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2 Weeks Until Graduate School

August 19th, 2015 by Steve | Comment on 2 Weeks Until Graduate School | Filed in Disability Facts

I’m excited — I’m now less than two weeks away from embarking on my 2-year journey to get a Master’s Degree in User Experience Design.

It’ll be a whole new adventure in a multiple ways. It’s been over 17 years since I’ve been in the academic world. Back then, the Internet was just emerging. Now, I’m doing an entire graduate program online.

So, I’m learning Blackboard and starting to read some of the class materials.

I can’t wait to get started, and I’ll share my experiences along the way.

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Madison+ UX 2015 Thoughts (Part One)

July 15th, 2015 by Steve | Comment on Madison+ UX 2015 Thoughts (Part One) | Filed in Accessibility News, user experience

Madison+ UX

This past weekend, I attended the Madison+ UX conference in, you guessed it, Madison, Wisconsin.

My primary motivation was to support my friend and colleague Mike Kornacki, who was there to present Experience Innovation: The New Design Imperative.

Long story short, the conference was overall amazing. There was an outstanding lineup of speakers beginning to end.

I could go on at length about all the presentations, over multiple posts, but instead I’ll just do some quick one-liners.

Update: Okay, I lied – I’m going to split this up into two posts because I don’t want this is to a novel, and yet I don’t want to marginalize any of the presentations!

Thoughts (in no particular order), Part One:

  • Pamela Pavliscak‘s “Gen Z and the Future of Technology” was a fascinating look at how technology use and expectations has evolved with each generation (and yet Gen Z’ers typically have the worst devices in their household!)
  • Colleen Bos of Bos Meadery has given me a whole new interest in mead. They use a fascinating, science-based approach to making mead better than traditional methods. It’s also a drier, sparkling variety, versus the ones I’ve had in the past that were too sweet for my liking.
  • Chris Coyier was a whirling dervish in delivering a great presentation about how (and when) to leverage SVG in delivering visuals, including animations and iconography.
  • Lis Pardi’s “In Defense of the Floppy Disk” was a compelling study into not overthinking the icons we use to convey common actions on the web. Just because younger generations haven’t used things like floppy disks or rolodexes doesn’t necessarily mean they don’t understand what their symbology represents.
  • Lis Pardi presenting In Defense of the Floppy Desk

    Next time, I’ll share more…

    The sad news is that this is the last Madison+ UX (formerly UXMad), at least in its present form. There seems to be interest in continuing it, so hopefully grass roots will keep it going.

    In any case, special thanks to Jim Remsik and the Adorable crew for coordinating such a great conference.

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    More Awful CAPTCHA

    July 13th, 2015 by Steve | 1 Comment on More Awful CAPTCHA | Filed in Accessibility Thoughts

    Minutes ago, I tried logging into Hilton HHonors, and was rewarded with not one but two terrible examples of CAPTCHA.

    First off, I got this one, asking me to identify the ice cream in a series of crappy images:
    icecream

    Apparently I missed one, because then they made me go through it again. I had to find the pasta examples in their images.

    pasta

    Mercifully, I succeeded the second time.

    There are reasonably effective, accessible ways to weed out machines from human beings, but these aren’t examples of that. Slapping a series of terrible pictures on the screen and asking the user to find what food items or whatever else they can identify poses visual impediments as well as cognitive.

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    Visiting with Users

    June 3rd, 2015 by Steve | Comment on Visiting with Users | Filed in user experience

    For work, I’m traveling to visit a customer site next week. During that two-day visit, we’ll be talking to seven different users with seven distinct job functions, motivations, and ways they use the products we design.

    It’s a whirlwind tour, but it’s exciting and tremendously valuable.

    To many, this is preaching to the choir, but it can never be understated that the key to designing ideal experiences is actually talking to users – as often as possible.

    Whether it’s job shadowing, interviewing, or user testing (it can be informal or formal), the feedback is invaluable and far better than assumptions or opinions.

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    Pillars of Eternity

    April 1st, 2015 by Steve | Comment on Pillars of Eternity | Filed in Video Games

    Pillars of Eternity logoI’m super pumped to be playing the game Pillars of Eternity over the past week.

    For those not familiar, Obsidian Entertainment organized a Kickstarter campaign back in 2012 to create a spiritual successor to legendary computer role-playing games (CRPGs) Baldur’s Gate, Icewind Dale, and Planescape: Torment. To say the Kickstarter was a success would be a wild understatement. They were targeting $1.1 million, but wound up getting over $4 million!

    I was very quick to join the campaign. To me, the high-point in computer role-playing was the Baldur’s Gate series, particularly the second game. There was a string of outstanding games cut from that same cloth, like the Icewind Dale series, Knights of the Old Republic series and Jade Empire.

    At long last, Obsidian released Pillars of Eternity last week and I’ve been playing the hell out of it since.

    If I had to sum it up in one phrase, it’s like Baldur’s Gate II on crack. For those who enjoyed those old games, the controls and interface are immediately familiar. Muscle memory kicked in immediately and I found myself navigating through the game with ease.

    The game is beautiful, from settings to character portraits. I feel like I’ve barely scratched the surface – there looks like there is a ton of content! I ought to be immersed in the world of Eora for a very long time.

    My verdict after the first several hours of play is that it’s an awesome game and a must-have for CRPG fans.

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