excited about doing it again!

2013 is off to a great start, and I’ll be making a more conscious effort to keep this blog updated.