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Hover to the Future

About a year ago, shortly after I began my tenure at Amazon and bi-monthly trips to the South Bay Area, I stumbled upon yet another Kickstarter. My Kickstarter portfolio has included books, drink-cooling devices, card games, video games, a design school, and in one case geeky baking sprinkles. All successfully funded, though many late deliveries. This project, however, was much loftier. The video tugged at the heartstrings of my generation, raised from an early age on Back to the Future – early enough that we were forgiving of the sins of Back to the Future II. Specifically, this Kickstarter from…

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A Day at Chambers Bay: The US Open

Yesterday, my husband and I spent a very long day at Chambers Bay, WA for the first day of championship play of the US Open. These tickets were my Christmas gift for my golf fan husband. Such a rare opportunity couldn’t be missed since he plays golf regularly in his hometown of Tacoma, mere minutes from the action. Of course, by the time the idea occurred to me in September, the only championship round tickets available were Thursday – so I snapped up a pair and the waiting game began. Neither of us had ever attended a PGA tour event…

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User Testing: Unlocking Feedback with Post-Test Surveys

For the first time in a while, I’m designing and running my own usability studies. Carnegie Mellon cross-trains its HCI students in both research and design, so it’s a bit like riding a bike – it comes back eventually. Post-university, I used to run studies and focus groups when I was a producer in the video game industry, because we rarely employed dedicated UX folks – but that didn’t diminish the importance of getting feedback about work in progress. At Microsoft, however, the field of user experience is split into two specialties – Design and Research – so I usually…

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Improv Life: Hot Tin Streetcar

Tonight was opening night for my latest show, “Cat on a Hot Tin Streetcar”, at Unexpected Productions. One of my favorite exercises in improvisational theatre is genre long form improv – building improvised one-act plays or television-style episodes in tribute to an existing theatrical style, film style, playwright or director. The art of genre improv requires the improviser to also become a student of the genre. In order to remain faithful to a style, you need to understand as much as possible about the settings, the character archetypes, the language, the narrative structure and devices, and the like. You can’t…

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The Discovery of Strangers

It was a long week, one that started well in another state, but long just the same. From Disneyland on Sunday, to the knowledge that my team’s work was being reviewed by our CEO on Monday. Like Schroedinger’s Box, that meeting held some important revelation but none of us could see it. Positive news came in Tuesday morning en route to the airport. Back at home, a shortened but significant work week in preparation for another major review. Friday was another major checkpoint, where I ended up doing demo support in a review meeting with no less than 5 Vice-Presidents…

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