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Five things

Pineapples

OK. I’ve managed to avoid the whole meme thing pretty well for the past year or so, but I can’t really ignore being tagged by David, so bear with me. I’ll keep it brief.

Five things you probably don’t know about me.

  1. I’d rather be a concert pianist: I used to be a pretty reasonably pianist back in the day. I started lessons when I was about 5yrs old and kept it up until I was almost eighteen. I used think I might one day be a famous concert pianist, but I was never really a great fan of getting up on stage and performing, so that was only ever going to be a pipe dream. I also learned the cello, but I was much more rubbish at that. I haven’t played for quite a while, but one day I’ll buy myself a piano and get back into it. It will go in my library, which will have walls lined with books.
  2. I grew up on a farm: horse, pigs, cows, the works. It was really fun and I wish that all kids could grow up that way. I was terrified of the horses when I was really small though. I had a potty calf that I named Madonna. My brother named the cat Powder Puff. (eh, Madonna is still a worse name for a cow, isn’t it).
  3. I cheated my way through second grade: every week we had a spelling test and every week, me and my friend Ange sat next to one another and cheated. (Sorry Ange!). We used to get a ‘star’ on the board when you got 100% on your test, and I can’t believe they ever figured out what was going on because Ange and I would have dozens more stars than anyone else in the class. That was the first and last time I ever cheated at school (although, we did do it most weeks of that year). Thank goodness for spell check, that’s all I can say. Kiddies. Don’t cheat on your spelling tests!
  4. I have a fruit & meat rule: they should never be together. The exception that proves the rule is pineapple on pizza. Sweet and Sour Pork should only ever be eaten once the pineapple has been removed. Anyone who cooks me Apricot Chicken has a lot of explaining to do.
  5. I’ve had a massive crush on Steve Waugh and Michael Hutchence for decades: That’s the ex-Australian Cricket Captain and the lead singer of INXS. *swoon* Michael Hutchence (RIP) should be self explanatory. I’m not even going to attempt to explain the Steve Waugh thing.

One thing I didn’t know until today.

My dad reads this blog. I have no idea why… as he said today ‘I have no idea how you have time to write all that rubbish you write’. Hrm, thanks Dad. Anyone else out there who shouldn’t* be reading this? You might as well own up now.

OK. That’s it. No more memes.
(*shouldn’t = doing it more for stalking purposes than because you’re interested in what I’m actually writing about)

image credit:DieHardCanonUser @ Flickr

Stalking Scoble

So, the Scobles are in town (London) this week. I’m kind of interested to see what they’re like but… call me daft, I’ve got to say I’m a little intimidated by the idea of meeting them (and all the cool bloggers they’re bound to be hanging out with).

So, I was wondering whether anyone else might be interested in kind of stalking them (in a completely non malicious way, of course) and checking out what the crowd is like and if it looks interesting. If it looks interesting and not-scary then maybe we could go join in. Safety in numbers and all that.

Although… given that they’re meeting at 1pm, and most of us (surely) have to work at least a little later than that… by the time we were able to get stalky, they’d probably be onto about the 4th pub, which would mean both that we’d have to call Hugh to see where they were (which would kind of blow our cover), and that the conversation would surely be interesting!

So, perhaps unsurprisingly, stalking is not the answer. Is anyone not-scary thinking of going?

(Also, is this the dorkiest blog post ever?!)

UPDATE: in the end, the Scoble Stalking did not go ahead. I had IA Meetup on Thursday PM when the Scobles were at Girly Geeks, and getting out of work on Friday afternoon was always going to be wishful thinking. It’s a bit of a shame as I would have liked to have met him and reported back to you all… but it wasn’t out of scaredness, and I had a good couple of days doing stuff that’s more my thing anyways. Maybe next time :)

Making Life Easy for World Usability Day!

Making Life Easy!

World Usability Day is 20 days out. Are you doing anything to celebrate?

If your work involves usability or user experience, you should be!

This is a great chance for us to make some noise and help spread the word that usability matters and that there are people like us who spend our time trying to make life easier!

At Flow, where I work, we’ve organised a little project we call MakingLifeEasy.org

Here’s the general idea.

On World Usability Day and in the lead up, we’ll be out on the streets of London tying balloons to the worst offenders. We want people across the world to do the same. Participants are encouraged to photograph the scene and either add it to our Flickr group, or email it to us (hello [at] makinglifeeasy.org) and we’ll post it to the website where we’ll be collecting votes for the Usability Hall of Shame and the Usability Hall of Fame.

We’d LOVE you to get involved. There’s a few things you can do.

  1. Help get more people involved! If you have a blog, give us a shout out and send people our way to participate. If you have a Flickr account, come join our group and invite all your friends!
  2. Share your examples of the best and the worst of usability where you live (or visit or holiday!). Add photos to the group or drop us an email and we’ll add your submission to the website and potentially to the Hall of Fame or Shame
  3. Cast your vote! Take a look at the website and have your say in what *really* drives you crazy and what you really love.

Stay tuned for the announcement of inductees to the Usability Hall of Fame and Shame on 14 November 2006 – World Usability Day.

Meanwhile – I encourage you to make the most of the opportunity that this day and the lead up offer to put the spotlight on Usability and User Experience. Help us make a noise and raise awareness and – ultimately help us make life easy!

www.makinglifeeasy.org

blog gardening (categories)

Garden

So, I finally took some time to go back an review the state of the categories on my blog this weekend. All in all, it took me about 2 hours to get things to a state that I’m now reasonably happy with. No wonder I was putting it off… it wasn’t fun. Quite an exercise in acquiring RSI thanks to the category management interface that WordPress currently offers. But that aside…

In retrospect, I think it’s interesting that I didn’t approach this as I would a standard information architecture project. Perhaps that’s because I’ve been intimately involved with developing the content and gradually evolving the categories. For this reason, I think, it actually didn’t occur to me to approach this project methodically… which is strange. Perhaps the outcome would have been better if I had! Nonetheless, I did manage to cut the number of categories down from 29 to 19 (still too many, is my gut reaction), and that includes adding two new ones! There were a few name changes as well… some of which I’m happy with and some I think are still not quite right.

There were two types of categories that were retired. The first were categories that were just far too general, for example, I’ve had since almost the beginning a category called ‘Considering’. God knows what possessed me to create this category in the first place since everything on this blog is more or less considered. Interestingly, it’s a category that I’ve used consistently over the past 10 months of blogging… but it’s completely meaningless, so it had to go. There were others similar to this that were just too vague, so posts in this category have now been more specifically categorised and I think that most of my categories are reasonably specific now.

The other type that was retired were quite specific categories on topics that I thought I might blog more about, but that I actually didn’t. For example, I had a category specifically for typography… but that’s not turned out to be something that I write about much, so it’s gone. Similarly, right at the beginning of blogging, I’d post little reviews of books that I’d been reading on my commute to and from work. It turns out that my blog is quite focused now, and that stuff like that doesn’t really fit in… so those have moved into a ‘random’ category (I still need some freedom to blog about whatever I like!), and my ‘Bus Reading’ category is now retired.

It was an interesting exercise and I think that my categories now much better reflect what my blog is about, which for me, was a big reason for doing this (also that it was embarrassing that they were such a mess before!). But at the same time, I don’t get the feeling that people have ever really used the category navigation very much… and if they did, it was for some of the more obscure and colourfully named categories… for example, another recently retired category – ‘lusting’ (it wasn’t anywhere near as exciting as the name might suggest!)

So, although it’s been an interesting exercise to potter around my blog and put things into some kind of order…. I wonder at the end of the day if it actually makes a difference to anyone other than me!

I know, for me, that the only time I usually see a blog is the first time I visit it, or when I stop in to leave a comment. Other than that, I usually read what you’ve written in RSS format. So the only time I’d be likely to use your categories is when I first ‘meet’ your blog and am orienting myself with who you are and what you write about. From there I either subscribe or not.

Does this sound like your experience? When do you use categories on other people’s blogs? Do we actually need them? Or are they more for the benefit of the blogger than the bloggee?

Image Credit: PartsNPieces @ Flickr 

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