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Entries in Travel (56)


SOBCon07: Day 1 Impressions

sobcon-mike-phil.jpgI've spent a good day heading to and spending time at SOBCon07, and wanted to capture a few impressions here before I head to sleep.

The people at the conference are just amazing. I mentioned knowing only Phil coming into SOBCon, but it didn't take long to meet many friendly, warm people.

I met Tim Johnson and Director Tom (Clifford) over lunch, Mike Sansone and Clare Celsi in the restaurant, Terry Starbucker and Franke James in the lobby... and the conference hadn't even started!

I'd have a hard time naming everyone I met here, but in general everyone treated me warmly and as one of the crew right away. I feel right at home in this crowd.

Christine Kane provided a wonderful performance tonight. She's a great singer and musician, with an on-stage presence that made me feel at home and relaxed.

After the music we had a delicious light dinner, including pastries and veggies, cheese and sushi, all of very high quality. After eating, we had an open mic time, where we each shared a little about ourselves and what we do on our blogs.

After the kickoff even ended, I spent time hanging out in the room and then in "Le Bar" with many of the bloggers here at the conference, listening to their stories and how they blog. There's a common theme I see emerging from every attendee: a general amazement that this convention is really happening and that it's awesome to finally meet these friends in person.

I think it's fascinating and encouraging to watching online-only relationships expand and deepen in face to face connections. Coming in as an outsider of sorts, I'm able to see this dynamic occurring between people.

After only the first day, I've concluded I've made a great choice in attending SOBCon07, simply to meet so many wonderful, friendly people.

I can't wait until Saturday! :-)


Getting Ready for SOBCon07 in Chicago

Tonight I had a great talk with my Milwaukee blogging buddy Phil Gerbyshak, who I'm traveling with to SOBCon07 in Chicago this Friday and Saturday. I'm excited!

Phil and I are doing a road trip from Milwaukee to Chicago for the event, enjoying the time driving down, and taking it easy when we arrive. I can't wait to see Phil give his keynote speech on Saturday and talks from other speakers on the schedule.

Of the about 80-some bloggers attending, I know one — Phil. Still, this is a great opportunity to meet and get to know many new bloggers. This is Phil's crowd, so I'm sure I'll meet new people through him, and on my own.

I'll be sketching and taking notes at the event and may continue the sketchnotes approach I experimented with at UX Intensive... we'll see. I'll post a report of the weekend's activities, along with an analysis of the conference.

If you'd like to attend SOBCon07, there are still spots available.


UX Intensive Chicago 2007: Thoughts & Sketchnotes

UX Intensive: Interaction Design Sketchnotes 01

This week I attended Adaptive Path's UX Intensive: Interaction Design Workshop in Chicago. I've decided to share my thoughts on the event and my set of sketchnotes on the blog.

UX Intensive event was a 4-day series of workshops and lectures, and of those 4 days, I attended 1: Interaction Design. Here are my thoughts about that particular event:

The Speakers & Venue
Overall it was a good experience. Dan Saffer and Kim Lenox are both very smart, talented designers who know their stuff. I gleaned good ideas for tweaking my own design process, and was affirmed in the approach and process I already follow.

The Black Orchid was an OK venue. The room was relatively spacious, and the food was quite good. The tables, however, were designed for drinks while listening to jazz — not ideal for taking notes or working, and not positioned ideally for a conference. I got a bit of a cramp from sitting at an angle at my table, trying watch the speaker and take notes.

Workshop or Lecture?
UX Intensive was billed as a "workshop" even though Wednesday's Interactive Design session was actually a day-long series of lectures. Even though the topic very much interested me, by about 2pm I was having a hard time focusing, even after a second Starbucks cappuccino.

I heard from Matt and Que, 2 guys I met at my table, that Monday's Design Strategy and Tuesday's Design Research sessions were true workshops, with activities and interaction between the attendees — much different than Wednesday's lectures.

Concepts I Liked
There were many good ideas shared by Dan and Kim, some of which I'll note below:

• Research is useless in a raw, unstructured form. It's critical to filter the information and draw insights and conclusions from your research that can be applied to the project. I liked Dan's suggestion to use physical and visual representations of research, using post-it walls and drawings on various surfaces.

• Brainstorming for quantity and brainstorming in categories. Dan suggested brainstorming sprints with limited times and an emphasis on many ideas in that time. I also liked his idea of brainstorming within narrower categories, then displaying findings in a matrix or a grid.

• Failure is OK. A 50% failure rate was suggested as a good thing. I've noticed that in my sketches, the more ideas I can get through the sooner I usually find a solution. Trying out ideas that may fail, lead to a good ideas, so I find this to be very true.

• Good designers make better guesses. Intuition is important in design, and it's based on making good guesses. Dan shared principles and techniques for making better guesses and decisions.

• Living Documents. Kim Lenox talked about designing for suites and platforms, suggesting the use of living documents, sharing information and innovations, consistency and that interaction designers need to think about the integration of 3 key areas: the PC, the Internet and mobile devices.

• All products are broken. By starting with this premise, we're free to try and improve products rather than making them perfect and completely free of brokeness. Dan talked about good areas to focus on for fixes, breaking fixes down into smaller chunks, and the use of quick n' dirty wireframes with screenshots (I use this approach, and it works great!)

• Constant Communication. Use various tools such as blogs and wikis within your team, to keep communication lines open with each other, and to capture information as living documents.

View my detailed notes in my UX Intensive sketchnotes on Flickr.

I'll end this post with my thoughts on how the Design Interaction portion of the UX Intensive event could be improved:

• Call it a workshop only if it has workshop activities. I came expecting interaction and activities with my design colleagues and instead got a day of lectures. Workshop activities would have broken up the time, made it easier for me to focus on the ideas and apply them practically.

•  Add more breaks. We had breaks for lunch and for the morning and afternoon sessions, which were great. However, because of the day-long lecture format, by the afternoon I needed mini breaks in-between the individual sessions. By about 2pm I was losing focus on the topics that a few mini-breaks may have helped with.

• Show more real-world examples. We had some nice examples in the lectures by Dan and Kim, but I wanted to see more of them to illustrate the concepts presented. Having more examples might also have helped my focus in the afternoon.

• Go narrower and deeper. I think reducing quantity of material covered and focusing on deeper real-world examples, discussions on those ideas and workshop activities might improve the relevance of the information to attendees. So much info was presented, that I couldn't adequately digest, discuss or apply with those ideas to my own design practices.

I hope these thoughts are helpful to fellow designers, and might be useful to Adaptive Path in tuning and perfecting their UX Intensive series in Amsterdam in June.

Many thanks to MakaluMedia (my employer), for sending me to the event.

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Korean Soup Sketchtoon

Korean Food SketchtoonOn Wednesday I had a great visit to Chicago, for Adaptive Path's UX Intensive Interactive Design Workshop in Chicago's Old Town. I'm currently scanning in my sketch-notes from the event (which I will post tomorrow), but in the meantime I wanted to post a sketchtoon from my dinner in the evening.

I had the pleasure of traveling to Chicago with my friend Hyeon "Sean" Kim on the Amtrak Hiawatha to UX Intensive. After the event, I met Sean on the Brown line EL train at Sedgwick to Rockwell station to visit a Korean restaurant on the North side of town.

Sean had a Korean restaurant in mind, but after walking to Lawrence Avenue and searching, we realized it had closed or moved, because a new condo was sitting right at the corner where it should have been. It was actually good fortune for us to walk the neighborhood, since we came across Han Bat, a small, family-run Korean Soup restaurant, right on Lawrence Avenue.

Our Korean dinner was delicious. Sean was worried that old-school, hard-core Korean Seolleongtang soup might be too unusual for me. Now he knows I love unusual new things, including Korean soup, kim chee, pickled radishes and corn tea! :-)

The sketchtoon was created in my Moleskine sketchbook, while riding home on the EL. Sean and I contentedly recalled the details of our delicious Korean dinner. I colored this piece later on, to add just a little more detail.

Now I can't wait to try more Korean foods!

Related Links:
Drive Thru: Han Bat Review
Urban Spoon: Han Bat Info

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Serving in Belize: July 2007

mike_gail.jpgI've had many wonderful opportunities to visit and spend time with friends in interesting places.

Travel has provided memories I'll treasure for a lifetime, and looking back, I believe travel has fundamentally changed my viewpoint, thinking and life for the better.

So, as you might imagine, I'm always interested in travel experiences.

This July 7th, my wife Gail and I will help lead a team of 31 adults and high school students from Meadowbrook Church, to serve the people of Belize, Central America. We're both excited about this opportunity to follow Jesus' example of loving God through service and love for others.

St. Margaret's Village, Belize
We'll be serving one week in St. Margaret's Village, a mountain town in central Belize. We're partnering with a local church, visiting orphanages and hospitals, belize.jpgplaying sports with local kids, light construction work around the town, giving guitar lessons and leading church services.

As the departure day approaches, I'm realizing just how much of an impact this trip will have on our lives and the lives of our students.

Belize is a fascinating Central American country, located just south of Mexico and East of Guatemala on the Caribbean Sea. Belize has the 2nd largest Barrier Reef in the world, and because of a British colonial heitage, is the only English speaking country in Central America.

Belizean culture belize-map-sm.gifhas a strong Caribbean influence, even though the country is located in Central America. People of Belize consists of different 9 main ethnic groups, including Creole, East Indian, Euro-Americans, Garifuna, Mestizo, Mennonite, Mopan, Kekchi, and Yucatec Mayas.

Prayer & Partnership
We invite you to pray for our team, as we prepare for the trip. We want our team to be open and ready to serve. We ask for safe travels to and from Belize, and that our team would have a positive impact on the people of Belize and they on us.

If you're interested in partnering financially, we welcome your support. We're raising about $1,800 per person for the trip, so every dollar brings us closer to our goal. If this interests you, feel free to use the button below, to donate:

Or, if you prefer sending in a tax-exempt donation, send it to my church directly:

Belize Youth Mission Trip Donations
Meadowbrook Church
1025 North 70th Street
Wauwatosa, WI 53213

Travelogues & Sketches
Finally, those who know me, know I can't resist writing travelogues and sketching while I travel — I intend to do both on the Belize trip and provide reports here on the blog of my experiences.

I can't wait! :-)

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