井井 identity

井井咖啡館

I saw this little café near Hsinchu MacKay Hospital yesterday and couldn’t help thinking how much more effective their identity would be if it worked it’s way down to the waffles they serve inside. The Chinese character is close, but I guess they either didn’t think of it or custom waffle irons proved too expensive.

井井咖啡店


A cause to support

“Taiwan’s immigration policies reflect an official view that Taiwan is essentially a monocultural nation state based on shared ethnicity and culture. This illiberal view, combined with Taiwan’s isolated political situation and national development strategy have created immigration and labor laws that discourage immigration by tightly controlling residence, work rights, and the acquisition of Taiwanese nationality.”

Forward Taiwan believes that if Taiwan is to have an international economy, it also needs to have an international social and cultural environment.

From Live Wire: Ease up on foreign performers


On speaking: HAIL

I’ve been avoiding TED for the past few years but this talk caught my attention and is worthy of your time. I’m certainly guilty of a few of his 7 deadly sins. I’ve tirelessly practiced how to perform but his advice shows me areas where I certainly need to improve and or remind myself of. I love his 4 principles, HAIL:

H: Honesty – Be clear and straight
A: Authenticity – Be yourself
I: Integrity – Be your word
L: Love – Wish them well

Julian Treasure: How to speak so that people want to listen


On recruiting

This should be required reading for just about every company hiring in Taiwan. I’ve been wanting to share my recent interview experiences but framing the article in a positive light was just about impossible. I’ve had guys show up to interview me for senior positions that didn’t know who I was, didn’t know I was coming and no clue what to ask me. I had a CEO send me a letter asking for a meeting as he was looking for someone to direct the user experience for his company, only to tell me afterwards that he simply wanted someone to manage a website (after 2 interviews). No one checked out the kind of work I’ve done, my approach, let alone what I’ve been saying on social media. This after I had done exhaustive research on the companies and their products, and the current and former team members. It stands in stark relation to the way I hire and treat people I ask to work with or help me.

Recruiting is about relationships. Every candidate who applies to your company isn’t just a prospective employee. They’re a prospective customer. Evangelist. Source of talent.

And never, ever judge a book by it’s cover.

The basic premise is simple: treat everyone awesome. You don’t know who the A+ player is before she walks in the door. And you don’t know who the B- player is friends with when they walk out the door. Every candidate that works their way through your recruitment process will undoubtedly share their impressions and experiences with their friends. This will impact your brand.

Be sure to keep in mind these important facts: engineers know other engineers, designers know other designers, product managers know other product managers, and marketers know other marketers. Duh.

On Recruiting, Part One by Jesse Hertzberg, former COO of Etsy and Squarespace.


How To Think Like An Architect: The Design Process


This same thought process is used with Interface Design as well.

Santa Barbara architect Barry Berkus takes us through the process he used to design the Padaro Lane Residence in Southern California. He demonstrates his conceptual design process through a series of raw drawings and diagrams, along with a detailed explanation of the site conditions, and client needs. This preliminary diagramming stage is a necessary first step in creating a functional, and well thought out design.


Luke Wroblewski on mobile design


Inform your mobile site design decisions with global data on mobile behavior, trends, and best practices. Hear real-world case studies on how companies are creating faster, better mobile experiences.


Get detailed “how to’s” for updating existing designs and evolving antiquated processes. Walk away with practical implementation methods for improving your mobile designs right now.

Luke Wroblewski


WriteBoard

WriteBoard is a Wi-Fi-connected Drawing Board that retrofits the classic Whiteboard to allow Seamless Sharing & Syncing between Devices.

We worked on a concept quite similar to this while at CL a few years back, ours had a business focus and was planned to work on a much larger surface but the working concept is much the same. Great to see someone trying to take the idea through to execution.


On Usability testing


Brief demonstration illustrating how they carry out usability research in the labs at Amberlight.


Have you ever wondered what would happen if you did a usability test on fruit?


Author Steve Krug’s demo test as a companion piece to his latest book, Rocket Surgery Made Easy: The Do-It-Yourself Guide to Finding and Fixing Usability Problems. The main purpose for creating this video is to demonstrate how easy and simple usability testing can be.


In this video, Julie Blitzer covers the basics of writing a usability test script, finding test subjects, and interpreting results.


Performing a usability test early in your website planning process can have huge returns – a paper prototype allows you to do this with a minimal time investment.


And so is doing the work. It uplifts you. The idea that you’re doing what you love. It’s very important. It’s very sad that most people in the world are not happy with their lot or with their jobs and they can’t wait to retire. And when they retire, it’s like death. . . . They sit at home and watch the television. And that is death. I think you’ve got to continue. We never retire. We shouldn’t retire. Not in our profession. There’s no such thing. We want to drop dead onstage. That would be a nice theatrical way to go.
Christopher Plummer


Experiences in Studying Chinese

I’ve been studying Chinese for over 4 years now, 2 years of that was full-time. The first year and a 1/2 I was at Tsing Hua University in their part-time studies program; every week you have a class with about 25 other students, though that number decreases over time. After about 1 year of study I could hardly speak one sentence of Chinese. Needless to say, the classes weren’t very successful nor useful for me. Afterwords, I entered National Central University’s intensive Chinese program where my progress was far more apparent, especially language outside the textbook. With their help, and a patient online conversation tutor in Taichung, I improved quickly, and could actually start using the language.

Yes, most people learn the language when they first arrive in Taiwan, not after living here for 12 years, but I’ve always done things differently and it’s better late than never.

Learning Chinese has been extremely rewarding, not just because I can now be more aware of my surroundings, can communicate with interesting people, but also because it’s led to all kinds of new knowledge and experiences.

One experience which consistently surprises me, perhaps due to my naivety, is when I attend a formal meeting at my kids school. These are generally quite different from parent-teacher meetings which I have no trouble with at all. After all this study I’ve managed to reach a certain level in the language, I wouldn’t characterise it as fluency, but I have no trouble expressing myself under normal circumstances, and I can read books of interest within a timely manner. It’s still a struggle of course, I still study everyday, but practically speaking my abilities generally exceed required usage. It’s fun, I try to make a habit of talking with people on Skype almost every day about all kinds of topics. But recently when I’ve attended formal meetings at my kids school it’s like I had never learned the language at all.

It comes as a complete shock, and though I certainly understand the broad strokes, many times the subtle details in these meetings escape me. And then I am required to interject and comment with my opinion. By this point I become nervous, and often what comes out is an unintelligible mess.

Also, I find it fascinating how 2 people during a meeting can be saying the same thing, but one can be completely comprehended while they other cannot. Sometimes I’ll say to the Principal, I have no idea what you are talking about, and a parent will comment that they don’t either and they are Taiwanese.

It comes down to the kind, or level, of language they are using, and the method in which they use to express themselves. My kids’ school is a great study in the abstract and indirect ways of expressing a point. Nothing is ever stated directly and whenever possible more poetic or literary language is used. To advanced learners of the Chinese language this might not be a problem but for me I sometimes feel I get as much education from school-to-parent communication than from any of the Chinese language textbooks I’ve used in the past.

I know this shouldn’t surprise me, I have trouble listening to anything finance related on the radio as well, but it always does. When learning a second language over a relatively short period of time you can’t be expected to grasp every topic. But the dramatic drop in comprehension is amazing and at times embarrassing. Hopefully one day before my kids graduate school I will be able to join one of these meetings without the uncomfortable feeling of being lost at sea.

Edit: Apparently others, native speakers, find these meetings difficult to follow as well.


Sometimes travel can show us how our life is… Or can give us a glimpse of how it can be. Being untethered, I could float away, lifted to a great height where everything is new, and I could look back on my life with new perspective and go, ‘Oh!’
Lucy Knisley – “An Age of License”. Via Ruk.


Practicing with Sketch

icon-practice

I spent an hour this week trying to come up to speed with Sketch as an interface design tool, not just a wire-framing tool. Lightweight software like this appeals to me as they tend to focus on specific use cases vs. a more swiss army knife approach. The result can be seen in both the speed of the software, it’s function, utility and importantly it’s price. Unfortunately for me I’ve come to rely on specific features of Illustrator which make up for my lack of love for bezier curves. With Illustrator, I can import sketches, create some outlines and in many cases just clean up the curves and be finished. I haven’t seen anywhere yet where Sketch has any crutches to help people like me.

I’m still planning to spend more time using Sketch before deciding to replace Illustrator and OmniGraffle in my workflow. I’ll be finishing the interface design solely in sketch of a couple apps. I’m involved with.

The above is a bit of skeumorphic goodness from the days before Apple dictated everything should be flat. It’s amazing just how dated that style has become in a very short period of time. Though unpolished it was great practice in using Sketch.


Interacting in the Global City

In today’s global cities, public urban space is constituted in my different ways. Residents in the same neighborhood may have very diverse types of knowledge about their shared public space: The children know the neighborhood at ground level, the tech designer knows the Wi-Fi coverage at the cafes, the homeless know about the night fauna.

How do these understandings of urban space affect our view, use, and design of technology?


Dangerous Popsicles

dangerous_popsicle_09

Dangerous Popsicles are a collection of weird shaped popsicles inspired by cacti and life-threatening viruses. What will happen when we put these dangerous things on one of our most sensitive organs, our tougues? Does pain really bring pleasure? Is there beauty in user-unfriedly things?

Dangerous Popsicles create a unique sensory experience. Before tasting with your tongue, you first taste with your eyes and mind. The popsicles are nothing but water and sugar, but ideas of deadly viruses and the spikiness of cacti are enough to stimulate your senses, even before your first taste.

I love projects like this. From an adults perspective their might be hesitation to eat something with a form like this but I see kids, who are far more open, loving it.


Weekend links

The narrow streets of the city centre in Hsinchu. My favourite part of the city.

The narrow streets of the city centre in Hsinchu. My favourite part of the city.

New online series investigates the science of creativity

The Skeptic’s Guide To Low-Fidelity Prototyping

How to Generate Good Ideas: Methods to Try, Questions to Ask and Apps to Use

It’s all but impossible to earn a living as a working artist, new report shows

Published for the First Time: a 1959 Essay by Isaac Asimov on Creativity

We All Have Ideas. Here’s How To Become An Inventor

How & why I moved to Sketch

Khoi Vinh on Yosemite’s Look and Feel. Apple’s efforts of late seem half baked, unfinished.

“Malice has motivated people to turn in foreigners on labor law violations, an official said, adding that tips on lawbreakers result in rewards” Keep your nose clean and don’t make enemies or you might find yourself on a plane to “home“.

Japan Didn’t Cave

Why Haters hate: Kierkegaard explains the psychology of bullying and online trolling in 1847


The Dawn of the Next Era of Human Computer Interaction

The history of Human Computer Interaction has had a few notable eras and we are at the dawn of the next era. In this talk I will describe those previous eras and how various factors shaped our interactions with computing as well as lead into how the forces at play in today’s world are calling for a new era with new design solutions.

Nice talk.